Sale of Freehold Update 20th May 2014
(20/05/2014 @ 10:48:00)
Somerset County Council Press Release 20 05 14
West Somerset Railway latest
Somerset County Council can announce today that it has shelved plans to sell the freehold of the West Somerset Railway.
It follows a formal process which saw two proposals submitted to buy the council-owned freehold of one of the county’s most popular tourist attractions.
The proposals came from local groups, the West Somerset Railway Association and the West Somerset Railway PLC.
Since they were submitted a week ago, they have been assessed by council officers who have now concluded that neither proposal fully met all the criteria required.
A decision will be published to confirm that based on this evaluation neither proposal will be taken forward.
"Our priority throughout this proposal has been to safeguard the future of a much-loved railway," said Council Leader John Osman.
"In the end it all comes down to the simple fact that neither proposal fully met our criteria. There were very good reasons to take this sale forward but if the proposals do not match up with our criteria then we can’t proceed.”
In previous statement from Somerset County Council issued in February, Cllr David Hall, Cabinet member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, emphasised that whatever decision was made it would be in the best interest of visitors and tourists to the county.
He said: "The West Somerset Railway is extremely important to Somerset, attracting thousands of visitors to the area and contributing greatly to the local economy. "It’s important that the railway continues to operate as normal… and we’re committed to making sure that happens.”
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Formal comment from WSR PLC
"The West Somerset Railway PLC has been informed by officers that SCC have decided to shelve plans to sell the freehold of our railway. Although surprised at this change of direction in the context of all the time, expertise and costs expended by all parties, we welcome the confirmation of the priority, as expressed by John Osman, to safeguard the future of our much loved railway. We anticipate receiving clarification of the reasons behind this decision and working through any resulting impacts for the railway and SCC. We also look forward to continuing our professional discussions with officers over the terms of an extended lease as was originally offered to us some two years ago before the decision to sell was put in train."
John Irven Chairman, West Somerset Railway
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