Parish councillors fume at BCP Council over 'reneging' on Highcliffe recreation ground funding
FURIOUS Highcliffe and Walkford parish councillors have accused BCP Council of trying to change a deal over ownership of the village’s recreation ground that would leave it £23,000 worse off.
BCP Council agreed to give the public space in Wortley Road to the parish council last year but is now alleged to have gone back on funding for the plans.
Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council chair Cllr Bob Hutchings told the A&T that “out of the blue” BCP had “reneged” on continuing to maintain the toilets at the ground at a cost of £8,000.
It also refused to hand over £15,000 the parish council said it had agreed for the maintenance of three play areas within the rec.
Cllr Hutchings said: “The £15,000 was supposed to be for ‘start-up’ costs for the maintenance and upkeep of the recreation ground while the parish council worked out a way to cover them itself.
“But out of the blue BCP Council said it was no longer going to maintain the toilets and that we were not getting the £15,000 either.
“So if we agreed to take back ownership we would be £23,000 worse off, which we can’t afford to be.”
Cllr Hutchings said the parish council was keen to improve facilities at the recreation ground including installing a sensory garden.
But he said until the transfer goes ahead it cannot do anything.
He added: “It’s sad as there is so much we want to do in the recreation ground but we can’t until we own it again.”
A spokesperson for BCP Council said it offered to hand over the assets in August 2021 but the parish council declined to accept ownership.
They also said it was “not familiar” with the figure of £23,000 mentioned by the parish council.
They added: “If the asset had transferred, costs for maintenance of the land would be ongoing and something the parish council would have to meet as its property, regardless of whether any maintenance was carried out by the council on their behalf, via private contractor or through any other arrangement.
“BCP Council is keen to resolve this situation and is currently developing a community asset transfer policy, which will bring the right engagement and transparency to this and similar transactions and this will be out for formal consultation this summer.”