The Big Society is alive and well in England’s national parks, but vital work is being ignored because they are not on the government’s radar, according to a leading academic. Despite the fact that national park authorities already work effectively with local community partners and volunteers – a key element of the government’s plans – they are still in the firing line for significant budget cuts. Dr Nicola Thompson, of Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy, says that although the previous government provided more funding and created new national parks in the New Forest and South Downs, there was no coherent national vision for the future. As a result, National Park Authorities (NPAs) are likely to be hit with multiple budget cuts because few in government understand how they operate. Cuts of up to 30 percent are likely as a result of the CSR and potentially even more could follow. “Their main purpose is for conservation and recreation, which is only part of why national parks remain important and valuable 60 years on,” said Dr Thompson, who has just completed a briefing paper on this issue which is being published on 16 November 2010.
published on: 15th November 2010