The former owner of Arbroath’s miniature railway believes his last chance to bring back the tourist attraction has been taken from him.
John Kerr, whose family ran Kerr’s Miniature Railway for three generations before it closed in October last year, has been in talks with the council to bring back the fondly-remembered track.
He was working with officials on a plan that would have seen the railway return as part of a wider West Links redevelopment, also including a crazy golf course.
But despite offering to put up more than £75,000 of his own money to make the dream a reality, he discovered earlier this week the plan was no longer under consideration.
A way back?
Mr Kerr said he would have completely funded the reborn miniature railway himself.
“What people aren’t aware of, as concerns the crazy golf plans, is there was a linked proposal to bring back the miniature railway,” he added.
“I went to the council and said what else can we do and they said they had this funding coming up for crazy golf.
“At the end of the day, I thought it was better than nothing so I decided to work with them on a proposal. It was something that could have kept us going, albeit in a slightly different form.”
He said the refreshed miniature railway would have run around a proposed nine hole crazy golf course. The plan would also have allowed him to operate miniature buses and fire engines from the same location.
“But I received an email saying the council had decided to approve the crazy golf, but not to take forward the miniature railway aspect,” Mr Kerr added.
He said he believes the local authority is pushing ahead with an 18-hole course, which would leave no space for the miniature railway.
Miniature railway ‘killed off’
“The thing I am finding hard to take is the council killed off the miniature railway when they moved the playpark and this plan could have helped us come back,” he said.
“We’re missing a trick here. I am really very sad because I thought this was a way to keep the tradition in Arbroath, but it has been taken away from me without me really being able to state my case.
“These initial plans were never made public and I think people will feel cheated that the miniature railway won’t have a chance to come back in this form
“I want people to know that we tried. But now it feels like that is it. There is no hope.”
No final plans for West Links, say council
Funding for the crazy golf course will come from from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund.
The local authority must spend the money by September 30, according to the current settlement.
An Angus Council spokesman said: “Options for the further development of the West Links as part of the Arbroath Town Centre Regeneration Fund are currently under consideration and subject to ongoing discussion with local elected members.
“No final decision has been made and plans will be submitted in due course.
“Similar to other local authorities, we have approached the Scottish Government to request an extension to the spending deadline for the Town Centre Fund due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, in anticipation of a favourable outcome.”