Asylum seekers

I WAS saddened and ashamed of the response, by Hambleton District Council, to requests to house asylum seekers (D&S Times, June 8). I had sometimes wondered why I never came across Syrian refugees in the area and, to my shame, I never enquired.

Surely one of the richest areas of the country can offer a home to people who are so desperate that they will subject themselves to criminal traffickers, cross the Mediterranean in leaking boats and travel thousands of miles to escape the horrors of living in their home country.

Offering a warm welcome would be the best defence against radicalisation, but nothing is risk free. The most recent attack that was prevented was to be perpetrated by two local boys; other attacks have been carried out by boys/men born in this country.

And arguing that there are no local mosques is ridiculous, since when has any religion required a building before it can be practised?

We should be more generous to our fellow human beings.

Yvonne Rose, Bedale

Recruiting gimmick

MRS Lawrence described her letter (D&S Times June 8) as a response to my letter of June 1 about the police and crime commissioner. She told us she is a victim and has been helped by the PCC who had been human and had listened. Mrs Lawrence deserves all our sympathy and I am pleased she was helped by the PCC.

But my letter was not about the PCC’s contact with individual members of the public. It was about how she has repeatedly and disastrously mismanaged the force.

However, it so happens several of the very many members of the public who have contacted me to agree with my letters about the PCC told me they had tried to obtain help from her but to no avail.

It seems her reaction to Mrs Lawrence was unusual which is not surprising because the circumstances are themselves most unusual.

There is yet another example of the PCC’s questionable management in the same edition. She intends subjecting the candidates for the post of chief constable to a Question-Time session at police headquarters.

Members of the public will be allowed to ask questions after which they will express their opinions on the performances of the candidates. Another daft idea if ever there was one.

We are told by the PCC that rather than limiting the recruitment proceedings to a select few she wants to open it up. It will indeed be opened up but only to a select few in the audience at the Question-Time event. The audience will be a tiny proportion of the electorate in the county, the vast majority of whom will have no say.

The PCC is legally obliged to choose the new chief constable and she should take into account all aspects of the candidates’ qualifications and experience when making her choice. Purporting to give a tiny proportion of the electorate a say in one aspect is just a gimmick.

David Severs, Former Chief Superintendent, Northallerton

Councils row

Following the report in Darlington & Stockton Times June 8, I feel that I should answer fully the comments made by Cllr Bob Cook.

1. Yarm Town councillors are democratically elected, and put themselves forward to work for the town, representing residents and traders. Most of the councillors work hard, without any payment, unlike Stockton councillors, who all receive payment for being councillors.

2. Yarm Town Council employs one person, the town clerk.

3. All councillors, including Stockton councillors, work within a code of conduct which includes “openness, transparency and honesty”. In making the statement that he did, Cllr Cook has, in my opinion, broken the Code of Conduct.

4. The members of Yarm Town Council who went, uninvited to the meeting, did so because traders from Yarm requested them to go.

5. The comment that was raised by a trader was that Yarm Town Council and Stockton Council work together to benefit the town.

6. The alleged political statement from Cllr Casey was that Yarm Town Council try to work with Stockton Council, but get side-lined.

7. The meeting was arranged by the MP, and the CEO was in attendance, and they both made political points during the meeting.

8. Many of the traders spoke positively about the experience of working with the town council.

9. The town council has a key role in influencing and supporting the development of Yarm, in both desiring a successful High Street and town for the businesses and residents.

10. Cllr Cook, instead of dealing with the issue of alleged harassment and bullying of an elected member and the town clerk by the CEO, would rather try to discredit Yarm Town Council. Cllr Cook should deal with the issue in front of him instead of resorting to trying to discredit the town council.

11. I have asked Cllr Cook to bring all parties together in one room and resolve the issue, but he has chosen to decline the suggestion.

Yarm Town Council has been included in the last meeting with the traders and are part of the process going forward. We want to work for the traders and resident, and with Stockton Council, it is after all, what we are elected into public office for.

There is of course an underlying issue here, in that Yarm Town Council have called into question Stockton Council’s air pollution figures as stated in the local plan, which is being assessed currently, and because of our objections, Cllr Cook has decided to try and discredit Yarm Town Council.

Cllr Peter J Monck, chair, Yarm Town Council


AFTER being informed by Cllr Peter Monck within an email that he and others had been invited to a meeting in Yarm with Stockton officers, I now find that a selected few had gatecrashed a private meeting of the CEO of Stockton Council and the MP for Stockton South with Yarm traders.

I did receive information from another councillor from another area who said the aforementioned officer had been verbally attacked by the Yarm town clerk and a lady member of Yarm Town Council.

As parking is the responsibility of Stockton Borough Council, it seems right and proper that Stockton Council and our MP collect and review information regarding the effect of parking changes in Yarm and ensure suitability for purpose. Given this fact, it is clear that this matter has nothing to do with Yarm Town Council, as it was residents and traders who were being consulted.

I have found over the last four years extracting the truth on pertinent matters affecting residents from some members of Yarm Town Council has been difficult to say the least. A recent complaint regarding alleged unprofessional behaviour by the Responsible Officer sent to the council chair has failed to be dealt with in a satisfactory manner and side-lined - yet a similar matter regarding the conduct of the senior officer of SBC is presented as soon as possible by the chair.

A one- sided approach to dealing with important matters maybe?

Marjorie Simpson, Yarm Town Councillor

Single market

I RECENTLY watched a remain-supporting Labour MP attempt to defend her reasoning for wanting to keep the UK held within the confines of the Single Market. One justification she used was "leaving the Single Market was not on the ballot paper" in the referendum.

I do so wish that “remainiacs” would not constantly try to re-define what us patriotic leavers voted for when we won the referendum.

By remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union, as many remainers want us to do, we are ensured to continue with freedom of movement while we will not be free to negotiate our own bilateral trade deals. This outcome would mean the UK would leave the EU in name only.

Many have likened this scenario to that of the Hotel California; you can check-out anytime you like... but you can never leave. I shy away from this metaphor due to the fact it degrades one of Don Henley's masterpieces.

If the remainers want to focus on what was and what wasn't on the ballot paper, let's look at the statistics.

The Conservatives, UKIP and, yes, Labour all promised in their 2017 manifestos to take the UK out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Any alternative would not be respecting what the majority voted for.

All three of the aforementioned parties achieved almost 85 per cent of the overall vote at last year's General Election. That is an even larger mandate for Brexit than what was achieved in the referendum.

If the Single Market is so fundamentally important to the Labour MP I watched speak, then she should have better thought-through her decision to stand as a Labour Parliamentary candidate under such a manifesto.

Joseph Lambert, East Cowton

Affordable homes

THE Government's policies for affordable housing are in meltdown. The chairman of the Local Government Association warns that impending policy changes could see large numbers of houses bypassing council's local plans which determine the proportion of affordable housing as well as the location of developments.

There have been several recent reports of big developers applying successfully to reduce the affordable element in developments as local planning authorities cannot resist because of the potential legal costs.

I applaud the initiative of the Upper Dales Community Partnership setting up a scheme in Arkengarthdale for affordable housing to be built in the Dale and retained in perpetuity by the Upper Dales Community Land Trust Ltd.

Current government policy allows for no affordable housing in developments of less than 10 houses, thus excluding virtually all developments in rural villages where affordable housing to rent has been virtually wiped out by the ideologically driven Right-to-Buy which ignores local circumstances and has been a disaster in the rural dales.

Many individuals have benefited greatly, buying houses at huge discounts, and they cannot be criticised for taking advantage of a golden opportunity, but this largesse has been at the expense of the community as a whole.

Implementation of Lib-Dem policy would put control of the Right-to-Buy in the hands of local authorities who could adjust any discount to take account of local conditions and ensure that all proceeds were reinvested in affordable housing.

Gerald Hodgson, Richmond Lib-Dems

Doing right

I WISH Cleveland police and their partners all the best with the Divert initiative (D&S Times, June 8). It sounds like a proper re-socialising programme that gives their charges a realistic chance to make a future for themselves that is acceptable to society.

If you treat people like human beings most will act like human beings. If the initiative teaches them how to handle money, make their own meals, buy their own clothes, budget, makes them socially literate, everyone benefits.

Every single failure results in another victim in the community as well as the cost of keeping them in prison. Rehabilitation shouldn't be a dirty word, it should be one we are proud of. Many prisoners are looking for a way out of a lif-style in which they feel trapped. It is only right we should equip them with the tools to do so.

Service at Brixton in the early 70s, where I found myself locking-up civil prisoners/non-payment of fines etc, along-side premier league armed robbers, demonstrated to me that a lot of people were being sent to prison who I felt were unlikely to re-offend and for whom a plausible alternative to prison was needed.

However punishments in the community are only acceptable to the law-abiding if they are subject to strict governance. A lack of this with community service has undermined its credibility and provided copy for the Daily Mail, with offenders taking selfies and cradling pints.

Make sure your initiative doesn't fail for a lack of governance Mr Coppinger - and keep victims central to your strategy. It's not about being “hard” or “soft” - it's about doing right by society.

Phil O'Brien, Northallerton

Remembering Stan

I AM saddened to hear of the death of North East football hero Stan Anderson.

I remember Stan best for delivering the goods as Middlesbrough manager, on May 16, 1967, when Boro won the greatest game I ever witnessed at Ayresome Park. Of course, I refer to Middlesbrough’s 4-1 defeat of Oxford, which propelled them back into the Second Division.

The drama started at the end of the previous season when Boro were ignominiously relegated to the Third Division. Stan had just taken the reins at the club but it was too late to save Boro from the drop.

At first, things didn’t go much better in the lower flight, but then Boro put in a late surge, winning match after match, until promotion became possible if only they could win the final game against Oxford.

My girlfriend and I squashed into Ayresome Park with another 40,000 fans.

Boro delivered, with a 4-1 scoreline (O’Rourke 3, Hickton1). With promotion assured, we joyously invaded the pitch with Stan appearing in the north stand to salute the ecstatic fans. I grabbed a divot of turf for a souvenir to plant in my late father’s lawn.

Thanks Stan. A night to remember!

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm