In the last couple of days there’s been a degree of what can only be described as panic locally and on social media about the future of Cannock Chase, Chasewater and other Staffordshire Country Parks.
Reports that they are all to be sold off are a huge overreaction and scaremongering – there is an ongoing process underway consulting on future management of these vital greenspaces, but no, they are most definitely not up for sale.
I am indeed worried about the future of these places, which the vast majority of readers will know I love and care for passionately; I remain concerned about the future of national parks and access land generally; but unless the government resurrect previously abandoned plans, Staffordshire’s emerald jewels will not be sold.
We must remain vigilant; take part in consultations, and keep a weather eye on the politicians, but as the following press release issued yesterday by Staffordshire County Council states, there is cause for watchful concern, but not alarm.
Cannock Chase and Chasewater not for sale
Posted on Wednesday 17th June 2015
Commenting on suggestions that Cannock Chase may be sold, Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Economy, Environment and Transport, said: ‘There are no plans to sell Cannock Chase. We are custodians of the Chase for this and future generations and at the moment we are simply looking at the best way to manage this country park and others across the county.
‘We have been discussing these ideas, publicly, since 2014. Currently we’re talking to those groups with an interest in the country parks and the intention is we will have a full public consultation later this year.
‘The process has been completely open and will continue to be so. There are lots of ideas under discussion and what may work for one site, will not work for another.
‘Sensibly, within the report, there’s an option to sell off sites which are of no benefit to the public. We fully expect the only interest for these sites to be from community user groups and parish councils.
‘I reiterate Cannock Chase and Chasewater will not be sold.’
Thanks to all who contacted me with tipoffs and questions; I hope this answers some of them. I don’t take this a gospel – we must take care; but the panic as evidenced in the last couple of days on social media is unproductive and misguided.