Lay-by ‘a waste of £40k’
A SENIOR councillor has slammed a new £40,000 lay-by - designed to save buses from using a turning point just 300 yards away - as a “waste of taxpayers’ money”.
Hartlepool Borough Council is constructing the new lay-by at the request of bus operator Stagecoach in the town’s Hart Lane in a bid to improve the efficiency of Service 3, which runs from the South Fens up to the Bishop Cuthbert estate.
The service faces delays because buses have to use the turning point behind the nearby shopping parade at Throston to drop passengers off, before heading back onto Hart Lane.
But Conservative group leader, Ray Wells, believes the work is a waste of money because the new lay-by is only 300 yards away from the turning point.
Construction work started last week and the majority of the £40,000 scheme is being paid for by the Government through its Tees Valley Bus Network Improvement Scheme.
Stagecoach requested the new lay-by to help improve punctuality for bus users and buses on the Service 1 route will continue to use the existing terminus.
The proposals were first put forward last August and Coun Wells was critical of helping a bus company that had “turned its back on the town” in reference to the lack of buses in Hartlepool after 6pm and some services being axed.
But Stagecoach says the reduction in service was down to the council removing its £287,000 supported bus services funding.
Coun Wells said: “Regardless of which taxpayers’ funds have been used, whether it is central government or local government, I stand by my original comments that we simply do not have enough bus routes to justify spending £40,000 in this current economic climate.
“I truly believe that members of the public will find it hard to justify spending £40,000 on a bus lay-by which is only a few hundred yards away from a perfectly good turning point.
“This is a waste of money.
“Just because it is central government money does not excuse the fact that it has been spent.”
A council spokesman said: “Work started last week on construction of a new bus lay-by in Hart Lane following a request from Stagecoach which feels that it would make its Service 3 faster and therefore more reliable by removing the need for some of its buses to turn into the existing terminus.
“We have moved the location of the new lay-by about 50 yards further down from the original proposed location following public consultation on the scheme which showed that some people wanted the lay-by to be located further away from the main junction with Wiltshire Way.
“The majority of the £40,000 cost of the scheme - which is expected to be completed in two weeks’ time - is being paid for by the Government through its Tees Valley Bus Network Improvement Scheme.
“The terminus will not be made redundant – it will still continue to be used by Stagecoach Service 1 from Seaton to Throston.”
A spokesman for Stagecoach said: “Stagecoach has requested a new bus lay-by in Hart Lane to help improve punctuality for bus users in Hartlepool.
“Currently, there are regular delays on route three and turning into the terminus behind the shops adds to the journey time.
“Buses on route one will continue to use the existing terminus.”
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