A development trust at a Northumberland town has joined the fight to save its bus station.
Hexham Community Partnership has voiced “strong opposition” to Northumberland County Council’s proposal to sell off the town’s station to a property developer.
In a letter to The Journal, the organisation has said it does not normally take a stance on controversial issues, but that it is making an exception due to “the overwhelming rejection” of the proposal.
The partnership has said it is “vitally important” that Hexham should have “a central, fit for purpose, bus station to serve the needs of a vibrant, enterprising community.”
Meanwhile, another town organisation is in the process of distributing more than 6,000 leaflets around homes urging people to oppose the plans.
As previously reported by The Journal, a 2,000-name petition demanding the bus station remain where it is was handed in to the council in February last year.
Yet now, the authority is preparing a report to its policy board meeting on February 11 recommending consultation begin on the sale of the station to property developer Dysart, which owns some property around the site.
The company would develop flats on the site with bus stops to be created on Priestpopple.
The plan, which the authority says would bring more people into the town centre, has been attacked by Conservative MP for Hexham Guy Opperman as well as county councillor for the town Cath Homer.
Now, the partnership’s chairman Robert Hull has written to us stating: “As a rule the Hexham Community Partnership, because of its nature as a development trust bringing together a wide range of representatives of organisations and individuals in the town, all of which have a range of different views, does not normally take a stance on controversial issues.
“In the case of the current proposals for Hexham bus station however, reflecting the overwhelming rejection of the plans within the town, a recent meeting of the partnership board agreed unanimously to contact the county council to voice its strong opposition to what is currently proposed.
“The partnership calls for a re-assessment of the proposal to take buses along Battle Hill to turn at a new roundabout at the Benson Monument.
“What is vitally important is that Hexham should be provided with a central, fit for purpose, bus station to serve the needs of a vibrant, enterprising community.”
Hexham Civic Society is distributing emergency newsletters across Tynedale urging people to oppose the sale.
It states: “This sale would effectively, and almost literally, set in concrete without any prior consultation plans that are opposed by the majority of Hexham’s electorate and bus station users.
“We view this as a secretive process that will result only in severe and irreversible damage to Hexham.”
Council leader Grant Davey defended the sale, saying: “The proposals for alternative bus provision into Hexham town centre are one of the range of measures designed to help local businesses and residents.
“We’re looking at practical solutions to long standing problems of getting more people in the centre of Hexham to help local businesses.”