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MP proposes bill to democratise our National Parks

March 31, 2014 3:27 PM

Tim in SedberghSouth Lakes MP and President of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron will step up his campaign for more democratic national park authorities tomorrow by introducing a Presentation Bill in the House of Commons.

Tim will introduce his bill to give powers to the Secretary of State to provide for elections to be held to the governing boards of National Parks on a pilot basis; and for connected purposes.

Mr Farron wants representatives to be elected to help ensure they are accountable for the decisions they make, and prevent them riding roughshod over the opinions and priorities of local people. Tim said the bill would enable him to put his case for democratic accountability. Currently the Lake District National Park, like many others, has 22 board members of whom:

  • 6 are appointed by Cumbria County Council
  • 6 are appointed by the District Councils with areas in the National Park, which are Allerdale, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland
  • 10 are appointed by the Secretary of State for Defra.

In Wales there are national parks in the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia. Two-thirds of national park members are appointed by councils and a third by the Welsh government.

In April 2013, the Government said it had "looked carefully at all of the comments made in response to the 2012 consultation and intends to publish its response shortly." No action has happened subsequently and Tim hopes that this bill will bring the issue 'back out of the long grass'.

Tim said: "Our National Parks should be democratically accountable - they should not be able to get away with opting not to be open to election. I have made that argument strongly to the Government and asked them to trail the idea in Cumbria, so they can see for themselves how successful it is. The communities affected by national park decisions are entitled to have their say over how those decisions are made. We can save money and make the authorities accountable to local people in one simple stroke."