THE organisation that runs the New Forest National Park is axing 15 per cent of its workforce.

The National Park Authority (NPA) is shedding ten posts as part of a major cost-cutting campaign caused by a 21 per cent drop in its funding.

Some of the employees who keep their jobs will have to work shorter hours, which will mean a pay cut.

The NPA is also imposing a ban on recruitment and reducing the number of departments from three to two in a further bid to cut costs.

It follows the announcement that the organisation’s Government grant is being slashed by more than a fifth over the next four years.

NPA chairman Julian Johnson said: “The scale of the savings we need to make to balance our budget is significant.

“Our grant reduces from just over £4m this year to £3.16m by 2014 – a cut of £866,000 or £217,000 a year.

“This comes on top of the five per cent saving we had to make within this financial year and does not include the impact of inflation and the loss of other grants.”

Mr Johnson said a range of measures would be used to achieve the necessary savings.

He added: “We have worked hard to safeguard our ability to deliver benefits for the New Forest and to minimise the need for redundancies.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, the authority is leaving its current headquarters at South Efford House, Everton, and moving into offices at Lymington Town Hall, which it will share with New Forest District Council.

Some of the other savings will be achieved by leaving posts vacant, reducing working hours and calling for voluntary redundancies.

Tonight an NPA spokesman said the organisation hoped to avoid the need for compulsory job losses.

Alison Barnes, the NPA’s chief executive added: “Although this has been a difficult time for everyone I am confident that our response will put us in the strongest position possible to work with people across the Forest to meet the challenges ahead.”

NPA member Maureen Holding expressed her sadness at the loss of ten posts.

She added: “For years the previous Government overspent and our first priority must be to get the economy back on track. Once we’ve done that the jobs market will start to expand.

“The NPA will continue to work towards its vision. It will do the job it was put there to do.”