Improved offer accepted for Clare Castle Country Park

A view of part of the old  Clare Railway Station buildings that sit within the country park. Picture by Ray Bishop
A view of part of the old Clare Railway Station buildings that sit within the country park. Picture by Ray Bishop
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After four years of wrangling Clare Town Council has accepted the financial package made by Suffolk County Council (SCC) for it to take over Clare Castle Country Park.

Councillors voted unanimously on Wednesday of last week (Aug 13) to accept the county’s offer after it came back with an increase of £87,500.

At a public meeting in Clare the previous week SCC leader Mark Bee said it didn’t have any more money to offer above the £230,000 it had already pledged, plus another £30,000 made available for necessary works at the park.

However, SCC managed to come up with the higher offer, paid over a three year period, with £50,000 next year, then £25,000 and finally £12,500 for the third year.

One of the town council’s main grievances had been the ‘unfair’ support SCC gave to the park when compared to Brandon Country Park, which continues to get large annual subsidies from SCC.

Clare town councillor, Keith Haisman, said: “That made the offer fair and reasonable and gives us a good comparison to Brandon in equitable treatment, so it was a fair and unanimous decision.

“I’m guessing the previous offer would have certainly become a split vote in the (town) council.

“I don’t know which way it would have gone but I know it would not have been unanimous but had it gone through it would have been with a heavy heart whereas this is okay, this is fair and reasonable.

“We can go in with a good heart and a good spirit and make a go of it.”

The town council also successfully negotiated the removal of a claw back clause in the agreement which would have seen SCC keep half of any proceeds should the railway buildings be sold.

A covenant is being put on the whole of the park which means everything in it would belong to the people of Clare.

A trustees group that will manage the park for CTC will now be formally set up and its areas of responsibility defined.

CTC still wants St Edmundsbury Council to contribute towards the park from its £1.2m annual parks budget.

Mr Haisman added: “We intend to pursue St Edmundsbury to get a similar fair treatment, like for like.”