New offer made for transfer of Clare country park

Clare Town Council chairman Keith Haisman standing in Clare Castle Country Park.
Clare Town Council chairman Keith Haisman standing in Clare Castle Country Park.

The people of Clare will be asked to decide whether or not to accept Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) final offer to the town council for the transfer of Clare Castle County Park.

Negotiations over the transfer of the park from the county council to Clare Town Council (CTC) have been ongoing since the county decided in 2012 it could no longer afford the financial cost.

SCC originally offered CTC £100,000 before increasing it to £126,000 and then increasing it again after being told it was not enough to the latest offer, which totals £225,000.

Clare Town Councillors are due to meet tonight (Thursday) to decide whether to recommend to the community that the offer be accepted before a period of public consultation is then undertaken.

CTC chairman, Cllr Keith Haisman, said: “It is a significantly better offer. The question will be is it enough. “Is there enough in there to cover all the risks that come with running the park.

“It’s a finely balanced thing.”

The new offer would see the park transferred to the people of Clare (the park would be managed by a board of trustees) at no cost and a one-off payment made to CTC of £200,000.

The payment would cover;

•The full cost of the building works proposed by the town council.

•The remaining design and project management fees for the building works.

•The remaining legal fees for CTC’s lawyers.

•Building running costs for the first six months whilst the works are completed.

•A contribution of about £30,000 towards other works in the park that the town council may wish to carry out.

•An extra contribution of £25,000 will also be made in anticipation of the town council making a lottery bid with no restrictions placed on the town council regarding how that is spent.

•The county council will be liable for any VAT payments incurred by the town council as part of the agreed building works.

Although the new offer is an improved one, Mr Haisman pointed out that the building works required actually cost £158,000, minus of the VAT that the county would pay, leaving just £42,000 for any other improvements needed. Other renovations are needed, such as improvements to the parks moats and water features, which alone would cost in the region of £180,000 to complete, he added.

Whatever the town councillors recommend at their meeting, the whole community will be asked to give their opinion in a questionnaire that will soon be delivered to each household with the Chevron newsletter.

Public consultation events will then take place at Clare Town Hall on July 31 from 4pm to 8pm, on August 1 between 4pm and 8pm and on August 2, from 1pm to 5pm.

A public meeting will also take place at the town hall from 7pm on Thursday, August 7.