Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 3°C

Search

Clare: Town council votes unanimously to take over Clare Country Park after improved Suffolk County Council offer

PUBLISHED: 22:07 13 August 2014 | UPDATED: 22:07 13 August 2014

Clare Country Park

Clare Country Park

Archant

A west Suffolk park is back in the hands of the community after a last-minute intervention from Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee sealed the deal.

Clare Town Council voted unanimously tonight to take control of Clare Country Park from the county council, bringing an end to four years of wrangling between the two authorities.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) wanted to transfer the park back to the community and, as of last week, had offered the town council £230,000 to set them on their way - well below Clare’s valuation.

However, having attended a packed public meeting in Clare last week, Mr Bee managed to squeeze an additional £87,500 from the SCC coffers, with the overall £317,500 offer enough to convince the town council.

Keith Haisman, who has led the negotiation on Clare’s side, said: “I think it’s a significant improvement. I don’t think there’s anybody who could say this is not a fair and reasonable offer.”

The deal will see £230,000 paid up front, with payments of £50,000, £25,000 and £12,500 to follow over the next three years for the park to be run locally.

The town’s county councillor Mary Evans, who drew praise for her role in the negotiations, said: “I am delighted that Clare Town Council has accepted this very generous offer from Suffolk County Council.

“I have long believed the people of Clare, and not the county council, are the best people to run the park, as they know and cherish it.

“This funding package enables the trustees to take on the park and make a great success of running it on behalf of the people of Clare – I wish them every success.”

A board of trustees, headed by Geoffrey Bray, will now be set up to manage the park.

Those involved are confident of securing a seven-figure sum from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help fund the park’s renovation, while Mr Bray is targeting at least £32,000 a year from fundraising.

More than 80 people have already put their names down as volunteers.

Mr Bray said: “It’s not going to make it easy, but it’s going to make it a lot easier, this offer, I don’t think there’s any question about that.

“I think we can make a real go at it and I’m fully confident we can.”

The park contains the remains of a 13th Century stone castle keep and an old railway station, and is a popular spot for tourists.

The deal is the largest settlement SCC has ever offered for the transfer of an asset back to the community.

Had Clare rejected the deal, SCC had said it would invest a minimal amount in the park, only ensuring it complied with health and safety regulations.

SCC was also expected to raise the car parking charges and possibly sell the old station master’s house.

A decision on whether a new Suffolk council will pursue ‘borough’ status will not be made until at least later next year, it has been decided.

A Suffolk man has plead guilty to causing injury by dangerous driving at Ipswich Magistrates court today after a woman was left with life threatening injuries following a car crash on the A1120.

There is good news for bargain hunters in Stowmarket as a discount store bids to make a return to the town.

A ground-breaking tech company that recently relocated from Cambridge to Suffolk has been working with University of Essex researchers on technology designed to make our online data safer.

From its ‘Go Bananas’ HQ in Bury St Edmunds, this forest advanture company now employs more than 1,000 people across the UK and the US.

Multi-million pound plans to transform a Suffolk RAF base into the first permanent international site for US fighter jets have been announced.

A Suffolk man accused of duping a disabled man into handing over tens of thousands of pounds has had his case sent up to crown court.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24