Leaders in the Yorkshire Dales National Park have voted unanimously in favour of committing firm financial backing to address serious mounting threats to the sustainability of the park’s communities.
A total of £80,000 has now been pledged to execute a detailed action plan drawn up by the park authority in consultation with the area’s four district councils to help remove barriers to young people living in the area.
At a meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority today, members agreed to a £20,000 contribution to match pledges made by Richmondshire, Craven and South Lakeland district councils. A further commitment sought from Eden District Council - operating in the Cumbrian section of the national park - to take the total to £100,000.
The meeting heard concerns that the benefits of the initiative would not be evenly spread and much of the effort to attract businesses would be in the south of the park. Some members also expressed concerns the initiative could be fighting a losing battle.
But one member Yvonne Peacock, who is also leader of Richmondshire District Council, said inaction was not an option.
“This has got to work, because to me it is the last chance we have got,” she said.
As documented by The Yorkshire Post, a perfect storm of socio-economic factors are driving young families out of Dales communities and the park’s population is thought to be shrinking.
Under a new action plan, authorities intend to work on 15 projects by 2024. An independent study will be commissioned to study the park’s socio-economic conditions and other priorities include investigating whether to set up a community land trust to secure more affordable homes for local families.
After the meeting, Carl Lis, the park authority’s chairman, said: “There is a real will to do things, right across the board.”