THE Peak District National Park Authority has said extra money will be spent supporting the local economy, communities and the environment despite budget cuts.
The authority has to make cuts of £1.8m over four years from its £7.8m budget.
In 2012/13 the authority needs to make permanent savings of £354,000 towards the four year total.
But it is protecting key areas of work by investing £442,000 of one-off funding. The extra money has come through efficiency savings and higher than expected income. It will include spending:
• £134,000 to enable more work to be done on managing the use of unsurfaced countryside routes by 4x4s and trail bikes
• £86,000 to support community planning. Village officers will work with three communities to identify sites for affordable housing, support 25 community projects and help five villages create plans to shape how their villages develop in the future
• £72,000 to employ a rural business advisor for two years to help small Peak District National Park businesses grow, protecting and creating jobs. This will include help with applying for grants, expanding their businesses and developing the skills and training of their staff.
• £15,000 towards a joint project to create 50 apprenticeship jobs for young people over a three year period
A further £77,000 will be spent on protecting jobs in the planning service from cuts to enable the authority to make improvements to the service, which include doing more planning enforcement work and improving customer service.
Other key priorities will be supported by £36,000 being used to protect a climate change co-ordinator post. This will enable work to continue co-ordinating efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the national park, supporting greater use of renewable energy, helping communities apply for grants and supporting work to reduce the Peak District National Park Authority’s own carbon footprint.
And £15,000 will be spent on contributing to large landscape scale environmental and conservation partnership projects.
The rest of the funding will be spent on supporting the Environmental Quality Mark scheme (£15,000) - which awards environmentally friendly businesses and helps them use that accreditation to market themselves to residents and visitors – and promoting Peak District National Park as a place to go cycling (£11,000), bringing in extra tourism revenue to the local economy.
Councillor Tony Favell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “Taking into account current and predicted inflation levels we need to make a 35 per cent cut to our budget over a four year period.
“That involves some very tough decisions but we are determined to continue our core work of protecting and enhancing the environment, enabling people to understand and enjoy the national park and supporting local businesses and the economy.
“While we have been able to avoid compulsory redundancies in the next financial year we still have to make reductions in areas that will affect services.”
At today’s meeting (Friday 2 December) members of the authority agreed to a range of proposals to make £386,000 of permanent savings which include a:
• £79,000 reduction to the running costs of the Warslow Moors estate, visitor centres and the North Lees estate with income being generated to cover the shortfall
• £25,000 saving by reducing archaeological surveys and support provided to conservation area work
• £40,000 saving by losing a part-time post in the transport team and reducing the transport budget
• £9,000 reduction in spending on tree work
• £56,000 by making efficiencies in the way farming and community grants are given out
• £35,000 package of efficiency savings across the organisation, with some of those savings being made by generating extra income
A further £142,000 of savings will be made from decisions taken in the last financial year.