Shropshire Council's cuts to the historic farm at Acton Scott and the Secret Hills Discovery Centre are shortsighted and ignore the huge potential of tourism encouraged by recent TV programmes, says Euro MP Phil Bennion.

Shropshire Council cuts to Acton Scott historic farm and Secret Hills Discovery Centre are 'shortsighted'The county's Lib Dem Euro MP visited Acton Scott and Craven Arms with local Lib Dem Bob Welch, after concern at Council cuts to the farm, which plays a starring role in the hit BBC2 series 'Victorian Farm.'

The Lib Dems say the farm is a vital tourist attraction for the whole Shropshire Hills area but Shropshire Council has already curtailed marketing and is now cutting the budget for opening hours.

Phil Bennion, a farmer himself, said: "Shropshire's hidden gems are only now - thanks to the 'Victorian Farm' programme and perhaps the Müller yogurt adverts - coming to a national television audience.

"Acton Scott is a superb facility and is a massive potential boost to the local economy. Proper marketing now to explain to people that this fascinating piece of living history is here in Shropshire, as seen on tv, is essential.

"It would be a tragedy for the county to waste this golden opportunity. Savings are needed but the way cuts are being dished out by Shropshire Conservatives is surprising to say the least.

"The crafts and skills being developed at the farm could also form part of a Rural Apprenticeship scheme, which I am promoting in the European Parliament as a key plank of reforms to the EU Common Agricultural Policy from 2013."

Phil Bennion also visited the Secret Hills Discovery Centre with Bob Welch, which is also facing cuts, while nearby the Craven Arms Community Centre, once part funded by the EU, is now run with reduced staffing.

Church Stretton and Craven Arms Lib Dem campaigner Bob Welch said: "People can't understand why the council is cutting so many much-needed services to Craven Arms while wasting so much money on vanity projects or sheer incompetence up in Shrewsbury.

"Cuts to Acton Scott will have serious knock-on effects for other tourism providers, further damaging the local economy.

"Funding reductions at the Community Centre have forced the Trustees to take a decision to hand over the whole running of the Centre to the South Shropshire Furniture Scheme. More cuts at the Secret Hills Discovery Centre threaten community activities there as well, such as the Homework Club.

"Yet this same Conservative council wastes £800,000 on paying legal costs over the incinerator inquiry, vast amounts on new office suites for the Council leaders and £13,000 - again - on a river of champagne at their reception at the flower show. The priorities are all wrong."

ENDS