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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”.