Management of Woodhall Spa park is in doubt

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Parish Councillors in Woodhall Spa have been urged to consider a ‘Plan B’ as negotiations over the future of Jubilee Park drag on.

The parish council is desperate to hand over control of the park to a new charitable company.

However, lawyers representing the parish council and legal representatives of the charitable company have still to reach an agreement over final terms of a 99-year lease.

Parish council chairman David Clarke admitted “time was running out.”

He urged councillors to consider ensuring alternative arrangements were in place to manage the park complex ahead of the 2014 tourist season.

He revealed one option could see the parish council to continue to manage the park.

However, he conceded the council would struggle to attract funding for various park projects and warned a subsidy from previous owners ELDC was due to reduce.

Coun Clarke said: “I have spoken to the lawyers and they assure me progress is being made, but there are still some difficulties to overcome.

“I still hope an agreement will be reached but we need to consider other options.”

Coun Clarke said arrangements had to made regarding the park for next year on a number of issues, including budgets and staffing levels.

Coun Lucy Wells said she remained optimistic an agreement would be reached regarding the lease.

She said: “I would be disappointed if it did fall through given all the hard work that has gone into trying to get an agreement.”

She accepted discussions between the two parties appeared to have gone on for “an awfully long time.”

Coun Clarke replied: “We will continue to go down the path regarding the charitable company, but what happens if things turn sour? We need a Plan B.”

Coun Tim Peacock said he was not surprised lawyers had failed to reach an agreement because there were still significant issues to sort out.

Councillors agreed to postpone a decision on the management of the park for 2014 until their next meeting on December 17.

Coun Clarke accepted he hoped a deal would have been signed in the summer. He said the cut-off for an agreement could be no later than January, 2014. He also warned the legal bill could rise because of the protracted negotiations.