We’re staying put, despite cash cuts

NORTHUMBERLAND National Park Authority is committed to staying in Rothbury despite being hit with harsh cuts from the Government.

Andrew Miller, head of partnership and programmes at the authority, told last week’s Rothbury Parish Council that although there have been cuts to the agency’s funding which means a cut in staffing, it wants to work with the community to keep its presence felt in the area.

The council heard that despite being assessed as the top National Park in the country, it was hardest hit by Government cuts.

Mr Miller said: “We are losing a number of our ranger team, half of our farming team officers, half of community enterprise officers and there will be a substantial reduction in the discretionary budgets for grants to community and others and we will have to look at services for visitors.

“We were the only national park not to welcome our budget this year. We did challenge it and took it as far as we could but to take it any further would have meant substantial costs.”

There have been concerns that the park’s Church House visitor centre would be sold, but Mr Miller allayed fears and said that although the park was putting out a tender to run the visitor centre part of the building, there would still be offices upstairs for staff, to keep a park presence in the village.

It is hoped that a solution to running the centre will be found by March 2013. The authority has looked at combining services with Northumberland County Council and potentially incorporating the library. But it was discovered the ideas were not feasible.

He added: “We have got no intention of getting rid of the building. We are committed to working in Rothbury. We have more staff working from Rothbury than in the past.”

Coun Alan Fendley said: “It is totally perverse to hear that Northumberland National Park is the top in the country but has much less funding but it is very pleasing to know that the park will be staying in Rothbury.”