Statement from the Board of the Queenswood & Bodenham Lake Community Interest Company, in response to an article in the Hereford Times (7th July 2016)
Bodenham Lake is, first and foremost, a nature reserve centred on a rare open water habitat in a land-locked county. The new Community Interest Company (CIC) responsible for managing the site, is a partnership between Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and New Leaf Sustainable Development Ltd. We have been quick to undertake much needed wildlife surveys of the lake, and have developed exciting management plans to improve the site for nature, plus facilities for wildlife watching and education.
At the same time the CIC recognises the need to fund the management of this special wildlife site, which demands a degree of pragmatism. We are implementing a business plan to ensure that these assets are able to generate revenue for the essential upkeep and long term management for both the public and nature. We will be continuing to work with the local community on these and other aspects of the site via the site management group.
There had been discussions with the outgoing tenants at Bodenham Lake, the Hereford Sailing Club, regarding their tenure and ability to pay an appropriate level of rent that reflects the high value attached to this area of open water. It should be noted that the Sailing Club occupied a prime lake side location, and we have to consider additional uses for this site that may provide greater public benefit.
Contrary to the claims of the Sailing Club, the partnership did not request the sum of £8,000 rent – but expected in excess of their offer of £220 per annum. It became apparent to the partnership that the Club was unwilling to pay an appropriate level of rent, nor did it offer opportunities of training for disabled people from across the county, as we had been led to believe.
Given the above, the partnership has decided not to renew the lease to Hereford Sailing Club, who controlled access to Bodenham Lake. The partnership wants to encourage contact with nature at Bodenham Lake, and we believe that water based recreation that includes sailing can be part of this offer. We have now formed a direct relationship with Hereford Triathlon Club, who are a well organised and reputed group in the County. We welcome dialogue with other successful groups who may wish to take advantage of the new vacancy following the departure of the Hereford Sailing Club.