Authority Should Fight For AONB Funding Says Councillor

aonb signThe Council should “put up a struggle” against further cuts to AONB funding.

That’s the view of Bryher councillor Marian Bennett, who said not fighting for the organisation would “deny credit to the volunteers” who had worked hard for the islands and environmental issues over the years.

It followed a report at last week’s Planning Meeting, where development officer Diana Mompoloki said the Council was looking at how the AONB’s work could be delivered with up to 50% cuts in funding.

Defra, who fund three quarters of the AONB budget, took the largest hit of any department in the Chancellor’s recent budget review. They’ll have their budget reduced by 30% over the next four years.

But not all members agreed. Cllr Gordon Bilsborough felt the AONB wasn’t “vital.”

Gordon didn’t want to see money being diverted from front line services if the Council had to cut back in future years.

Last year, the authority contracted out the AONB to Scilly’s Wildlife Trust. Council Chairman Amanda Martin said the Trust had done “a very good job” carry out the hands on work of the AONB.

But Marian expressed concern about the Council’s representation on the Wildlife Trust.

She said she had been elected as the authority’s representative but has been told that the role no longer exists.