The chairman of the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has hit back at criticism over its handling of the restoration of the Keswick to Threlkeld path following its storm damage in 2015.
Keswick Town Council has passed two votes of no confidence in the LDNPA in recent months after the Kendal-based organisation chose to use Tarmac rather than a more natural material to resurface the former railway line.
First the LDNPA’s senior officers were criticised and then its board, the town council claiming that the local community had been “badly let down, ignored and bullied into submission” over the issue.
In a letter responding to the latest vote of no confidence, LDNPA chairman Mike McKinley denies that it failed to engage meaningfully, saying: “The authority simply disagrees with your conclusions – this is not a lack of consultation.” Mr McKinley adds: “Officers are no longer prepared to continue to cover the same matters again and again…
Unless any new information is forthcoming, we do not propose to deal any further with these matters.”
The LDNPA had also been criticised for taking out a complaints procedure against its only Keswick-based member Cllr Tony Lywood after he spoke out about the trail restoration in December, claiming it would leave a four-mile black scar across a World Heritage site. The town council claimed the complaints procedure was being used to gag Cllr Lywood and suppress freedom of speech.
Mr McKinley dismissed this but said the complaints process would remain confidential and that he was unable to comment on this until the results of the independent investigation into Cllr Lywood’s actions.
Several thousand people had signed an online petition opposing the use of Tarmac along the trail, which is popular for walkers, runners and cyclists.
The man-made material, which critics fear will become a dangerously fast track for cyclists, has already been laid along much of the trail’s end stretches ahead of the rest of the resurfacing being completed this summer.