Chatham bus station opens in 'wrong place'

image captionConstruction of the bus station has taken longer and cost £2m more than expected

A controversial £7m bus station has opened in a Medway town five months late and over budget.

The bus station cost almost £2m more than originally planned, of which the council has had to spend nearly £750,000 more than expected.

Chatham Waterfront bus station, which will be used by 1,100 buses every day, is said by Medway Council to be a key part of the regeneration of the town.

But many residents feel it has been a waste of money.

Some say it is too far away from the main shopping centre, in an exposed site next to the river.

Council leader Rodney Chambers said it was an easy-to-use facility.

The new bus station, covered with wooden cladding and a green "living" roof, replaces a 1970s concrete structure at the Pentagon shopping centre.

The Sir John Hawkins flyover was demolished in 2008 to make way for it.

Ghislane Smith, from clothing retailer A F Smith and Sons in Chatham High Street, said most people were against the bus station being moved out of the Pentagon.

"We have had customers coming into the shop and saying they are not going to come to Chatham because of having to cross the road and go out in the weather," she said.

'Poorly-run project'

Vince Maple, deputy leader of the Labour opposition, said the bus station was in the wrong place.

"Residents with disabilities are going to find it difficult to get over here and use it," he said.

"The people of Medway were not consulted on where they wanted this to be. They feel it is a waste of money and a poorly-run project."

Conservative Mr Chambers said: "There was extensive consultation on three sites and this is the one that got the most approval.

"When we removed the flyover I was told that the heavens would fall upon me.

"People are now saying it was one of the best things we have done to improve the environment. This bus station is just part of enormous programme of regenerating Chatham."

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