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Shepway Council Plan to Ditch Folkestone's Leas Lift

March 11, 2009 2:30 PM

The agenda for the 18th March Shepway Cabinet meeting shows a secret item to discuss the potential termination of the lease for the Leas Cliff Lift in Folkestone.

Folkestone's Leas lift is one of the oldest Victorian water lifts in the country. The lift is leased by the Council from the Radnor Estate and runs throughout the year between the Leas and Lower Sandgate Road.

Thousands of pounds raised by Leas Lift campaigners (www.leaslift.co.uk) towards the restoration of a second Lift at the site are now in limbo. Over £24,000 has already been raised towards the restoration of the second lift towards a target of £25,000 but the termination of the lease would put the project in severe jeopardy, and could even see the lift stop running altogether.

Shepway Liberal Democrat Group Leader Lynne Beaumont is furious at the proposal, and how it is being handled. Lynne said:

"Local people have raised thousands towards the restoration of the Leas lift, which is a hugely well known and popular landmark. To terminate the lease on the lift now would be a huge slap in the face for the fundraisers who have worked so hard and all those who have donated.

"To bury this item on an agenda which is now - following an edict from Council Leader Robert Bliss - not even routinely circulated to all Councillors and to hear the discussion in secret without an consultation or information in advance is a disgrace.

"Shepway Council should be honest about the current position of the lease, be working to retain it on the best possible terms for the preservation of the lift and the benefit of the town."

Item 16 on the agenda (available at http://www.shepway.gov.uk/webapp/service/query/cads/doc/cabinet/Agendas/acabt20090318.doc?download=download) lists the item as "LEAS LIFT LEASE TERMINATION - NON-KEY DECISION" saying REPORT C/08/106 sets out the background of the Leas Lift lease and the proposals for its termination.

The report itself is not available, and that section of the meeting is proposed to take part in secret, with the agenda stating that the public will be excluded as the item is likely to "disclose exempt information as defined in paragraph 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972."