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Consultation on direct elections to national park authorities

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 7 October 2008

07 October 2008

Consultation on direct elections to national park authorities

Residents are being encouraged to have their say on the best way of selecting people to run national park authorities across the country.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation document says the existing system of selecting members to the Peak District National Park Authority and others in the country works well.

But the environment secretary Hillary Benn wants to know if it would be improved if some or all members were directly elected.

Currently the Peak District National Park Authority’s 30 members are selected through three different routes

  • 16 councillors are appointed by county, district, metropolitan or borough councils to represent communities in and around the national park
  • Six parish councillors are appointed as members by the environment secretary to represent national park communities
  • Eight members are appointed by the environment secretary for their knowledge of national park issues

Following a debate on the issue members of the Peak District National Park Authority intend to tell the Government that the system for selecting members should stay as it is as most members are already elected to parish, district, borough, county or metropolitan councils.

Before discussing the issue the authority contacted other local authorities for their views on the different options. The meeting was told that most councils wanted things to stay as they are. But the authority members are keen for residents and other groups in the Peak District to have their say in the coming weeks.

Narendra Bajaria, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “It is important that issues like this are raised and discussed to find the best possible way of running national park authorities.

“All national park authorities have a difficult balancing act to consider both the needs of local residents and the wider national interests that they are legally set up to protect. To do this it is important to have a good mix of people who are locally elected and some who are selected through interviews to represent local parishes or national interests.

“No model for selecting members is perfect but it was felt that the current system allows locally elected councillors to take up the vast majority of seats on the authority.”

The DEFRA consultation can be seen by visiting www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/np-directelections/index.htm Comments need to be made by Friday 28 November.

This is an archived press release

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