Bus station petition breaks 18,500 names
A PETITION to save a town's open-air bus station has reached a total of more than 18,500 signatures.Tim Oxton, of Colchester's Save Our Bus Station (SOBS) group, handed over 3,551 signatures to the towns' mayor Terry Sutton yesterday, bringing the grand total presented to the council to 18,624.
By Roddy Ashworth
A PETITION to save a town's open-air bus station has reached a total of more than 18,500 signatures.
Tim Oxton, of Colchester's Save Our Bus Station (SOBS) group, handed over 3,551 signatures to the towns' mayor Terry Sutton yesterday, bringing the grand total presented to the council to 18,624.
The campaign to retain the terminus - which is currently being redeveloped - was started when activists discovered a new art gallery was scheduled to be built on top of part of it.
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Although not against the £16.5 million Visual Arts Facility (VAF), the group believe both it and the bus station could co-exist side by side.
Yesterday Tim Oxton said that despite a poor show of support during recent local government elections - where SOBS fielded six candidates in Colchester - their campaign would continue.
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“We want people to know the full extent of public opposition to the council's plans,” Mr Oxton said yesterday. The fact that 18,600 people are against this is surely significant.”
Proposals for the VAF have been given planning permission but because they were put forward by the council they are currently being scrutinised by Go-East, the Government Office for the East of England.
If approved work could begin on the VAF as early as this summer.
Meanwhile, a temporary bus station is being established on the fringes of the former site, to operate until a new, £7 million covered terminus is built as part of a nearby retail development.
However members of SOBS believe the new bus station may never materialise and the temporary facility may become permanent.
Yesterday Robert Davidson, portfolio holder for regeneration for Colchester Borough Council, said: “We've had extensive constructive meetings with both users and operators of the bus station and come up with this acceptable temporary facility which it has been agreed is capable of coping with our existing needs.
“I have made numerous promises to the campaigners that it is my intention to deliver them a far superior, air conditioned, covered bus station within the new retail complex.
“Regeneration doesn't happen overnight but it will make Colchester more attractive and vibrant once it is all in place.
“I ask residents and bus users to be patient while the transformation takes place.”