THE future of the old Groundwell Road Park and Ride site remains in doubt after the building was gutted by a devastating fire over the bank holiday weekend.
Fire crews were called to the bus shelter shortly after 2am on Monday, and the huge blaze took more than four hours to extinguish.
The service was mothballed by Swindon Council in 2009 to make £331,000 of savings, and despite a number of proposals to revitalise the area, it lay derelict and open to the elements and vandalism for years before the fire this week finally destroyed the building.
Coun Joe Tray (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton), who works as a firefighter, said: “In my role as a firefighter I have been there a number of times, and it was just asking for something like this to happen.
“It was dangerous for the firefighters who had to attend the scene.”
Coun Tray has floated a number of ideas to rejuvenate the site, and hopes if money can be found a decision for its future can now be made.
“I put a motion to full council earlier this year asking for something to be done because I was quite embarrassed by the state of the place,” he said.
“There are some thoughts in the council that it might go back into fruition as an overspill car park, and I have been pushing for a farmers’ market to be installed there.
“The point is that it is a potential car park area and could be used as such. The youngsters in the area have also been pushing for a skate park, and considering the skateboard park planned for Salt Way is meeting opposition, I have told Nick Martin it might make a good alternative.
“It is a secure site and would not interfere with the residents because not many people live close to it.
“I would love to see the council get their act together and do something about it.
“If they could find the money, anything that would stop it staying derelict would be an improvement.
“When you come into Swindon and pass the old Park and Ride and it says it is closed, that sends the message that Swindon is closed for business rather than the vibrant place it is, so we need it open. We just need something that will inject a bit of life back into the place.
Coun Paul Baker (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton), said: “I think people would like to see it as a Park and Ride again.
“The fire might finally force the council’s hand to do something.
“It was well used as a Park and Ride. It was in use four or five days a week and it made it easy for people to get into town.
“The demand will still be there. Now it has to be cleaned and levelled that might happen.
“The problem is whether any money will be available for it.
“It is going to cost thousands of pounds just to clean it up.
“Maybe now the council can just clear the site and leave it as it is for the foreseeable future.
“ It will be cleaned and it will not be the eyesore it has been. In that case even if people do get in there they would get bored.”