North Yorkshire rural taskforce to meet for first time in race to tackle region's issues

A taskforce is to meet for the first time next month to try to tackle long-running problems blighting rural communities in North Yorkshire.

One of the key recommendations of the North Yorkshire Rural Commission’s final report was to establish a new taskforce to drive forward its findings to ensure potential solutions to ingrained issues affecting the countryside become a reality.

The taskforce will hold its initial meeting in December to set out a way forward to tackling wide-ranging problems including a lack of affordable housing and poor internet and mobile phone coverage.

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North Yorkshire Council Council’s leader, Coun Carl Les, said: “The work of the taskforce will feed into the strategic plan of the council so that we move forward to address the challenges laid out for us by the Rural Commission in a positive way.”

One of the key recommendations of the North Yorkshire Rural Commission’s final report was to establish a new taskforce to drive forward its findings to ensure potential solutions to ingrained issues affecting the countryside become a reality.

The taskforce will be chaired by the council’s chief executive, Richard Flinton, and will meet for the first time on December 10.

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While its membership is being finalised, the taskforce will include representatives from the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, district councils, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the National Farmers Union, as well as Askham Bryan College, Community First Yorkshire and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

An overriding theme in the commission’s findings was the need for the Government to provide a multi-billion pound devolution deal for North Yorkshire.

Among the commission’s most radical proposals were a levy on the owners of second homes, and an overhaul of the Government’s funding formula for both education and housing.

A mutual bank has also been suggested to drive forward investment, while the county’s economy needs to be focused on the green energy sector, according to the commission.

The taskforce will publish a report for the county council in the autumn of next year.

The North Yorkshire Rural Commission was the first of its kind to be established two years ago this month.

While the concept was drawn up by North Yorkshire County Council, the commission operated independently and was chaired by the Dean of Ripon, John Dobson, with its members having expertise on farming, housing, broadband access and the green economy.

The commission met 20 times taking evidence from more than 70 participants, including MPs and government officials. Three visits were also made to rural communities before the commission’s final report was published in July this year.