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National Park Residents Have Their Say

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a special place, according to the people who live in it. In fact, 97 per cent of the 800 polled agreed with the statement in a residents survey carried out earlier this year– more than in the previous two surveys in 2009 (91 per cent) and 2004 (94 per cent).

The survey is carried out every five years to gauge people’s awareness of the National Park and to find out their attitudes towards it and towards the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

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This year, the ‘natural beauty, scenery and views’ were chosen by 77 seven per cent as the key special quality, ahead of ‘open space, freedom and remoteness’, ‘villages and traditional buildings’ and ‘peacefulness and tranquillity’

But, while an overwhelming majority of residents recognise that they live in a special place, 60 per cent also think the National Park faces threats and pressures.

These centre on planning and development management issues, with a quarter mentioning Government direction on planning policy. Interestingly, exactly the same number of residents (23 per cent) highlighted ‘lack of affordable housing development’ as a threat as those who mentioned ‘building more housing’.

Overall, 60 per cent of residents surveyed said they were satisfied with the way the Authority did its job and, for a number of our services like National Park Centres, rangers, volunteers and the Dales Countryside Museum, satisfaction levels reached more than 80 per cent.

Services that still scored higher satisfaction than dis-satisfaction scores – but were at the lower end of the scale – were planning advice and applications (52 per cent) and consultations (47 per cent).

And farmers, landowners and tourism business owners who actually came into contact with the appropriate service were more inclined to agree that the National Park Authority gave good advice than those that hadn’t.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of residents agreed that the Authority carried out its first statutory purpose – to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park – and two thirds agreed it met its second purpose – to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public.

But only a third of residents agreed with the statement that the Authority was in touch with and understood the needs of local people.

Authority Chairman Peter Charlesworth said: “In the context of five years of Government cuts to our budgets, which now total 40 per cent, and the consequent reductions we’ve had to make to staff numbers and services, many aspects of the survey are pleasing.

“However, feedback shows that we need to up our game in some areas. We’ll take that on board and use it to help us to continue to improve how we work with and on behalf of the residents of this wonderful National Park in future.”

Nearly two thirds of residents (61%) said they felt as informed as they needed to be about the work of the Authority. Those surveyed said they currently prefer to be kept up to date through the local media and the Authority’s own Dales newspaper but they also demonstrated an increasing interest in using the Authority’s website and social media.

Yorkshire Dales

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