Agenda item

Development of a Tourist Focussed Land Train or Similar Passenger Carrying Vehicle Operation in Porthcawl


The Corporate Director – Communities presented a report, the purpose of which, was to seek Cabinet approval for a proposal to support the establishment of a tourist focussed land train or similar passenger carrying vehicle operation in Porthcawl.  The proposal will aim to add value to on-going work to develop a range of sustainable transport methods that better connect the attractions, facilities and services that exist across the seafront with the town centre.


By way of background information, she advised that in 2014, Visit Wales (VW) stated that as part of their European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Infrastructure Development Programme, they were looking to prioritise a small number of regional tourist ‘Attractor Destinations’ within Wales and anticipated that 2-3 priority schemes may be taken forward in the parts of South East Wales eligible for ERDF funding.


Following a regional prioritisation exercise involving all 10 Local Authorities in the South East Wales area, Porthcawl was scored as a priority for support. This highlighted the importance of the resort in tourism terms, both locally, and for the wider Welsh economy. This was supported in principle by Cabinet in April 2015.


The Corporate Director – Communities reminded Cabinet that to date, BCBC had delivered a number of initiatives through the TAD programme, as were detailed in paragraph 3.1 of the report.


She continued by stating, that as a result of re-profiling the funding package that has already been secured by BCBC through the TAD programme an opportunity now exists to allocate funds to support the establishment of a tourist focussed land train or similar passenger carrying vehicle operation in Porthcawl.


The intention would be to seek to link the town centre, beaches and other attractions along the seafront from Sandy Bay/Coney Beach to Rest Bay. The proposed operational season would be expected to cover, as a minimum, the main holiday periods and therefore generally commence at the end of March or beginning of Easter through to the end of September. The operator would be responsible for providing the vehicle and meeting all maintenance, repair, insurance and all other operating costs and be responsible for obtaining all approvals necessary to operate the vehicle.


The Corporate Director – Communities added, that this proposal had been discussed in principle with VW and subject to BCBC following appropriate financial processes and procedures is considered to be in line with the overall aspiration of the TAD programme and to add value to work undertaken to date.


It was therefore proposed that the opportunity to operate a tourist focussed land train or similar passenger carrying vehicle on the roads across Porthcawl Seafront, be openly advertised and expressions of interest sought from potential operators.


As soon as an operator has the appropriate consents required to operate the vehicle, route signage, line painting and amendments to   the Bridgend County Borough Council (Prohibition and Restriction of Waiting and Loading and Parking Places)(Civil Enforcement) Order 2013 (TRO) will be required to assist in the safe delivery of the local transport link. It was proposed that eligible costs to facilitate these works be funded through the resources already secured by BCBC as part of the TAD programme.


The Cabinet Member – Communities welcomed the report and an added tourist attraction for Porthcawl. He hoped that when expressions of interest were submitted, that these would be for the provision of an energy sustainable vehicle ie electrically run, in-keeping with the Council’s Carbon Reduction Strategy going forward.


The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration, stressed the fact that BCBC were facilitating this proposed added feature to one of our leading tourist locations through a successful grant funding application. The business operation itself and any costs generated through this, would be borne by an external operation as opposed to the local authority.


The Leader concluded debate on the item, by reminding those present of the popularity of trains such as this. There was a similar facility provided by volunteers at Parc Slip Nature Reserve, that was very popular with visitors to this tourist location. He assured that the Council would work with the successful operator in order to ensure, that the vehicle provided is both sustainable and accessible, ie for people with mobility issues. He welcomed a further report on this topic, in due course.    


RESOLVED:                            That Cabinet:


(1)        Noted progress of work to date in delivering the aspirations of the TAD programme in Porthcawl


(2)        Approved the proposal to support the establishment of a tourist focused land train or similar passenger carrying vehicle operator in for Porthcawl.


(3)        Authorised officers to undertake the processes and procedures outlined in section 4 of this report and in doing, and in agreement with the Section 151 Officer and Head of Legal and Regulatory Services, grant any necessary consents and enter into any required agreements with the preferred operator.


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