ONE VOICE, C/o Blue Cedar, Wootton Road, Tiptoe, Lymington, Hants SO41 6FT
Tel: 01425 621889 Fax: 01425 620063
19 February 2011
Rt. Hon. Caroline Spelman MP
Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Your department has been familiar with the One Voice group here in the New Forest since 2008, and knows of our particular vigilance for openness, transparency and accountability in all matters relating to local governing bodies.
We have obviously kept a keen watch on developments throughout the short period of the Forestry Commission Land Consultationís existence; and another issue that has kept our interest, is the recent National Park Authorities/Broads Governance Arrangements Review.
With regard to the Independent Panel, I am particularly concerned that if representational groups/organisations from within the New Forest's 27,613 hectares of FC land are invited onto the panel, these may not be democratically accountable to the electorate.† Another concern would be the inclusion of charities/charitable trusts which, because of their constitution, may also not be accountable to an electorate. This, of course, will also be of concern to other areas of FC land under discussions.
I believe accountability should be a key discussion point for the panel, as any outcome proposals which include accountability and transparency will perhaps gain a degree of trust from an otherwise sceptical public, so I ask that the Terms of Reference will reflect this.
Mrs Sue Baillie