The opening today in Harrogate of Countryside Live, the smaller, autumnal sibling to the Great Yorkshire Show, comes as our rural communities stand at a crossroads.
North Yorkshire County Council recognised as much this week by appointing a panel of Town Hall outsiders – academics and agriculturalists among them – to explore from a new perspective solutions that might address the alarming decline of the most vulnerable villages.
As The Yorkshire Post has recorded many times, these have been the victims of a Catch-22 combination of service cuts and falling populations, their isolation seemingly working against the practicalities of the modern economy.
The council’s “rural commission”, similar to the Royal Commissions which governments convene to dissect issues free of party politics, is a welcome move to address this.
Indeed, it is surprising that it appears not to have been tried before. Policy formulation need not be the exclusive province of a council’s paid officials, and North Yorkshire’s initiative is a tacit acknowledgement that strategy can, when the need arises, be imposed upon them.
There are, of course, no easy answers, but the need to cast the net as widely as possible in the search for them, has never been more pressing.
Both Countryside Live and The Yorkshire Post’s own rural awards, which we celebrate in this issue, are reminders of all that is great about our rural communities, and as the new commission prepares for its inaugural meeting next week, let us hope it can help to finally piece together the infrastructure that will ensure their survival.