The operator of popular attractions at Brooklands Park has said he is ‘gutted’ to be leaving after cancelling his lease in protest.
Kevin McCluskey has been the concessionaire of Brooklands Pleasure Park in East Worthing for 11 years, which included owning and running the miniature railway.
His partner, Lynne Carr, owned the café until 2015 when she was told her lease would only be extended for another year, after which she would have to tender for the business. Appalled at the ‘cold’ nature of the news, Mr McCluskey decided to leave his position as concessionaire, despite having six years remaining on his lease.
“After Lynne was offered that I lost all interest – there was no point me being there,” he said.
“We were gutted. For 11 years, we worked seven days a week serving the community. It wasn’t Disneyland but it was an affordable park for people who didn’t have a lot of money.
“It is just horrendous how they have treated us. Eleven years and we are leaving with nothing.”
Mr McCluskey said negotiations over the lease went on for about two years from 2015, but as they reached an impasse he decided to move on, handing his notice in five weeks ago.
He said the council refused his offer to buy the miniature railway as it was not part of their ‘masterplan’, so it is now for sale on eBay.
A spokesman for Worthing Borough Council said: “We can confirm we’ve received notification from the Brooklands Park concessions operator that he wishes to voluntarily surrender his leases at the site, which includes the train. “While we understand that some people may be disappointed, we want to reassure residents that the council remains committed to transforming this much-loved park into an exciting family-friendly attraction. “The council has already invested a large six-figure sum in revamping the lake, ensuring it becomes a haven for wildlife as well as a place people want to visit. Contractors hope to complete this major project very soon. “In the coming weeks we will also be ready to reveal a grand masterplan vision for the rest of the park. These plans have been developed with the widespread involvement from the community, including consultation with the recently-created Friends of Brooklands Park and hundreds of responses from residents. “We acknowledge there may be some frustration in the short-term but ask that residents remain patient as plans come together. “We are confident the end result will be worth waiting for and assure all residents there are exciting times ahead for Brooklands Park.”
The miniature train remains in operation for now, while Mr McCluskey has moved to the Midlands.
See more on the Brooklands renovations here: