Demand for action at “shambolic” Lewes bus station

Lewes bus station
Lewes bus station

A LEWES Town Councillor, having received complaints about the lack of facilities at the town’s bus station, has started a campaign to improve the situation.

Independent Stephen Catlin (Lewes Priory) has written to the district and county councils, as well as the owner of the site, calling for a meeting to get the ball rolling and call a halt to five years’ “lack of inspiration” since the change in ownership.

The recently published ‘Lewes District Shopping and Town Centre Study’, compiled by consultants GL Hearn, states categorically: “The dated bus station is located relatively centrally and whilst facilities are limited, (‘non-existent’ says Cllr Catlin) it does provide a hub for services from the surrounding rural hinterland/vilages as well as the coastal towns to the South.”

Cllr Catlin added: “And, it must not be forgotten that the buses from one end of the town to the other also stop there providing essential transport for those unable to carry heavy shopping very far.”

He noted that the main input must come from the county council as the highways authority and main providers of subsidy for the bus companies. He has canvassed support from other town councillors to explore the provision of seating at the bus station, noting that although other authorities should take the lead, he sees the town council’s role as vital in doing its best to enhance amenities in the town.

“When, and if, the bus station is redeveloped, those seats could be moved elsewhere,” he said.

The owners cite lack of income as the reason for their lack of expenditure, said Cllr Catlin. He said: “We cannot continue to excuse the lack of action in this matter. Lewes is the county town for East Sussex and the bus station is a shambolic example of bureaucratic sloth and lack of inspiration.”

He said the owners claim they only received 70p per departure as fees from certain services and he was of the opinion that when the Waitrose site comes in for development, the bus station will undoubtedly be redeveloped.

“But plans have not even been deposited for this scheme and it could have another five or even 10 years of life. The rot must be stopped now,” he said. “It is much to Lewes District Council’s credit that, when that time comes, it expects to see a replacement bus station with adequate waiting, toilet and other facilities provided.”

He agreed with the district council’s view that as the bus station is in private ownership it is the duty of the owner to maintain it in a tidy condition, not the local authority, and called on the owners to show greater interest in the site.

Cllr Catlin continued on Wednesday: “East Sussex County Council has stated that it hopes to come back to me within the next 10 days or so with its comments, and I welcome this. But Lewes must see some action soon.”