Peak District National Park Authority announces new chairman to steer through 'turbulent period'

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The Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) has appointed a new chairman as it approaches a critical vote on major restructuring plans later this month.

The authority’s annual general meeting on Friday, July 7, saw Ken Smith selected to take over from Youlgreave Parish Councillor Andrew McCloy, stepping down after five years as chairman and 12 as a member.

One of Ken’s first tasks will be to lead the July 28 meeting and a vote on transformation plans announced earlier this year, including potential redundancies – although the threat of closing visitor centres has lifted.

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Ken said: “Our national parks have a multiplicity of local, regional and national issues that impact upon them. This is perhaps no more evident than here in the Peak District where there is a constant balancing act between the needs of the visitor, those who live, work and do business here, and the duties rightly placed upon us as an authority to safeguard landscapes and our natural and cultural heritage in the face of global issues such as climate change.

Ken Smith, new chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority. (Photo: Tom Marshall/PDNPA)Ken Smith, new chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority. (Photo: Tom Marshall/PDNPA)
Ken Smith, new chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority. (Photo: Tom Marshall/PDNPA)

“These responsibilities and pressures have been stressed close to their limits in recent years through an unprecedented pandemic and the need for continued delivery within budgets that are without question reducing significantly in real terms.

“It is the mark of any organisation, its colleagues and partnerships, in how these turbulent periods are navigated. As chair, I look forward to taking on the bold ambitions of our new management plan, landscape strategy and more, whilst ensuring our cultural heritage receives justifiable recognition as one of the Peak District’s defining characteristics alongside the landscape and its biodiversity.”

Having joined PDNPA as an officer in 1982, Ken departed as cultural heritage manager in 2017 before being appointed by the Government as a member in 2018.

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An archaeologist by training, his career encompassed planning and mineral development, farming, communities, landscape, climate change and cultural heritage while touching on communications, biodiversity, economy, tourism and access.

He has held advisory positions at the National Trust and Historic England, and is chair of trustees at the Council for British Archaeology and a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and Council for British Archaeology.

Locally, Ken is honorary vice-president of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society and chairs both the Bakewell and District Historical Society and the Hunter Archaeological Society.

PDNPA chief executive Phil Mulligan said: “I warmly welcome Ken to the role of chair and also extend my sincere thanks to Andrew for helping steer the authority through some of the most challenging times in its history.

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“Ken’s record as an advocate for our protected landscapes and the highly cherished cultural heritage within them already speaks for itself. I look forward to tackling both the challenges, and grasping the exciting opportunities ahead as we embark on a new management plan and wider national spotlight on what our national parks deliver for the nation.”

Other AGM appointments included James Berresford, as deputy chairman; Patrick Brady, chair of the planning committee, with Ginny Priestly as deputy; and Janet Haddock-Fraser, chair of the performance and resources committee, with Charles Greaves as deputy.

In a note of thanks to staff and members, Andrew McCloy confirmed he will continue as a trustee for the Campaign for National Parks and begin a new role with the Youth Hostels Association.

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