Saffron Walden Town Council to take on Bridge End Gardens

PUBLISHED: 09:28 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 21:55 31 May 2010

RESPONSIBILITY for one of Saffron Walden s most prized public gardens is set to be off-loaded by Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The grade-II listed Bridge End Gardens are likely to be transferred to the control of Saffron Walden Town Council by the be

RESPONSIBILITY for one of Saffron Walden's most prized public gardens is set to be off-loaded by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

The grade-II listed Bridge End Gardens are likely to be transferred to the control of Saffron Walden Town Council by the beginning of the New Year.

At a meeting of UDC's environment committee, vice chairman Cllr Simon Howell, said: "I'm very enthusiastic about the transfer. The town council is the natural custodian of Bridge End Gardens - it's an elegant solution."

The move could provide UDC with a potential saving of £71,000 a year, but some councillors were concerned that the asset was being given away too cheaply.

Cllr Cecile Down said: "I remember when we first went into Bridge End Gardens and they were an absolute shambles. The district council has done an excellent job to turn them around and we must be careful who we give them to."

Two staff are currently employed to maintain the seven interlinked gardens which have undergone an extensive restoration project and are free to use for the public.

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin also urged caution. She said: "I remember the long history of the gardens - it took a lot of work and a huge grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to turn them around.

"We have a heck of a lot of value here that we are giving away. We need to make sure that safeguards are in place before a decision is made."

Cllr Catherine Dean expressed concerns about what would happen to the maintenance of the gardens when the contracts with the Heritage Lottery Fund expire in 2013 and 2016, and what would happen to valuable statues.

"Would there be anything to stop a hard-up town council selling off some of the statues in the future?" she said. "There needs to be a water tight agreement on this."

Other amenities which are being transferred from UDC to the town council include Jubilee Gardens, Dorset House Garden, the Battle Ditches and Radwinter Road Cemetery.

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