THE organisation that runs the New Forest National Park is getting
set for another round of budget cuts following last month’s spending review.
The National Park Authority (NPA) comes under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has been told to slash its expenditure by almost 30 per cent.
NPA members are waiting to learn how much the authority will receive in the next financial year, which begins in April.
As reported in the Daily Echo, the NPA has already had its budget cut by five per cent, resulting in a grant of only £4m for the current financial year.
Speaking at a meeting of the authority the new chief executive, Alison Barnes, said staff were entering “difficult” financial territory.
She added: “We are shuddering our way towards clarity. We won’t know for several weeks what our settlement will be.
“The team is working hard to identify savings and how we can do more with less. We need to keep delivering for the Forest, despite the cuts we’re going to face.”
Ms Barnes’s statement follows her earlier warning that jobs at the NPA could be at risk as a result of the Government’s spending axe.
Defra will have to make cuts of 29 per cent in real terms by 2014-2015 – the equivalent of eight per cent a year.
NPA chairman Julian Johnson has already warned of “tough choices” ahead.
Speaking after the spending review he said: “We’re working up ways of dealing with the cuts – looking at our costs and how we can do things better or differently.”
The latest NPA meeting was held at the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe, one of several venues used by the organisation when it meets in public.
The organisation is planning to leave its temporary headquarters at South Efford House, near Lymington, and move into the town hall, which it will share with
the district council.
In the future meetings are likely to be held in the council chamber to save the expense of hiring conference rooms in hotels.