Fight begins to get Burnley bus station signs switched back on

MP Gordon Birtwistle collects names for the petition to have the electronic display boards returned to Burnley Bus Station
MP Gordon Birtwistle collects names for the petition to have the electronic display boards returned to Burnley Bus Station

BURNLEY MP Gordon Birtwistle is fronting a campaign to get electronic signs at Burnley Bus Station switched back on.

The lights on the departure boards at the Centenary Way site were turned off in December, as part of Lancashire County Council’s budget cuts. Funding for signs in Nelson, Lancaster, Chorley and Skelmersdale was also withdrawn.

After complaints from his constituents, including members of the macular degeneration society, Mr Birtwistle launched the Time to Sign petition at Burnley Bus Station.

Mr Birtwistle said: “We are doing a petition to send to the county council, to put the luminous departure lights back on.

“We are planning to run it for three to four weeks. It is one of the biggest complaints I get. The council can’t do this to people – it’s outrageous.”

One of the main concerns raised after boards were switched off was that it would affect people with poor eyesight.

For macular degeneration society member Edna Slater, who has been leading calls for the electronic signs to be turned back on, it was a reliable service that provided her with independence.

She said: “There are a lot of people like myself who have poor sight. The electronic boards were fantastic. They gave you the time the bus was coming in, they were lit up, and the writing was distinctive.

“The drivers are marvellous, and they do all they can, but they have a job to do, and I don’t want to be pestering. It confused me no end when they were switched off.”

The launch attracted attention from councillors and members of the public, who put pen to paper to “demand the departure boards at Burnley Bus Station are turned back on”. Within minutes of introducing his petition, Mr Birtwistle had already attracted 30 signatures.

Coun. Charlie Briggs said: “I fully support the decision to switch the boards back on. It is an absolute disgrace.”

Julie Kearney (47), from Burnley, said: “The petition is a very good idea. When the boards were switched off I was like ‘here goes another service we’ve got’. It’s not so much me, but it’s the older people who can’t see.”

Sheila Heys (81), from Burnley, said: “I think the petition is a great idea. People coming to the station get absolutely lost when they are looking for their buses – it’s difficult. They should never have been turned off.”

Lancashire County Council decided to withdraw funding for the information displays at various different bus stations, to save £47,000 over the next two years.

Responding to the Time to Sign petition, County Coun. Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Faced with the need to cut £205m. from its budget by 2013/14, the county council identified a range of savings aimed at protecting front-line services.

“We continue to provide information on posters at the stations, and timetables will still be available on our website and the Traveline website, via SMS and mobile internet or by calling Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 from 8am to 8pm.

“We are committed to listening to the people of Lancashire and will obviously look carefully at any petition we may receive.”