THE council has taken direct control of Poole Park Miniature Railway, after members voted in favour of bringing the troubled attraction in-house.

Borough of Poole (BOP) place overview and scrutiny committee members also agreed to invest £350,000 into the railway, with a view to having it up and running again by the summer of 2019.

Management will now become the responsibility of BOP's culture and community service department, although it is hoped volunteers will remain involved.

Council bosses terminated their contract with the Friends of Poole Park (FoPP) in June, after the charity was put on notice and the service suspended the month earlier following derailments and a mass walkout of volunteers and staff.

The railway has not operated since May.

Cllr John Rampton, cabinet portfolio holder for environmental services at BOP, said: "I am delighted that the place overview and scrutiny committee have looked at the proposals in depth and have voted to support them.

"I believe the proposals offer an exciting and well thought out solution, putting the long-term future and safety of Poole Park miniature railway first, and allowing us to provide a reliable, first-class service of a much loved feature of Poole’s premier park."

FoPP won the tender to run the mini railway in 2017 when Poole council selected the community group over previous operator Chris Bullen, who had run the attraction for more than a decade.

The report to the overview and scrutiny committee explained that although the track has been gifted to the council by FoPP, it has 'failed in numerous sections', is 'not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced'. BOP will also need to purchase a new engine and carriages.

The £350,000 will be funded via borrowing, repaid by income generated from ticket sales.

Cllr Rampton said: "I would like to thank all those involved for their hard work to get these proposals on track, now it is full steam ahead."