Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan has launched an attack on the city council over its failure to resolve the shambles at the city’s main bus and train gateway in time for the 2012 sporting extravaganza.
The criticism comes after council leader Rodney Berman last week revealed construction of the long-awaited station could start next year and pause for two weeks during London 2012.
Coun Berman over-ruled his own executive member for transport, Councillor Lisa Ford, who earlier said that no building would begin until after the Millennium Stadium hosts 11 Olympic football matches.
Mr Brennan said the U-turn meant Cardiff’s transport infrastructure would be highly disrupted when thousands of sports fans visit the city in August 2012.
“Last year I warned the local authority about the damage the road works in Castle Street would do to the image and reputation of the city during the Ryder Cup,” the Labour MP said.
“Clearly the council hasn’t learnt their lesson because to leave a building site at the bus station for two weeks during the Olympics is ridiculous.
“No matter how poor the bus station is at this present time, surely it is better to have some sort of infrastructure in place for the thousands of visitors who will descend on the city?
“I am astonished by the leader of the council’s statement that it’s fine to go ahead with the building work because Olympic football won’t attract as many visitors as the Ryder Cup.
“Cardiff will be hosting the men’s bronze medal match which last time featured the likes of Ronaldinho playing for Brazil against Belgium.
“Although ticket sales have been slow, I’ve no doubt that they will pick up when people realise the quality that will be on show.
“The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show visitors from around the world how great our city is.”
Hitting back, Coun Berman said Mr Brennan seemed to be “rather confused” about what he wants.
“On the one hand he is saying he feels a new bus station is overdue and on the other hand he is saying the work to deliver it should be delayed. The suggestion of delaying it is not something I am sure the people of Cardiff would wish to see happen,” Coun Berman said.
“Work on the new bus station has been progressing, but one of the delays we have faced has not only been acquiring funding from the Welsh Government but also having to undertake a consultation first at the insistence of the Welsh Government in order to secure that funding.
“The consultation was essentially to only ask whether people wanted the bus station revamped or not which some might argue was a somewhat meaningless exercise.”
The Liberal Democrat councillor said work on the station could not start until roadworks are carried out to establish alternative capacity for bus services elsewhere in the city centre first.
He said: “This is all about minimising inconvenience to passengers and doing what’s necessary prior to delivering a major construction project on the ground.
“As such, a series of enabling works will be undertaken starting this autumn in Churchill Way, Custom House Street, Lower Westgate Street and Callaghan Square, and these will also include significant improvements to public realm.”