Plans to Demolish Caerphilly Railway and Bus Stations Sparks Controversy as Opposition Claims “Utter Madness”
Plans to demolish Caerphilly railway and bus stations and replace them with a modern interchange have been branded “utter madness” by opposition councillors.
Plaid Cymru representatives called the plans a waste of money, and said the new-look buildings weren’t in-keeping with the town’s heritage – and were more akin to something found in a so-called ‘new town’ like Milton Keynes.
They also criticised the degree of public consultation on the new designs.
But Caerphilly’s Labour group, which controls the council, has hit back, alleging Plaid representatives were “asleep” during “extensive” consultation events, and accusing the opposition group of “predictable negativity”.
Caerphilly County Borough Council is currently seeking planning permission for the project, which it said would provide an “integrated and accessible” transport hub, “seamlessly” connecting passengers and bringing “new opportunities and prosperity to the town”.
Lindsay Whittle, the leader of the opposition in the council chamber, is far less enthusiastic about the project and the designs for the new station.
“I am fed up with losing old buildings linked to our past,” he said. “The council’s primary role should be preserving and enhancing all existing old buildings, if we are to retain any character of our old town.”
Cllr Whittle said “ugly glass buildings” have no place in a “castle town”.
“They do little if anything to enhance the character of our town,” he said. “We could be in Milton Keynes or any non-descript town or city. Caerphilly needs to be distinctive.”
He also took aim at the council for the proposed demolition of the former station ticket office and the park and ride facilities, calling the interchange plan a “total waste of £40 million of public money”.
Plaid would instead turn that ticket office into a “visitor centre or museum”.
Town mayor Mike Prew, who represents Plaid on Caerphilly Town Council, also criticised the interchange plans but acknowledged “improvements were needed” to the existing facilities.
He also said the council should have engaged in more public consultation before pressing ahead with the project.
Cllr Prew said hosting the consultation documents on the council’s own website had been a “flawed” strategy and “supposes that people are regularly checking with the council website in case ‘something’ comes up”.
“They also mention that email newsletters are being utilised,” he added. “But not everyone is on email or has a computer – particularly older members of the community – so they are in grave danger of being ignored.”
A Labour spokesperson challenged this criticism, remarking that Plaid councillors “must have been asleep for the whole period of extensive consultation on the interchange”.
“It was pleasing to see so many people visit the recent 25-day exhibition held in Caerphilly town centre, where a number of face to face sessions were run to discuss key investment opportunities for the town,” the Labour spokesperson added.
“The overwhelming number of responses has been in support of creating a modern transport interchange, suitable to make Caerphilly a real destination and an important intervention in helping to revitalise the high street.
“As ever, no matter what the investment opportunity in Caerphilly town centre, local Plaid Cymru members will continue to oppose with their usual and predictable negativity.”
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