ON a special day when Yorkshire pride, one of this county’s greatest traits, is even more palpable than usual, the extension of the Dales national park is both timely and symbolic.
It is recognition, from the Government, that the newly-extended Yorkshire Dales, and also the Lake District, offer unrivalled beauty that warrant environmental protection for generations to come.
That the Dales, and Lake District, will effectively merge into one super National Park can only help boost tourism levels still further in this very special part of the country. However, there is a caveat. Maintaining these distinct landscapes does cost money and this extension comes at a time when various national park authorities find conservation policies, and the maintenance of these areas of breathtaking beauty, compromised by spending cuts imposed by Ministers based in London.
National parks across the UK enjoy their worldwide reputation because their special landscapes have been carefully managed, and nurtured, over the years – and any diminution of this will compromise areas like the Dales, North York Moors and Peak District.
Yet, as the western edge of the Dales meanders seamlessly into the Lakes, how about some more prominent signs on the county’s major roads signifying Yorkshire’s boundaries? Motorists heading north of the border are left in no doubt when they reach Scotland while Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North sculpture greets drivers when they reach Gateshead.
Though nothing quite so ostentatious is being advocated in this instance, this appears to be one instance when Yorkshire seems to be showing some uncharacteristic reserve – look at the row a few years ago when the Highways Agency did not want to erect brown tourism signs on the newly-widened A1M promoting Masham, one of the gateways to the Dales.
Given ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ is also the name of this region’s globally-acclaimed tourism body, it makes even more sense for a network of signs to this effect being erected on key roads. Over to you, Sir Gary Verity.
Education for all
THE Fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to compete for the presidency of the United States shows the extent to which the United States trails the rest of the world, not least Britain, when it comes to the role of female politicians.
Perversely Britain, and other countries, can learn much from how Mrs Clinton previously championed the rights of disabled children to ensure they receive the education to which they should be entitled. This was a central theme of her acceptance speech at the Democrats’ convention last week.
Though new measures are in place here to safeguard the interests of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, disturbing new research identifies 791 young people in Yorkshire who remain at the mercy of officialdom because of the failure of schools, LEAs and other agencies to devise tailor-made learning plans – one of the specific requirements of the changes introduced last September.
This is simply unacceptable. The successful staging of the Paralympics four years ago, and gold medal wins for competitors like Yorkshire’s very own Hannah Cockroft, was supposed to mark a sea-change in attitudes towards the disabled.
Yet, while most people are more enlightened in their outlook, progress in some quarters remains painfully slow. An important test of this county’s school system should not just be how it serves the most able, but how it supports those with special needs. Let’s hope this lesson in humanity and respect is learned in time for the new academic year.
A poverty of ambition?
THERESA may’s agenda of aspiration is vindicated by new research from the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation which estimates that £78bn of public money is spent annually dealing with the effects of poverty, whether it be the cost of treating those people who do not, for whatever reason, eat healthily or well-meaning policies like free school meals.
Yet it would be remiss of Ministers, at a time when the public finances are under so much strain, to turn their backs on the poor. Quite the opposite. This bill, equivalent to the cost of HS2 and a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, will only come down if the politics of hope leads to concrete commitments to help the less fortunate. In many respects, this is the greatest challenge of these times, far more so than extricating Britain from the EU, and provides the definitive test of Mrs May’s compassionate Conservatism.