The safe operation of the Poole Park Miniature Railway is Borough of Poole’s prime concern and as such the Council has had no option but to terminate the contract with the current operators.
The operation of the miniature railway was suspended on 18 May 2018 following recent derailments and the reported resignations at director, management and operational levels of the operating group the Friends of Poole Park (FoPP) and its wholly-owned operational subsidiary, Poole Park Railway Community Interest Company (CIC).
The FoPP and CIC were awarded the contract following a robust tender process as their bid offered the best opportunity at that time to modernise and develop this attraction whilst providing best value, in terms of investment and revenue, for local people.
Anthony Rogers, Recreation & Community Manager, Borough of Poole, said:
“Following the suspension we asked the operators to provide satisfactory evidence that the necessary organisational, operational and financial plans were in place to enable the service to reopen in a timely manner and be effectively and safely managed in the future. Unfortunately they have not been able to provide this and as the Council still has concerns regarding the safe operation of the miniature railway, it has taken the decision to terminate the current tenancy agreement with effect from 3 July 2018.”
Cllr John Rampton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment and Open Spaces, Borough of Poole, said: “The Council awarded the contract for the operation of Poole Park Miniature Railway to FoPP based on their bid which included investment and improvements in the railway. However, the track remains in a poor condition and requires investment to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience by customers.
“Poole Park Miniature Railway is a much-loved attraction and the Council is committed to ensuring that this remains in Poole Park. The Council is considering the option to run the service in-house which may continue to involve volunteers. The Council has a strong record of working with volunteers and recognises the railway needs professional oversight, both operationally and financially. It’s also a way of retaining income from the railway operation for the benefit of the park.
“We are looking to the long term, and will ensure that the work required to deliver a safe, reliable and sustainable miniature railway in Poole Park is done. The railway has provided a much loved attraction for many decades, and now it badly needs a great deal of TLC. We understand this won’t be a short job, it’s more important to get it right, and there is a lot to be done after so many years.”