Management plan proposed for county’s countryside estates

PLANS to share management of Staffordshire’s country parks, picnic areas and greenways are set to move to the next stage.

Under the proposals Staffordshire County Council will look to transfer management, but not ownership, of the sites to other organisations.

Leek Rural county councillor Gill Heath, cabinet member for communities, said: “Our priority is to ensure that our country parks and green spaces are well maintained, accessible and able to cope with the increasing numbers who use them while retaining the qualities that make them special.

“We are retaining ownership of these sites, but we want to work with other organisations to manage them in a financially sustainable way so that future generations can carry on enjoying them.”

Consultations with user groups and interested parties has continued over several years, with different ideas and proposals discussed.

Coun Heath added: “These proposals look to build on existing partnerships and an extensive consultation to find ways of managing a diverse estate, maintaining public space now and in the future, and reducing the burden of that duty to taxpayers.

“In the long term we will carry out a procurement process to transfer the sites’ management to environmental bodies.

“If, at the end of that process, some sites are not transferred then we will explore setting up a trust, or not-for-profit body to manage them.

Before then the county council will continue managing the sites effectively and efficiently for the benefit of everyone.”

Cabinet will consider the proposals next week. The management of one site has already been transferred, while the management transfer of another is currently under negotiation.

Coun Heath added: “These sites are one of the jewels in Staffordshire’s crown. We are their custodian for future generations and we are committed to preserving them.”