THE team that looks after Shropshire’s country parks, heritage sites and rights of way is facing a £100,000 budget cut and redundancies – despite helping to bring £500,000 to the county last year.

The Shropshire Council Outdoor Partnerships Team is facing the “appalling” cut due to the withdrawal of public health funding.

It will see staff being asked to apply for voluntary redundancy, while the Shropshire Wild Teams, which helps volunteers take part in landscape management projects, will come to an end.

The council’s Communities Overview Committee, was given a presentation on the situation at a meeting at Shirehall on Monday.

Shona Butler, council officer, said in a report to the meeting: “The Outdoor Partnership Team continue to be focused on income generation; with £500k expected in 2018/19 and increased income targets for 2019/20.

“The Outdoor Partnerships Team, including the country parks and heritage sites are facing a £100,000 budget cut in 2019/20 due to the withdrawal of public health funding, 11.25 per cent of the current controllable budget of £888,270.

“This will be met by the voluntary redundancy of the country parks and sites manager and ceasing to run the Shropshire Wild Teams unless external funding can be secured.

“In addition, a £50,000 budget cut in 2019/20 is specifically targeted at public rights of way.

“Outdoor partnerships have already had a 58 per cent cut in total budget since 2012/13.”

Ms Butler added that there are future concerns regarding pressure in the future, including the possibility of further budget cuts.

She also warned of a lack of capital investment, and a reduction in staff having an impact on services.

She added: “The management of the public rights of way asset is essential to maintain the network of access and character of the Shropshire countryside.

“This along with other access provision, the physical nature of the landscape and the uniqueness of the area make it a popular place to visit and live.

“The team do a remarkable job with very little funding.

“This is achieved by careful budget management, volunteer co-ordination, relationship building and income generation.

“While the Outdoor Partnerships Team has and is continuing to explore the most efficient and effective way of managing the network officers would welcome members thoughts on any other potential initiatives.”

Councillor Cecilia Motley, committee chair, said she could see the team was doing the best it could to maximise its resources in tough times.

Councillor Nigel Hartin added that he was concerned about cuts and said he is worried that it goes against the council’s statutory duty.

He said: “There’s an increasing level of work coming in, but so much of the budget for the team has been cut since 2012/13 – is this sustainable into the future?

“Is this as low as it will get? Will it get cut more? Will it go lower? I am worried this goes against our statutory duty. Surely we have got to do it and keep funding it.”

But Councillor Motley added: “It is all about balancing the books. Every area is getting cuts.

“We have had discussions on what is our statutory duties, but when the chips are down we have to prioritise.

“We have to look after our children and our elderly and they are the priority.

“Somehow we are keeping this show on the road and I pay tribute to the officers in this department for keeping it going as well as it has under the circumstances as other local authorities have thrown in the towel.

“I think we should send our concerns to cabinet and say how appalled we are at these cuts.”