Ashton Court Miniature Railway facing closure as council considers ending lease
PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 August 2018
A family tourist attraction based in Long Ashton for almost 50 years could close when its lease expires this year.
Ashton Court Miniature Railway has been run by the Bristol Society of Model & Experimental Engineers (BSMEE) since 1972.
However, it is facing closure with Bristol City Council considering not renewing its lease past the end of 2018.
BSMEE says the authority wants to maximise income from the site and says its members are ‘distressed’ the attraction may be ‘needlessly destroyed’.
Chairman Norman Rogers said: “Bristol City Council has introduced severe cuts to many of its budgets and the parks find themselves needing to raise additional money, which includes money income from their tenancy agreements.
“Our current lease expires towards the end of 2018 and the council is looking to significantly increase its income from the site we occupy.
“The council believes it can raise more money through introducing alternative activities to the site, hence the threat to the railway.
“In effect, BSMEE and its railway are at risk of being priced out of the park.
“BSMEE has invested a lot of time and money in developing the railway over the past 46 years, and its members are very distressed by the thought that it will be needlessly destroyed.
A petition has been launched to try to save the railway. It aims to reach 3,500 signatures by tomorrow (Thursday) and submit them to Bristol City Council before its meeting on September 11.
A Facebook post about the petition has received almost 200 messages of support.
Bristol City Council is looking for new ways to generate income at Ashton Court but no decision has yet been taken.
Its spokesman said: “This is because it brings in very little money and the site does not currently pay for itself.
“Options being discussed include continuing to run the railway at Ashton Court using a new business model, or looking at opportunities to move the railway to other Bristol parks.”
To view or sign the petition, search for Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers on Facebook.