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WALES: Local delivery key to DEFRA reform, says Bates

November 11, 2003 9:47 PM
Brecon Beacons, Wales

The Brecon Beacons

Mick Bates AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat countryside spokesperson, today commented on the Haskins report on the reform of DEFRA, stressing that advisory services are best delivered at a local level.

He said: "All too often centralised bureaucracy wastes money rather than getting it down to the people who need it - small rural businesses, people with original ideas; I hope we don't spend too long reorganising delivery whist young business people leave rural areas."

The report aims to combine English Nature, the Countryside Agency and Forestry Commission into one department responsible for protecting the landscape and delivering services in rural areas. The new organisation would bring the 4000 civil servants of the agencies and keep control of policy and spending in Defra.

The recommendations within the Haskins report have a knock-on effect in considering the efficiency of Carwyn Jones' sprawling empire. If DEFRA has institutional log-jams, then its sister department here in Wales should take note.

"In Wales the same lessons need to be learned," said Bates. "It's time we looked at how we deliver best environmental practice by combining similar practices of Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency and National Parks. Furthermore, we need to develop a National Warden Service that helps retain our beautiful environment."