A NORTH-East council knew a defunct bus stop was not on any bus routes nearly six months before it spent more than £5,000 on a new shelter, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Labour-led Durham County Council told The Northern Echo that bus operator Arriva twice confirmed its services would use the stop, near the Salutation pub, in Framwellgate Moor, Durham City, before it spent £5,180 on a glazed shelter.
However, The Northern Echo has obtained an email, sent last August, in which a council transport official acknowledged the shelter was out of use and promised it would not be replaced.
Months later, the scheme went ahead regardless.
The email reads: “The other shelter near the Salutation is no longer serviced therefore I cannot allocate any funds to this shelter and it will be pulled out of the scheme.”
Framwellgate Moor Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes, the recipient of the email, said: “The council’s incompetence on this goes beyond staggering. I told them that no buses stopped here before they installed it.
“A council officer even confirmed the fact that no buses stopped here. It’s absolutely absurd.” Asked to explain, Adrian White, the council’s head of transport, blamed a misunderstanding and repeated his earlier claim that Arriva had said the stop would be used.
In a statement issued last night, Mr White said: “This has clearly been the result of a misunderstanding and we are now looking to re-use the bus shelter in another location.
“Before any new busshelters are put in place, we check the local bus routes with the companies concerned.
“Unfortunately, following our checks on this occasion we were informed that this bus stop would continue to be used. Arriva subsequently confirmed that this is not the case.
“Clearly, this should not have happened and we would like to reassure residents that we intend to relocate the bus shelter at the earliest opportunity.
By doing this, the only unnecessary expenditure is the £580 relocation cost.”
Arriva said it had not used the bus stop for some time and blamed a misunderstanding for the mistake.
The council, which faces budget cuts of nearly £190m, spent £1,800 demolishing the old shelter and £2,800 building a replacement.
People living in the area say the bus stop has not been used for two years.
The upgrade was part of a countywide scheme to make public transport more attractive to passengers, under which nearly 100 brick bus shelters are being replaced.
The county council is closing leisure centres, slashing services and axing hundreds of jobs to cope with a 40 per cent spending cut up to 2017.