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Death trap bus station slammed

CALLS have been made for major changes at Accrington's "overcrowded" bus station following the death of pensioner Joyce Rigby.

CALLS have been made for major changes at Accring-ton's "overcrowded" bus station following the death of pensioner Joyce Rigby.

And a £2.4m plan to move the station to Eagle Street, to integrate with the railway station, could be revived in the wake of the tragedy. The 61-year old widower died when she was dragged under a bus while crossing the front of the Peel Street station.

Exact details of the accident are not yet clear but Mrs Rigby, of Fairfield Street, Accrington, was thought to be on or near the zebra crossing when she was hit.

Bus operators said they have often warned Hyndburn Council that the station is too cramped and businesses in the area have expressed their concerns about buses using the narrow side streets leading on to Blackburn Road. Earlier this week, just days after the tragedy, three teenage girls were forced to jump out of the way of a bus, which they said had mounted the pavement in Blackburn Road.

Dawn Petch, Hannah Smith and Emma Walmsley, students at Accrington and Rossendale College, said they had stopped to look in the window of a store and had their backs to the road when the incident happened.

Dawn said: "We were walking down the street past Argos and had stopped to look in the window of Jumping Jacks shoe store. The bus was coming out of Bridge Street and we had not noticed it until a lady told us and we turned around to see it fully on the footpath. We quickly jumped out of the way and the bus rolled over a cone which flew up and hit my friend on the leg.''

The girls said they had reported the incident to Pilkington's Buses but had received two conflicting stories. Owner Ray Pilkington said he was not aware of the incident but buses would not mount a pavement if there were passers-by in the vicinity.

He added: "There should not be buses there at all but that is up to the powers-that-be. They do come close to the kerb but they are only pulling out. They wouldn't go on the pavement if there was anybody there."

Clive Wallwork of Clive's Barbers, which is on the corner of Infant Street and Abbey Street, said that the narrow side streets were not made for buses. He added: "They come down Infant Street, next to my shop, over the pavements and it's an accident waiting to happen. They go so near the wall. People on the kerb have to stand right against the wall to stay out of the way.

"The streets are just too narrow, they are not built for it, and there are 1,000 buses a week coming along. It's not the bus drivers' fault, it's the council's for making them use Infant Street."

Bob Tuffnell, manager of the M and M bus company, said the bus station had been an area of concern among operators for some time. He added: "Every operator has expressed the same concern. We can't park buses where we used to because of the market and the volume of traffic has increased. There is definitely a problem down there and the council is aware of it.''

He continued: "We regularly bring it up at Bus Forum meetings. There are too many vehicles trying to get into a small space."

The plan to move the bus station was put on the back burner in August because it was thought to be too expensive. But now the decision to give it low priority is being re-examined.

Mr Nigel Rix, director of the council's regeneration arm, Hyndburn FIRST, said: "It is one possibility among several that have been put forward by consultants. Our initial reaction was that it would cost a lot of money and a lot of people have said it would be too remote from the town centre."

Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "We must not make knee-jerk reactions. There are various options. Years ago consultants recommended doing away with bus stations altogether because they had become crowded and nasty places. Nothing should be ruled out, nor ruled in. But I am not keen, personally, on the site by the railway station. If the bus station is becoming congested we have to look at ways of decongesting it."

Mr Rix said all plans would have to be examined carefully. He said: "It would be inappropriate to be trying to draw conclusions from last week's events. We need to allow time to pass for the police to carry out their inquiries."
A police spokesman said yesterday that inquiries were continuing and no charges had yet been brought against the bus driver involved.

  • Popular and fun-loving Mrs Rigby leaves sons John, Jason and Mark and three grandchildren. A funeral service will be held on Friday at Melbourne Street Christian Institute, Oswaldtwistle, where she was an active member, followed by cremation at Accrington.


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