A dispute between councils could mean that a new 3,500-home development could go without bus services for two years.
The North Whiteley development is being built at the moment, and Whiteley Town Council has agreed in principle to own bus shelters across the area.
However, due to the estate being outside the town council’s area, a boundary review has been launched by Winchester City Council to allow the town council to take on the responsibility.
Sean Woodward, leader of neighbouring Fareham Borough Council, believes the boundary review is an attempt by the city council to ‘sneakily’ unload services to the town council so Winchester ‘looks as if they’ve got a low council tax’.
Speaking to the North Whiteley development forum, Winchester City councillor Hugh Lumby said: ‘The city council only owns bus shelters in the city, they seem to have an aversion to rural bus shelters – there are historical reasons for that.
‘The town council can’t take on bus shelters outside its parish and the problem is that a large part of North Whiteley is in Curdridge, not in Whiteley.
‘Curdridge doesn’t want the bus shelters because it doesn’t want the long-term ownership and Whiteley can’t take them on.’
Speaking to the forum, Councillor Woodward added: ‘One would’ve thought that it can’t be beyond the wit of Winchester City Council to own some bus shelters with the view of giving them to a parish council at a later date.
‘I’m sure people would happily bring an umbrella if there was a good bus service and they can stand without a shelter.
‘To think it’s being held up by an argument over bus shelter ownership beggars belief.’
It was later noted by the forum chairperson, Winchester City Councillor Vivian Achwal, that the boundary review could take two years to complete.
‘We can’t wait another two years,’ she said. We need to look at this one, rather urgently – we need to take this outside the meeting and push on, put some pressure somewhere.’
After the discussion city council leader Councillor Martin Tod said: ‘If there is anything the city council can do to solve the bus stop issue then I’m sure we will do what we can.’
Photo: Whiteley Town Council