A COUNCIL has unveiled a plan to help with cost-cutting – by bringing in a herd of cows.
Gosport Borough Council’s new strategy plan for the Alver Valley Country Park includes using livestock to keep the grass short.
This is something we have wanted to do for a long time.Councillor Graham Burgess
The 12 cows will be moved to different fields within the park to save the need for external contractors to cut the grass.
The first herd of livestock is set to be used by next autumn.
The proposal was agreed by the council at its last community board meeting and is just one change for the Alver Valley, which also includes new entrances, play parks and car parks, and improved signage.
Over 10 years, the cows will cost the council an estimated £45,200, whereas using in-house or external contractors will cost an estimated £56,000-£80,000 over the same period.
Councillor Graham Burgess, chairman of the community board which is dealing with the Alver Valley strategy plan, said: ‘This is something we have wanted to do for a long time.
‘There are a lot of benefits both financially and ecologically.
‘The cows will be interesting for children to see as well and we can invite schools to see them and learn about biodiversity.
‘But saving money is also a big benefit.’
In the past year, Gosport council has faced a six-per-cent cut in money from central government – making it the worst-hit borough authority in the area. As previously reported in The News, their spending went from £11.2m to £10.5m.
A public consultation will be held before a decision is made as new fences and gates will need to built.
The three sites considered for grazing will be open to the public and new dog control rules will have to be implemented.
The plans will see the herd rotated around Sandhill, Junkett Hill and North Field.
Council leader Mark Hook said: ‘Gosport is mainly urban so to have this opportunity is great.
‘We can get children into the park and they can learn about the cattle and it’s something right on their doorstep.’
Planning applications for the new car park, play areas and entrances have been submitted.
A garden centre and cafe are also planned for the country park.