Reduction would be a step too far

A RESPONSE has been made on proposals to reduce the number of Northumberland National Park Authority members.

The authority has responded to a statement from National Parks Minister, Richard Benyon MP, on the future governance of national park authorities in England.

The key request from the Government to Northumberland National Park is that the Authority look further at a significant reduction in the number of its members.

The Authority had itself proposed a reduction from 22 to 18 member representation.

However, the Minister has asked that it consider whether a smaller number of members would be possible since Northumberland National Park falls within a single local government area and has a total population under 2,000.

John Riddle, chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority said: “The Authority carefully considered a reduction in the number of member representatives following the national and local consultation exercises in February 2011 and concluded that a reduction below 18 members would be problematic for the effective operation of the Authority.

“We will, however, give full consideration to options for further reduction in the number of members in the context of reviewing our governance structures and will provide a full response to the Minister on what we feel could be feasible while adhering to the principle of good governance.”

A further key proposal from Government is to limit the maximum term to eight years for which any member can serve on national parks in England.

Northumberland National Park has said it will want to consider the potential implication for local representation and accountability in the context of a consultation which Defra will hold.