A PETITION calling for a 45-year-old land train at Hengistbury Head to be saved has been signed by more than 13,000 people.
Following the news that Bournemouth council will be ending its contract with Joyce Farris and the team who run the service, online and paper petitions were created by the train’s resident mechanic Alan Barnard.
The council instead plans to run their own land trains to Mudeford Spit from Hengistbury Head and eventually incorporate up to Alum Chine, with an extra stop added for the new Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.
Since it was created at 8pm on Friday, the petition has seen thousands of signatures added to it online.
Joyce Faris, 88, the train’s owner, said she had ‘no idea’ that they would get such a ‘fantastic’ response from the public.
She added: “We are also getting a lot of signatures from people who have been using the trains over the weekend.
“I know that a lot of people do not want the other trains.”
Alan Barnard, who set up the petition, said: “It is unbelievable. I set it up hoping for 1,000 signatures and it has taken off.”
He added: “I believe that it has gone global, even to Australia, which even I am shocked about.
“We are going to keep going with this until Easter holidays, when there will be more people here.
“However, the council are not interested. They are absolutely adamant that their trains will cope with demand and be able to offer the same service, but it won’t.
“We have been on a yearly contract for at least the past 23 years that I have worked here and we never thought the council would put an end to it.”
The current land train will officially celebrate its 45th birthday in April, and will run for the final time on November 5, which is the final contracted day of service.
Petition derided and decision ‘final’
COUNCILLOR Lawrence Williams, portfolio holder for leisure, tourism and culture, said that Bournemouth council’s decision was final.
He added: “If they want us to take the petition seriously, they should take the names and addresses of people who live in Bournemouth, as we do not know where these people are from.
“Some of the things that the petition’s creator has said are also not true, including saying that we are planning to use Disney branding, and that we plan to increase the price. When Bournemouth council told Mrs Faris that we would be ending the contract, she agreed to it and said that she had been expecting it for a while.”