Thirsk


Road infrastructure

Good connections to the main road network. Twenty miles to Tees-side, York and Harrogate. Fifty miles to Tyne-side, Scarborough and Leeds. Thirsk is the only one of the market towns in Hambleton where it is convenient to drive to ALL of these destinations.

It makes sense to set up another tier 1 town within the 20 mile spacing grid where that can be achieved without major new transport infrastructure. The spacing means a reduction in vehicle miles travelled and improved quality of life.

Rail infrastructure

Thirsk station is on a main line and has the basis of tracks and space to once again be a significant station on trunk routes.

The only rival station in Hambleton is Northallerton which has more services, but less platforms. It has been established as a mid way stop between York and Darlington. Thirsk could share that role if it had the passengers. Expansion of Thirsk would be very cheap in terms of any additional infrastructure. Northallerton would be very expensive to upgrade.

Air travel

Airports serving local and international routes are readily accessible directly from the road network serving Thirsk.

Traditional Economy

In common with all of the other market towns in Hambleton, Thirsk's economy has traditionally been built upon the primary wealth creation of the local agricultural sector. Those people not directly involved in agriculture have provided goods and services upstream and downstream of the sector.

Agriculture is in a poor condition and shows every sign of continuing to decline in the long term. It doesn't provide an underlying wealth creation mechanism for the future.

There are other areas with no alternative to agriculture - they will just have to take the pain and the falling living standards. We don't have to join them and focus our competition in that area - we have the infrastructure and location for a real diversified, mainstream economy.

Gentility

It is tempting to argue that rather than create new wealth we should just hang on to what we have got and hide in a fantasy of gentility that never was. Standards of living cannot be sustained by shuffling doillies and selling each other cream teas. The little old ladies in the big houses didn't exist in isolation. They inherrited the wealth they consumed from ancestors who sullied themselves by engaging in trade to earn it.

We need that wealth creation into the future.

Thirsk is not a polite little Miss Marples, sleepy village. It is what it has always been, and always needs to be - rude, brutal and entrepeneurial

Incomers

The wealth in Thirsk is not 'zero sum'. we can't retain our standards of living by just keeping hold of it all and hoping that we can just raise cash from an artificially small pool of housing at inflated prices. We need to bring in outsiders to create more wealth to support our local economy rather than just rigging the housing market.

Don't rely on wealthy incomers - there are plenty of more attractive places for them.

Tourism

Tourism isn't going to replace agriculture for wealth creation. Yes, it might support a few low paid part time jobs. However, we don't have a particular competitive advantage for tourism and can easily be undercut by other isolated areas with more advantages and no alternatives - we do have alternatives.

Technology

Technology theoretically makes it easier to build economies in remote isolated locations. Yes, Thirsk can and will participate in that activity, but we will have no competitive advantage. However, we can also exist within the mainstream, using technology in a diversifed, rich, local economy employing our infrastructure to competitive advantage.

Public sector

Thirsk does not have a substantial public sector employment. In contrast, Northallerton is home to the County Council, District Council and many healthcare facilities. Some regional offices of central government departments are found in Northallerton, but to a much lesser extent in Thirsk.

Availability of sites for public sector offices enabled Northallerton to become an administrative centre in the North Riding and the county town of North Yorkshire, ahead of Thirsk. Whilst Thirsk determinedly clung onto its newly acquired racing licence, Northallerton cleared its racecourse site between the town and the railway station to make way for County Hall.

Availability of land

There is plentiful land available and suitable for development close to the Thirsk town centre; in reach of services; within the curtilage of the by-pass; not subject to flooding and capable of development without impacting the open countryside.

People

We have homegrown skilled people and can offer a lifestyle that will attract others in from elsewhere. At present, skilled youngsters have to leave. they might come back to commute to Leeds or retire, but we should be able to make a place for them in the town.

Alternatives

Northallerton might continue to build on its public sector institutions and develop substantially.

Easingwold's links to York have improved. It might transform from a commuter residential area for the city and develop its own commercial base within the curtilage of the Easingwold by-pass.

History

Thirsk's representatives didn't seek to promote Thirsk as a base for the District Council formed in 1971 to replace Thirsk Rural District Council, Northallerton Urban District Council and others.

Thirsk residents didn't press for an Urban Sanitary Authority, but settled for a Rural Sanitary Authority.

Repeatedly Thirsk's residents have sought the tourism route with few low paid, part time jobs. Consider proposals in the 1930's and the decision to fight to retain the racecourse in the 1890's when Northallerton ground theirs up to create real jobs.