Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Peak District National Park Authority confirms approval for restructure proposals

This is an archived press release

Friday 28 July 2023

A series of organisational restructure proposals aimed at ensuring the Peak District National Authority can be financially resilient in the face of continued real terms cuts to its central government grant have been approved by Members of the Authority (28 July).

Previously put to Members at the end of April, the proposals had formerly included an option for the potential closure of national park visitor centres - an aspect of the plans which has now been set-aside following an offer of support to the Peak District National Park Foundation from a philanthropic donor.

In light of this unexpected donor support, redundancies from the recently approved proposals are now expected to be just 10% of those originally under consideration earlier in the year, affecting just six or seven posts.

Other aspects of the plans which have received the go-ahead include a reduction of more than 50% in the most senior ‘head of service’ roles to just four posts, and a boost in capacity of around a quarter to the Authority’s planning service.

A consultation process with Unison and the Authority’s own internal staff representation body will now also take place on a proposed ‘pay strategy’, which seeks to re-balance posts across the organisation where many salaries are currently below the regional public sector median.

The Authority believes this is crucial to recruit and retain staff in several key areas of work; and is considered to be behind recent challenges in filling posts in skilled and technical services such as planning and enforcement.

Further changes include bringing some smaller departments under new or alternative service heads, the streamlining of administrative services through improved technology and potential outsourcing for some specialist areas of work. Investment in enhancing the National Park’s online and digital offer has also been earmarked, following a boost in new audiences as a result of the pandemic.

The proposals are expected to be implemented through cost reductions to the organisation and via a one-off Defra grant of £440,000 made available earlier this year, along with the Authority’s savings in reserve.

The Authority also confirmed that all responses received during the consultation period have been made available to both staff and Members.

Chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, Phil Mulligan, said: “Few chief executives step into a role wanting to oversee changes where individuals or services are directly affected by a restructure process, but the stark reality of the 40% real-terms cut in our core grant over the last ten years means these have been necessary proposals.

“I would again like to express my sincere thanks to the donor who has kindly stepped forward to offer around three years of support to enable our visitor centres to continue operating, which has significantly reduced the level of previous potential redundancies by around 90%. Of course, we may still be losing a small number of colleagues and will provide the utmost care and support to those affected.”

Newly appointed chair of the Authority Ken Smith added: “Although, to some, it may appear that our higher grade roles are most positively impacted by the pay strategy proposals, the reality is that our lower paid positions are already meeting or exceeding the thresholds of where we want to be, according to the independent pay analysis we have commissioned.

“By tackling these difficult issues now, I’m confident that we’ll create a National Park Authority that is resilient, responsive and enabling – for the benefit of those we serve locally and in our unrivalled offer to the wider nation and beyond.”

The Authority confirmed that the donation offer received in support of visitor centres via the Peak District National Park Foundation will be subject to a number of due diligence and legal processes and is expected to be formally approved in the coming weeks.

This is an archived press release

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