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Vote No campaigners put forward alternative plans for Thetford bus station upgrade

PUBLISHED: 10:50 03 August 2011

Bus plan

Bus plan

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Campaigners leading a Vote No campaign for next week’s parish poll in Thetford have released a set of proposals which they claim show the bus station can be upgraded on its current site.

Facilities would include a cafe, waiting room, toilets and ticket office, and a verandah running the length of the building from a drop-off/pick-up zone.

Six coach bays, taxi ranks, a large tourist coach area and car parking have also been designed to avoid coach, car and pedestrian conflict.

The plan would allow for the retention of the front facade of the Anchor Hotel which would have 20 bedrooms, and space would be set aside on the riverside site for some small businesses, possibly including a florist, newsagent and cycle hire. The proposed cinema can be seen next to the current Argos site.

Stuart Wilson, who called for the poll that will now be taking place on Tuesday, said: “Unlike Moving Thetford Forward, we do not have thousands of pounds available to develop our proposals and employ consultants.

Thetford parish poll details

The parish poll will go ahead under the 1972 Local Government Act which says 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. This meeting was held in Thetford in July at which an overwhelming majority voted yes to holding the poll. People will now be asked to vote yes or no in response to the question: “Do you want the bus station to move from its current site at the Anchor to the site on St Nicholas Street.”

The poll is on August 9 and polling stations will be open from 4pm until 9pm. The results will not be legally binding but leader of Breckland Council William Nunn has said they will be debated by Breckland Council.

Polling stations are: Thetford Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Station Road

Church of the Nazarene, Anna Gurney Close

Abbey Neighbourhood Centre, Exeter Way

Carnegie Room, Cage Lane

Church on the Way, Churchill Road

Cloverfields Church and Community Hall, Yarrow Close

Redcastle Furze Community Centre, St Martins Way

St Mary’s RC Church Hall, 73 Newtown

Pine Close Community Centre, Pine Close.

“We have not had the best part of six years to refine plans, however we are confident that our plans, which make use of local knowledge, demonstrate that the bus station can be redeveloped on its current site.

“We have been labelled as anti-change and anti-cinema – this is just not true. We desperately want Thetford to move forward, but that change needs to be the right change, it needs to be sustainable, considered and based on continuous community involvement.”

A spokesman for the Moving Thetford Forward board though believed some of the claims made by the Vote No team were incorrect.

He said that drop-off and pick-up zones would, in fact, be provided and argued against claims there were no clear plans for the Cosy Carpets warehouse and said interest had been expressed by businesses.

Up to 100 jobs could be created on regenerated Anchor site

Between 75 and 100 jobs could be created on the regenerated Anchor site if the bus station is moved to the Minstergate area.

The figures came from the Moving Thetford Forward team who would like to see the site off Bridge Street transformed with shops, cafes, a hotel and cinema.

Local businessman and Moving Thetford Forward board member Mark Robinson said: “It’s about providing something for our children and giving them something to look forward to. “It’s employment opportunities for all age groups. We don’t have a broad base of jobs in this town at the moment. I employ part-time staff but not everybody wants part-time jobs. The town is screaming out for full-time jobs with a recognised company which will give career opportunities as well as raise the skill base.”

He went on: “The 75 to 100 jobs are not all going to be minimum wage, you’re going to have management in there as well. I would expect almost all of the jobs to go to Thetford people.”

He added that claims made that tourist and school coaches would be prevented from using the site, and the St Nicholas Street site was more than twice the size of the Anchor site were incorrect, and pointed out the car parking spaces do not form part of the current bus station. It was also refuted that, when all factors are taken into account, the Anchor site was the most cost effective option.

Thetford businessman and MTF board member Mark Robinson said: “The extent of the inaccuracies and the widespread distribution of this material makes us concerned that the result of any poll undertaken cannot be guaranteed to be a fair reflection of the views of the public. This is extremely unfortunate.

“In terms of the no campaign’s new plans and images for the Anchor Site these are nothing but the visual depiction of pipe dreams.

“There are no costings, safety audits or an informative basis which would ever help bring them off the page and into life. They fail to take into account the current economic situation or the needs or wishes of the majority of the people of Thetford, the bus companies or other businesses.

“It is doubtful there would be any commercial interest in a 20-bed hotel in the town and it is unclear who would make up the clientele of a hotel with a view of a bus station.

Basically what the no campaign have presented is a sporadic approach to development which has at its heart the desire to keep the bus station in its current location and not the needs and wishes of the people of Thetford as they look to the future.”

A Thetford-wide leaflet drop for the Vote No campaign has been organised and the campaign team has appealed to local residents, who support the campaign, to make a small financial contribution to help cover necessary printing and delivery costs.

For more information about the Vote No proposals, or information about the Vote No campaign, visit the website at www.thetfordvotesno.com or contact Mr Wilson on 01842 751770.

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