It appears the controversy over Sudbury’s new bus station is far from over as protesters met at a public meeting on Monday night.
Simon Barrett, chairman of Sudbury Steering Group which chose a preferred option of the station being moved to Girling Street, said he was still more than happy to hear fresh ideas for the relocation of the bus station.
But he said as of yet the best option was still to move the station to Girling Street to allow for the redevelopment of the current Hamilton Road site.
There was no doubt that the vast majority of the people who attended the meeting were against the move to Girling Street.
Some said they were happy for the redevelopment to go ahead but were against the use of Girling Street, while others questioned the redevelopment and the need for major retailers and leisure opportunities such as the much-mooted cinema.
The meeting at St Peter’s, Sudbury, was organised by Save Our Bus Station (SOBS) which is campaigning against the station being relocated to Girling Street.
The panel for the meeting, which which SOBS said was attended by around 300 people, comprised of Teresa Bishop, SOBS chairwoman; Colin Whyles, member of SOBS; Lorna Hoey, chair of the Sudbury Society; Sue Ayres, Mayor of Sudbury; Mr Barrett and David Holland, vice chairman of Sudbury Steering Group.
Much of the Girling Street criticism has centred around the loss of 70 car parking spaces and the potential impact on Sudbury’s already-congested roads if the station is moved to Girling Street.
Mr Whyles said: “I am not against moving it if we can find a better place, but Girling Street is just not that place.
“If we carry on Sudbury is going to carry on weeping for years.”
Mrs Hoey said: “The whole town needs to be convinced that what will be provided will be worth losing 70 spaces.”
She asked whether, if the development was on a smaller scale, a bus station could be included in the Hamilton Road area, particularly since Babergh District Council had bought Borehamgate Precinct.
But Mr Barrett again reiterated that when speaking to developers, they had been told that there would no be interest in developing the site while the bus station was included.
He later said consultants would soon begin looking into the town’s requirements.
“At this stage they want to know what you want in the development,” he said. “It could happen that they are given a brief to include a bus station.”
Mr Holland opened the meeting by insisting that there was still time to give alternative solutions to the problem. He pointed out that use of the lorry park next to Waitrose to offer extra car parking spaces would not be possible.
Mr Holland said he and other councillors and steering group members were working to get good outcomes for the town in terms of economic growth and jobs, particularly with thousands of homes expected to be built in and around in the town in the next 15 years.
“We are representing people in Sudbury,” he said. “Despite what you might think, we want Sudbury to win in this. We want to see good outcomes in the this town.
“What might losing look like? Losing may look like more of the same, 25 years of absolutely nothing happening. Losing may well look like no bus station, precisely how a hell of a lot of other bus stations have gone.”
“Winning may look like a new bus station very close to the town centre with high quality facilities. The one thing we can’t deliver is to leave it where it is.”
Mr Whyles and Mrs Bishop repeatedly asked for townspeople to support their campaign by writing to councillors and the local MP, and to take part in upcoming consultations for both the planned application for a bus station in Girling Street and the redevelopment of the Hamilton Road Quarter.
During the meeting resident Tim Regester and Mrs Bishop said that bus drivers and bus companies were opposed to the move.
It was claimed that companies felt pressured into accepting the Girling Street proposal.