The Atom Panopticon sculpture at Wycoller Country Park

The Atom Panopticon sculpture at Wycoller Country Park

Campaigners have urged a local authority to rethink its plans for its countryside sites.

Lancashire County Council said it intends to stop looking after the areas in two years’ time.

The council published the plans in the face of savage Government cuts, but the Open Spaces Society said the move would be a false economy.

The society, the oldest national conservation society, urged the authority not to cut its countryside services. General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “Of course we understand that the council faces massive cuts, stated to be £262m over the next five years, but we consider it a false economy to stop investing in the country parks and green spaces.

“Wycoller and Beacon Fell country parks are the council’s flagships, and there are numerous other sites, close to urban areas, which provide health and happiness to thousands of people.

“We believe that if these cease to be available and maintained it will have a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the population.”

Wycoller Hall, model for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre

Wycoller Hall, model for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre

Wycoller was regularly visited by the Brontë sisters, who made the journey over the moors on foot from Haworth in neighbouring Yorkshire.

Wycoller Hall, part of the council-maintained country park, was the model for Charlotte Brontë’s Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.

Lancashire County Council has begun a consultation on its plans for the countryside sites it manages.

Ms Ashbrook said: “People need green spaces and open countryside now more than ever, especially those which are close to home.

“They provide income to the county and health benefits to its people. The service manages teams of volunteers who are able to expand the work of the county council. It would be tragic if their energy and enthusiasm were to be lost.

“We urge the council to protect not slash the spending on its vital countryside service.”

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