“No” to Thetford bus station relocation

A results of a parish poll in Thetford at which the majority of people voted against plans to relocate the town bus station will be given 'due consideration', according to officials.

Moving Thetford Forward board member Mark Robinson praised the 'dignified' way in which a campaign against the plans had been conducted and said the results would be discussed at the next board meeting.

A total of 14.7pc, or 2, 368 people, of 16, 079 registered voters in the town, voted at the referendum on Tuesday 9 which asked: 'Do you want the bus station to move from its current site at the Anchor to the site on St Nicholas Street.'

Of those, 1,921, or 81pc, voted 'no', while 443, or 19pc, voted 'yes'. Four ballot papers were spoilt.

The scheme is part of wider regeneration plans by the Moving Thetford Forward board which could see the town's Anchor site transformed with shops, cafes, a hotel and cinema. There had been some objection in the town though from those who felt moving the bus station to the Minstergate site would be unsuitable, and in recent weeks a Vote No campaign had sprung up.

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Mr Robinson said: 'I think we as a board now have to give due consideration along with the three previous consultations previously taken, although we do have some concerns about the inaccuracies in the Vote No campaign leaflets. Only 12pc of the total electorate voted no and 85pc of the electorate didn't vote.

'This is just the beginning as far as we're concerned - we appreciate people's concerns about the changes. I think we will discuss this at the next Moving Thetford Forward board meeting.'

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A campaign group called Vote No circulated plans before the referendum which showed how the bus station could look if developed on its current Anchor site.

The plan would also allow for the retention of the front facade of the Anchor Hotel which would have 20 bedrooms, and space would be set aside on the riverside site for some small businesses. The proposed cinema would be next to the current Argos site.

Stuart Wilson, who first called for the poll last year, said he was pleased with the poll turnout, considering there were no postal or proxy votes and that polling stations were only open for five hours.

He added: 'I'm pleased the people of Thetford got out and voted to express their views which we had a feeling would be that they wanted the bus station left and developed on the Anchor site.

'Now we have to first of all try to get the Moving Thetford Forward board to respect the wishes of the residents because all along they've been saying they want us to have a say in our future and now the people of Thetford want this.'

Mr Wilson also denied there were any inaccuracies in the Vote No material.

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