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Twenty questionable New Year resolutions for the countryside

Friday 29 December 2006

Our countryside and rural affairs commentator John Sheard, who does not make New Year resolutions because he has never kept them, suggests twenty resolutions for people with the power to make things better in the countryside. Sadly, he doesn't feel they'll be kept either...

WHATEVER way your look at it, 2006 was a pretty foul year for country folk. Thousands of farmers didn't get paid, the weather brought drought then floods, birds were mating at Christmas to produce chicks unlikely to survive the winter, and abroad things went from bad to disastrous in the Middle East.

yorkshire dales farm
2007: A good year for the countryside?

The sad thing is that decisions made at national level impact heavily on country life here in the Yorkshire Dales. All too often, those decisions are made by people with either no understanding of rural life - or a deep contempt for it.

So we thought we would serve up twenty New Year resolutions for the great and the good in the hope that it will remind them that there is still life in the countryside - other than as a museum preserved in time for the amusement of jaded townies. It is hereby resolved:

  1. That the bean counters at the rural affairs department Defra pay the cheques owed to thousands of farmers from 2005/ 2006 and even meet their 2007 bills

  2. That present planning laws are not scrapped to allow our countryside to be concreted over, as suggested

  3. That the Yorkshire Dales do not become a giant windfarm

  4. That reforms proposed for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy are actually introduced

  5. That new giant super markets are banned in all market towns

  6. That whoever succeeds John Prescott stops diverting billions of pounds from shire counties to inner cities

  7. That the Environment Agency enforces anti-pollution laws for our rivers

  8. That farmers and the agri-chemical industry spread less fertiliser on the land

  9. That North Yorkshire police spend more money on re-opening rural police stations and less on the Chief Constable's bathroom

  10. That drunken yobbos who attack hospital staff are sent to jail

  11. That the superb Airedale General Hospital is not closed and its staff moved to central Bradford

  12. That plans by the Skipton Building Society to build hundreds of homes for first-time Dales buyers go ahead after being bogged down in Craven District Council bureaucracy for two years

  13. That the Ministry of Defence, having scrapped four infantry battalions when we are desperately short of soldiers, restores the Yorkshire Dales' very own Duke of Wellington's regiment

  14. That in any case, British soldiers in combat get the proper kit

  15. That the Government actually carries through threats to get our five million able bodied welfare scroungers back to work as they get more money than many hard-working Dales folk

  16. That the Irish Government enforce their ban of salmon netting at sea, thus saving the species in West Coast rivers like the Ribble

  17. That the Government does not submit to Left Wing townies and ban shooting

  18. That the RSPCA realises that hunting is the least cruel way of controlling fox numbers

  19. That England win the world one-day cricket cup in the West Indies and retain the world rugby cup in France

  20. That when Tony Blair finally retires, Gordon Brown calls a general election to test the will of the people rather than inherit the top job like a medieval king

Of course, pigs might fly too in 2007. Most of the above would make life better, or at least more pleasurable, in the eyes on millions of country folk. Some of them would help fend off real threats to life here in the Yorkshire Dales. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that any of them will come to fruition.

However, one thing is sure for 2007. Yorkshire Dales folk are a hardy breed, accustomed to making the best of an often bad deal, thriving on hard work, clever at making our own leisure. And we live, of course, in an environment millions travel miles to see.

So I shall now break my own resolution and make one. I resolve to enjoy 2007 here in this magnificent countryside amongst decent, honest folk, not to condescend too much over the fate of poor townies, and accept the simple fact that whatever disasters our leaders in London create, they can't take the Dales away from me. Happy New Year!

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