Cyclists’ plight

FOR a town that has made such a jamboree of the Tour de France, and successive Tours de Yorkshire, Thirsk pays scant attention to the needs of the increasing number of cyclists at other times.

I see that the Sowerby Parish Council is pressing for the "No Cyclists" notices on the Flatts Walk footpath to be repainted. May I press on them an alternative course of action.

Thirsk is the only major town in Hambleton that does not make the majority of its public footpaths dual use for pedestrians and cyclists, even where they are wide enough to safely accommodate both. Compare this with provision in Easingwold and Northallerton.

To take the plight of cyclists on Sowerby Road and Front Street - they have to co-exist with increasing car traffic (made worse by local roadworks), heavy goods vehicles ignoring the 7.5 tonne restrictions or servicing local addresses or the waste disposal site and agricultural traffic with increasingly heavy equipment and trailers.

Add to that parked cars and the deplorable state of the carriageway - damaging to car suspensions, injurious to motorcyclists, ruinous and dangerous to pedal cyclists.

We are enjoined to leave our cars at home and walk or get on our bikes. The latter has to be made safer and more user friendly.

Such local provision as there is - the pathway to the Thirsk Leisure Centre, and the token gestures alongside the route to the railway station - is either inadequate or irrelevant.

The present provision condemns cyclists to either push their bikes (that is not what "pushbike" is meant to mean) or crawl along in a rutted a potholed gutter.

As a cyclist I think we deserve better.

Chris Purser, Sowerby

Tribute to Frank

WE would like to offer an appreciation of Franklin (Frank) Medhurst, of Carlton, near Stockton-on-Tees, who recently died and whose cremation takes place on July 28.

Frank Medhurst was an architect who worked on the Teesplan development blueprint for the greater Teesside region during the 1960s. However his Teesplan role ended over disagreements on issues such as building new homes close to air pollution and heavy industry, and the demolition rather than regeneration of old buildings, streets and lanes.

Frank later moved into private architect's practice and said local authorities refused to give him work because of his criticisms of local authorities and heavy industry during the Teesplan era. His later community-focused architecture work included some small medical centres and doctors' surgeries.

Frank was a RAF serviceman during the Second World War and saw the horrors of European conflict. In more recent times, he spoke out on issues such as Brexit and rising tensions. His warnings made news locally and nationally.

Speaking personally, we first met Frank when he was chairing a public meeting on Teesside called to consider the wide-ranging Brandt Report of 1980, titled “North South, a Programme for Survival” from the Independent Commission on International Development.

Significantly, it was also the night on which he met his wife and love of his life, Jenny.

A couple of remarkable people, Frank and Jenny’s marriage was truly made in heaven. Jenny was 30 years Frank's junior, but in all the years we knew them they shared everything, devoting their time, energy and considerable talents to promoting causes of justice, peace and fair trade with the developing world.

Also, significantly, we never heard Frank utter a mean or angry word. He did indeed get angry, at injustice, the use and abuse of power to enslave or entrap nations or groups by exploitation from whatever source. However, he always turned his anger into positive energy to help bring peaceful and just resolutions to issues.

Frank was a convivial companion and generous host and we enjoyed many summer parties in the beautiful semi-wild garden with ponds and woodland he and Jenny established around their home. They also hosted Christmas ‘wassails’ with blazing log fires and Frank presiding over a bowl of the best mulled wine we have ever tasted.

To say Frank will be missed is an understatement. He was unique in so many ways. He was a highly civilised individual, an architect of distinction, a mentor and indeed a model of positivity, gentleness and active concern for the common good. He will live on in our hearts.

Irene and George MacDonald, Great Ayton

Grouse campaign

YORKSHIRE Water leases 13 moors for driven grouse shooting, thus contributing significantly to the 700,000 grouse shot for sport each year. The League Against Cruel Sports has joined forces with the local campaign group Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire's Moors to call for an end to grouse shooting on Yorkshire Water land.

By leasing moorlands for grouse shooting Yorkshire Water is contributing to killing native wildlife to maximize grouse numbers for shooting parties, destroying peat land and contributing to flooding by burning heather to increase game bird populations; severely undermining the regional economy through lost revenue and flood damage.

Up to 700,000 birds are shot on moorland each year. Then there is much collateral damage as keepers illegally kill birds of prey such as hen harriers, golden eagles, buzzards and peregrine falcons.

They use snares which kill predators, badgers and hares. If this is shooters' idea of sport I'd hate to witness their definition of cruelty.

This summer the League will be campaigning all over Yorkshire for locals and tourists alike to write to the CEO of Yorkshire Water calling for an end to grouse shooting on its moors.

Yorkshire Water has admitted that the sewage system in the Nosterfield/Thornborough/West Tanfield area is inadequate and should be renewed, yet says it cannot afford to do so; yet this area has had millions of pounds (and lots of publicity) thrown at it for restoring quarry sites to wetlands - while the sewage system is literally disintegrating. All the while YW’s shareholders receive good dividends and it trumpets excellence.

VL Lonsdale, Nosterfield

Brexit uncertainty

IN the referendum two years ago 37 per cent voted to leave the EU and 35 per cent voted to remain in the EU but 28 per cent did not vote for whatever reason. That means 37 per cent voted to leave and 63 per cent did not vote to leave. The majority of the youth of the country voted to remain as did the majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland but according to political rules the 37 per cent wins, that is democracy. We were told then by Theresa May, our Prime Minister, that Brexit meant Brexit but sadly she did not expand what that meant.

Today, after two years of debate and acrimonious verbal abuse, we are still no further forward. We or businesses do not know if there will be a soft Brexit or a hard Brexit or even a “No deal Brexit”. Businesses that say they need certainty or they will leave the country are then decried by politicians as spreading “project fear”.

No one in their right mind would sign a business agreement without knowing the basic terms, or reading the small print, except our politicians.

Just one of the obstacles is solving the land and sea border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. In Northern Ireland the devolved government has not been working for the last 18 months and the best skills of Theresa May cannot get the parties to agree and resolve the issues. Despite that after Brexit we have to start making trade deals across the world. Does anyone really believe our politicians are capable of this?

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

What next?

FOR over 40 years UK governments have been blaming the EU for decisions that they themselves have made. The right-wing press and parties have distorted the facts and made the EU into a bogeyman. The sad truth is that leaving the EU will not solve any of the problems that Boris Johnson said it would.

Immigration – more people come into the UK each year from outside the EU than from the EU.

NHS – there won’t be and extra £350M a week– in fact, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, there’s probably going to be even less money available.

Take back control – of what? Which EU regulation do people want to scrap – customer rights, disability discrimination, protected status for Wensleydale cheese? Earlier this year Theresa May tweeted that the Conservatives had strengthened our rights against banks – no they didn’t, the EU did. Plus, if we’re not in the EU then we have to follow World Trade Organisation rules. What sort of control is that?

Trade with the world – Donald Trump will only want to do a trade deal with the UK so that they can sell us more not for us to sell to them. He’ll also tear up a trade agreement on a whim. The EU is on our doorstep and twice the size of the US.

Now Jacob Rees-Mogg is saying that we need to be tough with the EU to get a good deal. The truth is we can’t get a better deal than we have now.

The last few weeks has been more about what’s good for the Conservative Party than for the good of the country. The EU isn’t perfect but it has been good for this country. The removal of tariffs has brought costs of all sorts of every day items down. The north has also received many grants from the EU.

The Leave campaign was heavily financed by organisations which make money out of uncertainty. They lied. They broke the rules. They are doing very nicely out of the disruption they have caused but where we live is going to be most negatively impacted by leaving the EU. A lot of politicians know this but ideology is winning over reality.

We are being asked to believe that everything will be OK – but what happens if it isn’t?

Philip Knowles, chair Richmondshire Lib-Dems

Elected mayor

THREE cheers for Graham Robb for pointing out what should be done to improve business in Darlington in the immediate future.

Indeed all these improvements would have taken place ten years ago had an elected mayor been put into place and the Labour cabinet would have been wound up, ridding the town of them and their Clause 4.

During the elected mayor campaign, the Labour Party even used a private PR company to sing the praises of the Labour cabinet with no recognition of the work carried out by the two elected mayors from Middlesbrough or Hartlepool, freeing their town of the undemocratic power of the Labour Party and Clause 4.

Both these towns have improved the lot of their citizens and have been open for business for many years.

The demise of shops including Binns, the covered market etc. is a direct result of the re-routing of those buses from the affluent West End etc. on to the ring road creating a no-go area for shoppers from those places.

Also the placing of market stalls in front of high rated shops has created unfair competition.

Clause 4 is alive, well and living in Darlington Town Hall and will remain until a future elected mayor takes over – until then Mr Robb things will remain the same and Clause 4 – and the Labour Party – will continue to ruin this town like so many others.

Ten years have passed since the last campaign to elect a mayor in this town and therefore sufficient time has elapsed to allow another campaign to take place. Elected mayor information packs are available in the town hall.

If you ever see Clause 4 and those in it then ‘Bin it’.

Peter Jones, Darlington

Useless activity

I WRITE to add my support to the numerous readers who have written recently to draw attention to the wanton destruction of wild flowers on road verges by North Yorkshire County Council.

It really is extraordinary that the council should spend money on this useless activity when it says it has insufficient cash to maintain our roads properly.

Why? Maybe because some care and attention would be needed to cut verges only when this is needed?

Whatever, this waste of our money to destroy our lovely wild flowers is a disgrace and North Yorkshire County Council should be ashamed of itself and make plans to remedy this scandal next year - and tell us what they propose.

Martin B Vallance, Brompton-on-Swale.

NHS praise

I’M writing not only to praise my local NHS Quakers Lane doctors’ surgery in Richmond for their really excellent medical and friendly treatment, help and advice, but also to mention the treatment I have been receiving from the lovely nursing staff sisters, who have been treating my right leg accident injury over the last few weeks.

Also, I must say, we have a really helpful and friendly reception staff as well, who all have a very responsible job and are always very patient when dealing with the many people seeking appointments and visiting patients as well.

Keep up the good work you are all doing, and God bless you all.

From a really satisfied patient.

Roland Bramham, Richmond

Big tea

IN last weeks “Eating Out” column Katie McFarlane told us she drank a gin and tonic and ate chicken goujons, fillet steak and chocolate gateau at 6.30 for tea at a pub in Hamsterley. Presumably she gave dinner a miss that night?

Andrew Dawson, Richmond