The Noddy Train operated by the Nelson North Lions Club.

New rules will kill kids ride

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The operators of a charitable “Noddy Train”, which has operated in Nelson without incident for 29 years, have been told they now need to operate within steel safety fencing – a restriction that will see “the end” of the popular train.

The Noddy Train is a quad motorbike towing a trailer which is dressed up to look like a train, and reaches a top speed of 12 kilometres per hour – jogging speed. It is owned by the Nelson North Lions Club and attends around 15 community events each year. Each ride costs $2 and the profit is given back to the event organisers, usually netting around $200 for the schools, church galas and community groups that run the events.

The train has operated for 29 years without a single safety incident but the latest permit application to the Nelson City Council contained a new requirement, that the area the train operates in is fenced.

Secretary of the Lions club, Peter Goodman, says he was shocked by the new rule.

“They’re saying ‘just because you haven’t had an accident it doesn’t mean one won’t happen’. The conditions of operation are that we have to provide barriers to the satisfaction of the local body, and what they’re saying now is that we need those steel fences around the area that we’re operating, which is quite crazy.”

In the past, the Lions have put down cones and signs to warn people of the area they are running the train in. Peter feels the council is trying to squeeze the club out by imposing restrictions that aren’t enforced elsewhere, including the drivers wearing a safety helmet.

“Often we operate in an open sports field without people around and if you look at what we do and then the Santa Parade, where people were driving four wheel drive bikes without helmets and kids are sitting a metre away from all sorts of amusement devices without barriers. It seems like double standards, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put the kybosh on the Santa Parade.”

Nelson City Council says the certificate of registration is issued by the Department of Labour and it does not have the authority to change the conditions of the certificate. “We have sympathy with this issue the club is facing and are aware of other similar rides operating without fencing,” says NCC’s Clare Barton.

The club first got word of the new restrictions when they applied to operate the train at the Tahunanui Camping Ground, something they’re asked to do each year for the kids staying at the camp. But they were told they’d have to fence the area they operate in. “We’re using the formed private roadways in the camp and there are caravans, motorhomes, cars with boats all using the same road without a barrier fence, but our little Noddy Train needs to have a barrier fence. It’s quite strange really.”

Peter says they have written to the Labour Department to ask for some relief, but if the fencing rule is enforced the train will be sold.

Lisa Dudley, of the Stoke Toy Library, says they were “absolutely disappointed” when they tried to book the train for their open day but were told they couldn’t come. “They raise some extra money for us, so we’re pretty upset.”