CRAVEN'S first citizen Cllr Chris Moorby was clearly impressed with the community singing group, Voices in Craven after attending its opening rehearsal at The Coniston Hotel. Cllr Moorby told fellow members of Craven District Council how impressed he had been by the choir, which launched a year ago. In April, last year, churches in Gargrave, Coniston Cold, Bell Busk, Settle, Giggleswick, Rathmell and Kirkby in Malhamdale started encouraging parishioners to develop their musical skills, especially through singing. And, following the successful format of Gareth Malone’s very popular television programmes, the budding singers were coached by Tom Leech, director of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme and musical director of the Bradford Festival Choral Society. After weeks of mini concerts, the grand finale took place in the Giggleswick School Chapel, and this year, there will be another concert, in June to look forward to. One thing's for sure, Cllr Moorby is a fan, and is likely to have a front row seat. Cllr Moorby also spoke of the Dementia Action Alliance and how much he had learnt from attending a meeting, and how much he had also enjoyed Settle Stories launch of its project marking the hundredth anniversary of the death - in January, 1917, of Craven poet Tom Twisleton.

MEANWHILE, the annual budget meeting of Craven District Council is usually well attended with every councillor there to represent his or her ward. The administration puts forward its spending plans for the coming year, and says what it intends to charge residents for the services it provides - such as waste collection, planning services, and Skipton Town Hall. Its an opportunity for opposition members to pick holes in the spending plans, have a go at the proposals for council tax - whether up or down - and perhaps even, to suggest an alternative budget, which can spark bad tempered debate. In recent years, however, opposition has mellowed, and budgets have gone through almost without question - with digs directed more at central government more than Craven's administration, which does have a strong hold on the council. Even the turnout at this year's meeting was a bit down, with seven of the 30 councillors giving their apologies.

BBC ONE's Inside Out programme on Monday last week, presented by weatherman Paul Hudson, featured the efforts of two Dales farming families to continue in farming, while diversifying into tourism. Neil Heseltine in Malham, a forth generation farmer, talked about post-Brexit uncertainty, and diversifying into tourism, with bunk barn accommodation. Meanwhile, Garry and Jill Schofield over at Heber Farm in Buckden, talked about their new campsite, with attractive 'pods' which they hope will open at Easter. The couple talked about originally opening their land for camping to cope with all the visitors who came to Craven for the Tour de France cycle race in 2014, and how they had decided to build on the success.

The Craven Herald was facing its own President Trump like ban 50 years ago when its West Craven reporter was thrown out of the annual meeting of the Barnoldswick Conservative Club. But instead of matters of state, the Craven Herald had ruffled feathers over its reporting of ''Vicki' the stripper and her planned appearance at the club. The club had been forced to cancel the 'striptease' show after adverse publicity and blame had been placed firmly at the door of the Craven Herald. The paper had carried a report, which had been picked up by the BBC and papers in Lancashire, who had tracked down members and subjected them to awkward questioning. The resulting negative publicity did not go down at all well with the Conservative club members, and the next time the long standing reporter turned up for the annual meeting, he was firmly told he was not welcome.

WELL, there you have it. People in Yorkshire really don't want to live anywhere else. According to Royal Mail's Redirection Service, the average distance moved by homeowners across the county is just more than 19 miles, which is around seven miles less than the national average. Its findings also showed that the shortest move in Yorkshire was 0.09 miles - which must literally have been next door - while the furthest was 381 miles, which must have taken them either down to the South West corner, or to the furthest reaches of Scotland.

RISING artist Lucy Pittaway has been chosen for the second year running as the official artist for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire. Craven is set to experience much of the excitement again this year when stage three, of the three day cycle race, powers into the area - on its way from Bradford to the Fox Valley stadium, Sheffield. The cyclists will power their way through Skipton and there will also be much excitement in Silsden, which will be home to a 'man of the mountain' climb. Lucy, who has been chosen by Welcome to Yorkshire, is now busy preparing a picture for this year's event, to follow in the footsteps of last year's 'Hills, Dales and Woolly Tails'. It is expected to be a 'significant departure' from last year's work, and is due to be unveiled at the York Theatre Royal on March 21.

“To be able to work with Welcome to Yorkshire again and create another piece that connects art lovers with the 2017 race is incredibly exciting," said Lucy.

And Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We are thrilled to have Lucy back on board as the official artist of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire. She really embraced the race last year and our partnership proved a huge success.We can’t wait to see the artwork for this year’s race as it is always vibrant, colourful and full of life, and really captures the essence of our great county.”

AND, staying on the subject of artwork, the Environment Agency has unveiled three delightful new paintings to promote fishing.

The paintings, by top wildlife artist David Miller front the new fishing licences for the coming year, and went on sale on March 1. They depict a salmon, a brown trout and a mirror carp, all in their natural habitats. At the same time, the Environment Agency has sought to simplify the process of buying a licence with 'Get a Fishing Licence' on line at Free licences for junior anglers, up to the age of 17, which were announced in November, last year, are also available online. People are required to buy a fishing licence in order to fish legally in England, Wales and along the Border Esk in Scotland. The sales of licences raised £21 million last year, which was used to restock rivers with 452,220 coarse fish, encourage over 35,000 people to try angling for the first time and bring 2,043 successful prosecutions against crimes like poaching.For those who can’t access the internet, fishing licences can still be bought by phoning 0344 800 5386 or over the counter in the Post Office.

YORKSHIRE has been named as the top county with a literary link by VisitEngland. To mark the 20th anniversary of World Book Day on March 2, VisitEngland commissioned its first ever research into literary tourism, surveying more than 1,200 people. And the results showed 20 per cent of trips taken with a literary link were to Yorkshire. Yorkshire however missed out on the top spot, which unsurprisingly went to London, with 21 per cent. The top literary location in Yorkshire was Bronte Country, followed by Whitby Abbey, James Herriott country and Harrogate.