Miniature train owners’ delight at public support over seawall fears

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The owners of a long-established family seaside attraction have expressed their thanks for a wave of public support amid fears it could be lost.

The family behind St Annes Miniature Railway took to social media to vent its concerns and rally backing after being left with the impression from a meeting of stakeholders over possible new sea defences for the area that the land the line currently occupies might no longer be available after the work.

Following the recent successful completion of the sea defence works along the coastline between Lytham and Fairhaven Lake, Fylde Council has obtained funding from the Environment Agency to develop a feasibility study to investigate various options for improving coastal erosion and flood risk management at Pleasure Island, St Annes.

The feasibility study went out to public consultation last week and the council has said that a number of alternative options are currently being considered, depending on input and feedback from stakeholders including residents, and businesses.

The late Harry Leeming driving the miniature train on St Annes seafrontThe late Harry Leeming driving the miniature train on St Annes seafront

National award for Fairhaven sea defences

Following that assessment, a preferred solution will be identified which is likely to obtain approval for Government funding.

Subject to approval of the feasibility report, completion of the detailed design and obtaining all necessary consents, licences and approvals, site works could start in spring next year

But Helen Leeming, the owner of the miniature railway, whose father in law Harry drove the train for 20 years up to 2001, says she was shocked to hear at a stakeholders meeting of an apparent ‘preferred option’ which she fears could spell the end of the railway.

“We were horrified and felt it was important for the public to know. The response since has been amazing, with more than 2,700 signatures on an online petition. It shows how much people love the miniature train.”

Fylde Council’s public protection committee chairman and deputy leader Coun Roger Small said that no decisions have been made and every possibility is on the table as the matter goes to consultation.

“Once the replies to the consultation are in, we will look at them very carefully before making any decisions,” said Coun Small.

“Every possibility will be looked at and we will try our very best to accommodate all the existing businesses.”

Coun Ed Nash, whose central ward covers that part of St Annes, said: “The matter has gone out to consultation and there is certainly no ‘preferred option’ as far as I know. It’s a big issue and I’m sure I would be aware if that was the case.”

“I can see why Helen is worried but I am sure the matter will be fully looked at and everything possible done to preserve all St Annes’ great attractions,” said St Annes beach huts co-owner Stuart Robertson.

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