A LOCAL authority which organised an independent inquiry to suggest actions that would help rural communities to grow and prosper has concluded that many of the recommendations are “timely and a very helpful challenge”.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive will on Tuesday consider responses to the wide-ranging findings of the Rural Commission, which was led by Dean of Ripon The Very Reverend John Dobson, which met 20 times and took evidence from 70 participants.

While many of the authority’s proposed actions closely reflect the recommendations, some do not and others highlight that the council has previously taken the action.

In addition to the authority’s initial proposed responses, the council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, who instigated the commission, has asked the council’s scrutiny committees to continue to explore the inquiry’s report and its recommendations.

An officers’ report to the executive states the recommendations would also be helpful to the forthcoming unitary council as it develops its policy framework and services.

The report says the council’s progress on introducing changes for rural residents and businesses will be examined in a year’s time. The report states: “It is essential that the report and recommendations result in positive actions that help the most rural communities in the county to grow and to prosper.”

Among the commission’s 26 recommendations to the council, the inquiry found the authority “must encourage more investment in the region” and suggesting pursuing that through a mutual bank, with supporting money from the government’s Levelling Up or Shared Prosperity funds.

In response, the council said commercial borrowing remained very cheap and the creation of a new mutual investment fund would be complex and carry risk that may not be acceptable.

The officers’ report states: “There may be a case for interceding in investment where it is not commercially viable to the open market, but beneficial to North

Yorkshire residents for instance to encourage the development of zero carbon technology and infrastructure and encourage innovation.”

Where the commission said the authority needed to advocate for investment in rural electricity infrastructure to ensure new clean energy technology is a viable commercial enterprise for the county, the council said it was already doing so.

Other commission recommendations included working with village hall trustees and faith communities to develop a strategy to invest in and use their buildings to ensure remote rural communities are connected.

The council’s proposed response states: “The county council continues to engage with communities and all kinds of community groups to deliver this work. The use of community assets to provide the required infrastructure for mobile digital connectivity continues to be discussed and explored.”

In response to a call to create a farming task force to ensure changed business practices meet environmental targets, the authority said it would approach the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and may involve others including the National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association.

After being urged by the commission to lead pioneering a two-stream post-GCSE educational system in rural and remote areas, with one stream focusing on vocational education while the other remains academic, the council said it would work with others to modernise the offer in the county.

The report added the recommendation of an ongoing advisory group to reflect rural issues could be a valuable support mechanism for developing future policies and activities in North Yorkshire and ensuring that rural issues are appropriately recognised.