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Council makes u-turn on the sale of railway

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 21, 2014

  • Somerset County Council has announced it has scrapped plans to sell-off the freehold for the historic West Somerset Railway after a consultation on the future of the popular tourist attraction PICTURE: FRAN STOTHARD

  • Somerset council leader John Osman

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Somerset County Council has announced that it has shelved plans to sell the freehold of the historic 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 a previous statement from Somerset County Council issued in February, councillor 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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