Vernon Wheelock’s letter, (Craven Herald, November 5) forecasting the demise of local councils, was reinforced a few days later by Craven District Council’s own acknowledgement that it would cease to exist as a result of North Yorkshire County Council’s determination to become a single unitary authority. This is a sad day for democracy and for the future governance of our area and we need to see it as a strong wake-up call to everyone in our communities to be well-prepared for what is to come.

North Craven Heritage Trust, together with Friends of the Dales, Craven Community Land Trust and North Craven Building Preservation Trust, recently submitted detailed responses to the Government’s Changes to the Current Planning System and to the White Paper on Planning Reform. We highlighted the fact that there is simply no ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ for our area and to allow it would be to completely disenfranchise those people who best understand their own situation. In our area, key priorities are the simultaneous provision, on equal terms, of the necessary infrastructure to support affordable housing (including rental and social housing) and business land, linked to job opportunities, improved public transport, health and social care and education, against the existing backdrop of depopulation and withdrawal of services. The future of many of our local communities is hanging in the balance as many new homes are being bought up by people moving from the big cities as a result of the pandemic; others are bought as holiday homes or rental properties, pricing local families and young people out of the market.

Very few parishes in Craven have yet produced comprehensive Neighbourhood Plans and it is a long and complex process, but we strongly believe that it is now urgent for our individual parishes and neighbourhoods to be assessing and summarising their own particular problems and priorities, in preparation for a further consultation process which will supposedly take place in the first part of 2021. It is hard to see how further distancing from the central decision-making body in Northallerton is going to benefit our area, especially against the backdrop of the increased spending cuts, forecast by the Leader of the County Council this week.

We believe that, in spite of the poor timing of all these proposed changes, it is important for us all to remain constructive in our thinking and our intention is to act as a catalyst for positive action. We urge everyone - organisations and individuals - to make your views known to your MP, local councillors and neighbourhood groups. Let’s broadcast the great determination and resilience of our Craven, Dales and Bowland communities.

Anne Read, president

Pamela Jordan, chairman

North Craven Heritage Trust