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Shepway Scrutiny Decision on Folkestone Leas Lift: Cabinet must think again on ceasing operation

March 31, 2009 11:34 PM

The Shepway District Council's Corporate Scrutiny Committee tonight considered the "call-in" of the Cabinet decision of 18 March to cease the operation of the Leas Lift with immediate effect and to terminate the Leas Lift lease.

The committee unanimously backed a motion, proposed by Corporate Scrutiny Chair Tim Prater and seconded by Cllr Paul Marsh, which said:

"This committee refers back to Cabinet the resolution of Cabinet to 'cease the operation of the Lease Lift with immediate effect'.

"This committee urges Cabinet to seek the continued operation of the Leas Lift for this year and beyond."

The decision was taken after a three and three quarter hour meeting held mainly in public, but with a private session where commercially confidential information was discussed.

Evidence was heard from the committee from a range of local people including Caroline Chambers from the Channel Chamber of Commerce, Chris Kirkham from Discover Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh, Lynne Beaumont from Folkestone Town Council and Charles Evans of Smith, Woolley and Perry representing the lift's owners the Radnor Estate.

After the meeting, Tim Prater said:

"Over the past few days, I've heard from hundreds of residents and businesses across Folkestone who were appalled that the Leas Lift may close. They don't hugely mind who runs it, but do massively care that this fantastic monument keeps running.

"The Corporate Scrutiny Committee do not have the power to overturn decisions of Cabinet, but it can ask them to think again, and ensure the decision is not implemented until it has been reconsidered. That is what the Scrutiny Committee have done tonight.

"I'm delighted that the operation of Folkestone Leas Lift has been secured through Easter, and I sincerely hope the Cabinet meeting of 15 April will agree to continue to keeping it running. Thinking creatively, whether on its own, with partners, or with an entirely different operator, I hope the 124 year operating life of the lift can be extended indefinitely."