Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Changes on the Peak District National Park Authority

This is an archived press release

Friday 4 July 2014

Clr Lesley Roberts, new chair of the Peak District National Park AuthorityCouncillor Lesley Roberts has been elected chair of the Peak District National Park Authority at its annual meeting (July 4).

Clr Roberts, who has lived in the Peak District for over 12 years, is the first parish council member to become chair of the Authority, and coincidently, the first female chair. She is a member of Leekfrith parish council in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Clr Roberts was elected to the Authority in 2008 by the 26 parishes in the White Peak Moorlands and re-elected in 2011. She was appointed chair of planning committee in July 2012, has served on the audit resources and performance committee for two years, and has been one of the Authority's representatives for people and communities since 2009.

Speaking as the new chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, Clr Lesley Roberts said: "I am very proud and pleased to be the first parish member to be chair of the Authority. It is a role which is very vital, as the involvement of our resident communities, their need to be consulted and to feel engaged is essential in order for them to assist the Authority in succeeding in its purposes. This is particularly important for the youth in the national park, and I know that our learning and development team are making a big difference with their work with young people.

"We have come through challenging financial times but there is still some way to go – we are having to consider many strategies, including branding and marketing, to enhance our finances. My commitment to the authority is to continue to ensure that this beautiful place adheres to its core purposes, whilst securing its financial future. This opportunity is not just for me, but for the Authority as a whole, to join with the officers to make sure we "get it right"!

Lesley is a retired maths and English tutor and a former Macclesfield borough councillor. She replaces Clr Tony Favell who has been a member of the Authority since May 2007 and chair since March 2011. Tony remains as a member until next May.

Retiring chair Tony Favell thanked members of the Authority for their support during his chairmanship. He said: "A tenth of the UK is made up of national parks, they bring enormous value to people's lives, and we shouldn't underestimate how important our work is, not just for this generation but for future generations too."

Geoff Nickolds has been re-elected as the deputy chair of the Authority. Mr Nickolds has held this post since 2011. He is the member representative for biodiversity and chair of the Moors for the Future Partnership.

Chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, Jim Dixon, said: "I look forward to working with Lesley who has considerable strengths and experience from her previous roles and at a senior level of committee responsibility with the Authority – it gives her good prospects for being a great chair.  There are lots of challenges in front of us and I look forward to working as hard as we can to protect the national park.

"Lesley understands the local area through being a Leekfrith parish councillor and having lived and worked in the area for many years. I look forward to working with her over the coming year."

The Authority also elected or re-elected new committee leaders:

  • The new chair of planning is Mr Paul Ancell, a Secretary of State appointee, who lives in Macclesfield. Vice-chair is Clr Doug Birkinshaw, an elected councillor on Barnsley Borough Council.
  • Chair of audit, resources and performance is Clr Andrew McCloy, who is an elected parish representative. Vice-chair is Clr Chris Furness, an elected councillor on Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Member representatives were selected for the following topics:
Landscape – Mr Robert Helliwell; Cultural Heritage – Ms Stella McGuire; Biodiversity – Mr Geoff Nickolds; Climate Change – Clr Andrew McCloy; People and Communities – Clr Patrick Brady and Mr Zahid Hamid; Recreation – Mrs Emma Sayer; Promoting Understanding – Ms Suzanne Leckie; Tourism Clr Judith Twigg; Economy – Mrs Frances Beatty; Asset Management – Clr Tony Favell; Learning and Development – Clr Peter Harrison.

The authority's members are made up of:

  • Six parish members, who are parish councillors or chairs of parish meetings, who represent people living in parishes across the national park.
  • 16 borough, district, city or county councillors who represent people living in communities that make up the national park area. 
  • Eight members who are appointed by the Secretary of State to represent national interests and for their particular specialism in an area, such as cultural heritage, biodiversity or planning issues.

Further information about members and their role can be found at

This is an archived press release

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