Bicycle hire service at Hazelbank lost £1,100 every year

The council has confirmed that it lost more than £11,000 running a bicycle hire scheme at Hazelbank Park over the past decade.

While the council couldn’t say how many bikes were rented out during the 10-year period, it did confirm that the average income from the scheme was just £55 per year.

Figures obtained by the Times show that the local authority initially spent more than £2,000 getting the bike hire project up and running, with the purchase of 12 bicycles and other items such as pumps and wall brackets for storage. A further eight bikes were later purchased at a cost of £1,216.

The scheme, which operated April - September, lost money every year, with council figures putting the average annual loss at around £1,145.

Given the costs associated with running the bike hire service, members of the council’s Leisure Committee recently agreed to hand over the running of the scheme to local businessman Simon Brown, who approached the council with a business plan aimed at improving the service and making it economically viable.

The committee agreed that the bike hire service should be run by Mr Brown as part of a 12-month pilot exercise, and that the council’s stock of bikes should be leased to him for the year at a cost of 20 per cent of the original purchase price.

Members also approved a request from Mr Brown to move the bike hire business from Hazelbank Park to Loughshore Park.

Councillor Ken Robinson said that uptake of the service had “not been particularly great under the council’s management”, adding that Mr Brown should be given the chance to make a success of the venture by moving it to Jordanstown.

“This is a pilot scheme and will be reviewed after one year with a full report being presented to members for consideration,” a council spokesperson said.