Fareham to Gosport bus team win award for getting scheme through the courts

CHALLENGED Bus scheme was delayed by court action
CHALLENGED Bus scheme was delayed by court action
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The News Business Excellence Awards 2018''Sweet Dreamers, winners of the Overall Business of the Year.''Picture Credit: Keith Woodland PPP-180223-233121006

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THE legal team that helped prevent a controversial bus scheme from being stopped in its tracks by the courts has won a national award.

Hampshire County Council’s legal services have scooped the Local Government Municipal Journal Award for best legal team for its work on the Bus Rapid Transit scheme.

The two-mile stretch along the disused rail line between Fareham and Gosport was the source of three legal challenges – including one that went to the highest court in the land.

The scheme aims to improve traffic links in the area and ease congestion on the A32.

Viv Morge of Wych Lane in Bridgemary, fought the scheme on the grounds it would damage local wildlife, including bats and badgers.

Work on the £25m project was halted while the scheme went through the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, delaying it for several months.

Ms Morge said: ‘They’ve won an award for trampling over all of the people who didn’t want this to go through. I was fighting for the wildlife and everything that surrounds it.’

Residents had also applied for registration of village greens along the BRT route, off Tichborne Way and off Fareham Road, which could have potentially stopped the scheme entirely, but these were also refused following public inquiries.

The scheme, now known as Eclipse, began running April.

Judges were looking for evidence of innovation and creativity, great leadership and management, a positive impact on the local community, and value for money.

Council leader Ken Thornber praised the team’s expertise and innovation.

He added: ‘As is often the case when new and innovative ideas are put into place, plans do not always run as smoothly as we hope, and I’d like to thank the Legal Services for its excellent work.’