The independent panel of experts tasked with helping to turn the tide on rural decline is to start its examinations by looking at the role played by farming, agriculture and the environment.
Established by North Yorkshire County Council and the first of its kind nationally – The Rural Commission is chaired by the Dean of Ripon and operates completely independently and sets its own agenda and topics. Over the next eight months commissioners will consider a broad range of subjects and evidence before recommending ways to help some of North Yorkshire’s most rural communities grow and prosper.
Following their first meeting the Chair, The Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “Farming and the pressures on our agricultural businesses, as well as the environment they are working in, are the topics of the moment and our decision to examine them first reflects this.
“We are very much in listening mode and want therefore to hear from farmers, local residents and businesses on those issues they believe the commission needs to consider.
“What are the key issues which affect these areas? What needs to be done to ensure they can survive and thrive looking 10, 20 and 30 years ahead? Do you have practical ideas?
“We will be listening carefully to a broad range of views and considering the evidence so that later next year we can pull this baseline together and make meaningful recommendations on a vision for the future.”
The commissioners will hear some evidence in person but will also be examining submissions made via email to RuralCommission@northyorks.gov.uk
Guidance on the best way to submit evidence and opinions, raise points of interest or highlight matters of importance is available at www.northyorks.gov.uk/RuralCommission
The first evidence session will be held in December. Subsequent subjects and calls for evidence to support the commission’s work will follow.
Over an eight-month period the commission will examine the following themes in depth:
Transport and digital connectivity
Education and training
Economy and jobs
Eighty five per cent of North Yorkshire is classed as ‘super-sparse’ or very rural. The county’s population density is five times below the national average, with just 76 people per square mile compared to 430, which is the English average.
North Yorkshire has more rural schools than anywhere else in England and continues to fight for a fairer funding formula, but despite those efforts eight schools have closed in the last three years and many more have significant budget pressures.
Affordable rural housing is very limited.
The Rural Commission’s challenge is to examine these issues in a new and innovative way and seek workable solutions to halt and reverse rural decline.
The purpose and aims of the Rural Commission are to:
- Recommend the actions that local partners should take over the next 10, 20 and 30 years in order to maximise the sustainability of the most rural communities in North Yorkshire.
- Improve the evidence base and arguments that will enable local partners to make the case successfully for increased government support to maximise the sustainability of the most rural communities in North Yorkshire.
- The panel will be will be aided by a reference group of key stakeholders to include the leaders of the district councils in North Yorkshire, the 2 national park authorities in the county and North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.