Yorkshire MPs set to petition Government to find solutions to biggest challenges facing rural areas

The Government is set to be petitioned to ensure political leaders across the country can benefit from potential solutions to the biggest challenges facing the countryside which will be highlighted in a ground-breaking report this summer.

Limestone in the Dales on the hills above the village of Langcliffe close to Settle in the National Park with Pen-y-Ghent in the distance.

In-depth analysis of a host of wide-ranging issues which are blighting rural communities has been undertaken by members of the North Yorkshire Rural Commission throughout the past 18 months.

The commission’s report is expected to be published this summer, and efforts will be made to highlight its findings to both Ministers and authorities charged with overseeing countryside communities nationally.

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The chairman of the commission, the Dean of Ripon, John Dobson, claimed the lessons learnt in North Yorkshire would be vital in addressing long-standing issues that have undermined countryside communities.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “It does not benefit any of us by being insular, and we do have to look beyond our boundaries to provide any help and guidance that we can.

“The issues which we have looked at are by no means exclusive to North Yorkshire, they are being felt in other parts of the country too such as Cornwall, Northumbria and Cumbria.

“I would hope we will be able to articulate a debate and this will include at least some solutions - we are not saying we will have all the answers, but it is important that they are at least discussed.”

To ensure that the report is highlighted to Ministers, MPs from across the region are due to be recruited to bring the commission’s report before the top tier of the Government.

Established by North Yorkshire County Council, the commission is the first of its kind in the country and has been charged with looking at six key areas - farming, food and the environment, economy and jobs, education, schools and training, housing, transport and digital broadband and mobile accessibility.

It has brought together eight experts in their fields, including Sir William Worsley, the chairman of the Forestry Commission, a scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry Dr Debbie Treblico, and Heather Hancock who, along with her husband, manages 3,500 acres of upland farmland.

North Yorkshire is the largest county in England and in 85 per cent of the area population levels are five times below the national average, with 76 people per square mile compared to the national average of 430.

The impact of the geographical issues on jobs, the economy, housing and education means that while North Yorkshire pays twice as much council tax in relative terms as those living in some London boroughs, it receives less funding for vital services.

The Very Rev Dobson said: “There is compelling evidence which we have heard that the issues that have affected the countryside for so long simply cannot be left to continue.

“There is a misconception that rural communities will simply be able to adapt and carry on, but that isn’t true and there needs to be a far wider debate to tackle the problems.

“The countryside cannot, however, be taken in isolation, it is interconnected with urban and suburban areas too. Here in North Yorkshire, we have Teesside and West Yorkshire on our doorstep, and big cities such as Leeds and Middlesbrough close by.

“What happens in North Yorkshire impacts on these places too, and if solutions can be found to some of the problems facing the countryside, this will benefit the country as a whole.”