THE NEW action plan for the North York Moors mirrors, in many respects, the policy challenges facing the Yorkshire Dales and other national parks across the country. Unless more job opportunities are created, and a new generation of affordable housing built, the erosion of key public services and amenities will continue.
Yet, while locally-led policy frameworks do enable bespoke plans to be developed for each area, tangible progress will only be made if regional and national leaders view the rural economy as an investment and tackle recurring issues like broadband access.
Not only has the Campaign to Protect Rural England revealed the extent to which local economic partnerships are marginalising countryside communities with their urban focus, but agriculture was largely omitted from the Industrial Strategy and former Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh spoke last week in the House of Lords about Whitehall’s lack of policy co-ordination and its continuing inability to rural-proof new policies.
She’s right – the home page of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website appears does not even acknowledge the existence, or importance, of the rural economy. Though a more detailed search does reveal a raft of statistical data, this dates back to 2016 and gives further credence to the view that the Government is bogged down by Brexit that it has no vision for the future. For, irrespective of the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Yorkshire’s rural heartlands have so much more to offer the national economy if they have the necessary policies, and infrastructure, in place, and Ministers need to recognise this.