Councillor expenses

OUR Conservative county councillors should be hanging their heads in shame. At a time when cuts are being made to essential services and council tax has been increased by five per cent it beggars belief that they have just voted themselves a 4.5 per cent increase in their allowances (D&S Times, May 18).

The excuse made by council leader Carl Les that it was recommended by an independent panel and “you should follow their recommendation” is plain nonsense.

Of course they don’t have to follow the advice of the panel. They should have had the integrity and decency to reject the recommendation. Little wonder that the general public has such a low regard for politicians.

Well done to the independent and Labour councillors for speaking out against the increase. For the sake of transparency the name of every councillor who is actually accepting this increase should now be made public.

John Warren, Ripon

Ballot box

THE members of North Yorkshire County Council should be ashamed of themselves. At a time when the High Street of Northallerton (North Yorkshire's county town) displays numerous empty shops, residents are bearing the burden of multi-million pound cuts and the county's potholes appear to be descending to the depths of Satan's lair, the majority of NYCC councillors pat themselves on the back and vote to increase their basic allowance.

Stomach-turning though it is, one can hardly be surprised. A mere two or three years ago, the majority of members on Hambleton District Council did much the same - right after voting to increase council tax.

How can these moves be justified all the while the standard for living within the local community is ever-decreasing? One thing both of the aforementioned councils have in common is that they are overwhelmingly dominated by one party. When any council ends up being dominated by one party with no effective opposition, the majority (in this case, a Conservative one) can run riot. It's about time these people remembered the fact that their bosses are the electorate. If councillors don't do their proper job of representing the views of their constituents, then the voters will punish their so-called representatives at the ballot box.

Joseph Lambert, East Cowton

Budget cuts

THE decision by North Yorkshire county councillors to accept an increase in allowances is shameful, in that families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have just been asked to pay as much as £500 per annum for school transport.

The consequences of austerity seem to discriminate against those who are already struggling; why should these young people's parents have to pay this premium, when they already have numerous pressures bearing upon them?

How can the council justify awarding these higher allowances to councillors when SEND children are already dealing with the adverse consequences of budget cuts?

Mr and Mrs MJ Tighe, Richmond

Military care

PAGE 66 of the D&S Times of May 18 showed an interesting if seemingly pointless picture, headlined 'Hospital joins forces by signing covenant. This is a private hospital and it does not say how it will really be made use of. I think a rather longer and clearer storyline is required.

One week the news was carried that perhaps the Friary Hospital would be moved to the Garrison town at Catterick and eventually a new hospital will be built at Catterick. Our own MP thought this was a brilliant idea, history repeating itself.

Our own Medical Centre at Leyburn is now also running the Catterick Medical Centre and I believe the Scorton one - is the Army feeling the lack of their own Military Hospital now and will civilian areas around the base have to take up all the military requirements, to the detriment of the general NHS patients?

When Duchess of Kent Military Hospital closed, a letter was sent to William Hague MP promising the Army would always be able to make up any shortfall at the Friarage - what is the real state of ongoing medical care in the local Armed Forces?

I know that long ago the dependants were no longer considered part of the Army and understand there have been huge changes elsewhere.

What is happening in Catterick Garrison, apart from the building work? Where does the care come from which was once supplied by a huge team of medical personnel? I know many people would be grateful to have a light thrown on a rather important subject.

AE Waudby, Middleham

Single market

N SMITH (D&S letters, May 18) asserts that “the European countries with the most stable economies are non-members of the EU”. Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are not members of the EU, but they are members of the single market, which allows for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European single market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area.

If we really have to go through the nonsense of Brexit, then membership of the single market may be the way to make the best of a bad job, but in view of other phrases in N Smith’s letter, I gather he or she would not favour this option.

I wonder which European country N Smith was thinking of? Albania?

Dave Dalton, Richmond

It’s a Halifax

WITH reference to Mike Grierson's excellent photographs of the Allied Air Forces and Yorkshire Air Museum "Against the Odds" re-enactment weekend, (D & S Times, May 18) it should be stressed that not every Second World War RAF heavy bomber was an Avro Lancaster.

Your caption writer is in grave danger of restarting the Wars of the Roses by failing his aircraft recognition test and, therefore, being on the wrong side of the Pennines, for the aircraft "Friday the 13th", illustrated is actually a Handley Page Halifax.

This picture takes me back to my London schooldays in the 1950s, when my school Aero Club invited Sir Frederick Handley Page, who was then in his seventies, as, sad to relate, I am now, to give a talk to us, a little group of aircraft-mad teenagers.

We enjoyed the occasion immensely, realising, even at that young age, that we were greatly privileged to be in the presence of one of the founding fathers of British aviation.

It was the first of many occasions which have left me with a life-long love of old and antique aircraft, or to turn back a page or two, aeroplanes.

Michael Waldman, Nr. Leyburn

* Editor’s note: We apologise for the caption in which the Halifax was wrongly identified as a Lancaster. The information was supplied to us and used in good faith.

Cost cutting

I UNDERSTAND Steve Kay's exasperation (D&S Times letters, May 18) with Cleveland Police's Divert initiative and I wonder if its adoption is more of a cost-cutting exercise than a genuine example of rehabilitation in action. What contributions if any have victims made to the process?

On April 1, 1997 the Home Secretary of the time Michael Howard unveiled the Victim's Charter. Its 27 standards of service promised to keep victims of crime fully informed and to take their views into account, I wonder how much heed Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger gave to the Charter, if any?

Steve is also right to question the failure of the authorities to uphold the rights of individual non-criminals, because, as the obscene treatment of Richard Osborn-Brooks, who was arrested on suspicion of murder after stabbing a burglar, proved conclusively, the law won't protect you when a powerful special interest group is not challenging the anti-social and criminal behaviour of members of the group and the police are frightened of challenging them.

To further compound this outrage Channel 4 last week featured the investigation into the murder of a Chinese lady who had answered the door to a group of giggling, travelling criminals.

The police felt that they had identified the perpetrators but were unable to collate sufficient evidence to proceed. Interestingly one of the investigators mentioned the 'special group' status of the alleged perpetrators. We appear to be ruled by NGOs on behalf of NGOs with the rights, needs and protection of the loyal, law-abiding, taxpaying individual, increasingly side-lined.

As John Stuart Mill said: “Retribution has three moral justifications: to ensure the deterrence of others, to achieve the rehabilitation and changed behaviour of the offender; to secure the safety of the majority.”

Phil O'Brien, Northallerton

The Ivy

WHAT is the DST coming to? "Don't go to The Ivy for the food," says your reviewer (D&S Times, May 18). I certainly would not pay £153 just for the style and atmosphere. I'd rather go to Betty's. A sniffy waiter and nice furniture are not worth that much. Let's have some more down to earth venues please.

Karin Nutting, Horsforth

Airport owners

I DO not recall Ben Houchen promising to take back Durham Tees Valley Airport into public ownership - on condition that a new operator can be found to run it.

There was just a promise to take the airport back into public ownership pure and simple wasn't there?

Why now are we getting conditions attached to him keeping his promise to the voters this late in the day?

There might be an advantage - there might not - in having some company come in to manage the airport.

There will be certainly an extra layer of costs if that is the case.

When the airport was in public ownership previously there was just an airport manager wasn't there?

A very large number of people in the Tees Valley would like to use the airport on their doorstep if they could please.

Is Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen going to help them do so or not?

The plans for a tax free port on Teesside could easily include the airport.

A simple act of parliament is all that is needed to take the airport back into public ownership.

Ben Houchen's party are in power at Westminster.

Why are there further delays in moving forward for yet one more holiday season?

Nigel Boddy, Darlington

Tessa Jowell

I READ the obituary of Tessa Jowell on Monday while sitting in the Endeavour Suite at James Cook Hospital waiting for my next radiotherapy session, surrounded by fellow cancer patients of all ages and backgrounds, in the care of the hard working and skilled staff there. Having lost two friends to brain tumours in the past year and with a family member, a mum in her 40s with three young children, fighting the disease, I can fully sympathise with the family of Tessa Jowell over their sad loss.

That same day however I also read that “May boosts cancer research funding in tribute to Tessa Jowell”. Laudable though this is I do find it incongruous that it takes the death of someone well known to trigger a pledge for additional funding for cancer research.

As a two times cancer survivor (prostate and sarcoma) I know only too well how it can affect any one of us. Cancer is no respecter of rank, status or position. In the UK someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes and it accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths (Cancer Research UK figures).

What is needed is more funding across the board for both cancer research and our NHS cancer services.

John Young, Gilling West

Distress signal

THE photograph that accompanied the article about North Yorkshire for Europe (D&S Times, May 18) contained an obvious error that I am sure many readers noticed - an upside down Union flag. Or was it a traditional coded distress signal?

Paul Bartlett, Stokesley