CHANGES made to a hospital bus stop is an ‘accident waiting to happen’, county chiefs have been warned.

Durham County Council approved work to fill in the layby outside the University Hospital of North Durham, just off Aykley Heads roundabout on the B6532.

Although it should mean passengers find it easier to queue and maintain social distancing, fears have been raised about the impact the change could have on drivers and road safety.

Opposition Liberal Democrat Councillor Liz Brown said: “Every time a bus stops now, an accident risk is created.

“There’s nothing to stop motorists overtaking, and in the space of a few minutes in the morning you can witness dozens of near misses. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Transport bosses at the council insist the new layout of the bus stop is now ‘standard across the country’ to try and minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections.

Signs warn motorists that buses may now stop in the road and road chiefs promise they are ‘monitoring the situation’.

But councillors have also raised concerns about the process of approving the changes, which were given the green light with minimal consultation.

Describing Aykley Heads as one of the busiest roundabouts in Durham City, the council’s opposition leader, Councillor Amanda Hopgood, claimed the work had created a ‘safe space [for bus travellers] at the expense of creating a dangerous scenario for motorists’.

But county chiefs have insisted speedy action was needed to minimise infections among those working and visiting the hospital while coronavirus lockdown restrictions are rolled back.

“This is a popular bus stop that is used regularly by hospital staff and patients, but the footpath at this location is narrow, making social distancing very difficult,” said Dave Wafer, the county council’s interim head of Transport and Contract Services.

“We had to act quickly to make our communities safe in the wake of the pandemic and have put in place more than 150 measures across the county to give pedestrians more space.

“Due to the tight timescales, we were regrettably not able to consult as we would in normal circumstances.”