Reepham Town Council could soon be considering a proposal to create a designated bus parking area in Bircham Road.
The street off Norwich Road near the town centre has recently become the subject of residents’ objections to Sanders Coaches’ buses parking there in between services. Residents have complained about the danger to cars being forced to reverse into Norwich Road, buses parking on the footpath and the fumes from the vehicles.
At the Town Council meeting on Wednesday 14 June, several Bircham Road residents said they were “not against buses in Reepham. But we are not happy for buses to be parking on Bircham Road. There has to be a better solution.”
The residents said the current situation had only arisen since last year, adding that buses could be parked on Bircham Road for up to an hour and that the highway code was continually being broken. “Even mothers [with buggies] sometimes can’t use the footpath,” said one resident. “It has to stop; it can’t continue. We just don’t want buses in Bircham Road.”
The residents suggested several alternative places where buses could park: outside the fire station on School Road, in the high school carpark off Whitwell Road or in the layby at the top of Station Road.
However, the Town Council explained that all these suggestions were not viable for various reasons. The high school said using its carpark is not an option in view of children safeguarding issues; Norfolk County Council (NCC) is not be happy about buses parking outside the fire station in the event of a fire (The Original Cottage Company uses the rear of the building for staff parking), and the layby on Station Road would require buses to turn around several times following a service terminating in the Market Place. It was also pointed out that drivers on their break need to be relatively near toilets and other facilities.
The Town Council had also looked – and rejected – the possibility of buses parking/turning in Stimpson’s Piece carpark and at Kerri’s Farmhouse Pine at Reepham Station.
It was reported to the meeting that NCC highway engineer Chris Mayes was not concerned about the safety aspect of the Bircham Road/Norwich Road junction, but would also look at the possibility of using Norwich Road for bus parking. The police similarly also had no objection to buses using Bircham Road, but said Norwich Road had an issue with buses parking outside one of the houses.
If there was no other feasible option available, NCC said it would “very carefully” consider installing a designated bus parking space in Bircham Road, with the cost being shared by NCC and Reepham Town Council under a parish partnership scheme.
Town Council chairman Les Paterson added that Bircham Road is probably the only practical place in Reepham where buses can turn around as they cannot do so in the Market Place. A designated bus parking space in Bircham Road seems to be the only option available to preserve a bus service in Reepham. “I can’t see any other solution,” Mr Paterson admitted.
The Town Council is now waiting for a response from NCC Highways, adding that it had received several positive letters and emails about the bus service in Reepham.
The residents attending the meeting declined the offer to be co-opted onto the Town Council (there are four vacancies) to try to come up with the “best solution all round” to this and other issues facing the town, as one councillor suggested.