December 7 2013 Latest news:
By REBECCA GOUGH
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Plans by Brandon Town Council to take over the management of a popular country park have been halted after difficulty in coming to an agreement.
The authority had been in talks with owners Suffolk County Council for more than a year and raised its share of the precept with the expectation that the park would be transferred as an ongoing concern.
Negotiations broke down, however, after the county council was unable to make changes to the staffing structure at the park’s café before handing it over.
Town clerk Christine Mason said the council has not wanted the park to become “incumbent” and added: “We wanted to be able to start again.”
Some £35,000 had been budgeted in the precept for the running of the park but she said the money would be taken into account in next year’s budget.
Negotiations have now begun between Suffolk County Council and Forest Heath District Council, which said it was “confident” it could take over the management at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath District Council cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, said: “Brandon Country Park is a glorious asset which Forest Heath is keen should be retained for residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment.
“We are in discussions with Suffolk County Council about an arrangement whereby they initially retain ownership of the park while we take on its management.
“Suffolk County Council would underwrite the management cost, but would expect to see savings and Forest Heath District Council would not expect to take on any additional cost.”
He said Brandon Town Council could become involved at a later date, should it wish to, and added that the plans should be taken forward as soon as possible.
Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and property management, said the consensus at a recent meeting between Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council and Brandon Town Council was that the latter was not in a position to take over the park.
She added that she was “thrilled” to be working with Forest Heath.