Country park talks called off

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A town council has pulled out of negotiations to take over a much-loved country park after more than a year of talks reached deadlock.

Brandon Town Council has been trying to reach agreement for the transfer of Brandon Country Park from Suffolk County Council since July last year.

But talks broke down last week after the county council were unable to make changes to the staffing structure at the park’s cafe before handing it over.

Reg Silvester, town council chairman, said Brandon could not take on 14 contracted staff members with a £150,000 wage bill.

“We made certain we had the balance sheets and when we looked at the financing there were certain things that we couldn’t abide with.

“The management structure was all wrong and we didn’t want the town to take on that burden,” he said.

Cllr Silvester said the council had planned to franchise the cafe to make it sustainable.

Suffolk County Council has now turned its attentions to negotiations with Forest Heath District Council as it attempts to offload the Country Park.

Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, confirmed it was in talks.

“Brandon Country Park is a glorious asset which Forest Heath is keen should be retained for residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment.

“We are in discussions with Suffolk County Council about an arrangement whereby they initially retain ownership of the park while we take on its management,” he said.

Cllr Hirst said the deal would see Suffolk underwrite the management cost.

He added that any deal would not preclude Brandon Town Council from being involved in the park in the future.

Lisa Chambers, from Suffolk County Council, said it was ‘thrilled’ to be in discussions to keep the park open.