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Authority reshapes services to cope with Government cuts

This is an archived press release

Monday 20 December 2010

20 December 2010

Authority reshapes services to cope with Government cuts

The Peak District National Park Authority has responded to a 28.5 per cent Government budget cut over the next four years with an action plan to save more than £446,000 in 2011-12 while protecting essential services.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that its grant for the Peak District National Park will be cut from £8.2m in 2010-11 to £6.5m by 2014-15.

The Authority’s budget strategy for 2011-12 focuses strongly on developing partnerships, promoting voluntary work, generating more income and making efficiency savings.

Its main aims are to protect the assets that national parks were set up for - conservation, the landscape and promoting opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of the Peak District.

At the same time the authority will work with local communities to keep the Peak District a vibrant place to live and work. One aspect of this will be to continue its Sustainable Development Fund grants to local community groups and businesses at least until March 2012, though the total funding available will be reduced.

Authority chair Narendra Bajaria said: “We stand fast by the priorities set for us by the Government to protect wildlife and the landscape and promote understanding - we are the only organisation that will put them first and that is what we were set up by law to do. But we have to adjust our ways of working to manage savings of 29 per cent over four years.

“These are challenging times, and it is inevitable that some services will have to be scaled back, but we want the national park to continue as an exemplar for sustainable development and biodiversity and as a source of relaxation and well-being for people from all backgrounds.”

Chief executive Jim Dixon said: “All sections of the public sector are facing cuts to address the budget deficit and we have to play our part. A big aspect of this involves increasing our partnership work, sharing activities, pooling resources with other organisations and widening the work of our volunteers.

“We also want to develop a stronger commercial approach to our frontline services, increasing our income from leisure, information and recreation.

“Long before this we were examining our major assets to see if they could be managed more efficiently by others. We are in the process of leasing the Eastern Moors estate to a National Trust/RSPB partnership, we are entering negotiations with the Youth Hostel Association over the Losehill Hall environmental learning centre, and we are currently seeking partners for the Roaches Estate in Staffordshire.

“Our aim in all this is to change our ways of working to protect all that we do best, and to enable others to invest resources where we cannot.  Our primary purpose is to safeguard the national park and its communities for the future.”

The Authority’s decision to cease operating Losehill Hall means 22 full-time equivalent posts will be lost through redeployment, redundancy or early retirement. A reduced learning and discovery team of around 4.5 full-time equivalent posts will continue to provide education services for schools, families and communities.  

The ranger service will lose one full-time ranger post (out of 19) and payments to volunteer rangers will be brought in line with payments to other volunteers. The Authority will no longer have an in house design and photography service with the loss of three posts, and management and corporate support costs will be reduced largely by cutting the hours of five other posts.

The Authority’s total budget for 2010-11 is just over £12m. This includes income from such sources as car park charges, retail sales and rentals and work commissioned by other organisations.

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Media inquiries to: Barbara Crossley, communications officer, Peak District National Park Authority, 01629 816389 or barbara.crossley@peakdistrict.gov.uk  

This is an archived press release

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