TRANSLINK has been lambasted by Cookstown District Council after news it is to permanently close the town’s only depot office.
The move has angered council officers and elected representatives who have accused the department of treating Cookstown’s citizen’s as “second class citizens”.
And the decision, revealed at a meeting between councillors and Translink officials this month, has sparked fears that the entire bus depot in the town is now in jeopardy.
At a full meeting at Cookstown District Council last Tuesday, Sinn Fein Councillor John McNamee announced that following a second cross party meeting with Translink officials, the decision had been taken to close the office at the beginning of July.
Council will now send a letter to the Chief Executive of Translink seeking a reassessment of the decision.
Speaking on Tuesday night, Councillor McNamee said: “This is very disappointing. We seen it coming and now it is going to happen.”
DUP Councillor Ian McCrea added: “Translink have been very disingenuous. They have had no consultation with the council whatsoever and it’s quite clear that they intended to carry this closure out without our full knowledge until we pressed them on it at this meeting. They already made their decision and I fear for the future of the depot in it’s entirety.”
UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson added: “They did say they were going to consult.
“That obviously hasn’t happened. The time frame is now very small but what we need to do now is seek a reassessment from the Chief Executive of Translink on this matter.”
SDLP Councillor Tony Quinn said: “We are sick and tired of being second class citizens here in Cookstown whilst Magherafelt and Dungannon have a fully operational and fully staffed depot. This is just not good enough.”
UUP Councillor Samuel Glasgow MBE described the news as a blow to the town.
He said: “This a terrible blow to Cookstown, the town is successful and is a retail hub. This decision needs challenged.”
DUP Councillor and Mid-Ulster MLA Ian McCrea also rejected a suggestion to defer sending a letter to Translink until Council obtained documents from the department detailing how it came to its decision.
“I don’t agree in putting this offer solely for the way we have been treated in the process,” said Mr McCrea.
“The Minister got it plain and simply how we felt at the time.
“They (Translink officials) came forward to that meeting trying to sell us a pup and then told us what we were, or were not, getting. We have been shown total disrespect by Translink.”
UUP representative seconded Mr McCrea’s proposal of immediately sending a letter to the CEO of Translink.
He said: “We should not have to chase Translink for documents, If they can’t furnish the council with these then it is a bad reflection on them.”
The MAIL first reported concerns over the future of the depot office in December after it was revealed opening hours there have been slashed by almost fifty per cent.
Parcel services have also been scrapped for some time at the Cookstown base, with users having to travel to either Magherafelt or Dungannon to use the service.
A delegation of cross-party members had met with Transport Minister Danny Kennedy on the issue earlier this year, and vowed to keep up the pressure on keeping the office in the town.