COUNCIL bosses have defended their decision to hike fees for companies using Spalding’s bus station.
Last week we revealed that the firms who use the station are complaining about a rise in the charges they pay for using the station, which have gone up by 157 per cent.
South Holland District Council, which manages the station, says it has not put up the fees since 2005 when they rose from 6p per visit to 7p.
Its fees will now rise by 11p per bus to 18p and the council says that is still well below many neighbouring authorities which are looking to charge 30p.
Neighbourhood services manager Glen Chapman said: “We realise that any increase is not welcome by those who pay the fees. However, in these difficult times our duty is to the council tax payer first and it is not unreasonable to raise our charges which are still substantially lower than our neighbours.”
The bus companies are refusing to pay the fees which are backdated to last April and for operator Brylaine Travel mean a £1,760 jump.
They say that the bus station is full of potholes, there is no timetable service for passengers and that the toilets are closed at 4.30pm – leaving drivers with a trip to Sainsbury’s in Holland Market to use their facilities.
The council says that it is looking to repair the potholes in the station – but that the fees it receives do not cover the cost of maintaining the station or repairing vandalism there.
Mr Chapman added: “As far as the condition of the bus station is concerned we have a contractor on standby to repair the potholes as soon as the weather allows.
“Unfortunately the amount of revenue we get from the charges – in 2009/10 the total income from these charges was £2402.33 – does not allow us to do much more as these payments have to cover the cost of repair and maintenance including the result of vandalism.”
The firms have threatened to stop using the bus station.
Ben Colson, boss of Norfolk Green which runs the Spalding to King’s Lynn service, said: “This issue is certainly not dead. We plan to keep the pressure up but we haven’t heard anything from them at this time.”