Medway Council row over Chatham bus station lease

Medway Council will have to spend about £300,000 to bring Chatham's main bus firm to the town's new £5m bus station, Labour politicians have said.

The Labour group said the Tory-run council had left it until the 11th hour to reach a deal with Arriva.

Deputy council leader Alan Jarrett said there had been long-running talks with Arriva but the council had to pay the firm's old lease for Arriva to move.

A special full council meeting is being held. Arriva has declined to comment.

According to the Labour group, Arriva's lease will expire in 2018 at the old bus station in the town's Pentagon shopping centre.

The new bus station is due to open on 10 October.

'Eleventh hour deal'

Deputy Labour leader Vince Maple said: "It's quite an important thing in a bus station to have buses.

"From what we can see, the administration have left it until the 11th hour to finalise the details with the biggest provider here in Medway."

Councillor Maple said the council had called an urgent meeting - to be held in secret - in which hundreds of thousands pounds of taxpayers' money would be spent.

The Labour group is calling for the meeting to be held in public, so the council can be made "fully accountable to the public and the press".

Conservative Councillor Jarrett said the meeting came at the end of long-running negotiations with Arriva and was being held in secret because of commercially-sensitive information.

He said: "They [Arriva] have lease costs that they don't wish to bear and that's understandable. We've been negotiating with them for some months. We've come up with a figure that we believe is the best we can get."

He added: "Arriva are a commercial company, they want someone to cover their lease costs and unfortunately we are going to have to do it."

Mr Jarrett said Arriva would be paying a departure charge of 70p per bus in the new station, which would be a significant cost.

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