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 ABOUT US
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ONE VOICE

Informing & empowering New Forest residents and visitors

About Us

 

In September 2008 over 100 people attended our meeting at the Young Farmers Club in Tiptoe to discuss the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) Draft Management Plan and in particular, the strategy of the NPA’s consultation process. The meeting was primarily for Tiptoe residents to voice their concerns for the first time, but was also attended by residents from surrounding areas together with local organisations and Councillors.

 

The points raised were many and varied but one major concern was that the NPA had shown a perceived arrogance and unwillingness to engage with the public on the Draft Management Plan and that the consultation process of ‘stakeholder workshops’ was not as robust as it should have been. The consultation documents were published in the height of the summer holidays so it was only mid-September before people could obtain copies and digest the information. With only one month of the consultation process remaining, this left little time to make informed decisions on how to formally respond.

 

There was overwhelming agreement that residents of the New Forest should become ONE VOICE to lobby the NPA for (a) An extension to the cut-off date to allow due process of responses and (b)To accommodate a series of open and transparent public meetings at accessible venues, outside of working hours; facilitated by NPA members who are conversant with the draft documents and the consultation process. These meetings should also be appropriately publicised in local newspapers by the NPA.

 

A simple ‘ask’ with a simple remedy – but still too difficult for the NPA to comprehend or accommodate. So, what should have been a short campaign lasting several weeks, it has led to several years of lobbying for true democracy and accountability within the NPA.  We have endured many challenges along the way, not least the threat of legal action; but we have survived and continue stronger than ever to ensure that the voices of ordinary people are heard, and above all, listened to.

 

As the group has evolved, there have been other local issues we must be vigilant of besides our watchfulness of the NPA.  Currently, we are following the progress of the government’s plans for the Forestry Commission.

 

We will lobby to ensure that full accountability mechanisms are in place within any existing or newly formed organisation, charity, charitable trust or consortia that express an interest in the management of the Public Forest Estate within the New Forest.