Vandals leave bus passengers with nowhere to sit

STILL WAITING: Bill Dunning and other passengers are forced to stand in Peterlee Bus Station nine months after the seats were vandalised
STILL WAITING: Bill Dunning and other passengers are forced to stand in Peterlee Bus Station nine months after the seats were vandalised

BUS seats removed from a bus station due to vandalism are yet to be replaced – more than nine months after a pensioner hit out at the lack of seating.

Bill Dunning appeared in the Mail in February complaining that damaged seating had been removed at Peterlee Bus Station had left nowhere to sit, especially for elderly shoppers.

It comes after a wrangle broke out between the shopping centre owners Praxis/Salford Estates, which owns the freehold for the bus station, and Durham County Council.

The shopping centre owners said they don’t deal with the day to day running of the bus station and the council says it will not do the work as it does not own the site.

But Praxis/Salford Estates, which owns Castle Dene Shopping Centre, says it is in talks with the council and intends to contribute towards the work.

Mr Dunning, a 75-year-old dad-of-three and retired miner at the Thornley and Horden pits, has appeared in the Mail several times since he first complained but says the situation is still no further forward.

The grandfather-of-seven and great-grandfather-of-one, of Hatfield Place, Peterlee, said: “Nothing has happened.

“You have got people from nine colliery villages using this town centre, keeping the town centre alive, and the bus station owners can’t do anything to help them out.”

Praxis/Salford Estates had said in February that improvements and repairs to the bus station lie within the remit of Durham County Council.

But the council said it doesn’t own the bus station and is not responsible for seating.

However, Praxis/Salford Estates said after a meeting with Durham County Councillor Audrey Laing, that it would contribute towards replacing the seats as a gesture of goodwill.

Today a spokeswoman for the company said: “Praxis owns the freehold to the bus station, but has never been responsible for its day-to-day management.

“Durham County Council, we understand, operates every other bus station in the county and we have been in lengthy discussions with them for some time regarding the on-going day-to-day management of the Peterlee Bus Station.

“Our on-site management team historically received a number of complaints regarding anti-social behaviour in this area and after the seating was vandalised, regrettably it had to be removed.

“We appreciate the problems this has caused elderly and disabled travellers and are confident that the day-to-day management issue will be resolved with the council in the coming weeks.”

But Adrian White, head of transport and contract services at Durham County Council, said: “We do not own the bus station so we are not in a position to carry out this work at this time.”

Arriva North East also said they are not responsible for the bus station.