Ryedale’s economy is bucking the national trend by out-stripping many other areas in Britain and leading the league table in self-employment, micro-enterprises and low unemployment.
That is the view of leading figures in the country’s biggest rural district.
Julian Rudd, Head of Economy at Ryedale District Council (RDC), said: “Ryedale’s economy is performing well.”
“The notable activity at a number of companies in the district has seen hundreds of new jobs become available with McKechnies at Pickering and at Norton, The Yorkshire Baker, being particular highlights. The advanced engineering sector is generally buoyant.”
Mr Rudd, who masterminds the local economy at Ryedale House said there were also “encouraging signs” of commercial activity with employment sites being brought forward at York Road, Malton and at Swinton Grange, while the relocation plan for Malton Livestock Market in the heart of a new Agri-Business Park with affiliated businesses, had the potential “to support a further 600-plus jobs.”
“This project, together with the transformation of the Food, Environment and Rural Affairs site at Sand Hutton to become a specialist business housing the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus and agri-tech businesses, have been put forward by RDC and the Local Enterprise Partnership for Government support from its Local Growth Fund.”
House building was “progressing well,” said Mr Rudd, with more than 200 new homes built in the past year and strong sales at large developments in Malton and Pickering.
However, there were “economic challenges” he warned – especially the need to increase the average local wage levels.
“They still lag someway behind even regional averages and make housing even more unaffordable for Ryedale people. Skill shortages and labour issues were also of concern.
“In particular, local employers can struggle to recruit skilled workers from the immediate area, especially in engineering, and RDC and our partners are active in several initiatives to improve the match between the skills of local people and the needs of Ryedale employers.”
Anne McIntosh, Ryedale’s MP, said: “Economic development in Ryedale is going from strength to strength. Jobs are on the increase as are the number of apprenticeships. It shows that Government policies are working in this area and as we emerge from the recession, the emphasis must be on securing continuous economic growth.”
Ms McIntosh said she welcomed news of new employment opportunities in Ryedale, adding: “A few days ago I celebrated the FERA scientific centre at Sand Hutton, in Parliament, because I am excited about the possibility of many new posts being created there. The potential for the livestock market’s re-location from the centre of Malton also brings other huge possibilities.”
But said the MP, who is chairman of the Government’s Defra Select Committee, she too was concerned about the low wage levels in Ryedale and the high cost of housing.
Ms McIntosh said she was anxious to see the planned £50 million upgrading of the A64 trunk road through Ryedale, go ahead. “Improving road safety and easing the high level of congestion on the A64 is vital, especially for the benefits it will bring to Ryedale.”
She said she was working with RDC and local businesses to ensure that the district’s businesses were “unleashed to their full potential.”
Cllr Linda Cowling, Leader of the Council, said: “Ryedale’s economy is showing optimism. It is very strong and it is particularly encouraging to see so many businesses planning to expand or new ones wanting to set up.
“Attracting new investment and helping our existing businesses to expand to help create new jobs, has been a top priority for the Conservative group in recent years and it’s paying dividends.”
Cllr Cowling said Ryedale was now recognised as having the highest percentage of micro-businesses in any rural district in the country, and the largest number of self-employed people.
“Add to that the splendid quality of life we have to offer and the outlook is really good.”