Friday, 17 October 2008

Railway turntable is feature of new business development official opening

AN official opening of a controversial industrial development next to Minehead’s railway station will take place on Tuesday (October 17).
The £6 million regeneration project was led by Somerset County Council after it reneged on an earlier deal for a joint scheme with West Somerset Council.
The Mart Road development provides modern workspaces for businesses, retail opportunities, and a 110-space car park.
There will also be a café and the facility for different events to be held at the site, such as trade fairs.
The site will include a viewing area for the new West Somerset Railway turntable, which will enable visitors to see close-up the spectacle of 165-ton locomotives being moved by just two people.
It has been developed in partnership with the South West Rural Development Agency and the railway, which contributed £358,000, and it was also supported with £2 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
On the day of the opening, young musicians from the nearby West Somerset Community College will entertain people on the platform of Minehead Station with jazz music.
County council Minehead ward member, Councillor Ian Galloway, will officially open the development and the railway will demonstrate the new turntable, which attracted national attention when it was craned into place earlier this year.
Councillor Galloway said: “I am very proud that we are now able to open this hugely significant development that the residents and friends of Minehead have advised on and helped to shape.
“We owe them all a huge vote of thanks. I am confident that together we will make the most of the opportunities created by the council and its partners, and that the local economy will soon see a good return.”
The RDA has invested more than £1.3 million in the project as part of its support for market and coastal towns, which often have vulnerable economies.
RDA regeneration head Carl Budden said: “This is an important project, creating a new hub of activity in Minehead for the benefit of the community, in one of the most deprived rural areas in the region.
“This new development will help create a more vibrant economy for Minehead and the wider West Somerset area by providing much-needed workspace for small businesses, including start-ups, as well as providing a welcome boost for tourism in the area.”
Railway general manager, Paul Conibeare said: “We are delighted to see completion of this outstanding project for Minehead and the railway.
“The railway witnessed over 6,000 visitors during our recent autumn steam gala, who, at some point, were either watching a steam locomotive been turned on our new turntable for the first time since 1964, or were using our new refreshment kiosk which has provided permanent catering facilities at Minehead since it was first opened in 1874.”
County economic development portfolio holder Councillor Alvin Horsfall said: “The council has invested almost £3 million in this development to provide opportunities for people and businesses in West Somerset to expand the local economy, encourage business investment, create jobs, and boost tourism.”
  • Our photograph shows the some of the new business units off Mart Road. Photo submitted.

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