THE Lake District National Park Authority has today elected a new chairman.

Mike McKinley, a Wasdale resident, and authority member since 2007, steps up to the role having been vice chairman for the past two years.

At today’s annual meeting in Kendal (June 25), Mr McKinley replaced Bill Jefferson OBE, who headed the organisation for six years and won over many admirers for his forthrightness.

Mr Jefferson, who lives at Silloth, will remain on the authority as a member.


Tributes were paid to his ‘tireless efforts’ in upholding and strengthening the authority’s work and reputation across Cumbria and nationally.

Member Tim Knowles said: “Native born, Bill’s professional life with the British Council overseas and global experiences have been extremely important attributes to Britain’s premier national park.

“He has done a tremendous job enhancing our credibility with partners in and outside the county and in restructuring the organisation. As Bill moves aside, no one can doubt his exemplary record of achievement.”

Hertfordshire born, Mike McKinley moved to the Lake District in 1965 and was formerly a marketing director of Allbright and Wilson in Whitehaven.

Before retiring, he ran his own retail business in Gosforth and has lived in Wasdale for 32 years.

He said he was honoured to become chairman and regarded himself as ‘primus inter pares’ – Latin for first among equals.

Mike added: “Inclusivity will be my watchword and together we will work on our vision and development of the commercial programme, continuing to embrace cultural tourism as the bid for World Heritage inscription continues.”

Long-serving member, Chris Billinge, of Cockermouth, becomes deputy chairman. First appointed to the authority in 2008, he said he felt 'very privileged'.

Brought up in Essex, he worked in insurance before taking up a career as a leadership coach and qualified mountain leader.

He has over 25 years’ experience in staff development with many high profile companies.

Changes to the make-up of LDNPA see parishes taking a greater role in future governance.

New faces at the AGM were district parish elected Geoffrey Davies, from Braithwaite, near Keswick, representing Allerdale and John Farmer, of Longsleddale, near Kendal, for South Lakeland.

David Fletcher, of Satterthwaite, joins as a South Lakeland District Council member.