New chair appointed as Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens look to future

Clare Swarbrick is the new chair of the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens. Picture: Sara Po

Clare Swarbrick is the new chair of the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens. Picture: Sara Porter - Credit: ©Sara Porter

The chairman of the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens has stepped down – and their newest elected member, Clare Swarbrick, is taking on the role.

In February, Ms Swarbrick was voted in as a conservator to represent the residents of the Special Drainage District of Royston – Ben Harrop and Robert Law were voted to represent the stintholders, following Mark Weatherhead’s retirement in January after many years of service.

Outgoing chair John King said: “I’ve been a conservator for 18 years and chair for five. After Clare’s election and the clear groundswell for openness and community engagement, now feels like the right time for me to step aside as chairman and show the residents of Royston and the users of the heath that we are serious about making a positive change for the future.

“It’s time to offer to our new colleagues the opportunity to take the reins and bring fresh enthusiasm and positive ways to modernise the way we manage and steward the heath.

“Clare Swarbrick has received unanimous support from all the conservators to take over the position of chair of the conservators and we all wish her every success in the role. As Lord of the Manor’s nominee I will remain a conservator to support her and the work of the conservators.”  

In recent years there have been challenges over the governance under which the conservators operate and concerns over suggested amendments to the byelaws.

Ms Swarbrick said: “Given the current COVID-19 situation we want the public to enjoy the heath and so this will be our immediate focus along with supporting our tenants and working with our contractors. “I am aware of many concerns regarding openness and transparency raised by the community and we are focused on listening and consulting widely to ensure the heath has a long-term sustainable future, secured for generations to come.

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“I can confirm that any review of the byelaws will not happen for at least 12 to 24 months because we are committing to a review of the governance, election process and prioritising the creation of management plans for the SSSI and the remaining heath and greens and will fully involve the public.”