FAREHAM’S council has rejected an idea to stop spending money on bus shelters – but says it might give the contract to look after them to a new firm.
The borough’s Streetscene panel was talking about whether it should carry on spending £7,000 a year on shelters – which pays for two new ones or upgrades to four existing shelters.
The council spends the money even though it does not legally have to and despite the fact it has no say over bus routes or providing subsidies.
At the moment, there are 161 shelters in the borough, which are overseen by a firm called Primesight under a 15-year contract. This ends in 2016.
Primesight maintains the shelters in exchange for advertising rights on 47 shelters.
Councillors acknowledged that this contract had sometimes proved problematic due to the length of time it takes for Primesight to carry out emergency repairs, and said they would look again at the contract when it was up for renewal.
There have also been occasions where bus shelters have been installed by the council, such as those at Portchester Crematorium, and then the bus company has changed the route, making them redundant.
This has led people to question whether it is wise to spend any money on them. The panel was asked to consider whether ‘the council should be providing bus shelters at all’ as it falls to the county council to deal with bus subsidies, and the bus company takes the profits.
Cllr Arthur Mandry said: ‘We should be providing bus shelters. I saw a number of people in Hill Head standing in the rain this morning. If we are going to encourage people to use public transport, then we should be providing shelters as an incentive.’
Cllr David Swanbrow said: ‘I must say, I am very grateful of them on a wet and windy day.’
Cllr Peter Davies, chairman of the housing tenancy board and bus expert, joined the meeting and asked for a programme to be devised to paint the older galvanised steel shelters.
He suggested that the cost of this could be brought down by using voluntary groups, or by being part of community service.