A shortage of affordable housing, poor broadband and mobile phone signals, uncertainty over the future of farming and the departure of too many young people because there are not enough career opportunities all undermine the area’s economy.
Tackling these interlinked issues is vital if North Yorkshire is not to enter a spiral of decline, and today’s impassioned plea from the area’s Lord Lieutenant, Jo Ropner, is a timely and immensely helpful intervention which should hopefully give new impetus to solving the problems.
Her backing for the North Yorkshire Rural Commission’s landmark report into how that can be achieved both raises its profile and gives it added authority.
If Mrs Ropner is successful in enlisting the support of the Prince of Wales – this country’s greatest champion of the countryside – that could prove a watershed moment. The commission’s recommendations are practical and achievable. Taxing second homes, overhauling the Government funding formula for the area and focussing on the green economy all hold out the promise of forging a bright new future. For far too long, the area has struggled to find solutions to a series of seeming intractable economic challenges.
Now there is a plan and broad consensus on how it might be achieved.
The Government should offer its wholehearted support and help to transform the fortunes of North Yorkshire, making its economic prospects as enticing as its scenery.