THE Yorkshire Post has been determined to highlight the varied but interconnected challenges facing our rural communities – from a lack of public transport to housing and job struggles and poor internet access – as well as the frustrating lack of effective political action to tackle them.
While at a national level there is undoubtedly more that can and should be done as a matter of urgency, it is hugely welcome that at a regional level a major new step is being taken in the fight to save some of Yorkshire’s most rural communities from decline. The extent of the challenge is shown by the fact eight rural schools have closed in North Yorkshire in just the last three years.
North Yorkshire County Council has now established a pioneering ‘rural commission’ made up of experts to examine issues such as farming, education and transport and put forward a series of potential solutions by next summer.
While their recommendations will be made public, it has now been determined the commission will sit in private on the basis that will allow for more honest discussions with those on the front line in rural areas. However, the decision may cause disquiet in some quarters given understandable calls for greater transparency for the powers-that-be in the region in the wake of Welcome to Yorkshire’s well-documented problems.
While there may be debate over how the commission intends to operate, if it can provide compelling new evidence when making the case to Government for increased national support in future, it will have done its job for the region.
Many of Boris Johnson’s policies since becoming Prime Minister have been focused on investment in cities in a bid to win over Labour voters.
The commission is a chance to ensure rural heartlands are not forgotten by those in power.