‘Little to keep young people in the Dales’

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Nineteen-year-old Durham University student Emily Nicholas would love to return to the Dales village she grew up in when she graduates but said there was a host of reasons why she could not.

Miss Nicholas, a former chairman of Richmondshire District Youth Council from the village of Wensley, is studying for a degree in anthropology and sociology.

She told the rural summit in Leyburn yesterday: “I would love to leave university with a degree that I’m proud of, come home, set up business here - it would be wonderful.

“Can I? No, no I can’t. There is not the transport, not the opportunities and I don’t think realistically there is a niche for me to do what I want to do with my life here at the present time.”

She said young people relied on public transport to access education beyond school and for leisure activities but she bemoaned the limited routes and frequency of some services.

A scheme piloted by the county youth council which introduced a £1 one-way ticket for bus journeys had seen 10,000 extra journeys made by hard pressed young people in six months and a similar scheme should be considered across the Richmondshire district, she said.

More apprenticeships should also be available to give young people a different option to university and keep them in the area, while local vocations should be better promoted, the teenager added.

The district’s youth council acts as a consultee body for the local authority on issues affecting younger generations. It represents nearly 16,500 young people aged 24 and under in the district.

Miss Nicholas said it was important that the group was involved in more ‘think-tank’ sessions so that the issues affecting young people could regularly be aired and better understood.