PLANS for a land train along Southend seafront have been ditched over council red tape, organisers claim.

The transport, which would run from Shoebury Common to the arches in Westcliff, was licensed by Southend Council last year and was set to be launched just as coronavirus hit.

With lockdown easing and a contraflow in Westcliff removed, the land train should have been set to go.

But organisers say the plans have been scuppered as the council is worried it might affect the existing open top bus and are demanding further paperwork be submitted.

Peter Grubb, owner of Uncle Tom’s café in Shoebury, has been a driving force behind the scheme, negotiating between the council and a potential operator who has now pulled out.

He said: “The land train is now not going ahead because the council wouldn’t work with me.

“The licence was granted last year, the contraflow in Westcliff was removed. We were confident that with Covid-19 safety measures in place we would be able to go ahead but now they want us to submit a new application.

“They’ve also said it might affect the existing open top seafront bus that runs in the summer.

“This is something people have been saying they want for years.

>> How new land train could run from Shoebury Common to Westcliff in time for summer

“We would have used a fogging system to disinfect the train and would have asked people to wear masks.

“The land train guys have completely given up on Southend now and have said the only way forward would be if the silent majority come forward and ask for it to go ahead.

“At the moment it has been abandoned because of the intransigence of the council demanding what I was told would be a fresh application.”

Kevin Robinson, councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism, said: “The seafront land train was something I and many residents and businesses were excited about. Unfortunately, following the coronavirus pandemic, we required further paperwork from the organiser, including changes to the route, public liability insurance, Covid-19 safety measures and the dates the train would run.

“As this was not forthcoming, we received confirmation from the organiser that the train would not be going ahead this year.

“I hope we can continue discussions to bring this forward next year. At no point did we request a new application.”