THE Yorkshire Dales is an idyllic place.

It includes some of the finest limestone scenery in the UK, beautiful stone-built villages, flower-rich hay meadows and spectacular waterfalls.

It is a jewel in the nation’s crown.

But the area is under threat – from Government cuts and proposed changes to national housing policy.

The Campaign for National Parks has obtained figures – under a Freedom of Information request – which show that, since 2010, the Dales National Park Authority has seen its core grant funding slashed by 38 per cent, from £5.67 million to £4.07 million.

On top of this, the authority has suffered an additional loss of £600,000 due to increased competition for dwindling funding sources and a reduction in bank interest on working capital.

The effects have been wide-reaching, and very few of the authority’s programmes or projects have escaped unscathed. Some have been scrapped while others have been scaled down. Staff numbers have also been cut.

The national park has gritted its teeth and got on with its work.

Now the Dales faces a new threat from – Government plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.

Under the scheme, tenants would be able to buy their homes at a discount, which could severely reduce the number of affordable homes available in the area, forcing families and young people to move elsewhere.

That would be a disaster. They are the lifeblood of our communities, helping to keep alive clubs, organisations, schools, churches, pubs and post offices.

The Government should accept the national park’s plea to exempt communities with fewer than 2,000 residents, and make sure the authority is able to deliver important environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to both the area and to the nation.