A PLEA has gone out for more grassroots involvement in national park decision-making.

A moorland parish council also wants to see less red tape on local issues with more emphasis on community opinion.

The call has been backed by a Conservative candidate at the next general election.

Mrs Pam Reeves, clerk to Danby Group Parish Council, took the chance to speak out as Mr John Sykes, who is contesting Scarborough and Whitby at the polls, addressed the council last week.

After Mr Sykes had said there was not enough local influence on national park committees, Mrs Reeves criticised the fact that membership was spread among people "from far and wide".

She said: "Over the last couple of years things have improved because we have had more local people involved and it makes a big difference. If you are not frightened to speak the truth, it does bear fruit. We need more of that."

Mrs Reeves said trying to get a 20mph speed zone around a Castleton school had involved "unbelievable bureaucracy" with the county council.

"Decisions such as this should be left to the people within the community," she said. "Red tape needs to be cut drastically."

Mr Sykes is a former MP for Whitby and Scarborough. Since losing the seat at the last election, he has returned to his family business.

"The national park plays a big part in deliberations for this area," he said. "But I don't think that in spite of reforms there is enough local influence on the committees.

"I would like to see more local people on the park authority making decisions."

He said parish councils were the best vehicle for getting local people involved in their own areas.

"They are the nearest thing to communities that democracy can provide and they work well," he said.

l Parish council round-up: page 13