Could a business help run Beacon Fell country park?

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Commercial operators could be brought in to run two of Lancashire’s countryside jewels in the crown - Beacon Fell and Wycoller country parks.

When Lancashire County Council’s cabinet met today for its first public meeting since the May elections the council’s new Tory leaders were quizzed about the future of the two sites by Liberal Democrat County Coun David Whipp.

Wycoller Country Park

Wycoller Country Park

He said it seemed there is scope “to perhaps be a little more enterprising in trying to secure partners/other organisations which might be able to facilitate the operation of countryside sites.”

The previous Council administration had sought to save money by finding new organisations to run its Countryside Service sites, but had agreed to transfer responsibility for just 13 of its 84 sites.

The council said it had not received any acceptable expressions of interest for the remaining 71 sites which will cost nearly £200,000 a year to manage.

Pendle councillor Whipp said: “Clearly we have two jewels in the crown. The one I’m particularly interested in is Wycoller - the setting for Brontë books and a destination for international visitors and for local people alike.”

He said he knew that it had been suggested that talks should be held “in a very open way to see if there’s any interest from commercial operators to look at helping to cover the cost of running the (Wycoller) country park.”

He argued both Wycoller and Beacon Fell (pictured) would provide an opportunity for commercial operators to contribute to service costs.

The council’s deputy leader Coun Albert Atkinson replied: “We will need people who will look to take over a lease to keep them going not just the two, but others. Officers are looking at it. We’ll keep cabinet and yourself informed of any future developments.”

Officers had previously been asked to develop proposals to reduce costs by generating income from the sites, attracting grants and working with other organisations which could assist with site maintenance.