QUARRY manager Carl Lis has been re-elected as chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for the third year running - a vote of confidence that would have been unthinkable a decade or so ago.
Carl Lis (centre) with Richmond MP William Hague and YDNPA
Chairman David Butterworth at last weeks opening of the new
Carl, who is also leader of Craven District Council, manages Ingleton Quarry, just inside the national park boundary, and the fact that he was re-elected unanimously reflects the massive change in thinking that the park authority has undergone in recent years.
Then, few committee members lived in the park and many of them were violently opposed to quarrying which, after tourism and farming, is the biggest employer in the Dales. Attacks on the industry caused great bitterness amongst many local residents, who widely perceived the authority as being more interested in looking after the needs of visitors - often annoyed by quarry wagons on the roads - rather than the jobs of locals.
Carl, whose father brought his family to Britain from Poland after World War II, was brought up in humble circumstances - at one stage, the family lived in a small caravan - but has worked himself to the top in both business and local politics.
Our countryside commentator John Sheard, who has known him well for some years, said: "Carl Lis represents the new face of the national park which, 15 years or so ago, was deeply distrusted by many locals who perceived it as distant, snobbish body run mainly by rich offcumdens.
"Carl, who worked his way to the top in a very tough industry, has always mixed with local folk and he is an enormously popular figure in Ingleton. What's more, he is a really nice bloke. His re-election would once have been impossible - and it shows how the park authority's attitudes have changed for the better."