Richard Burge, former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance; Dr Jim Cox OBE, joint-master of the Blencathra Foxhounds; and Prof Michael Winter, who was involved in the Burns Inquiry, have been appointed board members of the Countryside Agency.

Burge said: “The agency keeps the government informed about countryside issues. It seemed some of my experience might be useful, so I put my name forward. I hope to concentrate on areas that reflect my experience, such as field sports, and to bring some rural wisdom.

“Friends who are Alliance supporters were very positive about this. You can try to change things by becoming part of them.”

Dr Cox, who is a GP and author in the Lake District, said: “My interests include rural social exclusion, rural healthcare and field sports. I grew up with hunting.”

Charles Mann, who worked closely with Burge at the Alliance, said: “If you’re concerned about something, you have to be courageous and get involved from the inside.”

Under the appointment process, Burge had to declare that he was a member of the Labour party and that he has spoken on behalf of the party in the past.

But he added: “I have spent more time criticising Labour than supporting it. I once spoke in support of Labour’s policy on adoption. In the same evening, I spoke against its hunting policy.”

The posts took effect from 1 April for three years, although in 2007 the agency is being restructured as part of “Natural England”.

The two-and-a-half-days-a-month posts pay £8,925 per annum.

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (7 April, ’05)

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