New concern over Staunton Country Park animals

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MORE concerns have been raised about a popular country park that has lost its peacocks.

David Keast, a county councillor for Cowplain and Hart Plain, is worried that Staunton Country Park could lose its massive popularity if key attractions such as the peacocks do not remain.

Cllr Keast was also concerned because the farm’s cattle were sold, as well as a shire horse foal without consulting the joint management committee (JMC) which was not dissolved until last week.

However, leaders at Hampshire County Council, which runs the park, have strongly defended the facility, arguing there are still plenty of animals to see.

The park decided to rehome the peacocks after they became increasingly feral, with reports of the large birds ending up on roads and in people’s gardens.

Cllr Keast said: ‘I am concerned for the future of it.

‘I would query whether they are going in the right direction.

‘You can’t start offloading the attractions of a farm and then expect people to still come and see it.’

Cllr Keast sat on a joint management board of councillors – a partnership between Havant, East Hampshire and Hampshire County councils.

But East Hampshire decided not to continue paying a yearly grant of £5,000 and it was decided to disband the committee.

The county council will continue to provide £80,000, while Havant will provide £10,789 this year.

Cllr Keast said he feels there will be no-one scrutinising the park’s decisions.

However, a Staunton panel, made up of invited councillors, is planned to help run the park.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, chairwoman of the former JMC, said that in the last five years the visitor figures have increased by more than 70,000 and there are now 8,000 volunteer days provided.

She added: ‘The owl has been moved to another, larger aviary in the park. The shire horse foal has been sold, as all foals are every year – at nine months old, and 16-plus hands, she has gone on to pastures new to potentially flourish into a top shire mare.’