Jim Dixon Stepped Down from his role as Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park at the end of 2014. In his final column for the Derbyshire Times and Matlock Mercury as Peak Chief, he looked back at life in the Peak District.
I am pleased to call the Peak District home. Whilst we have only lived here for 11 years, it is a community that has been as welcoming as the landscape is beautiful. The heritage of this land is second to none – rich traditions of farming, great houses and special villages. Layers of historic land use tell the story of people’s lives here for thousands of years.
The creation of a national park in 1951 has been the latest part of this story. To some independent-minded local people, it was (and still may be) seen as an imposition – outsiders from the government telling local people how to lead their lives. As more people have learned to live with the national park and, more importantly, the national park has learned to live with local people, the future can be a more fruitful partnership.
Most of the members who make decisions come from the national park or represent councils in the park and all of the senior managers live in, or very close, to the national park. Conservation work is made much easier when we listen to local craftsmen – farmers, foresters, river-keepers, stone-masons and roofers and when they work with the advice they get from us. Welcoming visitors is made easier when people who work in hotels, B&Bs, cafes and country house attractions help tell the story of the national park.
As I hand over to Sarah Fowler, my successor, I know that the national park will listen to the people who love this land and that they will grow closer in mutual respect. Nothing is more important than the work that will be done together to protect this special place for future generations.