On Thursday South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) councillors confirmed Cambridge Sport Lakes Trust (CSLT) as their preferred bidder to run Milton Country Park. Work will now start for the transfer to take place by early next year. Under the Trust's plans the park would continue to provide existing amenities and expand on the range of activities available for visitors. With the support of a one-off £250,000 payment from SCDC, the Trust proposes to take on the Park's existing staff, managing the Park with them plus assistance from volunteers and partnership organisations.
We would like to think that the campaign is in some small way responsible for the Park staying open. Back in December last year the noises that were coming out of SCDC were that many councillors believed the Park was a little local problem, only of interest to residents of Milton and the surrounding villages, so closing it would be a relatively painless option. We showed them this wasn't the case and that there were a lot of people who would be very upset if the Park closed, from all over SCDC, the City of Cambridge and beyond.
We have collected over 10,000 signatures of support and pledges towards the future running of the Park, which is currently running at over £14,500 per year. In addition, behind the scenes, the campaign exchanged over 2,500 emails both between the campaign team and with supporters. Add to that the many meetings and phone calls that we've had and you'll get some idea of what the campaign has been like.
We would like to thank:
- you all for signing up to our petition
- the many hundreds of you who have displayed our posters - it's been amazing finding them all over the place as we've been out and about. Not only did it help the campaign but it helped encourage us seeing how widespread the support was
- the many web site owners who displayed our banner (you can take it off now)
- those of you who have sent us emails of help and encouragement over the last six months - hopefully we replied to most of them
- those who volunteered when we needed help - every time we asked for help we were overwhelmed by the number of people who stepped forward, sometimes at ludicrously short notice
- the many of you who have already pledged money to help keep the Park open
We would specifically like to thank:
- Cambridge News and Cambridge Crier for their continued help and support through the campaign with a steady stream of articles to keep the issue in the public eye
- all the local radio stations and especially BBC Radio Cambridgeshire for giving us a lot of air time
- BBC Look East who covered the story
- Russell Residential for supporting the campaign
- Cambridge Preservation Society who put in a tremendous amount of effort towards saving the Park, including organising the workshop which was key to bringing us to where we are now
- district councillors Richard Summerfield and Hazel Smith
- Milton Parish Council for their support and free use of their facilities
- Milton Village View for distributing paper copies of our petition
- Milton Village Fayre organising committee for offering us a stall
As you know we also looked at taking on running the Park ourselves and we had a lot of help in that regard too. We would like to thank:
- Cambridge Preservation Society
- the Keystone Trust who gave us a great deal of help and encouragement
- Red2Green, a local charity with whom we had many discussions over how we could work together if we took on the Park
- the Magog Trust and especially Michael for his help and advice on all sorts of matters
- the Mepal Outdoor Centre for their advice on what was and wasn't possible
- EEDA for pointing us towards potential funding options
- the officers of SCDC who went out of their way to help us prepare our bid
- the anonymous donor who offered us sufficient funding to consider bidding for the Park at all
As you can see we've had a lot of help from a lot of different people and we're sure to have left some people out. If you're one of those then our apologies. Put it down to tiredness after a long struggle.
You've not heard the last of us yet: we will be writing to you one last time once we've met with CSLT and discussed where we go from here.
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