Bus station looks set to move
A CAMPAIGN to stop a town's bus station from being moved looks doomed to failure, it has emerged.Despite a 15,000-name petition calling for Colchester's main bus station to remain in Queen Street, it looks destined to relocate.
A CAMPAIGN to stop a town's bus station from being moved looks doomed to failure, it has emerged.
Despite a 15,000-name petition calling for Colchester's main bus station to remain in Queen Street, it looks destined to relocate.
Colchester Borough Council is set press ahead with plans to replace the station with a modern interchange in the Osborne Street area as part of the St Botolph's regeneration plans.
The plan has divided the town, with many aggrieved they will be forced to walk further into the town centre to the new station.
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A large number of bus users also believe they are playing second fiddle to dreams to create a Colchester cultural quarter, which would include a £16.5million Visual Arts Facility (VAF).
A special Save Our Bus Station campaign was formed and its organisers say more than 15,000 people have signed it.
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But it emerged last night that Ian Vipond, head of the council's housing and environment policy, has refused to bow to pressure from the petition organisers.
In a report for the authority's local development framework panel, he has proposed a raft of minor amendments to the St Botolph's Masterplan, but has urged the council not to budge its position on the bus station.
He said previous recommendations should still stand, arguing the Osborne Street area is better placed to link with the rail station and to preserve the historic town centre from traffic.
While acknowledging "concern" among petition signatories, he added: "It is not proposed to alter that recommendation now as the issues remain the same."
Meanwhile, a disabled bus user has questioned the number of names on the petition trying to save the bus station.
Hilary Davis, of Prior Way, Colchester, claimed some people may have signed more than once, adding: "Can the petition organisers please say how they monitored it to ensure the names only occur once, those who sign are bus users, and if they use the bus station more than other bus stops?
"The current bus station is a horrible, filthy, little place. It is dirty, desolate and drafty – and not particularly near the town centre.
"The modern interchange will be far better, especially for people like me with disabilities."
None of the organisers of the petition could be contacted for comment last night, but Peter Kay, secretary of the Colchester Bus Users' Group, said duplicate signatures were inevitable.
He said he had been involved in a similar petition two years ago and had faced similar problems.
"It's really irrelevant – even if 10% of the signatures are duplicate, there would still be around 14,000 individuals signing it and expressing very strongly their view."
He added: "As for Mr Vipond's decision to disregard people's opinions, it's entirely - but sadly - predictable.
"What's important now is to ensure that the temporary bus station remains in Queen Street rather than a silly site in the High Street."