We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Official: Shepway Tory Cabinet Vote to Close Folkestone Leas Lift

March 23, 2009 5:49 PM

Shepway Council have officially announced that the Conservative run cabinet have decided to terminate their lease on Folkestone's famous Leas Lift.

A press release from the Council reads:

"Shepway District Council has agreed to serve notice to bring its lease of the Leas Lift to an end.

"The water-balance lift, which is owned by the Radnor Estate, will no longer be operated by the council.

"The decision was taken by the council's Cabinet on Wednesday. Although some aspects of the report to councillors remain confidential because of commercial sensitivity, Cllr David Monk, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance, confirmed that recommendations to end the lease had been agreed."

Shepway Liberal Democrats are dismayed at the news, which is a big blow to tourism in the district and came with almost no notice to residents, businesses or even Councillors. The most recent Folkestone hoteliers magazine has just been printed, and features an article on the lift, showing its importance as a draw to the area.

Shepway Liberal Democrats have asked for the Leas Lift Lease termination to be discussed at the Council's Corporate Scrutiny meeting on 31st March, and Councillor Tim Prater is challenging the Council's handling of the item as a "Non-Key Decision".

Tim Prater called the the decision a disgrace. He said:

"This is a huge blow to tourism in the area and shows the complete disregard the Conservatives on Shepway Council have for supporting tourism. With some imagination and flair, the lift could have been attracting new visitors, generating an income and retaining its place as a treasured Folkestone institution.

"For the Cabinet to make this decision in private, with almost no notice, with no consultation with local tourism groups or hoteliers or local residents, just AFTER passing the budget for next year defies belief.

"It's a huge kick in the teeth for local fundraisers and residents who have raised almost £25,000 to refurbish one of the old 'step' lifts from the site, and who now face seeing the lifts not running at all."

Folkestone's Leas lift is one of the oldest Victorian water lifts in the country, opened on 16 September 1885. It was designed and built by R G Waygood and cost £3,000. The lift is currently leased by the Council from the Radnor Estate and runs throughout the year between the Leas and Lower Sandgate Road.