COUNCIL chiefs are back-pedalling rapidly, after it emerged bike lockers installed in a £500,000 bus station renovation are unusable.

The four grey plastic lockers have stood empty since being installed at Durham City’s bus station, in North Road, in 2006.

Durham County Council officials failed to work out how the keyoperated devices, which cost a total of £850, would be allocated and managed, leaving them to gather dust and rubbish ever since.

The cock-up was discovered by a Durham cyclist who uses the bus station to get to work and inquired about getting access to a locker.

He said the issue was a great example of waste and highlighted the “incompetence” of the council.

Andy Leadbeater, Durham County Council’s business manager for passenger transport, said the lockers were installed in an effort to improve security but their management had proved “difficult”.

In a statement, Mr Leadbeater said: “These lockers were installed because we wanted to provide a secure storage facility and they were considered the best option at the time. Unfortunately management of the locker keys has proven difficult and despite looking at a number of solutions we have been unable to solve this problem.”

It now seems the lockers will be moved away from the bus station and replaced with bike stands.

Mr Leadbeater said: “We are hoping to relocate the lockers to somewhere where they are easier to manage and are also looking to install more conventional cycle stands at the bus station.”

In an email seen by The Northern Echo, Ian Henry, a council travel planning team leader, said the problem was “perhaps not as simple as it first appears.”

Durham County Council bought Durham’s Seventies-built bus station from bus operator Arriva in 2005 and launched a three-month makeover, including the installation of a new waiting area, seats, toilets, lights and an electronic real-time travel information board.

In 2007, the council bought the four shops and offices on the station’s North Road frontage and secured £3.2m from regional development agency One North East to demolish and rebuild the facility. However, only limited changes went ahead.