Carlton Bank, North York Moors National ParkThe North York Moors National Park faces job cuts if expected Government grant-aid is frozen.

Carlton Bank, North York Moors National Park

The authority could be more than £¾m in the red in four years’ time unless it makes cuts in its services. Climate-change projects, social inclusion, volunteering, biodiversity, external funding, building conservation and renewable energy are all at risk if the expected freeze takes place.

Cuts in volunteer funding would be likely to have an adverse effect for visitors to the park’s outdoor areas. 200 trained voluntary rangers currently help walkers and undertake conservation work and recreation management.

The crux of the problem is the tightening of belts at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has been hit hard by the extra costs of recent animal diseases and is itself facing cuts of up to £270m. The knock-on effects for authorities such as the North York Moors National Park are likely to be felt soon.

Authority members hope to learn next month how much they will get from Defra. Its current grant accounts for £4.9m out of a total of £7.2m. Defra officials have indicated this amount is unlikely to rise, landing the national park with the prospect of losing ten full-time jobs.

A report prepared for authority members said: “The overall situation that is likely to result from a period of flat settlements [Defra grants] is severe and unsustainable and would necessitate substantial cuts in core services and project activity in order to balance the budget.”

The North York Moors park was one of the original national parks created in 1952. It has nearly 2,300km of footpaths and bridleways, including the Lyke Wake Walk, the Cleveland Way and part of the Coast to Coast Walk. It covers 1,436 square km (554 square miles), from the Vale of Mowbray in the East to the North Sea coast in the West.