Rotherham’s wildlife database set to continue

Published Wednesday, 1st February 2017
A bluebell wood in Rotherham
Green spaces in Rotherham

A plan has been agreed to secure the future of an important ecological database following a period of uncertainty caused by budget savings.

Rotherham’s Biological Records Centre holds details of more than 1.75 million animal and plant sightings collected during its 40-year history.

Early in 2016, Rotherham Council consulted on proposals that it should no longer host the centre, in a bid to reduce costs to the authority as it aims to save at least £41 million over three years.

However the consultation generated a large number of responses, with many concerns raised about the possible impact if the service did not continue in its current form, and the matter was referred back to council officers to review further possible options.

"We were very pleased by the large response we received to the consultation,” said Polly Hamilton, the Council’s Assistant Director for Culture, Sport and Tourism.

"So I'm delighted that we've found a way of continuing the service, which will now operate on a more financially sustainable basis."

Research by staff found that current charges for using the service were very low compared to those made by other centres across the country.

Polly added: "Adjusting these charges to bring them more into line with typical rates elsewhere will generate additional income that will help to secure the future of the centre at a time when the Council is no longer able to subsidise the service as it has done before.

"We are pleased that we can now develop the valuable work of Rotherham Biological Records Centre with the continuing support of its many dedicated volunteers and partners."

Council officers will be working over coming months to put the review’s recommendations into practice – enhancing the service provided by the centre and making it more financially resilient.

As well as responding to commercial requests for data, the centre also helps to inform planning decisions and support bids for funding with the information it holds.

Information about changes will be made available to customers, volunteers and partners as soon as it is available.