We want to see greater diversity and openness throughout the public sector. As more public services are opened up, we will regularly assess barriers to entry and exit that may prevent diversity and innovation from being achieved, and recommend steps to address these barriers.

Open Public Services White Paper, July 11

… voluntary sector organisations could be supported to acquire current public sector providers that would benefit from being run as a specialised charity

Open Public Services White Paper, July 11

The government is intending to transform each local authority into a small core of service coordinators and advisors… and not much else. They aspire to champion local private providers. They will put the onus on local authorities to ‘justify why it makes sense to run a monopoly’ as David Cameron said on June 11. The Dartmoor National Park Authority is a local authority. There is a new Dartmoor on the horizon.

The Open Public Services White Paper published this  month is a consultative document, but localism was in the Conservative manifesto. It would be foolish not to believe they are serious. Change came in 1995 when the DNPA was transformed from a committee of Devon County Council into its present configuration. Change can come again.

The DNPA’s services:   

  • The Ranger Service
  • Guided walks and educational activities
  • Archaeologists, ecologists, arboriculturalists, planning & enforcement officers and historic buildings specialists
  • Managing land, including woodland and commons
  • Three National Park Information Centres
  • Operating car parks and toilet facilities
  • Maintaining and managing footpaths and bridleways

A potent mix

There are a plethora of groups, community associations, Parish Councils, businesses, charities, not for profit organisations and individuals across Dartmoor who are passionate about the area and the community.

Take the depth of local knowledge about the environment. Knead in the local economic benefits.  Throw in the personal delight that we have in our communities. Blend in the time that a lot of the silver generation have to spare. Leaven with a fervent love for Dartmoor. Expose to the heat of government change.

With this mix fermenting, the question we should ask is not ‘What responsibilities could  be done by other groups?’ but ‘Are there any services that won’t be done by other groups in five years time?’

Change will not be easy for the DNPA. Diligent in their responsibilities, they do a lot of good for Dartmoor.  They could be obliged to downsize whilst still acting as the coordinator for work they have been doing well themselves. Not an easy position to be in.

What will be the first services to be outsourced? Are there any that must remain with the DNPA?