Clock ticking to track down a new home for railway

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TIME is running out to save an iconic part of Hayling Island seafront.

A 10-year lease for Hayling Island Seaside Railway ends in December and prompt action is now needed to secure a new home for the locomotives.

The depot is currently at Funland Amusement Park, but the owners do not want to renew the lease as there may be other opportunities at the funfair.

The funfair owners said they would be willing to renew the lease for one more year – but only if the council can identify a new site for the depot over the next few months.

So far, a bid to build a new depot has been highly contentious.

One site, off Bound Lane, was fiercely opposed by residents as they say it will be a blot on the landscape.

The saga comes as the seaside railway marks its 25th anniversary this year.

Bob Haddock, railway proprietor, said: ‘People are asking what’s happening.

‘We have to explain to them that we are waiting for the council to identify a piece of land.

‘Absolutely everyone says what a shame it would be to close. We want to be here, they want us, but until we can agree a site there’s an axe hanging over us.’

Marshall Hill, co-owner of Funland, said: ‘We are willing to give him another year while he builds his new station.

‘That will depend on the council giving him in the nod in the next few months.

‘If that does not happen, his lease ends on December 31 and that’s when it will leave us. We will help him in any way possible, within reason.’

Officers at Havant Borough Council said they need a detailed business plan demonstrating the ‘sustainability and long-term viability’ of the railway.

Alex Duggan, estates officer, said: ‘No decision will be made about offering the railway an alternative site until this information has been received.’

He said the railway is ‘an important tourism asset’.