STAFFORDSHIRE’S much loved countryside, parks and green spaces help make the County such a great place to live and visit but their future is set to be reviewed.
The County Council manages a number of these country parks and green spaces with the help of dedicated local organisations and volunteers.
Now, Staffs CC want to ensure that these spaces are looked after for the greatest benefit of people and wildlife, which is why we are undertaking a long term review with the help of local communities and organisations.
All public organisations are facing challenges to their budgets, and the County Council is no different. In everything they do, they are looking for new, different ways of working to provide the things that Staffordshire people want, in a way that the County Council can afford.
For the Counties countryside estate, that means they need to explore if there are new ways of protecting the green spaces that people hold dear, not least by working with organisations who share our passion for local communities and the environment.
The County Council started to consider the future of their countryside estate in December 2014, and in April this year held a workshop with organisations including the Forestry Commission, the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England. As a result, a wide range of possibilities are being considered, including keeping management with the county council, partnerships with single or multiple organisations from the public, voluntary and private sectors, or the carefully managed development of some sites which have limited public access and use.
Many sites have covenants which ensure they are protected for future generations. For example, the covenant on the part of Cannock Chase that SCC own requires it to be held in trust for the benefit of the people of Staffordshire. In reality, the very different nature of the sites means that each will need its own solution, which meets the needs of the local community and the wildlife present.
More studies will take place over the summer, before SCC start a three month public consultation from October 2015.
The County Council want to hear from Staffordshire people and all who visit these green spaces to help make the right decisions for each site are made in early 2016.
This review is an opportunity to look at how we can ensure that the sites we manage are looked after in the best possible way, that wildlife thrives and that local people can make the best of the green spaces that are of such value to them. No decisions have been made and we welcome the views of the people of Staffordshire and beyond in making sure our countryside continues to thrive.