NETWORK RAIL EXPOSE A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS
A CAMPAIGN group keen to secure a new tourist attraction and resurrect an iconic cruise liner, off the North Wales Coastline, have uncovered that the historical objections made by Flintshire Council have been totally unfounded. The Campaign Group claim the Council have deliberately blockaded the regeneration of the ship for the past 30 years.
The Duke of Lancaster, a decommissioned cruise liner took up residence on the North Wales coastline in 1979, when the owners docked it there with plans to transform it into The Funship. The owners have faced an on-going, well publicised battle with the Council, who have consistently objected to every plan laid out by the owners.
One of the claims frequently made by the Council, over the last 30 year period was; that a close by access bridge (Glyn y Don) has a 10 tonne weight limit – meaning emergency vehicles, such as fire engines would not be able to gain access. After persistent letters to the bridge owners, Network Rail, the campaign group, named The Duke of Lancaster Appreciation Society (DOLAS), have uncovered the bridge, in actual fact, has a 24 tonne capacity.
Ashley Gardner of the DOLAS confirmed: “We wrote to the Council last year, to open up communications about regenerating the ship and turning it into a tourist destination – something which we feel would be great for the ship, but also fantastic for the local area. However the Council wrote back with a number of objections as to why this would not be possible, including; statements regarding access, wildlife issues and flood zone restrictions – they more or less scuppered any designs on regenerating the Funship site. They included a copy of a report they commissioned which backed up these claims.”
DOLAS analysed the claims and immediately realised some were not true and went on to question the rest asking the Council to justify their claims, but the group have so far had no response back.
Ashley goes on to say: “We decided at this point to approach Network Rail ourselves, to see if they could shed any light on the 10 tonne limit on the bridge, having seen ourselves that larger capacity vehicles use the bridge – we have often witness vehicles in excess of thirty tonnes using it.
“Network Rail were at first very reluctant to provide even basic information about the bridge, but we continued to pursue them. After months of asking the same questions, Network Rail finally admitted last week that the bridge is strong enough to carry fire engines with a limit of 24 tons. Network Rail also acknowledged that the emergency services have a statutory right to use the bridge and that Network Rail has no objections regards fire engines accessing the Funship.”
The DOLAS have now set themselves a mission to examine the other objections outlined by the Council and to discredit them one by one, including what they predict are excess claims about flood threats.
DOLAS are hoping that once they can discredit all of the Councils objections, they will then be able to move forward and totally regenerate the ship and create an exciting new tourist attraction on the stunning North Wales coastline.
Ashley of the DOLAS concludes: “We have a multitude of ideas and plans for the ship, which we do not want to divulge at this moment in time. We are working behind the scenes and already know of numerous other interested parties willing to come together on a joint venture, based around the existing planning permission on the site. Clearly we cannot really go there until these fundamental issues are resolved; so the site can eventually be used without obstruction from the Council.”