Friday, 25 November 2011

Gazette reports on pivotal Council meeting

The LTT's trams will remain in their Rigby Road depot home for another 12 months while an alternative destination is found for them. Blackpool Transport had told Lancastrian Transport Trust to move 13 of its trams out of the depot by the end of the month or face seeing them scrapped.
Coun Tony Williams, deputy leader of the Conservative group, proposed the motion to stop the trams from being sold off. He had called on the council to ask the chief executive to write to Trevor Roberts, the managing director of Blackpool Transport, “to request that Lancashire Transport Trust continue to enjoy a grace and favour rent period of a further 12 months up to December 1 2012”.
“I’m asking you to support the heritage of Blackpool, because the threat of scrapping trams is unforgivable.
Conservative leader Coun Peter Evans added: “It would be fantastic if we could have something similar to York’s railway museum. “It would be nice if we could support this.”
Instead, the motion was amended, but the trams will remain in the depot.
Both sides of the council spoke passionately about the importance of the trams and what they mean to the town.
Plans for a museum in Cleveleys seem to be the most likely destination for the vehicles.
Councillors voted in favour of giving the trust until the end of the calendar year to “come up with a credible plan” and show the trams can be moved into a new site.
However, Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the council, said Blackpool Transport would allow the trams to remain in the depot for another 12 months. He said: “I believe we are all heading in the same direction. The trams are pivotal to Blackpool’s history and Blackpool’s future."
“Providing Lancastrian Transport Trust are able to come forward with funding and are able to make the contribution for storage, Blackpool Transport Services will allow them to store their whole fleet, not indefinitely, but for 12 months.”

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Trams and politics don't mix!

At the full meeting of the Council on 23rd November, elected members voted to accept a revised motion that commits Blackpool Transport "to an extension of the agreement to sell and store surplus trams to the LTT if they can come up with a credible plan, before the end of the calendar year". Furthermore "the Chief Executive to write to the Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services to confirm that negotiations with the LTT will continue".

The sting-in-the-tail however, was that the revised motion proposed by the Labour administration (proposed by Council Leader Simon Blackburn) failed to overturn Blackpool Transport's threat to charge £100 per tram, per week for storage.

Whilst wishing to stay out of the politics, the LTT would like to place on record our thanks to Councillor Tony Williams, Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, for proposing his original motion.

Today, LTT officers met with Wyre Borough Council planning team for informal discussions on the Thornton Gate plan - and received an excellent response and interest in the proposals presented.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Full Council to vote on tram storage issue

In a surprise move, a motion has been put for consideration at the full Executive Meeting of Blackpool Council on Wednesday 23 November to secure a stay of tenure for the LTT tramcar collection at the Council-owned Rigby Road depot site.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Tony Williams and supported by other councillors across the political spectrum, will be voted on by all Councillors in attendence at the meeting. The motion recognises the plans that the LTT has to develop a visitor attraction at the former tram depot sidings at Thornton Gate - reawakening a proposal originally drafted back in 2001.

The motion proposes that "the Council requests the Chief Executive to write to the Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services to request that the LTT continue to enjoy a grace and favour rent period of a further twelve months up to the 1st December 2012, when their new building at Thornton Gate will be completed".

10 trams are affected by the threat of eviction - 304, 605, 624, 632, 671, 676/686, 704, 715 & 732 with Standard Car 143 still expected to be incorporated within the retained BTS operational fleet - once they complete their commitment to the lottery supported project.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Thornton Gate site selected as development option

Following talks with Blackpool Council and detailed discussions with the Blackpool Civic Trust and key Blackpool Councillors, the LTT has started negotiations on the terms of lease for the former tram sidings at Thornton Gate in Cleveleys.

The plan would involve the creation of a Transport Heritage centre on the site, which is currently being used as a construction compound for the tramway upgrade. However, the site will be vacated by Easter 2012 and the LTT has already started costing the options for erecting buildings on the site to store its vintage tram collection. Planning meetings are also advancing with a view to submitting a planning application early in 2012.

It is hoped that the plans which we feel will be "credible, achievable and deliverable" will be sufficient to secure continued accommodation of our vintage trams at the Council-owned tram depot at Rigby Road, until the site is ready to receive vehicles. The LTT is particularly pleased with the response from Blackpool Councillors and MPs across the political spectrum, and we will be keeping members fully informed of developments

We have drafted plans for a Transport Museum on the Thornton Gate site before - back in 2001, but these were rejected at the time because of possible use of the site for either a tram depot or turning circle as part of the tramway upgrade. Thankfully, Blackpool Council now accept that the site is redundant and offers a permanent home to the LTT tramway collection. We expect to have an offer of lease from Blackpool Council within the next two weeks.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

632 and 715 star in last weekend of traditional trams

LTT's End of Season tour on Saturday 5 November saw Balloon 715 and Standard 147 make several trips between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. A late flurry saw a sell out load start out from North Pier at 1400 and the cars returned to depot just after 2200. 715 was also hired (with Twin Car 675/85) by the Fylde Tramway Society on Sunday 6th.

Brush 632 was allocated to route 6 which is scheduled to work to Cabin and Pleasure Beach, 8 trips to North Pier and a final Cabin, Pleasure Beach then Foxhall working. Sunday saw it cover one Little Bispham working and its evening Cabin run became Bispham and in instead. 632 has seen extensive service use in September and October while 715 has seen use on Tram Driver Experience sessions, specials and was used for testing at Starr Gate on 2 November.