THE housing problem facing young home hunters in the Ribble Valley is neither a new one nor one that is unique to the district.

But that does not lessen the seriousness of a situation which forces couples to leave the area where they have been brought up because it is impossible for them to get on to the housing ladder.

What is disturbing is that, although the crisis has been talked about for several years the gap between average house prices and what is within the financial reach of would-be home owners has got wider and wider.

With a two-bedroomed terrace in Clitheroe now fetching around £70,000 the district has been named one of the wealthiest 20 in Britain.

You do not have to possess psychic powers to realise the long-term effect of this situation.

True communities will disappear as villages become populated by people with money who have moved in to retire and city commuters whose homes are empty during the day.

There will be no affordable place for young families with children unless they live with their own parents and employers will find it difficult to recruit staff - as Ribble Valley Council are already experiencing.

As councillors point out, they have no powers to compel builders to develop starter homes - and while they don't have such powers, the profits from expensive homes will govern decision making.

They need such powers fast.