Borough and county councils “sorry for major teething problems” at new bus station

New bus station, Northampton.'David Mackintosh at the new bus station as the Internal artwork goes up. ENGNNL00120141002164426
New bus station, Northampton.'David Mackintosh at the new bus station as the Internal artwork goes up. ENGNNL00120141002164426

Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council have apologised for the “major teething problems” at the new Northampton bus station on Monday.

In a joint statement, the two local authorities said they were looking at the traffic management plans as a “matter of urgency” to ensure that there is no repeat of the problems on Tuesday.

The statement said: “We have been working throughout the day at North Gate bus station to identify the issues that have caused today’s traffic gridlock in Northampton and to resolve them.

“Things worked well during the rush hour today and so we need to find out why the traffic became grid locked as the day wore on. Northampton Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council and the bus companies have been on the scene trying to get things moving again and discover what the issues are as well as getting traffic moving as quickly as we can.

“We knew that there would be teething problems as there are bound to be with any such major project and we acknowledge that these were major. We apologise to all the motorists and bus passengers who were caught up in the delays today and we thank them for acknowledge their concerns.”

Earlier, Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said he was being kept regularly up-to-date about what is happening as he was in London for a meeting.

He said: “I’m talking to officers on the ground and officers from the police and the county council at the scene.

“We had a good service yesterday and this morning. Clearly something happened this afternoon and that is causing the problem. We are looking at this and trying to urgently address this issue.

“We are working with our colleagues from Northamptonshire County Council and the bus companies to try to find out what has caused these issues and resolve them.

“There were no problems during rush hour or yesterday but our first priority is to get things moving again for passengers and other road users as quickly as possible.

“We have asked Northamptonshire Police to help support our staff in directing traffic, so that we can concentrate on resolving the situation.”

Deputy Leader of Northampton Labour Group Councillor Lee Mason said it was a “disastrous first day for the new bus interchange”.

She said: “For a few hours it was total chaos. People were very frustrated about the disruption and rightly so.

“This was an appalling state of affairs and we need an explanation from Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council as to how this happened. We also need an assurance this won’t happen again.

“We supported the new bus interchange in principle but technical matters like managing traffic flows should have been planned for previously.”

Our deep thanks to the police for sorting out this situation swiftly and professionally.”

Sally Beardsworth, leader of the Liberal Democrats at the borough council, said: “It’s just not working. I spoke to one of the drivers who said we had gone back 38 years.

“There was lots of pensioners who were left bewildered about where they are going to go. It is absolute chaos. This happened on Monday afternoon, what will it be like at rush hour?

“It is such a shame because a lot of old people use the buses and it’s freezing cold in the bus station and there’s no heating.

“They may have tested the flows but computer generated isn’t the same as real life,” she added.

Rose Gibbins, UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for Northampton South, said it was a “disgrace” that Mr Mackintosh was in London rather than being in Northampton to supervise the opening of the new bus station.

Ms Gibbins said: “Perhaps now he will listen to the people of Northampton and abandon the plans to pedestrianise Abington Street.

“Most people appreciated there was a need for a new bus station but if they had listened to the concerns of the public then perhaps they would have got one that worked.”