Devon

Dartmoor and Exmoor National parks return 5% of budget

Dartmoor
Image caption The authority said all new Dartmoor vacancies have been frozen

National parks in Devon must return some of their budget in a bid to reduce national debt.

Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks have been told that they must hand back 5% of their budget to Defra by the end of the financial year.

The government money-saving scheme will see both parks return about £200,000.

Dartmoor National Park said it had frozen training budgets while Exmoor National Park said an education project would be put on hold.

'Frontline services'

Chief Executive of Dartmoor National Park Authority Kevin Bishop said: 'We are obviously disappointed that our grant from Defra has been cut this financial year but appreciate the difficulties faced by all public sector bodies.

"We have identified immediate savings to protect frontline services. We have frozen all new vacancies, training budgets and suspended the Dartmoor Grant.

"The 5% cut this year will make it difficult to absorb any future cuts without an impact on frontline services."

All national parks across the country have been asked to return 5% of their budget to Defra, which provides funding to them.

'Major changes'

Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park, said: "We think we can find it this year without having to make any major changes, but it will make life much more difficult.

"We were keen to enhance the education centre to provide a new classroom and energy efficiency [improvements], but that's one of the projects we've had to put on hold.

"There's a general feeling that all parts of the public sector need to save money and contribute."

In a statement, Defra said: "Individual national park authorities will revise their own budgets to reflect this reduced funding.

"However, the government expects authorities to do all they can to protect front-line services by looking first at the scope for efficiency savings or reducing back-office work."

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