WOODHALL Spa Parish Council has performed a dramatic U-turn and is planning to hand over ownership of the entire Jubilee Park complex to a charitable trust.
The change comes less than a month after the council announced it was taking sole control of the park.
The takeover led to storms of protests and the Friends of Jubilee Park (FoJP) - who have raised thousands of pounds for the complex - threatened to end any cooperation with the council.
The council’s decision meant a management committee, which had been running the park, was axed
The management committee - which included members of the FojP - was replaced by a new committee, comprised entirely of councillors. Now, that idea has been scrapped.
Instead, councillors have agreed a peace formula, following a series of ‘informal meetings’ with FoJP.
The council will work with representatives of FoJP on another new committee that will run the park, until the process of setting up a charitable trust - or similar organisation - has been completed.
The council will have five representatives on the committee and the FoJP four. The council has rejected a request by FoJP to discuss which councillors should be appointed.
One of the committee’s main responsibilities will be investigating setting up the trust, which will ultimately replace the council as park owners.
It has emerged that FoJP - which it is understood still has ‘issues’ with certain councillors - could emerge as front-runners to form the trust.
Parish council chairman David Clarke admitted it had encountered problems since it replaced East Lindsey District Council as owners more than 18 months ago.
He said the council had been restricted by a number of financial and administrative constraints that prevented it from running the park as a business.
He said the constraints included the fact the council had to hold meetings in public and could not make decisions outside those meetings, or delegate the decision making process.
He also said that, unlike a charitable trust, the council was not exempt from business rates or VAT and was restricted by the amount of grant funding it could apply for.
Coun Clark said: “It has been a difficult two years to be perfectly honest. I think what we have all probably experienced is a degree of frustration in trying to operate Jubilee Park within those constraints.
“We are beginning to realise that what we need to look at an alternative solution.”
Coun Clarke said if the parish council had not taken over ownership from ELDC, there was a very real threat the park would have sold to developers.
He stressed it was never the parish council’s intention to run the complex.
Coun Clarke admitted the council was keen to hand over ownership of the park as soon as possible and said the “logical organisation” to create the trust appeared to be the FoJP.
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