Council considers transfer of top natural attractions

First published in News Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HEREFORDSHIRE Council is in talks with a “community group” looking to take over two of the county’s top natural attractions.

Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake nature reserve could both be transferred out of council control.

The council confirmed this morning (Friday) that it had been approached by an  as  yet un-named community group over assuming responsibility for both sites.

In a statement, the council said: “As part of our community asset transfer process, we have asked the group to complete a business case which outlines how it would operate the locations and how this would benefit the public, along with providing various assurances around competency and financial viability.”

The council will consider the proposed transfer once a copy of the business case has been received.

In June last year, the council faced calls for “clarity” over its proposals for the future of Queenswood Country Park.

Opposition councillors wanted a guarantee from the local authority that the site on Dinmore Hill called one of county’s “most precious public assets” would not be sold off.

Then, the council said no decisions had been made on the overall future for its parks and countryside service ahead of a related savings plan.

The 170- acre Queenswood is managed by the council and the Queenswood Coronation Fund.

Forty-seven acres are made up of more than 1,200 rare and exotic trees from all over the world. Another 123 acres is spread over semi-natural woodland designated as a site of special scientific interest and a local nature reserve.

Queenswood survived a privatisation scare in 1988 when the then Hereford and Worcester County Council was forced into a denial of any plan to privatise its country parks after reports suggested it could happen.

Originally part of the Hampton Court estate, Queenswood has a history of public access dating from 1935 when it was bought by public subscription through an appeal organised by the then Council for the Preservation of Rural England.

It was handed over to the then county council “to look after for the people all the time” and prevent development that planning law at the time did not protect it from.

Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve is 44.5 hectares (110 acres) of varied habitat including riverside meadows, veteran orchard, newly planted orchard, a 'gravel' area and wet woodland. The lake itself is the largest area of open water in the county.

Comments (2)

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4:42pm Fri 21 Feb 14

megilleland says...

Local authorities are empowered to transfer the ownership of land and buildings to communities for less than their market value. This is known as ‘discounted asset transfer’ or ‘asset transfer’. This shift in ownership of land and buildings from public bodies to communities is Localism in action, giving greater powers to:

* community and voluntary sector organisations
* community and social enterprises
* individuals looking to form a not-for-private-prof
it group to benefit their
neighbourhood

"Opposition councillors wanted a guarantee from the local authority that the site on Dinmore Hill called one of county’s “most precious public assets” would not be sold off".

Judging by the council's past record I wouldn't bank on it. All the councils assets are public assets - what do the opposition councillors fear that they ask for a guarantee?

To find out more about Community Asset Transfer read here:
http://mycommunityri
ghts.org.uk/communit
y-asset-transfer/

http://locality.org.
uk/wp-content/upload
s/A-History-of-Commu
nity-Asset-Ownership
_small.pdf

https://www.hereford
shire.gov.uk/governm
ent-citizens-and-rig
hts/democracy/locali
ties/locality-workin
g?q=Locality&type=su
ggestedpage

https://www.hereford
shire.gov.uk/media/2
667926/engagement_to
olkit.pdf
Local authorities are empowered to transfer the ownership of land and buildings to communities for less than their market value. This is known as ‘discounted asset transfer’ or ‘asset transfer’. This shift in ownership of land and buildings from public bodies to communities is Localism in action, giving greater powers to: * community and voluntary sector organisations * community and social enterprises * individuals looking to form a not-for-private-prof it group to benefit their neighbourhood "Opposition councillors wanted a guarantee from the local authority that the site on Dinmore Hill called one of county’s “most precious public assets” would not be sold off". Judging by the council's past record I wouldn't bank on it. All the councils assets are public assets - what do the opposition councillors fear that they ask for a guarantee? To find out more about Community Asset Transfer read here: http://mycommunityri ghts.org.uk/communit y-asset-transfer/ http://locality.org. uk/wp-content/upload s/A-History-of-Commu nity-Asset-Ownership _small.pdf https://www.hereford shire.gov.uk/governm ent-citizens-and-rig hts/democracy/locali ties/locality-workin g?q=Locality&type=su ggestedpage https://www.hereford shire.gov.uk/media/2 667926/engagement_to olkit.pdf megilleland
  • Score: 1

11:22pm Fri 21 Feb 14

RobandSally says...

My family and I are regular visitors to Queenswood and occasionally Bodenham lake. I have always been impressed with how professionally these sites are managed for both people and wildlife. I am concerned about how a community group can provide this level of service ? For these are sites much loved and valued by the people of Herefordshire.
My family and I are regular visitors to Queenswood and occasionally Bodenham lake. I have always been impressed with how professionally these sites are managed for both people and wildlife. I am concerned about how a community group can provide this level of service ? For these are sites much loved and valued by the people of Herefordshire. RobandSally
  • Score: 2

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