Is it 'broke' ? What does the panel think ....?
" Serious concerns have been expressed over proposals to transfer the management of Pagham Harbour nature reserve from West Sussex County Council to the RSPB – which some local residents fear could turn it into a theme park.
The county council’s strategic environmental services select committee supported the idea of detailed negotiations on the proposals by Cllr Brenda Urquhart, the county cabinet member for environment and economy.
But it said this was on the understanding no commitment to a transfer would be made by Cllr Urquhart until committee members had considered a further report covering issues including financial and staffing implications and a proposed service level agreement.
This was proposed by Cllr Heidi Brunsdon, who said she did not think members had enough details to make a decision at this stage.
The trade union Unison called for a postponement until county councillors had seen all the evidence relating to a business plan.
Cllr Mike Coleman said his concerns were financial. “We don’t know what the final outcome will be financially – how much it will cost the county council and how much the RSPB would be prepared to put into the operation,” he added
If a deal was struck, there should be continuing consultation locally. “It is absolutely vital that local people have an input into what is going on at the reserve,” he declared.
Cllr Margaret Whitehead, representing Chichester South, pressed for the concerns and wishes of people in the villages, including Sidlesham, to be listened to, and taken into serious consideration.
Cllr Simon Macdougall said he was not convinced at the present time, and had concerns about the report under consideration. He was also seriously concerned over papers submitted by Unison, particularly about the transfer of staff.
There were differences in pay between levels paid by the county council and those paid by the RSPB.
The committee was told staffing issues would be a major part of negotiations, and there was close contact with Unison. Sue Hawker, director of operations for community services, said: “The main issue is the sustainability of the reserve.”
Cllr Christina Coleman said one of her deep concerns was that the financial arrangements and figures had been very scarce. Results of the negotiations should come before the committee before the cabinet member took a final decision.
Cllr Warwick Hellawell said the committee was being asked to make decisions based on ‘vague assurances’.
Sidlesham’s district councillor Tricia Tull told the Observer after the meeting: “I don’t want to see the nature reserve turned into a theme park.” "