We are pleased to say that on Monday Hexham Town Council unanimously rejected the ‘preferred option’ of NCC to sell off the existing bus station site and pursue the ‘on street’ option with Benson’s Monument to host a new roundabout to facilitate turning buses. It requested that no deal was to be done before several options were brought forward by NCC for public consultation, and that no decision would be made without the support of a majority of Hexham residents.
We were very alarmed at the meeting to hear NCC Officers explain that pedestrian safety at this new and unwanted roundabout would be safeguarded by the provision of pedestrian guardrailing – exactly the car-centric, anti-pedestrian and aesthetically illiterate ‘solution’ which HCS fears this scheme will engender. We have discussed the numerous other failings of the ‘on street’ scheme in our Winter/Spring newsletter.
Despite Town Council stated opposition the sale of the site remains on the agenda of NCCs Policy Board meeting on the 11th. We have written as below to Policy board members and would urge you, whether or not you support the sale, to express your view to them. We know for a fact that one of them has expressed the view that they should “sell now and talk later”. We do not believe that this reflects the democratic will of Hexham residents or of its Town and County Councillors, nor is it a sensible negotiating position.
Emails for board members are as follows: Grant.Davey@northumberland.gov.uk; David.Ledger@northumberland.gov.uk; Robert.Arckless99@northumberland.gov.uk; Susan.Dungworth@northumberland.gov.uk; Allan.Hepple@northumberland.gov.uk; Peter.Jackson@northumberland.gov.uk; Paul.Kelly@northumberland.gov.uk; ‘Jeff.Reid@northumberland.gov.uk’; Valerie.Tyler@northumberland.gov.uk; Ian.Swithenbank@northumberland.gov.uk
To each member of NCC’s Policy Board
Item 11 on the agenda of the next Policy Board meeting reads: “Hexham Bus Station To seek authority for the Council to enter into an agreement for the sale of the Council’s interest in Hexham Bus Station and to seek in principle approval for the relocation of the existing bus station facility.”
I request you not to give the authority sought and to defer any decision on this matter until there has been a full public consultation on the options for Hexham Bus Station and on any resulting changes to the arrangements for buses.
You will be aware that there is total opposition from Hexham’s electorate and from bus users to NCC’s current proposal. This opposition has been expressed in the media, in correspondence with councillors and officers, and at the meeting of Hexham Town Council on Monday 3 February. The plans presented by officers to that meeting were unacceptable both to the Town Council and to the large number of the public who were present.
Unfortunately none of Hexham’s County Councillors is on the Policy Board or any NCC committee that might have a voice in this matter. There is therefore no direct representation of the interests of Hexham and its electorate. The total rejection of the current proposals has, however, been made clear and it would be a denial of democratic process if the Board were to give the authority sought.
Councillor Swithenbank stated repeatedly at the Hexham Town Council meeting that there would be no sale of land until such time as there is a scheme which the majority of people support. This would be democracy at work and I ask again that you do not give the authority sought. It would be wrong for changes to be made to the status quo without the agreement of Hexham’s electorate and of users of its bus services.
For and on behalf of Hexham Civic Society”