Homeless bus is given a permanent place to stop in Milton Keynes

    A bus that is used to help homeless people rebuild their lives has been given a permanent new stop despite local objections.

    The Bus Shelter MK is having to leave its base near Campbell Park in Milton Keynes and has been offered the use of a disused council depot.

    Some residents in the Crosslands area of Stantonbury did not like the idea and one of their local councillors, Alex Walker (Cons), spoke out on their behalf during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

    Cllr Walker asked the development control committee to defer the decision because of a “lack of communication with the residents.”

    He added that although the charity had helped many vulnerable people there were still “clear concerns.”

    “The plan came out of the blue and people feel they have neither been heard nor answered.”

    He added that it was raising tensions in the area and the committee needed to defer it get it right.

    Pam Williams, who chairs the charity’s trustees, said that the bus had to leave Campbell Park by September.

    “Time is of the essence,” she said.

    The bus, a converted double decker, does not move around, or offer a service where people can turn up.

    It houses eight people at a time, with plans for specific space for women, and the charity has supported 61 people, including a former Formula One engineer.

    “Homelessness really can happen to anyone,” she said.

    The plan includes a dog kennel but she said they don’t accept any that cause a nuisance, or people with drink and drug problems.

    And environmental health officers say that there would be no greater risk of noise than from any form of housing.

    Residents still have a statutory right to complain if noise happens, the committee was told.

    The committee heard that the council had carried out its duty to consult, including sending letters to 20 neighbours, and putting up a notice.

    Committee members supported the work of the charity, with Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) saying it has good track record.

    But Cllr James Lancaster (Cons, Tattenhoe) proposed deferring the issue, in line with Cllr Walker’s concerns.

    The move bombed when Cllr Lancaster failed to get any support.

    And Cllr Terry Baines (Cons, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said it was a “good use of a redundant landscape depot”.

    He added that the current site, in his ward, had been “extremely well managed”, with no complaints.

    “I really must support it,” he said.

    And Rex Exon (Lib Dem, Bradwell) said: “It’s an ideal site for this purpose. It offers seclusion as well as being a useful and practical use of an abandoned building.”

    Councillors voted by 10 votes to nil to approve the plan. Cllr Lancaster abstained.

    The bus shelter is constantly looking for donations to help fund its services. More details on the website here.

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