THE Deadwater Valley Trust is back in the running to manage the Bordon Inclosure and the Deadwater Valley Nature Reserve following a change of approach by Whitehill Town Council.
The council had considered taking over management of the sites because it said service contracts it had with the trust did not suit how it wanted them to be run.
But instead of employing the rangers itself, the council has decided to offer separate ten-year service contracts for the sites which will be drawn up on its own terms. It aims to complete the process by April 1 next year.
This means the trust has a chance to continue the work it began more than 30 years ago, but it must make the best case to earn either or both of the contracts.
Town council leader Cllr Andy Tree said: “By law we are not allowed to automatically renew our agreements with our current service provider, Deadwater Valley Trust, but nothing prevents them from applying.
“This tendering law is designed to prevent council tax payers from having large sums of money given to organisations without proper review, scrutiny and looking at alternative options. The public conduct regulations 2015 are very clear on this, in terms of contracts of this value.
“Our new service contracts will cover the principles of us having more control over the management of the land, on behalf of the residents, by ensuring we can review the management plan and set overall policy and strategy.
“We take spending council tax and Section 106 developer contributions very seriously.”
TUPE employment laws mean rangers working on town council land will keep their jobs regardless of who wins the tenders. Addressing residents, Cllr Tree said: “I hope this paragraph reassures you, as this has been a key public concern, regarding the process we are legally obligated to follow.”
The council will not go it alone with its policy making for the two sites, said Cllr Tree: “We value expert advice and we have agreed to consult with Natural England and Hampshire County Council.
“County council officers have already confirmed they are happy to be involved and this is very welcome.”
The next update will be at the executive committee meeting on December 9. The full council will decide who is awarded the tenders.