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Act decisively to keep the Leas Lift open

April 10, 2009 11:35 AM
By Gary Fuller, Town Councillor for Folkestone Harvey Central Ward in Letter to Robert Bliss, Leader of Shepway District Council

I would be really grateful if you would put some serious consideration into continuing operation of the Leas Lift while negotiating with the Radnor Estate to establish a new leaseholder, which will hopefully be Shepway District Council.

I'm aware that the lift has been running at a loss for a considerable length of time, but what really matters is that it is kept running for the people of Folkestone and Shepway as a whole, including my family, especially my little ones. This attraction, as you know, is one of only three left in this country and we should be rightly proud of our achievement in keeping it open for as long as we have. To give it up now would be an affront to the people of Folkestone and to the pioneering spirit of those who built it during a fertile time in our industrial heritage. As I recall, the original lift was the first of its kind in England, and that is not something we should give up lightly.

I have been led to understand through statements made at the recent Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting, which we both attended, that there are onerous conditions within the existing lease. If that is the case, then it is only right to seek to renegotiate, but not at the expense of the continued operation of the lift. Any time period during which the lift is not being kept running and in working order could seriously affect the ability of any future leaseholder to continue operations and could very well be the death knell for this wonderful attraction.

In response to your article in Your Shepway, I feel the figure of £1 million for renovation and repairs is simply scaremongering. I'd like to see a far more accurate and detailed assessment backed up with a sound business plan, which includes a proper marketing strategy. Even so, when you consider the 48,000 Council Tax bills Shepway District Council has just sent out, that amounts to barely more than £20 per household, which would be more than worth it to save an attraction that is of this importance to Folkestone. That is, of course, ignoring the enormous potential the attraction has to be self-funding and even profit making.

I really hope you will consider the points I have raised and will act decisively with your Cabinet colleagues to keep the Leas Lift open for as long as you are able to.

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