‘A ONCE in a lifetime opportunity’ to create a green corridor in Alcester could still happen.
The Alcester Nature Reserve, currently in the ownership of Stratford District Council, was set to be transferred to Alcester town council, which would also take on the care and maintenance of the land – at an estimated cost of about £7,000 a year.
The land, covering just over ten acres, lies in the flood plain of the River Arrow and is worthless for development but despite ATC was prepared to pay the legal fees for the transfer of the ownership of the freehold.
The move was recommended for approval but the district council’s cabinet only offered the town council the leasehold of the land – with Stratford retaining ownership.
The town council already owns the neighbouring field, Priory Meadow, the site of Alcester Abbey, and Jubilee Fields on the other bank of the Arrow – and the land in question actually belonged to the old Alcester rural district council before the creation of Stratford District Council.
District councillor Mike Gittus, who had championed the scheme, was far from happy.
He declared it ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ and demanded the decision be reviewed adding ‘the entire scheme was dismissed casually and without debate’.
“It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and we have developed a 20 year management plan for the whole River Arrow green corridor.
“We thought we had an agreement in principle to get the land in perpetuity and take the burden of maintenance off the district council’s hands.”
The former leader of Stratford district council and Alcester resident Susan Juned, who was there when the nature reserve was first set up, was equally baffled.
She said: “It’s quite extraordinary that after such long and careful negotiating the cabinet could make a decision so casually and without any legal advice.”
A meeting of the district’s overview and scrutiny committee decided ‘due consultation with the town council was not in evidence’ and the matter will now go back to cabinet for reconsideration.