Eastleigh’s MP Chris Huhne has declared his support in the fight to keep Stoke park woods in the public domain.
Recently it was revealed the well used, much loved local woodland that lies between Bishopstoke and Fair Oak will put up for sale by the government
Writing in response to campaigner Robert Byrne, Mr Huhne – who said he has enjoyed walking in the woods himself – described Stoke Park as:
“A beautiful wood with a varied landscape” adding he was “determined to ensure they remain available for the use and benefit of the local community”
Mr Huhne also said he had brought the matter to the attention of the Environment Secretary Caroline Spellman who assured him that local areas of woodland like Stoke Park are:
“Extremely valuable in terms of the recreational and environmental benefits they offer. Accordingly we will offer first refusal to community bodies or civil society organisations and give them preferred status in taking over these sites”
Mr Byrne who had also written to the Prime Minster and local Council Leader Keith House of his concerns – both of whom have yet to reply – said he was pleased to read of Mr Huhne’s determination adding:
” I believe Chris is being as helpful as he can be… but I don’t believe a wood the size of Stoke Park can be managed by a community body or civil society successfully and to the same standard as the Forestry Commission. It’s a matter of resources.”
According to the Guardian newspaper, the cost of buying Forestry Commission land could be as low as £3,500 a hectare – this would put a £347K price tag on Stoke Park – less than the cost of the Councils annual subsidy to the Point theatre.
Mr Byrne has now emailed all of Eastleigh’s councillors to try and sound out support for a council backed initiative to secure the future of the woodland for the community.