A PROPOSAL for the future of an historic Suffolk country park is to come under scrutiny at a public meeting next week.

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Clare Country Park, which houses the 13th Century Clare Castle ruins and former railway station, is owned by Suffolk County Council and managed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Last year due to budget cuts, the county asked for proposals from groups interested in assuming ownership and management of the park.

Clare Town Council and Clare Country Park Users Group both entered separate bids, but the council’s ideas were deemed to have more widespread public support and therefore potential for success.

At a town council meeting last week, it was decided that residents and interested parties should have an opportunity to discuss the final plans in detail.

The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 29, at Clare Town Hall and Suffolk County Council’s representative Judy Terry will attend.

Among the items to be discussed are the park’s buildings, including Clare Park Centre and a former platform waiting room. Maintenance of green spaces and the car park and ownership and management of the park are also on the agenda.

Council chairman Keith Haisman said: “We have now received a financial proposal from the county council and have held discussions with St Edmundsbury Borough Council concerning the management of the green spaces and the car park.

“Clare Town Council has always stated we would bring to a public meeting any proposal agreed in principle with the county council for the transfer of ownership of the park to the town council. This is intended to ensure the widest possible discussion of all the issues surrounding the park before entering into any final agreement.”

Under the current proposal, St Edmundsbury council would continue to retain income from the park’s car park as payment for maintaining green spaces and trees. The county would keep responsibility for maintaining bridges and rights of way through the park, which would enable the town council to concentrate on the park buildings.

Ownership of the land and buildings would transfer to the town council as ‘custodian trustee’ and a restrictive covenant would be put in place to ensure the park remained permanently open as a public green space.

The council hopes to reinstate the station master’s house and create a history and education centre in the former ticket office. Another waiting room could become a studio for artists to rent. The meeting is at 7pm.

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