Friends of Wycoller and Friends of Pendle Heritage have written to County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Cultural Services, about the closure of the Countryside Management service, which will shut down Wycoller Country Park…
Dear Councilor Johnstone,
We write to you as Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Cultural Services, representing the Friends of Wycoller and Friends of Pendle Heritage. Like many, we are shocked by the Council’s proposals for museums, country parks and libraries. It seems the whole cultural landscape of Lancashire is to be instantly destroyed by a tsunami of closures. We therefore appreciate the massive task that you and your colleagues now face in finding solutions and wish you the very best in your efforts.
Wycoller Country Park
We wish to highlight our specific concern, Wycoller Country Park, something very precious but minuscule in financial terms; yet it too, apparently, is to be swept away. The Country Park has just re-established itself after a year of turmoil caused by the last round of cuts. The Council has now installed a new ranger, who is young, able and enthusiastic. She lives on-site and is the hub of a circle of volunteers and enthusiasts that want to get things moving again.
National and International Cultural Asset
Wycoller Country Park is a cultural asset of international significance. It is Lancashire’s slice of Bronte Country, which is as world famous a place for literary tourism as Burns Country is for Scotland and Stratford-upon-Avon is for the Midlands. It’s heritage and archaeology, like the hall, bridges, clothiers houses and vaccary walls are scheduled ancient monuments of national importance. It has beautiful countryside rich in nature, including a wealth of wild flowers, trees, and animals. The place is intensely romantic and the Council has nothing else like it. Our volunteers regularly show visitors round, and many are from foreign countries.
Embedded in Local Urban Communities
Wycoller is also a very popular place for local urban communities such as Nelson and Colne with schools, disabled groups and other community groups using the park on a weekly basis. Closing the Countryside service at Wycoller would deny people knowledge of the cultural and natural worlds, opportunities to see and touch, smell and feel and come face to face with aspects of their past, present and future. We remember the wonder on a little girl’s face when she brought us a tadpole with legs, “look an evolving frog” she said. About 7 years old she had seen a picture of it in a book but the wonder of reality was something else again. It made it real. Who knows what effect that day at Wycoller will have on her. She will never forget it we are sure of that.
Managed by the Council and Voluntary Groups
The management is led by the Park ranger, who also looks after several other Council sites in NE Lancashire. She is supported by and enthuses a committed team of voluntary rangers and three more teams of volunteers from Friends of Wycoller, Friends of Pendle Heritage and a specialist group of disabled volunteers. Some come from as far away as Hyndburn and Blackburn. Thus the tie-in with the Lancashire community is excellent. These volunteers undertake much of the everyday running and maintenance of the country park as well as assisting the events programme and activities. The Friends of Wycoller web site and the Wycoller posts on the Friends of Pendle Heritage web site both promote Wycoller. We are currently wanting to set up a specific Wycoller Country Park web site for promotion and visitor information. All this is free of charge to the County Council through the work of the Countryside service.
Wycoller Costs are Minuscule – Cutting It Makes No Sense
The shutting down of the Countryside management team, the loss of the Ranger post and the consequential ‘sacking’ of all these volunteers is a nonsense because the costs are negligible and will make no difference to the scale of cuts needed. The Council currently gets a nationally and internationally important cultural asset for the cost of part of the time of a ranger and a small amount of supporting revenue but with great buy-in from local people and support from volunteers from across NE Lancashire. We therefore argue that there is no financial or other case for cutting the Wycoller Country Park.
We hope you will take these matters into consideration.
Friends of Wycoller and Friends of Pendle Heritage