INVESTMENT in superfast broadband, devolution and an overhaul of public transport are some areas of development identified to help unlock North Yorkshire’s economic potential.

The topics were among those discussed at a recent meeting of the county’s independent Rural Commissioners which heard evidence from businesses about what their companies need to grow.

Among those speaking at the event was Mark Pybus who started to diversify on his family farm near Catterick 15-years-ago and is now the manager of Crabtree Hall Business Centre.

The centre provides office space for small businesses alongside a café and a children’s nursery which employs 32 people.

However, Mr Pybus told the panel that three years after launching the centre in 2007, the broadband was no longer fit for purpose and his company came up with its own solution by installing its own super-fast connection.

Mr Pybus also stressed the importance of public transport for businesses, saying: “Our biggest challenge today is transport which impacts greatly on our recruitment because there are no local buses to bring our young workforce in or take them home.

"We are tackling this by improving retention rates via supporting our staff to take further qualifications while they work and earn.”

Carolyn Frank, development manager for the Federation of Small Business in North Yorkshire echoed those concerns.

She said: “Nine out of ten of our members, who are largely micro-businesses employing ten or less people, said road rather than rail improvements would benefit their businesses to get people to work.

“Particularly in North Yorkshire we need to understand the value of the smallest businesses in those rural areas where they can be the mainstay of the local economy."

Giving his evidence, the Chairman of York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP, David Kerfoot, said: “We need to play to our strong sense of place but to give that place the power it needs to thrive.

“Devolution is critical. Currently we are treated as second or third division. The areas with devolution and the powers and budget that go with that are in the premier league and getting the funding that goes with that.”