‘Last hope’ plan for Preston bus station

Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'Preston bus station
Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'Preston bus station
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Preston Council’s finance chief has said the ‘last hope’ for the city’s bus station is the creation of a charitable trust.

The Labour-led cabinet agreed in December to press ahead with plans to demolish the building.

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

It said it could no longer afford the £300,000-a-year running costs or find enough cash to carry out repairs.

But Coun Martyn Rawlinson, the council’s executive member for resources, believes the iconic structure could be saved if the authority and Lancashire County Council agree to fund a renovation.

In an article written for the website BlogPreston, he said: “As a Prestonian born the same year as the opening of the bus station, the last thing I want is to see Preston’s claim-to-fame demolished. I am still seeking a solution that doesn’t include a wrecking ball.

“Renovation of the fledgling city’s oversized legacy is too much of a financial risk for either council to contemplate at the current estimates.

“I believe the last hope for Preston Bus Station is the creation of a charitable trust.

“A group of dedicated professionals with the time and the expertise to take on this challenge with a dowry from the two councils.”

The Fishwick ward councillor has previously said he is “sceptical” about the estimated £17m cost of refurbishing the bus station, arrived at by consultants hired by County Hall. He said he believed it could cost nearer £10-12m.

Preston Council has enlisted a local firm to give a second opinion on this figure.

Coun Rawlinson said: “It would only be possible if the second opinion on the renovation costs suggested that the old bus station could be made fit for purpose and profitable for the same cost as a new one.

“Even then it would need a full structural survey with a favourable outcome.

“It would also need the currently incoherent and disparate ‘save the bus station’ campaigners to form a singular voice and vision... in other words, a miracle of biblical proportions.”

Preston Council’s leader Peter Rankin has previously called on ‘white knights’ to grant the bus station a last-minute reprieve.

So far there have been two bids tabled - one described as a “wealthy Lancashire businessman”, and the other as a public sector business person.

However, Coun Rawlinson dismissed the notion that a saviour such as this could be found.

He said: “An entrepreneur will be more interested in profit than preservation. A philanthropist is just a pipe dream.”

Businesses interested in taking over Preston Bus Station must register their interest by Thursday, January 31.

Bidders have to prove to the council that they possess the money needed to invest in the station and that they have a substantial business plan.