Bus shelter plan at Tesco on hold

A FIVE-YEAR campaign for a new shelter to protect bus travellers from the wind and rain outside a Lowestoft superstore has hit another hurdle after road safety fears were raised.

Campaigners calling for the new bus shelter near the Tesco store at Leisure Way, Gunton, had dared to believe that the long-running battle to get shoppers somewhere dry to wait might finally be coming to an end.

Suffolk County Council and the supermarket giant had been working together to come up with a plan for the stop, with the local authority meeting the full cost.

Rod Lock, from the East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA), said he thought the only remaining obstacle was a land transfer, which required permission from Tesco's landlord.

'But that's not now the critical issue,' he said this week. 'Tesco has introduced the question of road safety. They are worried about the road safety implications of buses stopping on the carriageway.'

The supermarket said it would be happy to release the land but was first carrying out an assessment of the site. It believes the road layout of the road needs to change if the larger but stop is to be safe.

A Tesco spokesman told the Journal: 'The council has provided us with plans but we believe safety measures could be improved further and should not be compromised where the public is concerned.

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'Traffic planners are working hard to carry out assessments and as soon as they have the results we'll report back to the council.'

Suffolk County Council said it was waiting for a response from Tesco and was not aware of the latest concerns.

Mr Lock said he did not understand the reason for the newest delay which meant shoppers were waiting in the cold for a sixth winter.

He said: 'At the moment there is only a basic wooden seat which takes four people. Twelve bus services an hour call at this location.

'Cars have to pass them but they do it quite safely. There is no danger as I see it.'

ESTA is an independent group representing bus and train users in east Suffolk. Its secretary said standing at the current bus stop in the winter, which is already shaping up to be a harsh one, was 'awful'.

Tesco said: 'We share the frustration of our customers who come to us by bus. That's why we provide a dedicated bus terminus in the store car park. Some bus operators use this because it is convenient and safe for passengers and offers shelter from the elements. We would be delighted if other bus operators wanted to use this stop too.'

First Eastern Counties did use the stops in the car park but decided to move to Leisure Way after changes to the layout were made because of safety fears.

Last night a spokesman said the company understood the frustration passengers felt at still not having a proper shelter, but added: 'We are confident that Suffolk County Council is working as quickly as possible to find a solution to this problem.'

ESTA chairman Trevor Garrod said: 'It should surely not be difficult for the various stakeholders to reach an agreement and get a shelter erected before the end of the winter.'

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