Former bus driver claims council ‘ignored warnings from general public’

Norman Sharp Chron letter writer and bus station campaigner.
Norman Sharp Chron letter writer and bus station campaigner.

A former bus driver has criticised councillors for “ploughing on regardless” with the North Gate bus station, despite warning them of potential problems since the plans were first released.

Norman Sharp, aged 75, of Abington, has been a regular letter-writer to the Chron, raising concerns that the station would not be big enough and the surrounding areas would be unable to cope with the increase in traffic.

And despite meeting councillors and bus operators, he said all his fears came true on Monday: “I said this was going to happen from the start, as did lots of letter writers in the Chron. The trouble is councillors do not listen to the public. Even if they don’t use the buses, they always think they know better than us.

“With the amount of buses going into the station and the Drapery every hour, combined with all the cars using College Street, Lady’s Lane, Greyfriars and so on, I said in last week’s letters’ page the area would become a £7 million traffic jam. When Abington Street opens, that traffic will feed into that area too.

“David Mackintosh has always gone on about how good it looks, but when I met him, I told him that even the Titanic looked good. It’s whether it works, that is important.”

Now, though, Mr Sharp is concerned for the health and safety of passengers.

He said: “In the Chron recently, it said the building would be self-ventilating to keep it cool in the summer. But what about the winter? There’s no heating and that same ventilation is letting diesel fumes inside.”

As a former driver, he thinks the design of the building will also prove dangerous. “The entrance and exit for drivers is not big enough and they can’t see round the corner at bays one and two,” he said.

“And I’ve already seen buses mount the kerbs and passengers walking across the entrance and across bays too.

“How long before someone gets hit by a bus?”

A Stagecoach driver, who asked not to be named, told the Chronicle & Echo: “The congestion on Monday wasn’t really caused by the Bradshaw Street junction, it was blue badge holders parked in Sheep Street and cars illegally using The Drapery.

“Once the police were on the scene, it was fine and I’m sure the new station will work well.

“The question is, though, what happens when the police leave? They can’t stand there forever.”