MUCH has been written about so-called Booze Britain, the causes and effects, but it is undeniable that many of this country’s town and cities are rather scary places to be late on a Friday and Saturday night.

Alcohol-fuelled excess is almost the norm and the burden placed on the police, fire and ambulance crews who have to deal with the consequences is considerable.

Few communities are immune from a phenomenon generally not seen elsewhere in the world. It seems to be a peculiarly British thing.

Even a town like Northallerton, not renowned for a particularly vibrant night-time economy, has its problems at weekends dealing with people - and not always the young - getting drunk and becoming a danger to themselves and others.

The town is launching a Street Angels scheme – led by the New Life Baptist Church (NLBC) – to provide practical help for those who end up worse for wear. I heard all about it at a recent commissioning service at the church, meeting many of the volunteers, church members and police who have made this happen.

From next month, on Friday and Saturday nights, three volunteers working on a rota will patrol a set route in the town centre between the hours of 9pm and 2am providing support for those who need it.

Equipped with first aid kit, radios and uniforms, the angels have been specially trained and insured, thanks to a grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner's budget.

NLBC pastor Steve Cowie told me the Northallerton Street Angels is based on a scheme successfully working in 130 town and cities around the country and is not intended to be a substitute for the police. Its primary role will be support, reassurance and deterrence. I think it is a great initiative and wish it every success.

Last week I was in Middleham to meet many of the trainers based there. I told them I was very proud to have the racing capital of the North in my patch. My Westminster colleague Kevin Hollinrake may claim that title for Malton in his constituency but I’m pretty confident Middleham’s roster of top quality trainers means they justifiably hold that title, albeit by a short head.

The industry is very important in lower Wensleydale, providing vital employment and custom for a wide range of businesses. The trainers briefed me on a number of issues they face at present and I’ll be doing what I can to assist them.

They also gave me a hot tip for Saturday’s Grand National - O’Faolains Boy. It was withdrawn on the morning of the race because of lameness. Unfortunate, but at least my colleagues in the Northallerton office will get their fivers back.

Finally, a short update on the fight to retain the shuttle bus between Northallerton’s Friarage and the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Last week I spent a morning on the bus gathering views and information from patients, relatives and staff using the service. The clinical commissioning group which currently funds the service has agreed to maintain the service at least until the end of April so we can find a long-term solution (it was due to end last month). Next week I have another meeting with the CCG’S chief officer and I will keep pushing the case for transport assistance for patients.