Letter Published 2 July 2010
After attending the National Park’s AGM last week, I find it difficult to understand how someone from outside the National Park can be voted in as their new Chairman. How can a person living in Wiltshire (and a member of Wiltshire County Council), understand the needs of the New Forest when he may only ‘pop in’ for committee meetings now and again? One could argue that Wiltshire forms part of the National Park – but it is hardly a significant part. Furthermore, this meeting clearly demonstrated to me that an incestuous authority (members wearing more than one hat) is not always a healthy authority.
The time has come for this National Park to be made accountable to the people it serves; it needs to have a locally elected membership from within the New Forest, with a cut in the number of DEFRA appointed members.
The current democratic deficit must not be allowed to continue. I look forward to seeing opportunities for public consultation in the upcoming “Review of National Parks Governance Arrangements” in the knowledge that people in the New Forest will join together and bring this long-running deficit to an end.
When the newly elected NPA Chairman states “a very uncertain future for us”, and a DEFRA appointed member states “National Parks are essential and should not be abolished”, you have to wonder if there is already an acceptance within the membership that the writing is on the wall and change is afoot.
Sue Baillie, One Voice
28 June 2010