Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Surveys! They can be a total pain in the – ahem – bottom.

By Kate Green, Communications Manager, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
In the past year, I’ve been asked to complete countless surveys. Whether it’s companies trying to drum up business, or organisations streamlining services, it boils down to me wasting time ticking boxes. I could, to be honest, be doing something much more enjoyable – like walking in the National Park.

But recently I’ve been on the other side of the fence, thinking about how to create a five-year plan that will affect many thousands of people, including myself as a resident of the National Park, and I’ve come to realise that ticking these boxes does make a difference.

It’s YOUR National Park, have your say.
The National Park is a living, working environment with more than 20,000 residents and hundreds of businesses. There are over eight million visitor day trips each year to an area that spreads across 680 square miles of some of the most jaw-droppingly scenic and scientifically important areas of North Yorkshire and Cumbria. It is a national treasure of which the vast majority is in private ownership.

So, when it comes to creating this five-year plan – the National Park Management Plan – we want to put the thoughts and opinions of the public at the centre of it. The ‘Your Yorkshire Dales National Park’ campaign has been created to help achieve this.

We want to give as many people as possible the chance to participate quickly and easily, so – you guessed it – a survey has to be involved! We’ve managed to boil it down to three questions about the National Park.

Taking part in another survey could take up a few minutes of your time but it isn’t half as annoying as finding the things you value about the area disappearing and being lost – not only to you but to generations to come.

What's important to you?
The landscape? Jobs? Recreation? Wildlife? Farming? The consultation really is your chance to tell us what you think and what type of National Park you want to live in, work in or visit in the future.

During the consultation we hope to hear from anyone who is interested in the National Park – from people who have lived in the area for generations to people who have never visited but think the area should be protected.

So what happens when the consultation closes on 30 April? Well, the views of participants will continue to be represented by the steering and working groups that are putting the Management Plan together.

These groups are made up of representatives from a wide range of interest groups (the Dales Farmers Network through to Craven Council), as well as officers from the National Park Authority. 

Together we will examine the results of the consultation and create a vision for the future.

The Management Plan sets out how we will get there, and, likewise, it will involve all of us working together to implement it over the next five years.

You can find the survey, and more information, online at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/your

We also have paper postcards for people to send their views to the Authority Chairman and child-friendly questionnaires, both available at our offices and National Park Centres. People can also participate via www.facebook.com/yorkshiredales.

Anyone who may have difficultly getting involved or who doesn’t have internet access can call us on 0300 456 0030 to discuss alternative formats.

Read articles like this in our monthly ‘National Park Notes’ column in the Darlington and Stockton Times.

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