Bus chief hits out at 'absurd' gypsy site plan

A TRANSPORT chief has slammed controversial plans for a traveller and gypsy site which he says are being "railroaded" through by Cambridge City Council.

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach in Cambridgeshire, believes proposals to create the site, at the golf driving range in Cowley Road, near the park and ride site and Stagecoach's depot are "absurd."

He also criticised Wednesday's two-hour early-morning slot for the public to look at the proposed layout and design of the site, which will provide a place for gypsies and travellers to stop in the short-term.

His views on the two-hour window were echoed by Councillor Elizabeth Hughes, for the King's Hedges ward, who branded it "undemocratic" and "unfair."

Mr Campbell said: "I am mystified as to why this seems to be progressing at such a rate of knots. It seems the decision has already been taken and the plans will be railroaded through.

"I am concerned this will lead to a driver shortage in the city because we will lose drivers if this goes ahead.

"And I have told the council that, if the plan goes ahead, we will not invest in new technology at the Cowley Road Park and Ride, including optical guidance buses, because there will just not be the business there to warrant it."

Councillor Hughes said she had sympathy with the council which she said had a statutory duty to make provisions for gypsies and travellers, but said the time given to the public to look at the plans should be longer.

She said: "It may be that giving up the golf range is the most appropriate option.
"But I think that people should be given a reasonable amount of time to find out about the plans - and not giving them that time is undemocratic and unfair."

A spokesman from the golf driving range said: "The council seems to have organised this two-hour session on purpose because they have had one meeting already which was in the morning to which a lot of people couldn't go."

Council leader Ian Nimmo-Smith and council officers met members of the public between 8am and 10am on Wednesday at Orwell House, off Cowley Road.

Liz Bisset, director of community services at the council, said: "This particular session was aimed at people who use the Park and Ride provision. The timing has been made to coincide with the time people go onto the city from the Park and Ride.

"But it is not the only consultation. Tonight we have a consultation with local businesses. If people would like to look at the plans again, or contact us for more information, then we are very happy for them to do that.

"We would consider holding further sessions, depending on how many people raised objections."