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National Parks should be forced to have elections - Farron

March 31, 2009 12:03 PM

Tim Farron has called on the Government to ensure that a proportion of national park members are directly elected to guarantee that they are accountable to the communities that are affected by their decisions.

Last year the government launched a pilot project which gave national parks the choice of whether or not to have some of their members directly elected rather than appointed. However, both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks voted not to have elections.

Mr Farron represents large parts of two of Britain's most important national parks, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Speaking today at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on National Parks, Tim challenged Minister Huw Irranca-Davies MP about the lack of formal accountability for people living in National Parks.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Our National Parks should be democratically accountable-they should not be able to get away with opting not to be open to election. The communities in the Lakes and the Dales that are affected by national park decisions are entitled to have their say over how those decisions are made.

"It's unfortunate that the good work of these organisations is often damaged by the fact that they are not accountable to local people. National Parks have many of the powers of local councils, but without any formal accountability to the people who live there.

"Allowing a proportion of seats for directly elected members would encourage the electorate to participate in National Park issues and not just react to issues as they arise.

"Direct elections for the national parks in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales would make it much more likely that the members of those parks would be sympathetic to the needs for their communities when it comes to affordable housing, the creation of jobs, and support for local farmers."