HELMLSEY is set for a buoyant future, according to the new town council chairman.

The only woman member of the council, Coun Jane Barker has taken over from Coun Brian Thompson, and is optimistic the town will gain from the increasing number of people holidaying at home rather than opting for an overseas break because of the cost.

Coun Barker, a mother of three who also has five grandchildren, has spent all her life in Helmsley, and ran the family riding business, Helmsley Riding School, for many years until her children took it over.

It has now moved to new premises which were originally the stud farm of a former Earl of Feversham, on the Duncombe Estate, while the long-established town centre stable blocks are being converted into new shops.

Helmsley, she said, is seeing considerable investment with major development being carried out at The Feversham Arms, and the ambitious new sports and community complex at the recreation ground.

“We are seeing a lot of changes. Helmsley is a very thriving town in spectacular countryside,” said Coun Barker, who added that tourism had now taken over from agriculture and forestry as the main stay of the local economy. “All this investment is creating new jobs,” she said.

The success of Helmsley Walled Garden and Duncombe Park added to the tourist appeal of the town, said Coun Barker, who helped mastermind Helmsley’s success last year in winning a gold award in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom Awards.

Coun Barker works for the Yorkshire Cancer Research branch in Helmsley, and is on the fundraising committee of the new sports centre. She is also involved with the new archives project of hundreds of photographs taken over many years by the late John Collier, many of which are due to be on show at the Helmsley Arts Centre from July 19 to August 3 to coincide with the Ryedale Festival.