Devastating cuts to conservation project revealed

Funding cuts for the Greenways Countryside Project, to the tune of £15,000, are due to be approved by Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet today. The Project exists to protect and enhance the countryside in and around Ipswich, for the benefit of local people and wildlife.

This cut will prove devastating for the project, which relies on volunteers to complete its valuable conservation work in the county. Suffolk County Council has for years been a core funding contributor to Greenways: in 2014-15, the £14,544 contribution from SCC accounted for over 10% of the project’s total expenditure. There is no doubt that a sudden cut in funding will severely hinder how effectively volunteers can complete the conservation work which protects Suffolk’s beautiful countryside.

Furthermore, the project supports many Suffolk residents suffering with mental health issues, who benefit greatly from volunteering with Greenways. Inga Lockington, the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group Spokesperson for Ipswich, is deeply concerned that this cut could have a negative impact on more than just the Suffolk countryside:

“This is so much more than an environmental issue; it is a public health issue, and should be treated as such by Suffolk County Council. I am aware of many residents who have gained a valuable sense of purpose by volunteering with Greenways.

With mental health issues on the rise, it is vital that we support organisations which offer volunteering opportunities to our communities. There is absolutely no justification for the removal of this funding.”

Andrew Stringer, Deputy Leader of the Group and Green Councillor, added:

“We’re always hearing that the council want to make Suffolk the UK’s ‘greenest county’. This cut makes a mockery of that aim.

It also ignores entirely the council’s own Nature Strategy, which pledged to ‘ensure Suffolk’s natural environment is conserved and enhanced for future generations’. We simply cannot achieve that goal without the hard work of projects such as Greenways.”

The council’s savings plan for 2018-19 includes a proposal to review the Natural Environment budget, “particularly focusing on any remaining areas that are low priorities for SCC”, in order to generate a saving of £14,000. Further investigation has revealed that this saving will be achieved solely by cutting the full amount of funding that the Greenways Project currently receives from Suffolk County Council.

 

Notes:

  • Suffolk’s Nature Strategy – available here
  • Full details of the cut can be found in Appendix C, Annex D, paragraph 38 of the 2018-19 Revenue Budget – available here
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