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National park should be for the people, says former Brighton council leader
A former council leader has told how he hopes a national park will be “for the people”.
Ken Bodfish has returned to the frontline of national park policy two years after he was rejected as head of the group charged with protecting it.
The former leader of Brighton and Hove City Council is one of seven national members of the South Downs National Park Authority appointed by Hilary Benn, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.
After about 20 years of campaigning for the park, Mr Bodfish told The Argus what he meant by hoping that the park will be “for the people”.
He said: “What I mean by the people are those that live and work in the park and the people that visit it.
“It’s also very important that the adjacent population, such as those who live in Eastbourne, Brighton and Worthing, know the park is for them as well.
“There are great challenges but very exciting challenges. It’s been a long time coming.
“I have been fighting for it. I’m thrilled to bits that the park has finally happened.”
In 2008 Mr Bodfish lost out on the chance to become head of the then South Downs Joint Committee despite being nominated by an independent panel.
Mr Bodfish, who at the time blamed “petty party politics”, said: “I am now a national appointment, hopefully on merit.”
The park stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne with a population of about 110,000 people.
The authority, which will assume full responsibility in April 2011, will consist of a total of 27 members – 14 from the district and county councils and six from the parish and town councils in the area.
It will be responsible for promoting the park and for planning within its borders.