DISTRICT MP Mark Garnier is looking into ways of transferring control of the Wyre Forest to a purpose-made charity trust.

Conservative Mr Garnier spoke in the House of Commons during an Opposition Day Debate on Wednesday.

He voted against the Labour motion calling on the Government to "rethink its decision on the sale of England's public forest estate", which was defeated by 310 votes to 260, a majority of 50.

He said he was working with Ludlow MP, Conservative Philip Dunne, however, to “absolutely guarantee that all of the forest stays available to the community for countless generations to come”.

Mr Garnier said: “At its heart, Wyre Forest is an asset used by the whole of the West Midlands.

“Indeed, it is the lungs of the West Midlands conurbation and everyone who uses the forest should be absolutely assured of both mine and the hon member for Ludlow’s commitment to the Wyre Forest and to the continued and uninterrupted use and pleasure it gives people.”

He explained that the bulk of the Wyre Forest owned by the Forestry Commission (FC) was “heritage forest”, covered by the guarantee that it would not be sold off but could be transferred to a charitable trust.

He added there was also FC-owned “multi-use” land that had a commercial value and could be subject to lease arrangements.

Mr Garnier said that, “in themselves”, he was satisfied the lease arrangement proposals would safeguard the commercial woods but “that, frankly, does not cut much ice with my constituents”.

He added that, in addition, part of the Wyre Forest was owned by Natural England and part by the Guild of St George.

Mr Garnier said he and Mr Dunne were looking at ways of pulling together a group to take ownership of Wyre Forest.

He explained he had spoken to John Iles, managing director of the Wyre Community Land Trust, who had “expressed an interest” in exploring the idea.

He said they were looking at ways to package together all the various parts of the Wyre Forest, to create “one single entity”.

Mr Garnier said: “A purpose-made, cast-iron charitable trust will remove any uncertainty and hold these important assets in public hands for ever.

“We need a period of cold-headed contemplation to look into the details and the remaining 11 weeks of the 12 weeks consultation is the right time to explore all avenues.”

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