“Ridiculous” and “unworkable”, but Fenland Council presses on with �50k Horsefair plan

THE mayor says it’s “ridiculous” and taxi drivers say it is “ill-conceived and unworkable” but Fenland District Council is to press ahead with �50,000 changes to Horsefair bus station, Wisbech.

A council spokesman described Christmas and New Year consultations as part of the move forward “into the delivery stage of this important project” which effectively amounts to removing three taxi bays. Bus and taxi drivers will also be expected to sign up to a new code of conduct.

However, the Mayor of Wisbech, Councillor Jonathan Farmer, believes the changes proposed by Cabinet “are ultra vires and flout a decision of the council”.

That decision, he claims, was to do nothing at the Horsefair “and there is no authority to review it, never mind change it”.

He said the report drawn up by Atkins, the council’s consultants, contained “overtly a spoon-fed argument from officers and is the sort of amateur essay you would expect from a sixth-former at school.

“It is not a piece of research – it is in fact toilet paper and the council should take strenuous efforts not to pay for it.

“The proposals as far as I can tell are ridiculous.”

Most Read

Councillor Dave Patrick, chairman of Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, said: “The general consensus is that taxi drivers will vehemently oppose the council’s relocation plans using all legal means at their disposal.”

A meeting of the association has been called for January 4 “when our constitution will be suspended to allow non-member drivers to attend to discuss the proposals and what course of action they wish to be taken”.

But a council spokesman said the work now being carried out was authorised by Cabinet.

“All the representations received both before and after the Cabinet decision have already been fully taken into account,” he said. “We are now giving everyone involved – particularly taxi drivers, bus operators and those responsible for the management of the bus station – the chance to comment on the details of the proposal prior to implementation of the scheme.

“It should be made clear that this is not a question of whether the taxis should be sited in the Horsefair and, if so, where. Rather, it is a case of ensuring that everyone understands and can incorporate practical adjustments to proposals which will ensure that the scheme works as well as possible.”

Cllr Patrick said: “My biggest issue is that by forcing the public to cross the busy bus lanes in order to obtain their taxis they are being exposed to potential hazards far in excess of those they face now.

“It is extremely unlikely that they will – under the present system which has worked well for at least 12 years – be run over by a bus. The new layout, however, will greatly increase the likelihood of conflict between pedestrians and traffic.”

He added: “Little or no consideration seems to have been taken with respect towards the disabled, frail and elderly who I feel it must be considered are potentially even more at risk.”

The new layout arose from a report by Atkins which claimed that the level of damage and/or slight injuries over the past five years “suggests that there is a risk that a more serious incident involving personal injury will occur”.

The report added: “No change is not an option. The risk associated with authorised users which can most easily be controlled arises through reversing movements made by taxis.”

But Cllr Patrick retorted: “The report by Atkins is flawed with regards to the personal injury accidents which happened on the approach road to the Horsefair and not on the Horsefair itself as stated in the report.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter