Herald Opinion: Eastbourne’s glorious promenade has room for us all

“DOTTO train ran over man and his dog” - a story which is sure to grab the imagination and interest of people in Eastbourne.

Ask any visitor to name some of the stand-out tourist attractions which Eastbourne has to offer, and you can be sure the Dotto train will line up on most people’s lists.

Running from Holywell Retreat to Atlantic Drive, these familiar old style steam trains have become an essential part of the fabric of the town’s tourism tapestry.

There’s a certain quaintness about the trains.

They provide a touch of the old-time seaside experience as they gently coast along the beachfront paths to stop at all the major attractions between the Wish Tower and Helen Gardens in the west, and the Sovereign Centre in the east.

Who needs a £6million Brighton-style ferris wheel to blight the serenity and simplicity of Eastbourne’s charming seafront, when the Dotto train will do?

And yet the Dotto train does seem to polarise opinion in the town.

There are some who are decidedly diffident about Dotto, describing it as a nuisance and a danger to those walking along the Promenade.

At the moment, Dotto is in the doghouse.

Local man Adrian McCartney pointedly describes the trains as ‘iron monsters’ after claiming that a Dotto train driver ran over him and his dog Poppy while they were taking a stroll near Treasure Island on Monday afternoon.

Adrian was exercising two of his dogs who were off the lead. Remarkably neither the dog owner or the puppy Poppy were injured, though the incident is now being investigated by Stagecoach, which operates Dotto Trains.

At first glance, the story might raise a wry smile among readers.

The promenade, it seems, is a precious place to be. Throw into this mix cycle paths and the announcement last month of plans to provide a shared cycle path along a one-mile stretch of existing footpath between Dukes Drive and King Edwards Parade.

It’s news which has warmed the cockles of the hearts of cyclists, but has also raised a few hackles from the anti-cycling brigade who simply want a quiet, uninterrupted walk along the seafront. Surely the moral of the message is tolerance and a desire that Eastbourne’s glorious promenade has room for us all - walkers, cyclists, runners and even Dotto.

It’s what makes Eastbourne a great place to live!