A ROW has erupted over plans to create a two-way bus route through one of Swindon’s oldest residential streets.

Work on Ermin Street – the site of a 2,000-year-old Roman road – will begin this spring to create a two-way route for buses travelling between Swindon Road and Hobley Drive, in Stratton.

The £250,000 project between Stagecoach and Swindon Council has sparked fierce opposition from residents living along the stretch, who say the increase in traffic will blight their neighbourhood and expose children at Grange Infants School to extra traffic and more fumes.

At the moment this section of Ermin Street is one way for buses and closed to through traffic, except residents’ access.

At a public meeting at the school on Saturday, residents accused the council of ignoring their pleas to stop the proposal.

“In every letter we have had from the council it has said ‘we have taken all residents’ comments into consideration,’” resident Neil Bateman said. “One vital word is missing there. It should read: ‘we have taken all residents’ comments into consideration – and ‘dismissed them.’”

Ermin Street homeowners claim that with both Stagecoach and Thamesdown buses using the current one-way route, a bus passes through the otherwise quiet street every four minutes, with up to three buses queueing up at peak times.

Former resident Paul Black, who moved out of the street just three weeks ago, presented a photograph of backed up double-decker buses outside the school to Stagecoach operations manager David Lee Kong, asking him whether he would be happy to live in their street.

But Gwillam Lloyd, the head of highways management at Swindon Council, refused to respond.

“That is an inappropriate question for anyone to answer in this forum,” he said. “We should stay on the matter at hand here.”

Mr Lloyd said the change to the route was as a result of the council’s policy to encourage road users to cut down on emissions by relying on public transport as an alternative to driving.

He added that a petition passed around existing bus passengers on the number 7 route showed they were in favour of the plans.

“It is for the greater good of Swindon,” he said. “Our obligation is to the people of Swindon as a whole and to attempt to reduce CO2 emissions and congestion on Swindon’s roads.”

David Lee Kong, the operations manager at Stagecoach, said: “The greater good is why we are doing this. “Our passengers agree.”

Halcrow has been contracted to do the work.

Stagecoach say work is necessary

David Lee Kong, the operations manager for Stagecoach Swindon said the company was unable to publish any figures which demonstrated company costs because of the confidentiality policy but said that with just a seven-minute turnaround time at Swindon bus station, the company would need to introduce another bus on the service at a cost of £125,000 a year to keep the route running as timetabled.

He said: “The number 7 route, as you know goes through Swindon to Highworth, through this part of Stratton.

“It takes at the moment 63 minutes to depart from Swindon bus station to Highworth and back to Swindon.

“It then has seven minutes to change over there.

“That’s passengers getting off, changing drivers and passengers getting on again.

“That should be 63 minutes, taking into account roadworks, traffic and potential road accidents.”

Residents want the buses to take a diversion, but Mr Kong said: “If we took the diversion it would add to the length of time for the journey.

“We have customers with demands and expectations and to meet them in that situation, we would need to add another bus at the cost of £125,000 a year.”