New councillors pledge to battle exodus of young people from Dales

Cllr Yvonne Peacock.

The newly-elected councillors representing some of the most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales have pledged to battle to reverse the exodus of young people from the area.

Independent councillor Jill McMullon and Conservative councillor Yvonne Peacock said being selected to represent Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale on Richmondshire and North Yorkshire councils, respectively, had renewed their determination to bolster the small communities dotted across Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

The councillors have issued the rallying cry after the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Richmondshire, Craven, South Lakeland and Eden district councils launched an action plan  help remove barriers to young people living in the area and to share understanding over the range and scale of issues.

The main objectives of the Attracting Younger People initiative before 2024 include building at least 400 homes, increasing the number and quality of jobs, enabling at least one significant economic development project in each district and securing high quality mobile and broadband services.

Cllr Peacock, who was elected to serve the Upper Dales until May 2021, said she had “learned a lot” while on the campaign trail and would concentrate on maintaining and improving the job and housing markets while striving to retain good services.

She said: “I will fight for keeping our excellent schools open and ensure that we look after the needs of the older people. It’s about getting the balance right in the Dales.

“I’m also looking forward to working for the benefit of the Dales on issues such as winter road maintenance.”

The Conservative group on the county council has risen to 54 members, while the Independent group has fallen to nine members following the by-election.

The authority also has four Liberal Democrat members, four Labour members and one Yorkshire Party member.

The district council by-election has seen the Richmondshire Together umbrella group of nine Independents, three Liberal Democrats and one Green Party member retain its majority of three over the Conservative group on the authority.

Cllr McMullon, who was elected to serve Hawes, High Abbotside and Upper Swaledale until May 2023, urged residents to raise their concerns with her.

She said: “I want to support young families to be able to live and work in the Dales and challenge the national park authority on their policies.

“The authority has it written down that they must support young families, but when it comes to planning applications its decisions often do exactly the opposite.”

Cllr McMullon said she would also strive to enable a supply of meaningful employment, saying she was concerned for both jobs, and in particular the agricultural industry, following Brexit.

1 Comment

  1. This fixation on trying to either attract or ‘keep’ young people in the Dales at all costs seems nonsensical to me. Those who love and appreciate the Dales and have work that they want to do or create businesses themselves will stay. Creating more houses, ruining the balance of villages and increasing traffic on already congested roads makes no sense. There will always be a limit on how many high quality jobs can be created in a National Park, what sort of high quality jobs are the Councillors talking about?

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