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Leas Lift brought down to earth

After almost 125 years in the town, Folkestone’s Leas Lift faces the end of the line unless a new operator can be found.

Shepway District Council has agreed to serve notice to bring its lease of the Leas Lift to an end, leaving it in the hands of its owners the Radnor Estate.

The decision was taken by the council’s Cabinet this week after it was revealed that the lift costs £90,000 to run each year, but only brings in £30,000.

Cllr David Monk, deputy leader of the council and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “The decision was not taken lightly and the issue was debated at length by Cabinet. After more than an hour of discussions Cabinet agreed that we should terminate the lease and cease to operate the lift.

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“This does not mean that Folkestone will lose the lift, it simply means that the council, which every year faces huge annual costs to keep the lift running, will not be the body responsible for its future operation and maintenance.

“The number of people using the lift has dropped considerably since the Sunday market on the seafront ended. The figures show it is not financially viable to operate the lift, and year-on-year these costs are going to go up.”

Cllr Monk added: “Why should our local council taxpayers be expected to pay for the upkeep and repair of a deteriorating, privately-owned asset?”

He said a report would be prepared for full council about the financial implications of ending the lease and said he hoped that ways could be found of helping any future operator of the lift.

Cabinet’s decision is subject to call-in and will not be implemented until the five-day call-in period has ended.

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