Councillors pour scorn on bus station briefing

BANBRIDGE Council means to send a delegation to ask the Stormont Regional Development Committee to lobby for provision of a bus station in town.

The proposal came from Alliance’s Sheila McQuaid, after fellow councillors made it clear at last week’s monthly meeting they were less than impressed with Translink’s recent update on the situation surrounding a facility first proposed for a site at Kenlis Street some nine years ago.

Translink’s Group Chief Executive Ms. Catherine Mason and Infrastructure Executive Mr. Clive Bradbury faced disappointment among councillors over the lack of progress on a commitment given in 2003 and reinforced by the minister at a meeting in October last year.

The pair told councillors Translink was working with Roads Service on the release of lands at Kenlis Street to accommodate the car park, that Roads Service had yet to reach a decision on the transfer of land in respect of the cost and recompense for loss of revenue, that Translink was currently preparing a feasibility study and that the next step would be the preparation of a business case, looking at costs, so that when funding became available they would be able to move the project forward, there being a very limited level of available funding in the short term.

Mr. Bradbury said a business case previously developed (at a time when lack of available land prevented progress) could not now be used due to the diminished amount of available funding compared to 2003.

At last week’s council meeting a “very disappointed” Councillor John Hanna said he had felt Translink would bring before the council some constructive proposals.

They came instead, the Ulster Unionist said, with no proposals and little to say beyond stressing a lack of available funds.

“I thought it was pathetic,” he said, “dismal.”

Translink having earlier been asked to revisit the council in September, with a business plan in place, Mr. Hanna said the council should continue to press for that return and insist it expected to be presented with a robust plan for a bus station in Banbridge.

SDLP Councillor Seamus Doyle agreed and UUP Councillor Ian Burns said he was sure there wasn’t a lot of money in the pot when some other “extravagant” bus stations were built elsewhere; Translink, he added, got a lot of business from the people of Banbridge.

DUP Councillor Junior McCrum said he thought it a “disgrace” that as a town with almost 300 buses in every 24 hours, Banbridge had no bus station, and SDLP Councillor Marie Hamilton said she hoped that, if Banbridge did get a bus station, it would be a “proper” station and not just a glorified bus shelter.