A COUNCILLOR who lost her seat by 14 votes in the May elections has defended her right to continue to help make key decisions on a national park authority.

Labour councillor Margaret Pattison has responded to claims that she had acted “unusually” by attending last month’s planning committee on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and voting, despite no longer being a Lancaster City councillor, which she had represented on the park authority.

All major decisions made by the park authority are decided by its members, who either represent councils whose areas overlap with the national park or are appointed by the Government.

However, as it can take some time to replace members on the park authority following elections, former members are allowed to continue representing authorities for up to three months if their replacement is not in place.

John Blackie, the park authority’s longest serving member, said while he could not recall a former member of a council ever exercising their right to vote at the park authority, he had been aghast to see Richmondshire District Council’s new representative, John Amsden, refused the chance to vote.

Mr Amsden, who has served on the district council’s planning committee for eight years, was told he needed planning committee training before being allowed to vote on the park authority.

He said Ms Pattison’s vote had helped see the fourth barn conversion plan for a family in the Upper Dales being refused by the authority since December.

Mr Blackie said: “It stinks and it really has angered communities across the Yorkshire Dales, in places such as Hawes, Grinton and Appersett. If one member had turned up in time and without Margaret Pattison’s vote it would have been 6-6. If John Amsden had been allowed to vote the result could have been very different.”

Cllr Pattison, who remains a member of Lancashire County Council, said she continued to serve on the planning committee to ensure Lancaster City Council was represented while it appointed a new member for the authority. She said she intended to attend the park authority’s planning committee today, adding: “I would never break the rules and never sit on a committee if I thought I was doing something wrong. I love going to the meetings. The experience of the Yorkshire Dales has been absolutely brilliant.”

A park authority spokesman said: “The member from Lancaster City Council was entitled to vote at the June meeting, while Mr Amsden was not. The rules on how national park authorities are run haven’t changed in well over a decade.”