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'Idiots' claim made in new Hunstanton bus shelter debate

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West Norfolk Council officials have been accused of treating community representatives in Hunstanton like “idiots” in the debate over who should maintain new bus shelters in the town.

Two new shelters are planned in St Edmunds Terrace to replace the current bus station, for which major redevelopment proposals were given the go-ahead in December.

A borough proposal for Hunstanton’s town council to take ownership of the new shelters was backed at a special meeting last night.

Hunstanton Library and Bus Station.. (37125842)
Hunstanton Library and Bus Station.. (37125842)

The issue had been deferred at the authority's regular meeting last week.

But further discussions are set to be sought on the detail of the deal after some members claimed the borough’s proposal to provide a one-off £15,000 payment towards maintenance costs was insufficient.

Although bus stops are meant to be maintained at the lowest level of local government, meaning the town council would be responsible, critics view this proposal as a replacement bus station, which would make the borough liable instead.

One of the dissenters, Wendy Croucher, said she had no problem with the idea of the town council owning the new facilities.

But she said the costs of maintaining the shelters over their anticipated 20 year life would be much higher than the amount offered by the borough.

She added: “This is a bus station and we are doing them a favour. What idiots do they think we are?

“If they want us to do this, they need to come to us with a realistic sum of money to cover the next 20 years.”

But town mayor Tony Bishopp suggested the town council could set up a special fund to deal with future costs of the shelters.

He also warned that if the authority refused to take them on, it could end up paying for them anyway, as the borough could impose charges under the special expenses system.

Mike Ruston said that, with the new shelters, buses would stop in broadly the same locations they had before the town even had a bus station.

He said: “What we’re worrying about, I don’t know.”

And deputy mayor Adrian Winnington, said taking ownership would give the town council much greater control over them.

He said: “I think we should take responsibility for things in our town.”

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