Eastbourne council has been told to “come clean” over the future of its seafront train, and stop asking itself questions when it should blatantly know the answers.
A public row erupted over the train not running at Easter, with the council criticised as visitors and residents alike felt let down by the absence of Dotto, the popular tourist attraction.
Now it's understood that the beleaguered council may donate the train to the present operator, Stagecoach.
"Ruling Liberal Democrat councillors have gone on record as asking questions about the trains disappearance when they should very well know the answers since they administer the contract", says Conservative group leader Cllr Robert Smart. "It's so bizarre as to be a farce that those supposedly running this borough clearly don't know what is going on and are asking these questions," he adds. "One of those apparently ignorant is a prospective parliamentary candidate who is also a sitting councillor."
"Even if the train has a zero book-value because of its age, it is good to provide entertainment for another few years yet, I understand, why then would a prudent council give it away? It doesn't make any commercial sense", says Robert.
Rather than simply giving away the town's assets, the Conservatives say that Stagecoach should be given scope to build a business case to replace ageing Dotto with new engines and carriages, in competition with other potential operators.
"Having spoken to Stagecoach, I know that they would dearly love to operate our much-loved seafront train for longer periods in the year, to include Easter, Christmas and the half-term holidays in autumn and winter", says Cllr Smart. They are clearly much more switched-on than those councillors in the Town Hall who are supposed to be managing their contract.
"Many of the town's woes are because we have leaders in the council who are merely reactive whereas a proactive attitude would reap benefits for so many in Eastbourne.”