Proposer of new Halesworth bus hub responds to criticism from transport boss

Halesworth. Picture Mike Page

Halesworth. Picture Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

The operations manager for Anglian Bus has said the company would not be using the newly-approved £30,000 bus hub planned for Halesworth.

Philip Eden, speaking on behalf of the region’s main service provider, told a transport users group last Saturday that operating from the proposed hub in Halesworth would cost the company an extra bus in lost layover time and was therefore unacceptable.

Mr Eden was quizzed about the hub by Malcolm Smith, a bus user, during the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association (ESTA) meeting in Halesworth. Mr Smith said the people of the town supported the scheme and felt the current bus stop in Saxons Way was extremely dangerous. However Mr Eden said the best solution was to improve the existing bus station rather than create another.

He said: “None of our buses terminate in Halesworth any more so there’s no operational need for it.

“We won’t be going into the new station because the extra costs will make the service unsustainable.”

The proposal, put forward by Tony Goldson, Waveney district and Suffolk county councillor for Halesworth, will see part of the Angel Link car park transformed into a new hub for buses and coaches. It is hoped the facility will improve passenger safety and encourage visitors to the town.

Mr Goldson said: “Anglian Bus was very much in agreement with this plan. Andrew Pursey, the previous operations manager before Mr Eden, was very supportive of the scheme as it provided a facility for his drivers to stop, obtain a drink if they wanted one and use the toilet without blocking Saxons Way.

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“The proposal for Angel Link is not a bus station rather it is a bus stop which can serve the bus drivers’ needs more efficiently and generally make it safer for passengers. Mr Eden suggests we improve the existing bus station rather than create a new one which would suggest a lack of knowledge of the area and the problems on his part since we do not have nor do we intend to have a bus station.

“Other than Anglian Bus, other bus companies run services into and out of Halesworth – they too will benefit from this project and have been supportive of the plans throughout.

“Residents of outlying villages wishing to shop in Halesworth or connect with another service to travel further afield will be dropped off and picked up in a safe, central location. This will increase footfall in the town.

“Taking waiting buses off Saxons Way will allow a better flow of traffic and reduce the number of accidents. This can only be a positive improvement for all road users as well as bus passengers.”

The scheme, which is expected to cost around £30,000, will be funded from Suffolk County Council’s highways budget. It will require up to 30 spaces to be removed from the existing car park, owned by Waveney District Council.

ESTA chairman Trevor Garrod said there seemed to have been a “lack of joined-up thinking” in planning the hub, though he was hopeful it might still serve a useful purpose at some point in the future.