PLANS to shave just three minutes off bus journey times have been rejected over concerns about congestion and pollution.

Arriva had requested Durham County Council reopen a bus stop on Hallgarth Street for services leaving Durham.

The company claimed this would improve the punctuality of services linking the city with Coxhoe, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, including the 56, 57, 57A and X12, which would no longer use Church Street.

If approved it would have reopened a bus stop at the top of Hallgarth Street, near the Mountjoy Roundabout, which has not been used since the early 1990s.

The Northern Echo:

The disused bus stop in Hallgarth Street

But a meeting of the council’s Highways Committee heard the proposals had prompted complaints from nearby households.

Cllr David Freeman said: “The reason given by Arriva is the congestion in Church Street, the current route.

“But I think as a council we should be trying to resolve the issues in Church Street, rather than spreading it to other streets.”

“We’ve got one congested street – if we do this we will have two congested streets.”

Cllr Freeman’s Liberal Democrat colleague, Cllr Richard Ormerod, accused the council of ‘lying down and rolling over for big business’ in backing Arriva’s request to move the bus stop.

A report for councillors had recommended approving the plans, claiming they would ‘significantly improve punctuality’.

It said pedestrians on Church Street hampered traffic at peak times, with more than 550 walkers using the road’s zebra crossing in one hour.

Cllr Stuart Dunn, who represents Coxhoe, said he felt compelled to support the scheme for the sake of his constituents who relied on the route.

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Stuart Dunn

He said: “It would be better if we used a more strategic solution, such as putting sensors on buses and traffic lights so they can sense when a bus is coming [to improve traffic flow].

“But in the meantime this is something the residents of my deprived community and ward need.”

Dave Wafer, the council’s strategic traffic manager, said “cutting [bus] routes was the starting point” when Arriva first contacted the council about the service, before hitting on the idea of moving the bus stop.

He added the best way to curb emissions was to protect bus routes.

But councillors were not persuaded and voted to reject the application.

Arriva has been contacted for comment.