Overnight protest saves Caddington bus shelter from demolition after ‘council and police turned up without warning’

Protesting on May 30 after the council put barriers up.
Protesting on May 30 after the council put barriers up.

Caddington residents have been upset by Central Bedfordshire Council who turned up unannounced with police to demolish “an important community bus shelter”.

A large number of villagers held a protest on May 16 to demonstrate against the council’s decision to remove the shelter, located on the pavement of Luton Road, arguing that they and the parish council had been treated “poorly” by CBC.

However, they claim that without warning council workmen then turned up with police at around 7am on the morning of Thursday, May 30, to knock it down. Due to the strength of feeling, CBC abandoned the demolition work.

Mike Russell, resident, claimed: “I would like to ask why the council felt it necessary to turn up in the early morning with police cars to a sleepy little village?

“Someone saw and rang round, and about 30-40 villagers turned up in protest. Some slept at the shelter overnight.

“The council put bollards up but there was a funeral at [nearby] All Saints Church on Friday and that caused problems for the cars. Why didn’t the council tell anyone?

“The barriers weren’t removed until 3pm [on Friday].

“Why does the council take such an issue with the shelter? Only one person complained about graffiti and its location is not dangerous.”

No bus services have stopped at the shelter since 2005, however, it has been argued that private school buses still use it.

Councillor Matthew Tomlin of Caddington Parish Council, said: “The bus stop is used daily by school children and is a safe place in the village. [Private] coaches also use it.

“It was a surprise to the parish council that Central Bedfordshire’s workmen arrived on May 30. However, I am glad CBC backed down and are willing to talk to us.”

In a statement over the bus shelter, a Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman, said: “We were originally intending to demolish the bus shelter at the request of Caddington residents (on the grounds of safety and that it attracted graffiti).

“Back in December, a decision was made in public to remove the shelter on the back of petitions for and against its removal.

“The petition for removal had more signatures and buses haven’t stopped at the shelter since 2005.

“However, the community has since become much more engaged with the future of this bus shelter.

“Given the strength of community feeling recently expressed, we are therefore now inviting the local parish council to work with the community to find an agreeable way forward.”

CBC confirmed that the barriers have been removed and also noted that its school buses do not use the stop.

It also said that ahead of the December 2018 public meeting where the decision was made,there were 151 signatures to retain it, but 192 signatures for demolition.

A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman, said: “We attended [on May 30] in order to facilitate lawful protest and in order to prevent any possible breach of the peace. We sent two police officers and a PCSO and the protest passed without issue.”