William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Rural Affairs, has welcomed the unanimous support for a motion calling for a significant proportion of members of National Park Authorities to be elected and for local government appointees to be required to live within, or represent a ward, that is at least partly within the boundaries of the National Park. Support was gained at the Welsh Liberal Democrat's Spring Conference in Cardiff this weekend.
William Powell, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said:
"This has been an issue of great personal interest to me for over a decade now and it's a pleasure to see it pass through our Conference with full support.
National Parks need to be at the centre of their communities if they are going to function to the best of their abilities and I argue that direct elections to their authorities are the right way to achieve this.
By adding directly elected members, National Parks will improve their accountability to their residents and ensure that their communities get a stronger say in how they are run.
I warmly welcome the support this has received at our Conference and I will continue to fight to make it a reality in the National Assembly for Wales."
Notes to Editor:
Wording of Motion
Conference notes that:
1. National Park Authorities have considerable powers, especially over planning, that affect the lives of people who live within them.
2. One-third of national park members are appointed by Welsh Ministers and two-thirds by the Local Authority or Authorities covered by the park.
3. There is no compulsion in Wales to ensure that the Local Authority appoints members whose wards are actually within the National Parks.
Conference also notes that:
a. Parish members of English National Parks must be a member of a Parish Council which is, at least in part, located in the Park.
b. In Scotland, local members must be a Councillor for a ward, or a member of a Community Council which is, at least in part, located within the park.
c. One-third of members of National Parks in Scotland are elected and that the UK Government plans to trial elections for Parks in England.
Conference believes that all government institutions that have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of their residents must be subject to democratic and local accountability.