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SUE ESSEX in December 2002 , ( the then Environment Minister now the Minister for Local Government and Public Services ), claimed in response to a speech by Peter Law AM that the National Parks Authorities were not QUANGO s :
Sue Essex’s reply to Peter Law’s speech (below) seems to be attempting to split hairs without taking note of the Oxford dictionary’s definition of what the above acronym stands for :-
“ quasi autonomous non-governmental (or rarely) national government organisation”. - Then of course “quasi” means almost but not really or approximate…etc. So to be almost or approximately a “quango” is as good as being a “ quango ”. Why split hairs about it ?
However, the real issue about “quangos” is their lack of democracy and accountability. Many of the Parks’ roles are simply not accountable to their unitary authorities , or democratically so to their residents , and equally they are not accountable in many ways to their governments or Assembly. If the Parks are not examples of “quangos” can Sue Essex or someone tell us what is ? Admittedly they are local authorities , but unlike Scotland not one member of the Parks in Wales or England is directly elected. Contrary to what Sue Essex claims all members are in fact nominated and 33% of them are appointed by their Assembly or Government. Furthermore, the remaining proportion of 66% of nominated county councillors are now prevented through the parks codes of practice / protocols from being able to represent those who live within their wards ? This has all happened and been condoned under this government.
Could it get any worse for those who live and work in the Parks?
NPR October 2004
In context to the Assembly plenary session 3/12/2002: Review of the National Parks in Wales.
? Sue Essex AM : “ I must correct this misconception ( that the Parks) are quangos. They have a percentage of members nominated by me, or by the previous Secretary of State. Therefore, a nomination element has existed since the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which reflects the element of national policy within the parks. It is wrong to think that they are “quangos” ; in terms of their responsibilities - or parts of their responsibilities- they are local authorities”
? Peter Law AM : “I welcome your initiative, Minister. If we must continue with these infernal quangos, will you review their administrative competence ? Will we democratise them in the future ? My experience of the Brecon Beacons National Park is that it is unprofessional and that many of its sections are lazy in their approach. It is interesting to hear the number of times that this particular park has been mentioned by Members.
I have been concerned about the negativity of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the indifference it has shown to my constituents. It s an administrative shambles, peppered with incompetence; for example , minutes are virtually made up as it goes along; communities in my constituency have been attributed to the wrong county; and its corporate governance is a figment of the imagination. The national park is anonymous in Blaenau Gwent. The Park see us as a means to an end.
Are you prepared to consider requests from counties to be descheduled from the parks, and allow planning and conservation matters normally dealt with by national parks to be decided by democratically-elected councillors, rather than a quango ”.
Peter Law AM.
National Assembly Sept 22nd 2004
“there is a band of incompetence running through the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority that has created a culture of arrogance and disdain”.