PROPOSALS to increase council tax fivefold on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales continue to make national headlines, with impassioned arguments on both sides.

The Dales Home Owners Action Group (DHOAG) has called on the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to intervene, claiming the park authority has over-stepped its remit and is trying to exert “political influence”.

But if nothing else, it has focused attention on what is a very real threat to community life in the Yorkshire Dales and other rural areas.

Communities are more than bricks and mortar, they require concerted effort to stay alive. Now council funding is cut to the core, the impetus to keep these communities alive will increasingly depend on those with a stake in them.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Hambleton, it’s transpired that 1,118 homes are lying empty across the district, which had been absolved from paying any council tax at all for the first year. While the idea was to allow people to renovate or repair buildings - and this anomaly is now being looked at - it seems a contrast to the concerted effort to level the unfairness in the housing market just a few miles away.

DHOAG's members includes people from all corners of the county and the wider UK, from Lincoln to London. Many have close family ties to their Dales home, others whose connection is a shared passion for this beautiful corner of the world. Many of the points made demonstrate they are not out of touch with the harsh realities of the housing crisis, which are largely being shouldered by younger generations.

The group includes some notably successful and influential members who have in their campaign already identified other problems facing rural locations such as the Dales; the lack of well-paid jobs, schools or public transport which deter families from living there and an ageing population.

If there's one good thing to come out of the current battle, it could be getting everyone working together on a solution to a very complex problem.