I attended a Town Council Planning meeting recently at which they discussed the bus congestion in the Market Place.
Since the reduction in bus services and changes to timetables discussed in this column over a year ago, there have been constant problems with the number of buses congregating in the Market Place including regular instances where three or more buses are there at the same time and clog up the entire road.
Discussions at the meeting mentioned at least one instance where emergency services were unable to get past.
Apparently Councillors have been discussing these problems with the County Council Highways staff and have come up with a solution.
The whole of the south side of the Market Place is being made into bus stops. The disabled parking spaces which are currently in place outside the charity shops, jewellers and building society will be moved around the corner into Newbury Street (where there is currently an unused bus stop).
We have also been doing the occasional spot checks of buses in the Market Place ourselves and noticed that there are often buses parked there either not in service or waiting to meet the timetable.
We believe that the bus stop in Seesen Way was created particularly to allow buses to wait but is rarely used and that the stops in the Market Place are only supposed to be used for buses dropping or picking up passengers.
Yet one evening last week, the new S9 (formerly the X30) was parked in the Market Place with “Not in Service” notices for at least 15 minutes while the driver went for a coffee. Similarly the 38 arrived, the driver went for a cigarette and the bus waited for at least 10 minutes before leaving 4 minutes early.
Creating more space for buses may just encourage the drivers to spend more time in the Market Place.
A couple of years ago the Neighbourhood Plan working groups were discussing plans for making the Market Place more attractive and creating more of a café culture in Wantage but who would want to sit outside a café looking at a line of buses?
On another topic, a number of people have pointed out an error in last week’s column in which I mentioned the work done by Dr Squires who led the campaign to build the Community Hospital in the first place. I credited this work to Dick Squires and of course it was his father. Sorry Dick. Dick Squires is the person responsible for creating our Museum.