VOLUNTEERS who look after a wildlife reserve on the flanks of the Malvern Hills say they are downing tools until its future is sorted out.

The group wants Malvern Hills District Council to get its act together over the St Wulstan's Local Nature Reserve in Malvern Wells.

A year ago, MHDC said it no longer had the time to run the reserve and would see if other conservation bodies, such as the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, were interested. But the group says MHDC has done little since then.

Andy Lyon, chairman of the group, said: "We completely understand that the council isn't set up to run the reserve and want to transfer it to a more experienced organisation, but it's the lack of a decision that's the problem."

Secretary Ann Bowker said: "It's reached the stage where we cannot do any work until the future is decided."

Coun John Tretheway (Wells) said: "We have every sympathy with the volunteers and everyone here at the council appreciates all the hard work they have done.

"At the beginning of the year, MHDC was in negotiation with Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust over the site, but this just came to a halt when the foot and mouth crisis broke. Everyone had more urgent things to be doing."

He said negotiations had been resumed and he hoped the situation would be sorted out soon.

The reserve, which includes meadows and woodland, was given to the district council by Bovis Homes after they built houses on the former St Wulstan's hospital site some years ago.