Tony Favell, the Peak District's new chair

Tony Favell, the Peak District's new chair

A former Tory MP has been elected as chair of Britain’s oldest national park.

Retired tribunal judge Tony Favell takes over the post at the head of the Peak District National Park Authority from Narendra Bajaria, who leaves the authority at the end of this month after serving his 10 years as a Secretary of State appointee.

Councillor Favell, who lives in Edale, lists membership of the Eurosceptic think-tank the Bruges Group among his interests, is a member of the High Peak Borough Council and will serve as chair of the authority until its annual meeting in July this year.

He has been deputy chair of the Peak District authority since June last year and is its member representative for tourism.

Mr Favell was Conservative MP for Stockport from 1983 until 1992 when he lost his seat to Labour’s Ann Coffey. He was Tory leader John Major’s parliamentary private secretary until 1990.

Mr Favell, 71, takes over the chair of the Peak authority at a difficult time as the national park faces budget cuts of 31 per cent imposed by the coalition Government, and in January members took the controversial decision to sell off its Losehill Hall learning centre to the Youth Hostels Association with the loss of more than 40 jobs.

The authority is also looking for partners to take over its estate at The Roaches, which includes some of the best rockclimbing in the West of the park.

Narendra Bajaria, retired head of planning, highways and transport at Sheffield City Council, said: “During my time the authority has faced key challenges on a number of issues, such as the need to deliver more affordable housing for local people, unlawful minerals quarrying at Backdale, the proposal for an A628 bypass and the need to carry out moorland restoration to help tackle the impact of climate change.

“In dealing with all these issues the huge challenge has been to meet the needs and expectations of local people, while also recognising that the Peak District is an asset for the whole nation.

“I’m grateful for all the support I have received from local people, whom I enjoyed meeting in the regular community visits I made, as well as members, staff and partners.”

Mr Bajaria was appointed a CBE in June 2009 for services to the Peak District national park and rural and urban planning.

To mark his retirement from the authority he was presented with a picture of Stanage Edge, the place that first inspired his passion for the Peak District national park during a visit more than 40 years ago.

At today’s authority meeting Geoff Nickolds was elected as deputy chair of the authority. Christopher Pennell was elected chair of the new audit, resources and performance committee, with Councillor Garry Purdy becoming vice chair. All posts will be up for election again in July.

The Secretary of State for the Environment appoints eight members of the authority; also making up the authority are six parish members who are parish councillors or chairs of parish meetings, representing people living in parishes across the national park and 16 borough, district, city or county councillors who represent people living in communities that make up the national park area.

The Peak District was Britain’s first national park, coming into being on 17 April 1951.

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