THE owner of two East Anglian zoos is hoping to complete their transfer into the hands of a charitable trust by February 1, providing bank clearance can be confirmed.

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Martin Goymour had hoped to confirm the establishment of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), comprising Banham Zoo, near Diss, and Africa Alive, at Kessingland, near Lowestoft on New Year’s Day.

However, the announcement has been delayed by the need to secure bank approval for the transfer with the new charity effectively being a new company.

Mr Goymour said that, due to the economic downturn, the bank was being “particularly fastidious” in carrying out checks before agreeing to the transfer.

However, he added there was a positive to come from the delay which was that the company had more time to plan for changes to staff contracts and deal with the paperwork which went with the asset transfer.

The zoos, which have around 7,000 season ticket holders, have already secured permission from the Charity Commission for the move, which was confirmed on December 13.

Mr Goymour said the ZSEA could have up to nine trustees, with three already appointed and another three expected to join them once the establishment of the charity has been completed. The trustees are expected to be independent of the zoos, but to have an understanding of the importance of zoos and they will have a similar role to school governors.

When first announcing the plans last November, Mr Goymour said tthere would be no job losses among the 150 staff at the zoos.

He also said that visitors should benefit from cheaper admission prices under the charitable trust, which, it is intended, will operate the sites under a 99-year lease.

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