Budget cuts could result in closure of main bus station
Lewis Smith Local Democracy Reporter
A cash-strapped local authority could close its main bus station and public toilets in an effort to save £16m.
The bus station and associated toilets on Quarella Road, Bridgend, have been named among the potential money-saving proposals, as the local authority begins its budget setting process for 2024-25.
It is a potential move that some have said could cause “lasting damage” to the town, and comes alongside a number of other proposed measures, such as a 5% cut in school budgets, the closure of Bridgend recycling centres for an additional day over the weekend, and a 9.5% increase in council tax.
The proposed budget for Bridgend in 2024-25 is £359.725m, and although this is an increase in the overall figure in comparison to last year, council officers say it is still less than the rise in inflation, and does not cover the cost of increased service demands.
The report, which will be presented to members at a cabinet meeting this month, says the closure of the bus station could result in a saving of £100,000 for the 2025-26 budget, but adds that it could have a detrimental impact on residents and air quality in the area.
It read: “Impact on city region, connectivity hub, and potential impact on air quality due to relocation of buses. May have a detrimental impact on regional transport with no main bus station and impact on reputation of the council. Potential impact on Bus Services Support Grant.”
Nathan Deere is a town councillor for Bridgend and says if the closure was to go ahead, it would have a severe impact on residents who use the bus service, as well as traders in the town who rely on footfall to keep their businesses afloat.
He said: “This will severely impact the residents, as well as transport and access to the town. It’s going to create a barrier for people coming into Bridgend and will also impact on the traders who have already been struggling.
“At present we only have one public toilet in Bridgend which is at the station, so that will be an additional loss as visitors will be unable to use a toilet when they come into the town centre.
“It’s not really a great advert to say to people you can visit Bridgend on the bus, but we will drop you off somewhere outside of the town and when you get here, you can’t use the toilet. It’s also making it inaccessible to people with mobility issues, and I urge the council to reconsider these proposals.”
David Unwin is an independent town councillor for Bridgend who uses the bus station every day, and said: “Closure of the bus station will lose all comforts for travelling passengers, including information services and the all important last remaining public toilet in Bridgend town centre.
“Whatever savings they think they can make are totally insignificant to the lasting damage it will do to bus travel and the prosperity of the town centre.”
The proposal comes as residents in nearby Maesteg also spoke out about the lack of “lifeline” services that had left people cut off in the town, as well as across the wider area.
The budget proposals will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 16, with a final decision expected to be made in February.
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