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Yoxford: Future of woodland hangs in the balance

12:15 01 April 2014

Some of the team behind Yoxwood.

Some of the team behind Yoxwood.

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A deal to safeguard the future of a community woodland in east Suffolk hangs in the balance after both parties accused the other of “throwing a spanner in the works”.

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Yoxford Parish Council and the Yoxwood Committee (YC) – a group that manages the site – had agreed terms for the land in the village to be bought using a community grant.

The council was to purchase the Yoxwood using Section 106 funding for the committee to manage – thereby protecting it for the community’s enjoyment “in perpetuity”.

Now, however, a row has broken out over the terms of the agreement, casting doubts over the deal.

YC member Sally Barker said the group was unwilling to withdraw its own funding application to buy the site without first receiving concrete assurances of a long-term lease from the council.

Unless the YC withdraws its application for the funding, the council cannot make its own claims on the money.

Ms Barker claims the council was initially reluctant to make its lease offer in writing. When it did arrive, Ms Barker claims the terms offered were for a far shorter lease than originally agreed.

“It seems that the parish council were originally on board but the terms they’ve sent are not acceptable – it’s really thrown a spanner in the works,” she said.

Parish chairman Nigel Kerridge has also accused the YC of “throwing a spanner into the works” and claims there have been “many hindrances” in reaching the agreement.

He says the council remains committed to protecting the site “for the people of the parish in perpetuity” but is finding it “difficult” to see how an amicable deal will be struck.

Ray Herring, the leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, which grants the Section 106 funding, met with both parties recently to help reach an amicable conclusion.

“We said it would be in their best interest for both parties to work together and that we would give them the support to find a solution,” he said.

“It’s quite important that they move forward quickly because it’s a very good opportunity for the community to take ownership of an open recreation space.”

SCDC is due to make a decision on the funding today, though Mr Herring concedes a final agreement may not be reached.

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