14th December 2016 – 

People are being asked to pay £36 a year to secure the future of a county’s country parks in the wake of cuts.

Under Shropshire’s Great Outdoors initiative, people are being asked to pay £3 a month to protect the spaces.

The parks cost around £300,000 a year to maintain, but the council says it needs to raise money after government grants and council funding were cut.

The authority said it must “find new ways of ensuring the future of country parks”.

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The council looks after parks and heritage sites, including Severn Valley Country Park and The Mere at Ellesmere. Funding will help improve the rights of way network, habitat management and look after historic monuments.

In return for joining the scheme, people will get free parking and invites to member exclusive events.

Stuart West, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said he was “keen on none of these facilities being left to go to rack and ruin”.

He said a government grant of £475,000 a year to protect such areas had been cut by about 50% and the council had to raise some £220,000 a year.

The authority hopes that at least 1,000 people will join the project.

Mr West said the county had 5,600 km (3,480 miles) of rights of way land for the public to enjoy which was the equivalent distance of Shrewsbury to New York.

Clare Fildes, outdoor partnerships enterprise manager, added: “We are really hoping that the people that enjoy our beautiful county for the countryside will want to contribute towards the upkeep of those.”