The Peak District National Park Authority has confirmed that a consultation process for staff based at the Authority’s four visitor centres has been paused following an offer of operational funding support for up to three years from an external donor.
Proposals on changes to face-to-face visitor operations were due to be put to Members of the Authority for a final decision on 28 July, with a workforce consultation for those likely to be affected recently begun at the beginning of May.
However, the Authority confirmed to staff on Monday 5 June that an approach has been made by an anonymous donor to the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity, offering to provide funding support for visitor centre operations, allowing time for these operations to become more financially sustainable.
The supporting funds offered are specifically related to the operation of visitor centres, with other elements of the Authority’s restructure programme still due be taken to Members in late July and changes likely to be implemented by the end of the year.
Chief executive Phil Mulligan said: “This is certainly very good news and I appreciate the relief it will bring to the many colleagues who will have been affected by the proposals for our visitor centres so far.
“Whilst we are incredibly grateful to the donor for their generous offer allowing us to continue visitor centre operations for up to another three years, our deep-seated financial challenges as an organisation do remain and other colleagues within additional teams may still be impacted in the weeks and months ahead.
“After a decade of real-terms cuts to our core government grant, it is vital that we continue to maintain a spotlight on our affordability and resilience as an Authority; but this unexpected support potentially gives us time to explore and develop ways for our visitor centres to become financially sustainable in the future without such additional funding being needed.
“Our donor recognises that visitor centres need to be financially viable and we will need to start work straight away on creating that long-term viability.”
The Authority has said that whilst conversations continue with the donor around the precise terms of the funding package agreed, it would not be adding further comment on financial details and will respect the donor’s wishes to remain anonymous.