January 2013
South Downs
National Park Authority
Performance Assessment
Final Report
Table of Contents
1. Introduction .................................................................................................. 3
2. Background to NPAPA ..................................................................................... 3
3. The South Downs NPA performance assessment process..................................... 4
4. Team Considerations ...................................................................................... 5
5. Progress and Commentary: Areas of Strength ................................................... 6
6. Progress and Commentary: Areas for Improvement ........................................... 9
7. Good Practice and Special Features ................................................................ 12
8. Recommendations........................................................................................ 13
1.1 The South Downs NPA (the Authority) was established on 1 April 2010 following
an extensive designation process based upon Government proposals set out in
1999. The Authority became operational with effect from 1 April 2011. Members
were appointed at the start of the shadow year (2010/2011) and they were
supported initially by a small team of interim senior staff. Recruitment to the
permanent establishment continued through 2011/12 with the chief executive
taking up his post in January 2012. From the outset the Authority placed strong
emphasis on an enabling role rather than the direct provision of services. This
approach has continued and for example, was a particular determinant in the
decision to outsource its corporate services.
1.2 In order to articulate what it saw as its role and aspirations the Authority set
down a set of Guiding Principles which together with the statutory National Park
purposes and duty, have guided the work of the Authority pending the adoption
of is first National Park Management Plan (NPMP).
1.3 A feature of this current National Park Authority Performance Assessment
(NPAPA) programme is the raising of expectations across the lines of enquiry to
increase the standards of performance. In the case of the South Downs NPA and
in recognition of its short life the NPAPA framework was amended to provide for
the focus of the review to be on the progress to date made by the Authority and
on its prospects for future improvement.
2. Background to NPAPA
2.1 National Park Authorities (NPA) are required to achieve best value through
structured approaches which improve their effectiveness, efficiency and
2.2 To provide an objective external assessment of the individual Authority’s
performance, each Authority is subject to periodic review through the National
Park Authority Performance Assessment. [This was the first such review for the
South Downs NPA.]
2.3 The NPAPA methodology uses a peer review team approach which is led and
facilitated by SOLACE Enterprises. The process was developed and first applied
for most NPAs in 2005. It is based on best practice assessment for public bodies
and uses techniques similar to the former Comprehensive Performance
Assessment. NPAPA has been agreed by Defra, the Department for
Communities and Local Government, the Audit Commission and the English
National Park Authorities Association as the appropriate approach for NPAs.
2.4 The NPAPA process is intended to give each Authority a better appreciation of its
strengths and weaknesses in order to assist it to improve the quality of the
important services which it offers to the public. In the case of the South Downs
NPA the main thrust of the process was to assess what progress the Authority
has made since it was established on 1 April 2010 and became fully operational
on 1 April 2011.
2.5 The aims of peer assessment are to:
Provide an objective, robust and managed external challenge to the
Authority’s self-assessment of its current performance;
Encourage thinking about strengths and areas for improvement;
Contribute to strong and forward looking improvement planning.
2.6 The SOLACE Enterprises model of peer assessment for Authority’s involves an
NPA Chief Executive, a local Authority Chief Executive, an NPA Member and an
NPA Staff reviewer, all working with a SOLACE Enterprises facilitator for 4 or 5
days on site. This model has been specifically designed for providing peer
assessment for national parks.
3. The South Downs NPA performance assessment process
3.1 The assessment of South Downs NPA began several weeks before the November
2012 on site period. A provisional timetable of activities was drawn up and
background documentation was circulated to the peer review team prior to their
visit. This included the Authority’s own self-assessment which was considered
closely by the whole team to help determine the focus of the assessment.
3.2 The team was:
Chris Billinge, Member, Lake District NPA,
Nicola Bulbeck, Chief Executive, Teignbridge District Council
Graham Essex-Crosby, SOLACE Enterprises facilitator
John Packman, Chief Executive, Broads Authority.
David Wyborn, Head of Planning & Sustainable Development, Exmoor NPA
3.3 On the evening prior to the visit the team met to prepare for the assessment
process. In that preparatory meeting the team:
Reviewed the proposed methodology for the assessment.
Reviewed the background information provided by the Authority, including
the self-assessment, the related evidence and documentation.
Agreed initial lines of enquiry to be pursued during the visit and any
additional activities and documentation that was needed to gather
information on these.
Confirmed the team roles and responsibilities for the assessment period.
3.4 The team had regard to the whole of the published Key Lines of Enquiry for
NPAPA (as amended for a new authority), but gave particular attention to the
issues that appeared from the documentation to warrant more detailed focus. In
assessments such as these, the team cannot look at absolutely everything in the
same level of detail and the process needs to be bounded in some way.
3.5 The various methods that the team used to gather information included:
Face to face and telephone interviews with a cross section of stakeholders
from inside and outside the Authority.
Small group discussions with staff, Members and partners.
Tours of the area to familiarise the team with the National Park.
A review of documents provided by the Authority before and during the visit.
3.6 Throughout the process the team held a continuing dialogue with the Authority
to reflect back what they were learning and the way that their views were
forming. This provided the Authority with an opportunity to present the team
with additional information and also helped to generate ownership of our
feedback and the thinking and reasoning behind our views.
3.7 On the final day of the visit the team verbally fed back the results of the
information gathering process in a more structured way to a group of Members
and senior managers.
3.8 The team took care to note areas of strength as well as areas for improvement.
However, the main aim of the assessment process is to stimulate improvement,
so comparatively more attention has been given in this report to explaining and
evidencing the areas on which the team believes the Authority should focus its
attention in the future. Indeed the team judged that its key role and
responsibility is to help the Authority generate the best improvement plan
possible and this consideration has influenced the form of this report. The SDNPA
made it clear from the outset that this was also what it was seeking from the
4. Team Considerations
4.1 The NPAPA framework gave structure to the team’s evidence gathering and
review. There was evidence of good and positive progress. At this stage of the
Authority’s development there were also gaps and significant areas for
improvement. Often the gaps and significant areas for improvement were to be
found in the same Key Lines of Enquiry as evidence of good and positive
progress. The extent of these differences within each Key Line of Enquiry means
that in the team’s view the conventional assessment approach would not give a
‘true and fair’ picture of the achievements to date of the Authority.
4.2 In order to help the Authority generate a robust and deliverable improvement
plan the team concluded that a tailor-made narrative report without scores,
separating out the strengths from the areas for improvement would be most
appropriate and of most value to the Authority.
4.3 The team are of the view that it has been a good time to review the Authority,
its direction of travel and its progress. An NPAPA re-assessment should be
undertaken at an appropriate time in the Authority’s development and a
recommendation to this effect is included at section 8 below.
5. Progress and Commentary: Areas of Strength
5.1 Progress has been made in producing the strategic planning framework for the
Authority. A vision “2050 Vision for the South Downs” has been agreed with
partners and stakeholders. This was developed through extensive consultation
and participative community workshops.
5.2 The newly published State of the Park Report is attractive and informative. The
special qualities of the South Downs are clearly identified and are supported by
case studies, maps and factual information. The report is also clear about gaps
in the data and evidence and research has already been commissioned with a
view to filling some of those gaps.
5.3 Work is underway on producing the National Park Management Plan through a
series of technical working groups and stakeholder workshops and is being
progressed through the South Downs Partnership. The target completion date is
November/December 2013. A set of ‘emerging priorities’ are being developed in
discussion with partners and these link to National Park purposes within the
wider context of sustainable development. Each priority area is being developed
through a hierarchical approach of themes, outcomes and 5-year outputs.
Through good communication and positive engagement, partners are closely and
actively engaged in the NPMP process. This timetable is in advance of the
statutory deadline of the end of March 2014.
5.4 In the absence of a NPMP, the Authority has determined that the overarching
purposes and duty together with the Guiding Principles should complete the
‘golden thread’ and link the vision for the Park to the Authority’s business plan,
to service plans and to the staff performance development review system. The
business plan “South Downs National Park Authority Business Plan 2012/13” is
structured around National Park purposes and duty.
5.5 High level priorities are set out in the business plan with service plans providing
the supporting delivery programme. Business plan development involves both
Members and staff. Performance against the business plan objectives and targets
is monitored by the senior management team and by Members.
5.6 In order to offer support to local communities and to provide funding for projects
across the park the Authority established the South Downs Sustainable
Communities Fund (SCF). The fund is used to support community-based
initiatives and grants of up to £20,000 are made against agreed criteria. SCF
funding has been used effectively to lever in matched funding. The Authority has
also established a Major Projects Fund (MPF) to provide money to support larger-
scale projects to be developed or delivered with key partners.
5.7 The Authority has built effective relationships with key partners and has
established an impressive track record of attracting external funding, for
example the Nature Improvement Area (NIA), High Level Stewardship funding
and successful bids for Local Sustainable Transport funding.
5.8 A landscape-scale approach is being developed in order to set objectives and
priorities for the South Downs in relation to conservation and enhancement.
Early work is characterised by partnership working and by commissioning further
research. The NIA project “South Downs Way Ahead” exemplifies this approach
with 29 partners, a total project cost of £3m and a footprint centred on the
South Downs Way that covers the whole length of the national park. This is a
high profile project being one of 12 such national projects to receive Government
funding (£608,000). There is a range of research projects being undertaken with
partners including spatial mapping (Forestry Research), climate change
vulnerability (Natural England), habitat and species baseline data (Biodiversity
Records Centre), Farmland Birds (Natural England and RSPB) and “In the High
Woods” archaeological project (Chichester DC and National Trust).
5.9 Progress on the second statutory purpose promoting opportunities for
understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the South Downs NPA
is characterised by a range of research projects but also with a number of
delivery projects. The “Learning and Research Partnership” is a collaborative
venture with 16 higher and further education institutions representing a wide
range of subject specialisms and research interests. “Our South Downs” offers an
innovative approach to outdoor learning and aims to connect children and young
people with the special qualities of the National Park through the 738 schools in
or near the Park. SCF monies have been used to support delivery of a range of
projects including the Rother Valley Forest Schools Cluster, Butser Ancient Farm
Visitor Centre, community shop developments and the development of a visitor
centre for the Birling gap.
5.10 Whilst the highway authorities took the decision not to delegate rights of way
functions to the NPA, the development of the Public Rights of Way Accord allows
the Authority to encourage improvements and to achieve consistency of
standards. A local access forum has also been established.
5.11 The Authority is engaged in a number of demonstration projects in order to
further its understanding of the area and the issues and challenges faced by
local communities. These projects include work through Young Pioneers,
engaging with black and ethnic minority communities through MOSAIC and work
with specialist groups such as MIND and the Grace Eyre Foundation. In addition
the Authority is working with the Little Green School for boys with emotional and
behavioural difficulties to develop the school grounds as a resource for outdoor
5.12 There is direct engagement with a number of voluntary groups, the largest of
which is the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service (established in 1981).
Volunteers contribute over 5,000 work days each year and their work is
supported and directed by the Authority’s Area Managers and Rangers many of
whom transferred from the predecessor South Downs Joint Committee. The
managers and rangers are very much valued and are seen as an effective front-
facing resource for the NPA. They have built positive relationships with
communities, landowners and farmers and have used their inter-personal skills
to good effect in problem solving.
5.13 There are 15 local authorities with some of their area inside the boundaries of
the National Park and this provides for a complex challenge to the delivery of
planning services Local Plan, development management and minerals and
waste planning. On the advice of the Secretary of State when designating the
NPA, the Authority set up a series of agency agreements with the local
authorities for the delivery of its development management function. This
approach is also consistent with the Authority’s Guiding Principles since it
demonstrates partnership working and allows the Authority to pursue a
strategic-focussed enabling role. Currently 11 of the 15 local authorities operate
within the terms of the agency arrangements. The service for the remaining 4
local authorities has been taken back in house at their request. The development
of this service has been a key priority for the organisation and additional
resources were introduced to implement the new planning application
management system. Whilst some problems remain with the implementation of
the system, work is now well in hand to introduce a robust framework of Service
Level Agreements (SLAs) building on the willingness of officers and Members
from all participating authorities to make it work.
5.14 A number of studies have been commissioned to support the development of the
Local Plan. Pending the finalisation of the NPMP a number of partnership-based
initiatives have also been set up to support the delivery of socio-economic
benefits including the biosphere reserve project with Brighton & Hove City
Council and the Collabor8 sustainable tourism project. An internal group has
been charged with working up an action plan aimed at improving the Authority’s
own environmental performance.
5.15 As part of its consideration of the governance arrangements for the new
organisation an early decision was taken to outsource corporate support services
as much as possible. Agreements are now in place to deliver financial services
(Brighton & Hove City Council), legal services (West Sussex County Council),
Monitoring Officer (Hampshire County Council) and ICT (Advanced 365). The
Authority has put in place a full suite of governance policies and procedures
covering such matters as schemes of delegations, Standing Orders, Member-
officer protocols, whistleblowing and anti-fraud and corruption. A Standards and
Audit Committee has been established with independent members.
5.16 The arrangements with Brighton & Hove cover the complete range of financial
services including financial planning, accounting, creditor and payroll payments,
insurances, treasury management and internal audit. These arrangements
provide a robust framework to make the proper stewardship of public funds
possible. The statutory role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is provided by the
City Council and the CFO and her Deputy are part of the Authority’s Senior
Management Team (SMT). A Medium Term Financial Strategy and capital
programme are in place.
5.17 The Authority has adopted a prudent approach to its budget setting. Medium
term affordability is a key driver and as a consequence, the permanent staffing
structure and other revenue expenses are conditioned by the indicative Defra
grant settlement for 2014/15. The budget monitoring process provides for
monthly reporting to SMT and quarterly to Members. Annual Accounts are
published in accordance with statutory requirements and, whilst the Accounts for
the shadow year (2010/11) received a qualified audit opinion, those for the first
full operational year (2011/12) received an unqualified audit certificate.
Procurement systems are in place and the appointment of a finance and
procurement manager should deliver further improvements and provide closer
professional liaison with Brighton & Hove.
5.18 The Authority has recently completed the purchase of an interest in Capron
House and which, as the South Downs Centre, will be the main organisational
hub. This is the first set of premises to be owned by the Authority with its other
delivery points being shared with partners.
5.19 The 27 Members of the Authority took up their roles at the start of the shadow
year and initially they were supported by a small team of officers, many of whom
were on interim contracts. Staff recruitment took place through 2011/12 whilst
staff from the former South Downs Joint Committee transferred to the Authority
in April 2011. A constructive relationship is being built with the trade union and
with staff representatives. In January 2012 a staff survey was undertaken and
the resulting action plan has been developed by staff and Members.
5.20 The Chief Executive communicates regularly with staff, Members and volunteers
and is establishing good relationships with external partners. The Senior
Management Team (SMT) is well regarded and viewed as high performing. The
Team offers visible and effective leadership and is seen as keen to empower
staff. Within SMT there is a feeling of mutual trust and respect that offers the
potential of a corporate approach rather than one built around service silos. The
staff are committed and proud to be working for the National Park and delivering
its purposes.
5.21 Member development has been a feature of the early life of the Authority with
induction training involving other national parks and key strategic partners, a
series of regular workshops, specialist training in matters such as planning and
area familiarisation tours. Members are also subject to an annual 1:1 session
with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Authority. One outcome of this extensive
Member engagement programme is that Members on the Planning Committee
accept collective responsibility for their decisions.
6. Progress and Commentary: Areas for Improvement
6.1 In spite of extensive consultation the “2050 Vision for the South Downs” is
lengthy, arguably could apply to any number of national parks and is unwieldy in
terms of day to day use. The Authority and its lead partners need to produce a
memorable summary of the 2050 vision that is inspirational and becomes a
mantra for day to day use.
6.2 Partner commitment to the preparation of the NPMP needs to be maintained
through to delivery. There is a growing concern from lead partners that in the
absence of an agreed strategic plan there is a lack of ability to make progress
and move to the delivery stage. Whilst the target date for completion of the
NPMP (Nov/Dec 2013) is within the timeframe set by Defra, the process has
involved extensive consultation with communities, partners and stakeholders
many of whom have been involved in such processes over a number of years.
Consultees are supportive of the Authority’s work on the NPMP but partners are
coming to the view that progress is slow and the lack of a plan is causing inertia.
A number of interviewees expressed concern over the emerging priorities
document which they felt had not been readily understood by everyone. In
addition a number of partners considered that the slow progress was actively
holding back work on the jobs and growth agenda for the Park and its
6.3 The use of the statutory purposes and duty coupled with the Authority’s Guiding
Principles has offered an interim solution. Increasingly this is too broad-brushed
and suffers from an absence of the keener focus on an agreed set of key
priorities. Until the NPMP is available little progress can be made on finalising
such matters as delivery mechanisms, identifying lead partners and establishing
effective means of measuring and reviewing project outcomes as they relate to
the ‘state of the park’. The lack of an agreed NPMP is also diluting the
organisation’s corporate and strategic planning framework, for example in terms
of the ‘golden thread’ and business planning.
6.4 The Authority has made good use of partnership working in terms of strategy
development and project submissions for funding. The process of partnership
working however can become bureaucratic and less effective resulting in delays
to decision-making. Care needs to be taken that the work and proliferation of
partnerships – i.e. partnership overload - does not go unchecked.
6.5 Greater rigour needs to be brought to the Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF)
project approval process and to ensuring that there is effective project
monitoring to ensure identified outcomes are delivered. Concern has been
expressed that the distribution of SCF grants has been opportunistic and they do
not appear to be delivering to any long term key strategic priorities. The
Authority has put aside significant sums of money into its SCF - £400,000 in
2011/12 and £300,000 in 2012/13 and subsequent years. To date over 75
schemes have received funding from the SCF in the form of grants ranging from
a few hundred pounds to £20,000. Applicants are required to produce a project
initiation document setting out the nature of their project, the financial
implications and the deliverable outcomes of the scheme. Many of the schemes
are commendable and worthwhile in their own right and have been developed
through the knowledge and networks built up by the area staff.
6.6 Accountability and performance management are not yet fully effective. The
Authority has established a performance framework that sets out roles and
responsibilities across the organisation. Broad objectives are laid down in the
business plan with service plans providing the supporting detailed targets that
are cascaded to teams and individual members of staff. Monitoring is undertaken
monthly by SMT and quarterly by Members of the Resources and Performance
Committee. There is a focus on processes such that Members review progress on
the delivery of tasks including SCF funded projects but there is little
consideration of outputs, outcomes and the quality of service delivery. There is
little evidence of seeking customer feedback or of Members receiving reports on
measurable and quality outputs for scrutiny. Objectives and commitments are
often not SMART which makes it difficult for Members to review effectively, to
challenge and to hold officers to account.
6.7 Some volunteers feel that they are not supported by the corporate centre. The
role of volunteers as a public face for the Authority is more critical given the
Authority’s focus on its enabling and facilitating role. On a day to day basis
volunteers work well with the area staff and carry out a range of tasks. Decision-
making by the corporate centre however appears slow and is having a negative
impact on the relationship between the volunteers and the Authority. There is an
opportunity for the volunteers to make a greater contribution to the work of the
Authority but this may be at risk if the relationship is not fully supported.
6.8 The timetable and resources for preparation of the Local Plan need to be
reconsidered. The preparation of the Local Plan is a high priority for the
Authority. The current project plan indicates that the submission stage will not
be reached until 2016 having slipped’ from 2015. The reasons for this slippage
are unclear and some Members seemed unaware of the change. The Local Plan is
critical to help ensure the delivery of sustainable development and the socio-
economic duty and indeed the Authority has acknowledged that this was an area
where performance to date has been weak. The Local Plan is also essential in
providing clarity to the partners delivering the planning service.
6.9 There is a need to review the staff structure. The overall shape of the
organisation together with the allocation of resources between teams would
merit consideration. Any new structure should reflect the need for additional
capacity for delivering the NPMP priorities within a sound governance framework
and for ensuring for example, that planning services attain high quality in terms
of levels of performance.
6.10 The workload in setting up any organisation can be very onerous and
demanding. Staff are enthusiastic about the National Park but some felt their
goodwill, retention and wellbeing are at risk due to current workloads. Staff
reported that there was little time for reflection making the desire to become a
learning organisation more difficult to achieve. Resources need to be deployed to
areas of priority in order that time critical projects can be completed ahead of
current plans. Fast-tracking key plan preparation should provide greater focus
for the organisation in completing its strategic planning framework with a view to
enabling an earlier transition to delivery mode.
6.11 The Authority has low public visibility. The area teams are small when viewed
against the geographical size and nature of the Park. Whilst initiatives such as
the online Forum help raise the profile of the National Park and the Authority,
the impact is at best uncertain and probably low key. The Authority and its
partners are undertaking some positive work from small community-based
projects funded through SCF up to significant national level work such as
Sustainable Transport Fund and the NIA “South Downs Way Ahead” projects.
There is a need to tell people, communities, visitors, stakeholders and interested
parties what is happening in their national park.
6.12 National Park status was hard fought and there is an urgent and continuing need
to demonstrate that the park designation is bringing added value to the South
Downs and to the National Park family as a whole. In the current economic
climate there are increasing and unrelenting pressures on public bodies and on
public expenditure. There is a sense in which the Authority has yet to rise to this
challenge in terms of the national agenda. A number of National Parks are
leading on the delivery of exemplar projects with regional and national
significance. Consideration should be given to identifying a large rural issues
project and for the Authority to offer leadership at a national level.
6.13 The Authority needs to establish its identity and the South Downs brand. Some
staff and Members described the Authority as timid, and seeking to avoid public
debate on issues that might be controversial or would result in adverse media
coverage. There was an explicit feeling that they needed to avoid what they
perceive as the problems faced by the New Forest National Park in the early
stages of its development. The timescales for strategy and plan development
have become protracted (a fear of failure). Delays in some operational decisions
were attributed to the lack of identity and brand.
6.14 A risk management framework is in place including regular reporting. Evidence
suggested that risk management is not yet fully embedded in the culture of the
organisation. Identification, assessment and management of risks need to be
robust and also pursued more actively by Members.
6.15 Members are not agreed on their optimum role. In the early days of the
organisation the work of the Authority was characterised by informal meetings
such as workshops and task and finish groups. This practice has continued with a
newly established task and finish group on the Local Plan and also the monthly
meetings between SMT and the Chairs and Vice Chairs of Authority. The formal
public committee meetings are considered less important by Members. This
leaves Members with a lack of clarity on where in the structure they can
participate in setting direction, policy making, approval and decision making. The
relationship between informal and formal meetings needs redesigning to affirm
the proper role of Members and ensure the Authority is seen to conduct its
business with appropriate public scrutiny and access
6.16 The Members’ transition to a more strategic role is work in progress. For a large
part of the shadow year there was a full complement of Members compared to a
smaller number of staff. Members were engaged in both operational and
strategic issues. As the organisation grew and developed Members
acknowledged the need for them to take a more strategic overview and to pass
operational matters for determination by managers and staff. This transition is
not yet complete and Members are still involved in day to day issues, making
operational decisions and monitoring inputs rather than outputs and quality
outcomes. Some Members also felt not fully engaged in business plan
development“a matter for officers” or that they had not been consulted on the
action plan following the staff survey.
7. Good Practice and Special Features
7.1 Community engagement
7.2 Relationship with partners
7.3 External fundraising
7.4 Approach to delivery of corporate support services
7.5 Agency arrangements for delivery of planning services
8. Recommendations
The recommendations of the team are shown below. Some of the issues covered
are included in the Authority’s draft summary improvement plan but the team
would suggest that in some cases a more fundamental change may be required.
There are also issues in the Authority’s plan not covered in this report, such as
the need to undertake further work on equality and diversity, and which the team
would support.
8.1 That a re-assessment of the Authority using the NPAPA framework be
undertaken one year after the NPMP is scheduled to be adopted (circa Autumn
2014). [4.3]
8.2 The Authority and its lead partners need to produce a memorable and locally
distinct summary of the 2050 vision that is inspirational and becomes a mantra
for day to day use. [6.1)
8.3 The Authority needs to engage with the Members and the South Downs
Partnership about ways in which the work on the NPMP can be expedited leading
to an earlier publication date thereby moving to plan delivery at an earlier stage.
[6.1, 6.2 & 6.3]
8.4 There is a need to keep partnership working under review in order to ensure that
partnerships are fit for purpose. [6.4]
8.5 Greater rigour needs to be brought to the Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF)
project approval process and to ensuring that there is effective post project
monitoring to ensure the intended outcomes are delivered. Work should be
undertaken so that the Authority gets the best return from the projects it invests
in. These returns could include financial, press and media coverage, other
publicity and more. [6.5]
8.6 The planned review of performance management system needs to address the
current shortcomings and early consideration needs to be given to producing a
system that can be used by the South Downs Partnership to allow SMT and
Members to rigorously monitor delivery against the NPMP and Business Plan.
8.7 Work needs to be undertaken to ensure volunteers feel supported at an
Authority level so that they may make a greater contribution to the work and
profile of the National Park. [6.7]
8.8 The resources allocated to the preparation of the Local Plan need to be
significantly increased and the timetable compressed as far as possible. [6.8]
8.9 There is a need to review the staff structure. [6.9]
8.10 Ways in which the public profile of the National Park and the Authority can be
raised should be identified and implemented. [6.11]
8.11 In order to demonstrate that the NPA is adding value consideration should be
given to identifying a large rural issues project and for the Authority to offer
leadership at a national level. [6.12]
8.12 The Authority needs to establish both its identity and the South Downs brand.
8.13 The approach to risk assessment and management needs to be more pro-active
and Members should offer greater challenge. [6.14]
8.14 The relationship between informal and formal meetings needs redesigning to
affirm the proper role of Members and ensure the Authority is seen to conduct its
business with appropriate public scrutiny and access. [6.15]
8.15 The Members’ transition to a more strategic role is work in progress and
attention should be given to completing that changeover. [6.16]
Graham Essex-Crosby on behalf of SOLACE Enterprises
January 2013