The Authority members at their meeting in February gave detailed consideration to all of the consultation responses made locally, and debated the issues at length.
The members agreed to recommend a number of changes to increase local accountability, these included:
■The criteria for the appointment of 12 local authority members should be made transparent;
■The role of the Secretary of State in formally appointing parish members should be removed to increase local accountability;
■The Secretary of State is to consult with the Authority, Verderers and New Forest Consultative Panel when selecting ‘national’
The Authority members also recommended that subject to these changes being made, the size of the Authority should stay at 22 members, to ensure the members can continue to engage with local communities.
Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We welcome the comments and feedback we received from the 57 consultation responses relating to the New Forest. They highlighted the diversity of local opinion and provided the Authority with excellent feedback for improving its engagement and accountability.
‘The basic composition of the Authority’s membership was supported by the majority of the parish councils and constituent local authorities who responded.
‘We were pleased that the Authority’s consultation with local communities was generally commended by respondents and we are keen to develop this further. The Authority will work closely with the New Forest Consultative Panel and continue working with local communities in and around the National Park through parish quadrant meetings and ranger services.’
‘If the Secretary of State feels that further changes are required, the Authority is willing to discuss the scope for introducing a proportion of directly elected members.’
The Government has stated that it will announce the outcome of the Governance Review by the end of March 2011.
Karen Evans, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
# # #
The New Forest National Park lies mainly in south-west Hampshire; it is famous for its stunning landscapes,wildlife,coastline & picturesque villages. It is the eighth national park in England and the first in the south-east to be created for nearly 50yrs.