‘Doing nothing is not an option’: Green light for Fenland bus station safety plans

FRESH plans to tackle safety problems at Wisbech’s Horsefair Bus Station have been given the go-ahead by councillors after a report claimed that doing nothing was “not an option”.

The bus station and nearby taxi rank have been long-term safety concerns for Fenland District Council with congestion problems between buses and taxis causing a danger to pedestrians.

The latest report - produced by Atkins for the council - showed that there had been two accidents causing injuries and five damage-only accidents since 2005. The report said that there was a “risk that a more serious incident involving personal injury will occur”.

There was one fatal incident which occurred 10 years ago when a pedestrian was hit by a reversing bus while walking across the apron from the rear of the Conservative Club.

Councillor Kit Owen, portfolio holder for shaping Fenland, told councillors at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting: “The existing situation is unsatisfactory. There is a risk of serious injury and the report says quite clearly that no change is not an option.

“If there was to be a serious accident or a fatality this council could possibly be held liable for not acting. Therefore I don’t think we have a choice other than to do something.”

Councillors approved a �53,000 scheme to eliminate reversing taxis, provide a pavement for waiting taxi passengers and restore road signs and lines.

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This could also include the adoption of a code of conduct for all bus station users, the introduction of two 20-minute parking bays in the Horesfair car-park and a review of the pedestrain guard railings.

The proposed solution comes almost a year after councillors abandoned �70,000 plans to relocate the taxi rank to a site near to The Case pub, on Canal Street. The plans had triggered a furious reaction from taxi drivers who staged a mass protest at the station in October, 2009.

But Cllr Owen said: “The irony is that whilst the work is being carried out the taxis will have to be temporarily relocated and one of the most obvious areas for relocation is the Case site.”

A consultation period will now begin, with a view to drawing up designs and a code of conduct before starting work in the summer.

Councillor David Patrick, chairman of the Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, said that the drivers were in “ongoing talks” with the council over the details of possible improvements.

He said: “We are happy to work with the council to try and find the best solution.”