Final call for Stoke-on-Trent’s land train: council to put vehicle up for sale for £30k

Council chiefs are looking to sell their authority’s land train for £30,000 – after less than three years of service.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s ‘Stoke 1’ vehicle, which has been used at Christmas events and fairs across the Potteries since 2017, is due to be listed for disposal.

According to a council report, the land train is now ‘surplus to operational requirement’, and selling it will help bring the authority’s fleet in line with ‘staff resource, vehicle expenditure and budget availability’.

Disposing of the land train, along with a ‘hot wash’ – a piece of equipment used to clean paving – is expected to save the council £40,000 in 2020/21. The land train is expected to generate a capital receipt of around £30,000, while the hot wash could be sold for up to £80,000.

The diesel vehicle, complete with three carriages, was brought into service after being purchased second-hand in December 2016 and restored at the council’s Cromer Road depot.

Santa’s land train at Sneyd Green’s Christmas celebrations in 2018

Since then, it has been used to transport visitors to Stoke-on-Trent Pride at Hanley Park and ferry Britain in Bloom judges around Longton, as well as seeing use at various other events.

Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for the environment, said the council had to prioritise its spending on vehicles that performed ‘essential services’.

He said: “We have a total of 1,500 vehicles and pieces of machinery in our fleet, ranging from 32-ton bin wagons and gritters to cars that support social services.

“Vehicle maintenance is a costly business and we have to prioritise vehicles that perform essential services across the city first and foremost, which unfortunately means making difficult decisions, at a time when we face financial challenges. The land train is proposed to be sold and we hope to get the best deal possible for the taxpayer.”

Former council leader Dave Conway on board the Stoke 1 land train at Tunstall Park in 2017
Former council leader Dave Conway on board the Stoke 1 land train at Tunstall Park in 2017

The land train was deployed at various Christmas events around the city in 2018. But appearances at Smallthorne and Norton Heights had to be cancelled after the vehicle broke down – with no replacement parts available.

Cabinet members rubber stamped the decision to list the assets for disposal  at a recent meeting.

The report to the cabinet stated: “Disposal of vehicles, plant and associated assets. The disposal of vehicles, plant and associated assets, which are no longer operationally required, will enable the city council to demonstrate that it is operating efficiently and effectively.

“Disposing of these vehicles, plant and associated assets as soon as possible will provide the council with the best possible financial return for the sale of the assets.”

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