Bus Station – Public have a Right to be Listened To
It is really good news after months of speculation that the Northampton Borough and County Council plans for the new Bus Station have been made available which will give everyone and especially the bus users the opportunity to have a look at them.
Labour has been listening to both the public and the transport professionals who will be working from the new bus station and who have between them raised a number of concerns relating to the size and operational capability of it being sited on the Fishmarket site.
There is no doubt that the demolition of the existing bus station and its replacement is pivotal to the regeneration and redevelopment of Northampton and as such the views and concerns that are being expressed need to be taken into account by the Leader of the Borough Council and his colleagues.
Labour believe that in order to avoid a whole raft of complaints and challenges it is in the interest of Northampton Borough Council to hold an open and honest debate and consultation on what is a major development and of great importance for the future of the town.
At the last Council meeting the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Re-generation stated very clearly that they would attend any public meeting and in fact would also hold a ‘series of public meetings’.
Unfortunately what was said has not been delivered and the ‘series of public meetings’ in fact saw the issue tagged on to the agendas of the existing forums which the Labour group believe is unacceptable and is why at the next Full Council meeting we have tabled the following Motion.
“The Council is concerned that the Conservative Administration appears to be reneging on a promise by them to ‘hold a series of public meetings’ made at the last Council full meeting on 12th March 2012. The public meetings promised are just adding the issue to existing NBC forum agendas.
This Council believes that while consulting with NBC forums is a welcome move this is not what was entirely meant at the previous full Council meeting.
This Council notes that forums are held at times which are unfriendly to those who work long hours during the week. So whilst forums are open many sections of our population are unable to attend any of them.
This Council therefore calls on the Conservative Administration to honour its promise to hold an inclusive public meeting and believes,
- Such a public meeting should be widely advertised including posters in Greyfriars Bus Station.
- Advertising must start at least three weeks prior to the public meeting.
- The meeting to be held on a Saturday morning or afternoon in the Great Hall, Guildhall. A weekend means more people can come along and have their say.
- Open to all members of the public with seats allocated on a first come first serve basis
- Give a presentation and take questions from those members of the public present.
The panel must include the Leader of the Council, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and invite the relevant portfolio on Northamptonshire County Council to attend”
It is less than two years when I stood in the Council Chamber and accused the then Liberal Democrat administration of being frightened to hold an open public debate over the issue of supporting the Saints and Cobblers which as we now know eventually led to a debate taking place.
It is inconceivable that the Conservative administration would refuse to hold a debate on an issue that to some may well be considered to be even more important; however I have it from a reliable source that they will be rejecting the call on Monday night.
I hope my sources within the Borough Conservative Group are wrong and that they will if as you would expect from a mature and confident administration who believe that the evidence supports their decision have the courage to support the call for a public meeting and argue their case.
A failure to call a meeting will only fuel the perception that the Conservative administration under its current leader are only interested in the marketing/PR element of politics and will continue to ignore the views and treat the people of Northampton with contempt.
Monday night’s Council meeting may well provide the answer.