Yorkshire Dales boss hits back at criticism in tourism report

David Butterworth.

The chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has hit back at a report which criticised the authority’s approach to handling the impacts of tourism.

David Butterworth has written to Craven District Council’s select committee which concluded in its review that there “doesn’t appear to be any coordination” between the park authority and event organisers for attractions such as the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

“This is simply incorrect,” Mr Butterworth said in a letter.

“We have had a corporate action for many years which relates to working with organisers of large scale events to ensure that they are well run.”

Mr Butterworth said these actions included providing information for visitors, the upcoming launch of a new Three Peaks app and funding the costs of maintaining the route.

The review was launched last year and has made several recommendations after complaints that rural residents have been left “under siege” from an influx of visitors during the Covid pandemic.

It said while there are many benefits to the local economy, tourism was causing problems with traffic, litter and anti-social behaviour.

The issue of second homes inflating house prices was also highlighted in the review before North Yorkshire County Council recently announced plans to double council tax charges for these properties.

Mr Butterworth said he has long supported action to tackle this problem and that the “solutions are not difficult” but “what is lacking is the political will”.

The select committee also suggested more litter bins and park rangers are introduced in the Yorkshire Dales, and that the park authority should better engage with parish councils which gave evidence during the review.

But Mr Butterworth responded to say the park authority would not budge from its no litter bins policy as it believes “bins attract more litter and that visitors should be encouraged to take their litter home with them”.

He said: “Craven District Council or indeed parish councils can provide litter bins if they wish.”

Mr Butterworth added the park authority meets with parish councils twice a year as he also questioned the level of responses to the review which heard from 31 local councils.

He said: “Although it is not in the gift of Craven District Council to determine how many parish councils respond to the survey, bearing in mind how few did, it’s dangerous to assume that those views are representative of all parish councils in the area.”

He also questioned the select committee’s decision to publish the draft review before the park authority and other groups were given a chance to comment on the findings.

Mr Butterworth is not the first to criticise the review after a former chairman and long-serving member of the park authority said he was “infuriated” by a draft version which was published last month.

Councillor Carl Lis previously said the initial report was “undermined by a series of inaccuracies and statements that are weak on evidence”.

An updated version of the review is now due to be signed off by members of the select committee at a meeting on 13 July.