Keep Whitehall mandarins out of Peak District Park, say Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have urged the government not to transfer the management of the country’s National Parks from local elected authorities to Whitehall mandarins.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has written to the responsible government minister, Lord Benyon, with a plea to keep control in local hands after plans leaked that National Parks Authorities could be abolished and a new National Landscapes Service created instead.

Commenting, Councillor Sykes said: “Part of Saddleworth falls within the Peak District National Park, and Oldham Council has a representative on the Authority through which local councillors, and their constituents, can raise issues. If the Authority is abolished and control reverts to Whitehall, we will no longer have any say in how the park is managed.

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

“The Liberal Democrats believe that local public organisations, like our National Parks, should be managed locally and be accountable locally. We are convinced that transferring management of our National Park from local organisations to Whitehall civil servants would be a retrograde step, both for our environment and for our democracy.

“We shall see if the Minister is able to reassure me that this will not happen, but, as this government is already poised to remove local accountability in planning through its Planning for the Future legislation, I am not hopeful.”

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