Council takes a stand over forests

A PARISH council is taking a stand against the Government on proposals to fell thousands of acres of woodland in their rural area and close a vital office.

A consultation on plans to sell-off 85 per cent of Forestry Commission managed land, an announcement by the Government that the other 15 per cent is to be sold and a proposal to close the commission’s office in Rothbury, has left local councillors reeling.

At last week’s monthly meeting, Coun Alan Fendley said: “We need to kick up hell about this.

“The Forestry Commission has done an excellent job in our area. This parish council has got to do something about this.”

County councillor Steven Bridgett who raised the issue said: “There has been a Forestry Commission office in Rothbury since around the 1920s I think. They do a great service. And what sums it up for me is that one of the members of staff was more concerned about the consultation on felling than losing a job.

“But the loss of jobs could have a significant impact on the village.”

Coun Jeff Reynalds said: “There are less and less jobs. We need to make noises about this.”

Chairman of the parish council Coun Peter Dawson said: “It’s a problem, it really is. And the issue is that a lot of the decisions are made before anyone really has any input in it.

“It is a tick-box exercise. If they want a proper consultation they should consult before they come to the decision behind closed doors. That is the biggest problem.”

The council is to write an open letter to the press and Ministers, MPs and the Home Office about their concerns.