Suffolk: New owners ‘must be free to change country parks’

SUFFOLK must be prepared to see changes to its country parks when they are divested to new operators, councillors have been told.

The county council’s scrutiny committee yesterday discussed the way Suffolk is preparing to transfer its country parks to different groups over the next few months.

County councillor with responsibility for creating the greenest county, Judy Terry, said that while there would be safeguards to ensure country parks were still available for community use, new operators must be allowed to make changes.

She said it was not reasonable – or possible – to divest all the parks with conditions that nothing about them could change.

Mrs Terry was responding to a question from former county council chairman Joanna Spicer whose Blackbourn division includes the Knettishall Country Park.


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She said: “The county council must be prepared to let go. Community or wildlife groups who take over these parks must be allowed to run them as they want to. You cannot divest a service and still expect to control it.”

Mrs Terry agreed, although she said there would have to be tighter control on the three largest country parks – Brandon, Clare Castle and Knettishall.

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She added: “Knettishall is different to other sites because it is not owned by the county.

“So far as Brandon and Clare are concerned, we need to take much more care about their divestment because of their size and their impact on the local community.

“We are looking at including them in the ‘Your Place’ consultation process and they are unlikely to be divested for six months at least.”

Alan Anstead, of the Save Suffolk’s Country Parks campaign, told the committee: “The approach by Suffolk County Council has been dictatorial – do something or we sell the sites.”

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