BUSINESS leaders from South Craven and across North Yorkshire have taken part in a major conference focussing on economic growth.

They met-up with county council bosses and representatives of other public and voluntary-sector bodies.

There was a wide range of speakers including Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, which organised the event.

He talked about the challenges facing a large rural county, from increasing demand for social care to the complexities of transport infrastructure.

Around 140 people attended the conference, labelled Delivering Growth in North Yorkshire.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, executive member for Open to Business, said: "The economy is something which directly affects everyone and impacts on individual health and wellbeing, on our ability to be socially active and on our personal prosperity and quality of life.

"Everybody has a role to play in the health of the economy, from individuals to large and small businesses, public sector bodies, not-for-profit organisations and beyond.

"Probably most important in this picture is the role of businesses themselves which drive innovation, make investments and take risks to keep pace with social and technological change and to maintain and grow a share in increasingly competitive globalised markets.

"It's not always easy for public-sector partners to fully appreciate the needs and pressures that businesses experience, just as the intricacies of local government must often appear somewhat opaque and illogical to business. That's why it's important to have an open conversation about the needs of the private sector and how we as the public sector can adapt to better enable the core drivers of growth in the economy to be successful."

He addressed the conference about the role of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership in distributing funding and supporting the work of district councils to provide planning services and back investment.

Other speakers included the partnership's chairman, David Kerfoot, and Martin McTague, policy director of the Federation of Small Businesses.

And the event concluded with 'a view from Westminster' presented by Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Conservative Party vice-chairman with responsibility for business engagement.

"Ensuring our county can take advantage of the opportunities is critical for sustaining and promoting economic growth," he said.#

"That is why this conference was so important – bringing together district councils, the county council, businesses and other stakeholders to promote action to put economic growth at the heart of our local agenda."