A taxing time in the Dales (12 pics)

dalesWhen the distant Dales are inaccessible due to the weather (for those of us without a suitable vehicle) it’s good to know that the local area has enough to keep me and the camera occupied. The trio of Ribblesdale villages – Langcliffe, Stainforth and Horton – can usually satisfy my photographic needs. You wouldn’t know it, looking at the shot, but conditions for the above photo of Stainforth Force were treacherous – the field was badly rutted and solid, and the roads and rocks were iced over.

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St Oswald’s at Horton and Penyghent are always good subjects.

Think of the birds

Don’t forget to look after the birds during freezing conditions. These two in a neighbour’s garden came for some fruit and nuts I’d left out (excuse the fuzziness – photo taken through double glazing!).

Dales tax proposal

Sadly, there were just a couple of children at the switch-on of Langcliffe’s tree lights on Monday. A couple of generations ago the village at this time of year would have been alive with children playing in the snow and getting excited about Christmas.
On the same day as the switch-on I read a report about attracting families to the Yorkshire Dales National Park in which the authority outlined a proposal to increase by ‘at least five times’ the council tax on second homes in the park.
I don’t think the authority believe (at least I hope not!) that this will provide the whole answer to the problem of finding rural housing for young families. The bigger picture shows a lack of suitable employment, poor public transport, too few local schools, too many restrictions on building conversion and planning, a lack of local shops and amenities, poor access to digital communication and mobile signals, etc.
Will financially punishing those who already have second homes solve much? It might in future put off all but the richest buyers who see a second home as an investment or pension, but I can’t see such penalties freeing up that many homes. Many Dales cottages are too small for families anyway – if second-homers didn’t buy them, the smaller buildings would probably be left to decay or be bought up by holiday-let companies for a reduced price.
Perhaps more incentives should be offered to those selling Dales properties? How about bigger rewards for estate agents or sellers who complete deals with local families? Or why not make it more difficult for second-homers to bequeath properties to offsprings who have no intention of moving into the area, with a stipulation they first have to offer homes to local families?
The report will be debated at an authority meeting on 19 December. If the YDNPA approve it, the proposal will then be put to the five local district councils.
http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/other-services/press-office/news/recent/report-consider-five-times-council-tax-for-second-homes

Dales churches

This week’s church is St Chad’s at Middlesmoor in Nidderdale. Although the present Grade 2 listed building dates from 1866, there has been a place of worship here for centuries. Inside the church is an old preaching cross said to be Anglo Saxon, and is inscribed ‘Cross of St Ceadda’ (Chad). For me, the best thing about this church is the fantastic view down upper Nidderdale from the graveyard …

Tis the season to be jolly well moaning about gritting. Thankfully, in retirement I don’t have to worry about the drive to work every morning, which even along a main vital road like the A65 can often be treacherous. There has been a spate of accidents on this vital arterial route this week, leaving many locals bemused as to why the road wasn’t suitably treated. It’s not like the councils east and west of the border weren’t warned about the possibility of problems with black ice.

Talking of ice – is there really any need to dismantle a farmer’s wall to  chuck stones onto the Langcliffe Mill pond to test the ice?

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A frozen Langcliffe Mill Pond with snow-topped Penyghent in the background.
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A wintry sunset over Langcliffe allotments.

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