Our community is under attack. We are used to living in a beautiful part of the world in a very friendly place where if you work hard you can make a good living and if something goes wrong then there is a strong safety net there to look after you.
Not any more. In virtually every area of our lives the things we value are at risk. Our district council has been so slow in producing a local housing plan and so weak in its dealings with developers that we are seeing large areas of green fields built over with housing estates. All the evidence shows that there is a need amongst local people for more small properties so that first time buyers can get started and older people can live in safely adapted accommodation. That is not what is being built. A huge housing estate is being put onto green land between Skipton and Carleton at the risk of submerging the village into the town. But it won't meet local need. It will provide yet more three and four bedroom executive homes and a huge problem with traffic congestion. There is plenty of brownfield land to build enough small homes for local people in place like the Cononley Mill. Yet there the developer is being allowed to get away with building four and five bedroom homes and gobbling up the green parts of the site to do it. These development problems are not down to lack of money. Nationally £5 billion is being given by government to the same developers who are causing our problems. The problem is down to the political will to let councils start building homes for need.
North Yorkshire County Council is also letting us down badly. Last year it became the first council in the country to volunteer to accept fracking for gas in Rydale. This may sound safely far enough away. But it is not. Now that the principle has been established that North Yorkshire has allowed one drill site there is a high risk that others will follow. Nationally licences have been issued to investigate the potential of fracking the Forest of Bowland. The government has also permitted fracking to take place beneath the Dales National Park provided it starts outside. Deep beneath your feet water and chemicals will be released under pressure to force gas up to the surface. No one knows exactly where the polluted water that results will end up. We do know that politicians down south have suggested that it is OK to frack up north because we are already living amongst slag heaps.
The same cavalier attitude towards the neglect and decline of services we value in the north is evident again and again in decisions made by national politicians. Our health service is to be re-organised yet again but patients groups were not allowed to even see the plans until they were almost finalised. Our education service is to be re-organised yet again. More schools are to be built for those who wish to see their children educated in religiously separated ways. At a time when we need more community integration the government are spending money on segregation. Then they are telling us that there isn't enough money to provide the places at local primary schools that local people need. Parents are forced to drive their children miles to their second or third choice school separating them from their friends. North Yorkshire County Council used to be able to plan school provision. They can't do this properly anymore because so many local schools are academies that operate without any local democratic control over their governance.
Local transport is also in a mess. Not because of lack of money but because of bad decisions. Money is going into vanity schemes like electrification of the West Coast line. Meanwhile the local bus service has been cut so often that the service has become almost unusable and we are still waiting for small scale sensible investments like the Skipton to Colne rail line to open up job opportunities in Manchester for local people. The government has talked a great deal about the Northern Powerhouse. It hasn't put any real money into it. In fact the reverse. Investment per head on transport infrastructure is almost 3 times as high in London as in the north. In other words our taxes have gone on yet another Crossrail link for London whilst the north is faced with a jumble of poorly connected lines run by different private companies operating a mysterious pricing system. A coherent modern northern over-ground is what is needed to help economically revive cities and communities in which millions of us live.
Again and again we have been told that our problem as a country is either lack of money or something to do with immigration when the real difficulty has been bad choices by politicians. £375 billion pounds of money was spent by the Bank of England on quantitative easing for the banks. Meanwhile we were told that local councils had to cut back on care for the elderly so there is a shortage of places to get properly looked after when you are old. After the Brexit vote a further £70 billion of quantitative easing money is being pumped out by the Bank of England. None of it will go on investing in modernising British industry to be ready for the new green technologies which will dominate the next decades. None of it will go on insulating homes so that we can cut down on the cost of our energy bills, stop sending money on buying oil from horrible regimes like Saudi Arabia or Putin's Russia. Perfectly good money will once again be frittered away on shoring up dodgy financial systems whilst food banks proliferate.
If any of this remotely irritates you as much as it irritates us then there is something you can do about it. Most people don't bother to vote in local elections because local councils have lost so much money that they can seem to have no impact on our lives. Actually they matter. We have the chance to send a message in local government elections that we have had enough.
If you don't want fracking - vote Green
If you don't want executive housing covering our countryside - vote Green
If you want money invested in change - vote Green
If you think the north is every bit as important as London - vote Green