Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust protects and cares for 88% of Torbay’s natural green spaces and its marine environment. Torbay Council funds the Trust to manage land on its behalf. In February this year, the Council decided to reduce their funding by 50% (over two years) without considering the impact of that change, which includes greater cost to the Council than any savings made through the cuts.
With this level of reduced funding Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust cannot maintain many sites that Torbay residents and visitors cherish. Sites at risk includes popular spots such as Berry Head National Nature Reserve, Cockington Country Park, Daddyhole/Rock End Walk, Hope’s Nose, Roundham Head, Saltern Cove, Wall’s Hill and the South West Coastal Footpath.
Ceasing to manage land across the bay will be bad for people, bad for wildlife and bad for the economy. Without management, the land will quickly become overgrown, litter will accumulate and paths enjoyed by residents and visitors alike will become impassable reducing opportunities for recreation and exercise. The attractiveness and appeal of the bay’s coast and countryside will deteriorate putting at risk some £40M of annual revenue from tourism linked to the natural environment.
Jill Ward, local resident, teacher, and volunteer with Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust has raised a petition to the council asking them to reconsider reductions in funding to Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust.
Jill explains “I’m just one of over a hundred ‘green guardians’, part of the small army of volunteers who regularly give some of our time to helping people enjoy the natural world around us. The TCCT mission statement says it all – ‘to protect land, conserve nature and strengthen the bonds between people and the natural world of Torbay.’ I help at Occombe farm and it has opened my eyes to how beautiful our locality is and also to how much work and commitment is involved to maintain that beauty, let alone make it better. I sincerely hope that our councillors will work with TCCT to save Torbay’s most loved natural green spaces and wildlife. You can’t put back lost habitats – when they are gone, they are gone”.
Jill’s petition requests that the council
- Increases the payment to the Trust for the year 2014/15 to £193,000; a reduction of £10,000 (approx 5%) on the management fee of £203,000 paid for 2013/2014; and
- Restores the budget payment to the Trust for the year 2015/2016 to £183,000; to include a further reduction of £10,000 (approx. 5%).
Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust has endorsed the petition and offered to assist Jill Ward in running it.
Damian Offer, Director, said “Cuts to funding of the Trust appear to have been adopted by the Council in February, without due consideration of their consequences. These cuts are placing Torbay’s special coast and countryside at risk. They will force the Trust to cease managing land across Torbay, which will be bad for people, bad for wildlife and bad for the economy; some £40M of annual tourist revenue derived from the quality of the Bay’s natural environment will be at risk. It would cost the Council at least £135,000 more each year to manage the land if the Trust wasn’t doing so. I therefore believe that the Trust offers the Council the most cost-effective means of managing the Bay’s special natural places for people and wildlife now and in the future.”
If you wish to sign the petition you can do so by visiting www.countryside-trust.org.uk/save-our-torbay and clicking on the link ‘sign the petition’. Signatures are also being collected at the following locations:
-Occombe Farm café, Preston Down Road, Paignton
-Occombe Farm Visitor Centre, Preston Down Road, Paignton
-Berry Head NNR The Guard House Café, Berry Head
-Cockington Country Park
You can also find ‘Save our Torbay’ on Facebook – www.facebook.com/saveourtorbay
For more information about Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust visit www.countryside-trust.org.uk