Herefordshire Council has decided to progress the transfer of the management of the Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake to the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire New Leaf.
The transfer is in line with national and local policy which seeks to support the transfer of public assets and open spaces to local community groups. The council is taking forward a wide range of transfers across the county which will give further control to local communities and will help unlock greater opportunities for volunteering and social enterprise. It is also seeking to reduce its overall operating costs in response to reductions in its overall funding. The anticipated saving for Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake this is around £150K per year.
The first stage in progressing the transfer is the publication of notices which will provide a six week period for any substantive objections to be submitted. The notices are due to be published 19 February 2015 with a 6 week notice period which will end 7 April 2015.
Councillor Bramer, cabinet member contracts and assets said
“The Council wants to transfer public assets to local groups and communities where this is appropriate and where we can ensure that they will continue to be accessible for public use and enjoyment.
"Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake are very important, not only for local residents but to the county as a whole and this is why we have spent some time reviewing the proposal. We want to know if there are any formal objections before finalising the details of the transfer. If we remain on track, it is hoped that the transfer can take place during the summer.”
Subject to conclusion of the notice period, the council will set out the terms for the lease which will apply to the management and operation of the sites. It is likely that a 99 year lease will be set out for the transfer. This will ensure that the freehold of these important sites will remain in public ownership whilst giving reasonable security to the community groups keen to take over their management. This will assist them in attracting grant funding and other income generating opportunities to improve facilities and activities for visitors, whilst ensuring that the valuable ‘nature conservation features’ including sites of special scientific interest are protected and enhanced.