Poll: Have your say on Thetford bus station

Demands for a referendum which was put on hold earlier this year have been renewed by residents who feel views on the future of their town are being ignored.

A parish poll to determine whether people are in favour of the relocation of the bus station in Thetford, has been mooted by the public on several occasions.

Earlier this year the town council felt it would be appropriate to put the issue on hold until after consultation on the Thetford Area Action Plan had run its course.

At a further town council meeting last week, Stuart Wilson, environment committee chairman of the Thetford Society, asked for the poll to now be called.

“If there is a request for a referendum and there are nine people supporting me then that referendum has to go ahead,” he said.

Under the 1972 Local Government Act, parish councils in England can vote to request their district council to hold a referendum on any issue of concern to the local parish. At least 10 people must be present at a meeting where a formal motion must be put forward and a vote taken.

At previous meetings the cost of a parish poll has been said to be in the region of �5,000. The results would not be legally binding.

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The issue was first raised last year following discontent with proposed regeneration changes in Thetford. Plans to move the bus station from its riverside site to Minstergate has caused upset among some who have questioned the suitability of the new site.

Councillor for the castle ward, Terry Lamb said he believed the poll did not need the backing of the councillors.

“We had this debate some weeks ago and it was determined by Stuart Wilson this can go through without the support of the town council,” he said. “It may be that we can offer our support to the debate however.”

But guildhall ward councillor, Robert Kybird, said in 2008, 75pc of people questioned supported the bus station move. Saxon ward member, Dennis Sully said 1,000 people had signed a recent petition against the relocation, and believed the council should support the poll.

Mr Wilson went on to say under the 1972 legislation, the wording of the question must also be settled upon.

This, he said, should be: “Should the bus station move from the town centre Anchor site to the smaller site between Minstergate and St Nicholas Street?”

But town mayor Derek Mortimer said he was unhappy with the question.

“My interpretation of that question is it’s somewhat biased because it makes some comparison of the sites,” he said.

A meeting has now been arranged to discuss whether to hold a parish poll, and, if so, the wording of the question, in the Guildhall on the Market Place in Thetford on July 11, at 8pm.

In a separate motion, councillors were also asked for a show of hands to demonstrate whether they supported the relocation bus station.

Put forward by member for the Abbey Ward, Carl Clark, nine councillors were against the move, while guildhall ward councillors Robert Kybird and Bryan Skull supported it.

Pam Spencer, guildhall ward councillor, Mike Spencer, abbey ward councillor, and Brenda Canham, also an abbey ward councillor, and town mayor Derek Mortimer all abstained.

Mrs Canham said: “I became a councillor to hear the public view. Where I live people are in favour of it, the people I’ve spoken to anyway, but that’s just one end of the town.

“It’s going to improve Thetford but it’s whether people want it.”