MP James Cartlidge praises Clare Castle Country Park Trust trustees for their ‘great work’

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with chair of the park trustees Geoffrey Bray at Clare Country Park

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with chair of the park trustees Geoffrey Bray at Clare Country Park - Credit: Archant

A country park in west Suffolk which was handed over to a town council earlier this year is progressing well under local management, according to local MP James Cartlidge, who visited the site this week.

Clare Town Council spent four years negotiating with Suffolk County Council over terms for the transfer of ownership of the 36-acre Clare Country Park and eventually agreed a deal in March this year.

Since then, the park has been run by Clare Castle Country Park Trust, an independent charity which has responsibility for the day-to-day management of the site’s green spaces and woodland, the children’s play area, the car park, the listed railway buildings and the castle remains.

The trustees have wasted no time in refurbishing the dilapidated buildings, and the house and office areas are already let and generating income. The former goods shed has also been refurbished and is now available for community use for meetings and seminars, while the park itself can be hired for events.

Geoffrey Bray and Keith Haisman, trustees of the park, briefed Mr Cartlidge on how important it is to have trustees who bring a specific range of skills and experience to ensure that the park can be run professionally. More than 100 volunteers have signed up to help with everything from physical work to producing newsletters and taking bookings. The trustees have also submitted a bid for a Heritage Lottery Grant that, if successful, could be close to £2million.

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Mr Cartlidge said: “I am delighted to see that this project is progressing so well. Clare Castle Country Park is a fantastic resource for the people of Clare, and an excellent example of the Government’s localism policy working to put community members at the heart of community projects.

“I would like to congratulate the team on all of their great work so far and wish them well with their Heritage Lottery Grant bid.”

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The trustees will learn in November whether the first stage of their Lottery bid has been successful.

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