FARMING families have every reason to welcome the support of Jo Ropner, the newly-appointed Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.
Though her focus to the Royal role is different to the outstanding example set by her predecessor Barry Dodd before his tragic death in a helicopter crash last year, her qualities reflect the importance of the rural economy to her county.
This much is clear from her desire to see young people given greater opportunities to work and live in the countryside – as well as consideration of wider social issues like loneliness – at a time when many communities in the Yorkshire Dales, and the rest of the county, are effectively fighting for their future existence because of changing demographics and political factors, like affordable housing, beyond their control.
At a time when the North has never felt more detached from Westminster, rural communities need powerful advocates like Mrs Ropner – even more so after a survey found that a negligible 8.5 per cent of people think that life in the countryside has improved in the last five years, and only 30 per cent of people think the Conservative Party understands rural Britain.
Given that the Countryside Alliance’s stark conclusions come at a time when Michael Gove is one of the more energetic and effective Environment Secretaries, it is another reminder of the scale of the task facing the next Tory leader to restore trust in rural areas. Yet when was the last time that Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson referenced the non-Brexit challenges facing the countryside? Answers on a postcard, please.