It is Yorkshire’s wide open spaces, chocolate box villages and dramatic coastline that help give this region its distinctive character and the reason why millions visit every year.
Those landscapes are not rural theme parks, they have been shaped by the working communities living in them.
But those communities are under threat as housing costs leap ahead of local wages and young people move away to find job opportunities.
Urgent action is needed to ensure Yorkshire’s villages continue to have the populations needed to support schools, shops, pubs and post offices.
Promises of infrastructure investment made by all the major parties ring hollow for people who living in areas where a new road or railway is not an option.
Limited rural bus services, the only transport option for those who cannot drive, have been hit by cuts in subsidies as councils wrestle with shrinking budgets.
Without farming, our countryside would change forever and not for the better.Leah Swain, Rural Action Yorkshire, November 2014
And while welcome, this Government’s efforts to cut fuel duty in rural areas will only benefit one
The next Government must consider the case for protecting funding for rural bus services in recognition of their essential nature and look for ways to support the work of community transport organisations.
In the 21st century, digital is becoming as important as physical connections and rural areas are among those being left behind.
The Government’s target of connecting 95 per cent of UK premises to superfast broadband by 2017 sounds impressive, but that final five per cent equates to thousands of homes and businesses at risk of being stuck in the digital dark ages.
So the next administration must go further and make clear how all parts of the UK can benefit from the digital revolution.
Better broadband would certainly help unleash the economic potential of rural areas, an opportunity long overlooked after years of policies focused on city-based growth.
Recent figures show that together England’s national parks have a similar economic impact to the aerospace industry and the next Government should recognise that growth in rural areas is an important part of rebalancing the UK economy.
At the heart of rural Yorkshire’s economy is its food producers who enjoy a global reputation.
But the downward pressure on food prices and the growing popularity of low-cost retailers, while good news for consumers, could see the margins of producers squeezed further.
Earlier this year the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee of MPs recommended the Government work with retailers and producers to better promote British food to consumers.
The aim was both to help British farmers as a good in its own right but also to ensure the nation has a resilient domestic food supply and we wholeheartedly back this suggestion.
It is 10 years since MPs passed legislation to ban hunting with dogs and neither countryside groups nor anti-hunting campaigners are content with the status quo.
Hunt supporters argue the ban has done little to improve animal welfare while unnecessarily damaging a rural tradition while opponents complain that the authorities are too reluctant to prosecute in cases where foxes are killed by dogs during drag hunts.
In its current form, the Hunting Act has failed. It is time to give MPs another opportunity to consider amending the law in this area including a free vote on repealing the ban on hunting with dogs altogether.
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...