National Park plan may allow for members to be voted off by electorate (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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National Park plan may allow for members to be voted off by electorate
PLANS to make members of national parks more democratically-accountable and easier to vote off have taken a step forward today.
A draft bill has been given the nod to proceed further in Parliament following today's Queen Speech.
Under the current system, National Park members are appointed by councils or named by the Government but that may change if the bill survives.
The idea is to make the appointment process more 'democratically-sound' by giving people the opportunity to elect some of those serving on National Park committees.
South Lakes MP Tim Farron hailed it as 'a big step forward' in a campaign to democratise the process as he wants its members to be 'more responsive to the people they serve', rather than the institutions that placed them there.
Mr Farron - with an eye on the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park in his constituency - has wanted to see the same rules adopted in England as in Loch Lomond and the Cairngorms.
He said he became involved in the issue following the introduction of the speed limit on Windermere and perennial issues around affordable housing.
"There have been some on the National Parks that are purely their to protect their own interests and want nothing to change," said Mr Farron.
"But I also think people like Stan Collins, Vivienne Rees and Anne Hall have done well at making nuisances of themselves."
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He added: "Today's announcement means that the Government will be publishing a bill and I hope that with support of local residents and MP’s of all parties we can bring this bill into law.
"Our National Parks should be democratically accountable - the communities affected by national park decisions are entitled to have their say over how those decisions are made. They should not be able to get away with opting not to be open to election."
The Bill will be called the Governance of National Parks (England).
Information on it can be found at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/nationalparksgovernance.html
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