National parks face more cuts

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National parks such as the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors could be at risk from further budget cuts.

There have already been job losses and a cutback in key services as a result of austerity measures.

However, last week’s Autumn Statement delivered by Chancellor George Osborne revealed such measures may continue to 2018.

The North York Moors National Park Authority’s grant will be reduced to £4.3m by 2014-15.

The authority fears further cuts could affect work being doen to preserve landscapes and protect rural communities in the region.

The authority’s chief executive Andy Wilson said: “The whole of the public sector is being squeezed, but national parks are facing up to cash cuts on what we spend of about 30 per cent.

“Having taken a huge hit and not complained, I would hope the government ensures the legacy of national parks can be maintained for future generations, but there are no guarantees.”

National parks authorities rely on Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs grants, accounting for around 75 per cent of budgets.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s annual grant, which stood at £5.4m, will be cut to £4.2m by 2014-15.

More than 30 jobs have been lost, and its 36 programmes have been affected, with 12 abandoned.

Richard Burnett is Director of corporate services at the authority. He said: “We have coped as best we can.

“But if the government brings more savings we will have to look at cutting key services back and more job losses.”