Parish poll to be held on country park proposals

BRANDON residents will get their chance to choose if the council should run one of the town’s most important natural assets.

Brandon Town Council is looking to take on the running of Brandon Country Park with Suffolk County Council planning to offload the 32-acre site.

The town council has already put up its Council Tax precept by 41 per cent to accommodate the plans and an intelligent street lighting project. That equates to an extra £16 a year for each resident.

But councillors are divided on whether the council should take on the park and at a meeting last Monday it was agreed a parish poll would be held on the matter.

According to Christine Mason, town council clerk, a business plan will now be drawn up in preparation for a public meeting.

Dates for the public meeting and parish poll will not be set until the business plan has been completed.

Cllr Norman Vant has raised fears in the past that the town council would merely be taking on one of Suffolk’s ‘liabilities’.

He said the public deserved a say on the matter.

“If the people of Brandon want it and they are furnished with the facts then I will back it.

“My concern at the moment is that we do not know the details of the business plan so we don’t know what we are taking on,” he said.

Cllr Mark Skinner has asked for more ‘positivity’ towards the scheme and said the council would take its time in putting together plans.

“We need to take as long as it takes to get all the right information to present the right case.

“It might turn out that we get to the end of the process and see that things are not right for the town but we need all the facts first.

“We are getting professional people to look at our business case and we will present that to the people of Brandon and they will decide,” he said.

Holding the parish poll will cost the council around £2,000, according to Ms Mason.

Forest Heath District Council and the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC) are also helping the town council with its plans.

Councillors have previously warned that the park would be ‘mothballed’ if no one took over its running.