WASELEY Hills Country Park is under threat of being privatised, claims County Councillor Peter McDonald.
Coun McDonald has accused Worcestershire County Council of holding discussions ‘behind closed doors’ before making the decision to look at allowing the privatisation of all its parks.
“This was done without councillors even being able to debate such a serious issue at the time of the deal was made public last November,” he said.
Coun McDonald added discussions were also ongoing to ‘rid the county of Hartlebury Common’.
And he said Kingsford Forest Park, in Kidderminster, had already been handed over to the National Trust.
“The unthinkable is now happening – the giving away of Waseley Hills Country park could not only see parking charges increased but turnstiles being installed,” Coun McDonald said.
“It beggars belief what could happen once this jewel in the crown is given away to some privateer.
“It would seem the council is only too eager to rid itself of country parks throughout the county, that have developed over the years into areas of outstanding beauty because of the investment of council taxpayers, only now to be handed over to others to make monies on the investment of the council taxpayer.”
A council spokeswoman said in line with many other authorities the council had to make significant savings.
She added over the last three years the council had been investigating whether there may be other organisations, particularly in the voluntary and community sector, who may be interested in taking on the management of one or more of its countryside sites.
“Such organisations have to have a track record of managing sites in a broadly similar manner in terms of public access, biodiversity, landscape and the historic environment,” she said.
“Any proposals of this kind would be looked at on their merit, and mechanisms will be found to ensure that sites that are transferred will be managed in an appropriate manner.
“An example of this historically was when Worcestershire County Council transferred Tank Quarry Picnic Place to Malvern Hills Conservators. The site is still open to the public free of charge.”
The spokeswoman said Kingsford Forest Park, near Wolverley, was likely to transfer to the National Trust but there was a condition no entry fee could be charged and the public would be able to access the site as they do now.
She added there were currently no plans to transfer Waseley Hills Country Park or Worcester Woods Country Park to another provider.