At the November 2021 Cabinet meeting the decision was taken to “rewild” Allestree Park; this was subject to a consultation with stakeholders and the “people of Derby”.
The decision was not part of a documented long term climate strategy but a response to short term events – the proposed sale of Allestree Hall and the closure of the Golf Course.
More background detail Allestree Hall & Golf course – bunkered by incompetence. Or vested interest?
The decision was taken to run a consultation from January – April 2022; the results of which are included in the Cabinet papers for the August 2022 meeting.
The rewilding decision was a consequence of the sale of Allestree Hall, separate from the Golf Course.
“4.2 In September 2019, Cabinet approved the sale of Allestree Hall and, as the sale of the Hall would affect the operation of Allestree Golf Course, it was subsequently decided in accordance with the report to close the golf course on 31 December 2020 and that the golf course be absorbed into the existing parkland”Item 10 Cabinet Paper 10 November 2021
The sale of Allestree Hall, as a wedding venue, has fallen through, with no approved alternative.
Consulting the “People of Derby”
A valid consultation of the “people of Derby” should mean that the demographic split approximates to that of the whole City. In many significant ways it doesn’t:
Of the respondents (data from Cabinet report):
85% were white British vs 80% in Derby
57% were women vs 51% in Derby
21% were Christian vs 53% in Derby
46% were over the age of 55 vs 31% in Derby
9.6% were transsexual vs 0.5% in Derby
6.3% were disabled vs 15% in Derby
8% were LGB vs 2.7% in Derby
…and 67% had an opinion on the re-introduction of the red backed shrike!
There are no references, in the Cabinet paper, to the support for the Golf Course, despite significant numbers of responses in the consultation paper for the retention of this leisure activity.
A good proportion of the survey was channelled through the Friends of Allestree Park which has a constituency, at best of 1500 people, a proportion of which will not be residents of Derby City. The other interested 3rd Party is Derbyshire Wildlife Trust which has a commercial stake in the rewilding project.
I suspect that few people outside of wildlife/ornithological circles will have heard of a red backed shrike – let alone 67%.
A consultation of the “people of Derby” should not be confined to a self-selected “echo chamber” especially when the implications affect the other 99.5% of the population who have other interests and priorities.
Given that the future of Allestree Hall is now uncertain, and its listed status includes the golf course ( which has a high market value in the £millions), the whole decision should be revisited; the original move towards rewilding was a knee-jerk reaction, unashamed “green washing” /”playing to the audience”
The Tories have form when it comes to pursuing flawed decisions based on stubborn ideology and delaying the inevitable U-turn until too much money has been spent e.g. Assembly Rooms refurbishment!