Austerity cuts which will see the number of staff at the North York Moors National Park Authority reduced by more than 10 per cent, have been given the “reluctant” approval of authority members.
The National Park Authority, which has already accepted 11 voluntary redundancies over the summer, has also agreed to sound out The Charity Commission over whether it would welcome the Authority setting up an independent charitable trust as it comes to terms with the scale of grant reductions from central government.
A separate trust could broaden the ways in which the national park attracts funding, and could go some way to protecting the work of staff and volunteers as they safeguard the special nature of the area’s precious landscapes for future generations.
The final proposals for the National Park Authority’s spending cuts for 2015-18, made in light of an unprecedented squeeze on grant funding, were put to members of the Authority at a meeting this week.
Since 2010, the Authority’s grant will have been slashed by more than 24 per cent to £4.1m by 2015/16.
Members’ decision to approve the cuts package will see a significant reduction in the Authority’s capacity in key areas of work, a report to members said.
Four staff in the Park Services Department are facing compulsory redundancy, with seven existing employees expected to be interviewed for three posts.
Two staff have voluntarily resigned in the Forward Planning Team and a future work plan to accommodate fewer staff is to be put forward.
Jobs have been lost too in the Customer Service team, so the number of hours where offices are open to the public will be reduced from 42 per week to 40 per week.
Andy Wilson, chief executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “It’s sad to lose some dedicated staff and sad to know we will be able to do less to keep the North York Moors as beautiful and accessible as it could be.
“We remain dedicated, completely committed, enthusiastic and effective but we would ask the public to understand we can do less and the depth of the work we can do is shrinking.
“We will redouble all our efforts to get money from other sources, we will continue to press for extreme efficiencies and will continue to make the case to government that national parks offer extremely good value, costing less than £1 per head.”
He said the move towards setting up an independent charitable trust was a positive step. It would allow the trust to seek sources of funding that the Authority cannot.
Mr Wilson said: “Potentially it could seek legacy funding, operate Gift Aid and could do trading, which would bring resources into the area. Many people want to help the North York Moors and it’s not as easy for people to give that help as it could be.”