Coronavirus leads to further 'stay of execution' for Caddington bus shelter

A bus shelter in a Bedfordshire village has received a further stay of execution because of the coronavirus crisis.

The brick structure in Caddington was expected to have been saved from being demolished, following a village vote.

Placard waving protesters were hoping their wish to preserve it would be supported by Central Bedfordshire councillors.

Around 50 campaigners prevented workers accessing the bus stop, as they arrived to remove the shelter in August.

Caddington bus shelter

Villagers vowed to stay there day and night to prevent it being torn down.

That triggered a review of the options open to the local authority and a poll was held in January, following talks with the parish council.

There were 1,316 votes in favour of preserving the shelter, with 72 votes to have it dismantled.

Residents were asked: “Should CBC demolish the brick bus shelter on Luton Road?”

The outcome prompted CBC’s executive committee to reconsider a decision to tear it down.

Now the coronavirus lockdown has delayed a final verdict being reached.

The parish council first approached CBC about the possible removal of the shelter in May 2016.

Councillors were due to discuss the issue again at an executive meeting on Tuesday via Skype.

But the technology involved to stage the meeting meant the public would have been excluded.

And by the time CBC was satisfied the meeting could be held online it was too close to the event for it to be considered a formal process.

The meeting was declared informal, with the council leader and Conservative Westoning, Flitton and Greenfield councillor James Jamieson telling the executive that no firm policy decision’s could be taken.

He explained that the Caddington bus shelter issue would be deferred to a later date, when residents could contribute if they wish.

The original decision to demolish it was taken at a CBC traffic management meeting.

Supporters refer to “its historic value, its possible use as a bus stop if a service is reinstated on this route, and its potential as an alternative community use”.

Opponents say the shelter attracts anti-social behaviour including graffiti, no bus services stop there, and the visibility of motorists is reduced at a nearby junction.

After the protest last May, CBC asked the parish council “to invite the views of residents on the future of the shelter”, according to a report to the executive.

It was noted that “no services registered with the local authority were using the bus stop”, said the report.

Owned by the parish council, the bus shelter is “on land over which there is public highway”, which is why CBC had to be consulted.

“Currently the bus stop is used by the 230 bus service with one departure a day, Monday to Friday, to Stockwood Park Academy,” added the report.

“This is a free bus service funded by the CASE group and Caddington and Slip End Community Trust.”

A recommendation to keep the bus shelter and agree any necessary improvements, costing around £10,000, is now on hold.