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Authority shapes up to sleeker future - Peak's special case recognised by Minister

This is an archived press release

Monday 8 August 2005

8 August 2005

Authority shapes up to sleeker future - Peak's special case recognised by Minister

The Peak District National Park Authority's membership is to be streamlined from 38 members to 30 following a Government announcement on Friday (August 5).

Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight made a special exception for the Peak District when he announced that all other English National Park Authorities would be reduced to 22 members from April 2007. Peak District representatives had appealed for 30 due to its high number of local councils, complex regional geography and higher population.

The reductions, aimed at increasing efficiency, were recommended by a Review of English National Park Authorities after public consultation, and will be subject to final Parliamentary approval.

Peak District National Park Authority chair Tony Hams said: "We welcome the fact that although we are going to have a reduction, it's not going to be as great as we originally feared.

"We're delighted that the minister has recognised the Peak District as a special case, with more complex responsibilities across a wider area, which includes not only remote rural landscapes but the fringes of major conurbations."

The Peak District National Park has 38,000 residents and covers 125 parish councils, 12 district, metropolitan and county councils and four government regions - Yorkshire and Humberside, East and West Midlands and the North West.

At present its board membership is made up of 20 constituent council appointees and 18 members appointed by the Secretary of State - ten of them for their national overview and specialist knowledge and eight from parishes within the National Park.

What the reduction could mean in practice, said Defra (although this has not yet been finally decided), is that Derbyshire County Council's representatives will be reduced from six to four, Derbyshire Dales District Council from three to two, and High Peak Borough Council from two to one. In addition, there will be two less parish council members and two less Secretary of State appointees.

Jim Knight said: "Smaller National Park Authorities will make and implement decisions more efficiently. Local and national interests will continue to be well represented."

National Parks' essential role was to ensure our finest landscapes were conserved and enhanced and their communities thrived, he went on. "If we are to hand them on in good shape to future generations, we need to balance these economic, social and environmental considerations and ensure that the Park Authorities remain fit for the future."

"This decision is in line with the Government's Rural Strategy to reform delivery of rural policy to give a better deal for customers, the environment and the taxpayer, while ensuring a living, working, protected and vibrant countryside."

This is an archived press release

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