IN some parts of Craven it is quicker to order a takeaway than get a response from emergency services, it has been claimed.

And, in Horton -in-Ribblesdale, some ‘at siege’ residents go away for the weekend during the busy summer months rather than stay at home.

Tourism and its impact on Craven communities is a big problem that needs to be aired, heard Craven District Council’s Select Committee.

And, even though there was no ‘big stick’ to make real changes, those issues needed to be articulated, said its chairman as he announced a series of meetings with parish councils, businesses, emergency services, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Welcome to Yorkshire.

Councillor David Staveley stressed at yesterday’s meeting it was not however about ‘putting a bullet’ in the tourism trade, but he did feel the handling of large numbers of visitors to the district had been ‘haphazard’.

And, even though he acknowledged one of the results of the coronavirus pandemic had been an increase in visitors to Craven and the Dales, as people holidayed at home rather than abroad, tourism and how to handle it the had been an issue for some time.

He said the idea was to talk to ‘both sides’ - the impacted parishes, and the bodies that promoted tourism - before coming up with a series of recommendations for potential solutions.

A series of meetings is to be held with parish councils and businesses, emergency services and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

A meeting with tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire will also take place over the coming months with select committee members before recommendations are made, put before the full council and then on to relevant organisations.

Cllr Staveley said Horton, where most walkers started and finished the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge’ - Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside, could see its population rise from 300 to 3,000 on busy days.

He said: “Horton-in-Ribblesdale is laid siege to every weekend, people live there and they have a right to live their lives.

“There are people in Horton who go away ever weekend right through the summer because they can’t bear to be at home.”

He stressed it was not whether tourism was a good or a bad thing, but it was important that they heard from the parishes where the problems were so they could be put to those who could best deal with the issues.

It might also be that problems were perceived rather than real, but the council had a duty to its residents to give them the chance to voice their concerns, he said.

In addition with issues of parking, littering and anti-social behaviour, there was an issue with emergency services and response times.

“It is quicker in some parts of the Craven to order a takeaway than an emergency service, and that can’t be right,” he said.

Cllr Staveley acknowledged that it would be a large amount of work for the committee which would take several months. He also agreed that it should include Skipton as well as the rural communities, even though he thought the town was historically better geared up for visitors.

“Even if we can’t take a big stick and make changes, at least we can articulate what the parishes are saying,” he said.

In response to some councillors concerns that the positives of the tourism trade was getting lost, he said: “This not a hatchet job on the tourism trade, we are trying to articulate the concerns of the some residents and bring forward some solutions.”

He added it was important that Welcome to Yorkshire be invited to a meeting, even though some thought it sensible not to put the tourism body together with parish councils because of potential ‘conflict’.

“Welcome to Yorkshire is more than just a bike race, they are responsible for banging the drum to say ‘come to the Dales’, it is only right they come along, the same as other bodies like the national park,” he said.

Cllr Andy Brown said he would like to hear from places like the Lake District and Devon where tourists had been visiting in large numbers for longer than the Dales.

“I would like to hear about their problems and their fixes, about the by-laws they have brought in. I am sure someone from the Lake District could give a real insight.”

And, Cllr Andy Solloway pointed out issues in the Scottish Highlands where a private company had promoted the North Coast 500 resulting in an explosion of visitors and anti-social behaviour.

He said it was important to hear what the issues were before they talked to people who thought they might have the solutions.

He added: “ I don’t think this is unique to the Yorkshire Dales, the impact of tourism has been particularly highlighted this year because people have been unable to go abroad. We need to talk to people who have managed it well.”