Walton: Claims parking fees will pay for wildlife centre are dismissed
Councillors have dismissed accusations they intend to use taxpayers’ money to support the running costs of a controversial proposed education centre.
Campaigners against Essex Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) plans to build a £1million visitor centre on the Naze at Walton made the claims after seeing council papers that show Tendring District Council (TDC) is considering passing takings from a nearby council-owned car park to the EWT, so it can employ a ranger in the area.
“At a time when the council is looking to make savings, it shouldn’t be planning to support external organisations in this way,” said Andy Foster at the Action Against Naze Development group.
But TDC leader Peter Halliday said any money going to the EWT would not be used to pay for the centre itself but would finance the on-going maintenance of the Naze area, a cost the council already covers.
He said: “These are just ideas we are looking at. It might be the centre would attract more visitors to the area and the increased revenue from the car park could be used. It might end up saving the council money.
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“All this will be discussed in a public forum if the proposals are developed.”
A spokesman for the EWT said its business plan for the centre did not require any help from TDC.
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He said: “The education centre itself is projected to break even – it will not make money as that is not its purpose.
“Essex Wildlife Trust has a full business plan for the whole project – that is building the education centre, on-going income and on-going expenditure to continue to look after both the land and the education centre through three staff and about 60 volunteers.”