How to lead

I MUST admit I was appalled when I saw the crowded, insanitary, living conditions allocated to police officers from around the country who had been sent south to bolster security for the Trump visit D&S Times, July 27).

It isn't as if the visit was a surprise, there was ample time to get the logistics right, there was no excuse if the organisation truly valued its staff.

In the mid 90's I remember being put on stand by for expected trouble at Liverpool prison and with many other prison service personnel we were put up at a police college somewhere near Preston. It wasn't the Ritz but we were provided with a clean, airy study bedroom, use of a sports-hall if required and a lecture hall for briefing purposes. We had no complaints.

Mutual aid, inter agency working at its best, proof that it can be done, planned in advance obviously, but within a much reduced time-scale than the Trump visit.

I suggest that those crime commissioners and senior police officers who rely increasingly on PR “gesture politics” who appear to promote a new “trendy” policy each week show more respect for those front-line officers who they expect to deliver, show some leadership.

The focus of any organisation has to be people-based. Objects are managed, people are led. For leaders to achieve through their people they need to care for them.

Two principles which enhance the process, the utilitarian principle, the view that people work better if they are happy, and the moral principle, the view that leaders have a personal responsibility for the quantum happiness amongst their people.

The heart of any organisation is its purpose. Leaders who base achievement around fear will sometimes receive impressive figures, but, like sausages, its best not to ask how they are made.

However, leaders who link trust, affection, qualitative assessment and qualitative returns achieve impressive results. The preservation of a quality culture ensures that what gets done gets done well.

As my wife recently reminded me, the governor of my home establishment at the time rang her regularly whilst I was away, to ensure her well-being and to keep her up-dated on our deployment. "She gave me her home number and said I could ring her at anytime if I had any concerns."

That's leadership, that's how you treat your staff.

Phil O'Brien, Northallerton

Trusted news

SOMETIMES I think we forget how lucky we are around here. We have The Northern Echo and The Darlington and Stockton Times which we can rely on to give us a fair view of the world around us. In fact, one of my students said a few years ago that he wished that there was a national newspaper like The Northern Echo. The front pages of some of the national tabloids pour out bile and hate on people who have the temerity to disagree with their point of view.

Online it continues in the same vein. On the My Brexit Facebook page a LibDem MP has been accused of putting in an expense claim of almost £8,000 for vegan cheese. It is totally untrue and a newspaper wouldn’t publish it so how can these people get away with libelling others? Worse still is the bile and vitriol poured on her which is truly shocking. Why do people think it is OK to be so unpleasant to others online?

At the weekend it was revealed that the official Leave campaign authorised continuing their Facebook campaign despite the agreement not to campaign after the shocking murder of Jo Cox. They contacted 20m people during that weekend. The select committee raised real concerns about the way the online campaign was not publicly visible and there was no opportunity to reply. This campaign contained such gems as the EU is trying to ban our cuppa.

For democracy to work it has to be open, fair and transparent. When did it become OK to win at all costs? The public believe that politicians lie all the time. I believe that most politicians are decent, honourable people who want the best for the people they represent.

Philip Knowles, chair, Richmondshire Lib-Dems

Blooming marvellous

IN April you kindly published a letter concerning my shock at the news of the devastating fire that destroyed the Strikes Garden Centre in Stokesley. In the letter, I expressed my hope that the garden centre would bloom again once more.

It is remarkable that four months later, I have just visited the re-opened shop and restaurant. It is a triumph.

The new building is a miracle of engineering. Stepping inside, it is hard to believe that this is a temporary structure. What a long way we have come from the days when a temporary building would mean a draughty tent or creaky shed. This is temporary with a luxury twist.

I believe the staff at Strikes deserve a huge amount of praise for their bravery in returning to work after the dreadful fire; for opening the well-stocked plant area so quickly and for their energy ensuring the seasonal plant stock has been kept freshly up-to-date and beautifully displayed.

No one should under-estimate the trauma the staff must have experienced on the night of the fire or the difficulty that they have faced every day coming to work next to a scene of such devastation.

Further high praise is due to the owners of Strikes, the Klondyke Group. They have looked after their staff in an exemplary fashion. This is rare in the modern profit-driven business world. It is very satisfying to hear that this company is run with such integrity.

As well as keeping their regular staff employed in the plant area and at other company sites, as reported by this paper, they have recruited new staff - a welcome boost for jobs in the area

It is therefore a shame that in recent weeks there were council reports in your paper that highlighted some negative comments from Stokesley councillors and residents saying the temporary structure is too high; the view of the hills has been obscured; the temporary construction must be returned to being a field quickly; the dwelling on site - due to be demolished - should be rebuilt somewhere else.

These are genuine concerns, but could we have a lot more praise and enthusiasm for the courage and dignity shown by the staff and owners. The company could have walked away from this terrible tragedy. Stokesley would have lost one of its greatest assets. The site could have been demolished to become more new houses or even that campaign favourite: a supermarket.

I am thrilled that Strikes is back - and it is blooming marvellous!

Terence Fleming, Guisborough

Flawed experiment

CLLR Peter Dew of York has resigned from the police and crime panel (D&S Times, July 27). He said he had understood the role of the panel was to support the police and crime commissioner and to hold her to account but he had found at best she treated the panel as an irrelevance and at worst treated its members with ‘little disguised contempt’.

His resignation was precipitated by her refusal to listen to the advice of the panel, and that of the city council and the county council (and six of seven district councils), as far as control of the county’s fire and rescue service was concerned.

None of this is surprising. Clearly she has treated the panel like she treats the public, examples of which are legion.

I cannot believe experienced councillors approved her sale of the old headquarters (at much less than its market value), the aborted attempt to build a new headquarters (at a cost not yet revealed) and the move into the inadequate new headquarters (before the sale of the old headquarters had even been finalized).

What is surprising is that the other members of the panel have not resigned too. Are they content to be treated as irrelevant or with contempt?

The chairman of the panel is County Councillor Carl Les. He is one of the senior Conservative councillors who voiced their objections to the PCC’s intention to take over the fire brigade and made plain their objections after it had been approved. Given that he is a senior Conservative councillor hereabouts and the PCC was twice chosen by local Conservatives it is to be hoped that he and his colleagues are preparing to appoint somebody else. Ultimately she is their responsibility.

The existence of the PCC is the result of a flawed experiment by a previous Conservative government. The present government is unpicking the disastrous changes to the NHS, they have renationalized parts of the railways and now we find they are reversing privatization of the probation service.

It is high time they did away with PCCs. It might work in County Durham, where the PCC is a retired senior police officer and the chief constable would have run the force well without him anyway, but it is self-evident it does not work in North Yorkshire. There is widespread dissatisfaction in the county and we should be rid of her.

David Severs, retd chief superintendent, Northallerton

Deep concern

I AM writing to express my deep concern and abject disappointment at the appearance of the unsightly steel poles with their accompanying metal shields in the conservation area of Bedale Market Place. These have been put up right in the heart of town next to our historic market cross and surrounding buildings.

What is most galling is that they are an unnecessary disfigurement of this previously unspoilt area of our wonderful high street.

I can only hope this is a temporary mistake which will be rectified soon. I find it hard to understand how anyone with any empathy or sensitivity could do this. Shop and home owners in Bedale have to comply with strict planning rules and regulations which have been quite rightly imposed to protect this historic and lovely area and yet this has been done. I cannot believe the planners allowed this.

I am the owner of two properties directly affected by these signs and feel it is unfair that people have to live with them just outside their homes and shops. No consultation was held with property owners or tenants and it just seems so out of keeping with this old and lovely area.

Surely a display of flowers, such as the impressive show outside the Three Coopers, or some small trees would have been far better.

Brian Lancaster, Bedale

Safe cyclists

I AM writing in response to the article titled “Call for calm between cyclists and motorists” (D&S Times, July 20).

Accepting that this is an accurate account of the NYCC's meeting, I feel that the tone was biased in favour of motorists and concluded that cyclists were the problem, which in itself does not make cycling any safer on our roads. In law, speed limits only apply to motor vehicles. This means that it is impossible for a cyclist to “speed”, ie, exceed a speed limit.

The speed of a bicycle is self-limiting. A good speed for a competent road cyclist is 20mph – admittedly when going downhill this could be exceeded, but never to that of a speeding car which could reach speeds in excess of 70mph. The physical harm caused to a motorist by a collision with a cyclist is negligible whereas the cyclist would be seriously injured or killed.

When roads are shared between cyclists and motor vehicles the vulnerability of cyclists has to be taken into account. A motorist is protected within a metal cage with airbags and many other safety features whereas the cyclist only has the protection of his helmet.

I take issue with Cllr Patricia Patmore's comment that cyclists are the problem. I have never encountered rude gestures from a cyclist whilst driving, perhaps this is because I give cyclists space on the road and plenty of room whilst overtaking. One wonders what kind of driver Cllr Patmore is to produce such a reaction. Whereas many cyclists have to endure constant threats from irate motorists who believe they have the sole right of the road which results in the cyclist having to take evasive action whilst being overtaken dangerously. Most cyclists enjoy the countryside and many stop to take photos, unlike most motorists who are only concerned with getting from A to B.

A motorist has no more rights than a cyclist – they are both people trying to reach a destination. Perhaps if NYCC are really concerned about cycling fatalities they should consider investing in some safety/education publicity and cycle lanes.

Ian Hobson, Scruton

Cold callers

BOTH my wife, Vera, and myself are sick and tired of these constant telephone calls, asking us if we are interested in joining Talk Talk broadband, or joining the internet or do we want solar panels?

No we don’t want any of these – ever.

Also, both of us aren’t interested in any of the following: Twitter, Google, Zoopla, Amigo loans, Face-page, Eye-pads, laptops etc.

We have both managed all these years being together without these (so-called) present day technology aids.

In one sense, we are both still, what is termed old-fashioned in our ideas and in the way we both live our lives today, in our everyday life.

So, we only politely ask all these people who want us to join this and that, to leave us both alone and let us get on with our lives, because the main thing is we both still have each other and what more do we want?

Roland Bramham, Richmond

In name only?

AS a Conservative voter and party member, it pains me to ask whether “Brexit means Brexit” is one of the greatest political lies ever told on the steps of Downing St?

Unless there is a U-turn, Theresa May's proposed plan would constitute a Brexit in name only, betraying all leave voters and making it extremely difficult for them to vote Conservative in future elections. UKIP and Corbyn must be delighted.

Robert Birch, Brompton

Union call

IT’S a sad day for the British working class that fewer people than ever are members of trade unions.

It’s true that unions were weakened by Tory legislation, but that does not mean modern day trade unions are useless to their members. As Paul Novak, general secretary of the TUC, said recently: “Unionised workers have higher wages and better conditions.”

With the present high employment levels, many workers feel they have no need for trade unions, but, when the next recession comes, such people will be at the mercy of unscrupulous bosses, facing wage freezes, or no job at all.

It took over a hundred years of battling and sacrifice to get trade unions the recognition they deserve. I hope the present generation of workers is not throwing it all away.

Some may be of the opinion that, given a chance, unions will abuse their power, like they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Others may think they are too political. These are fair criticisms, but that does not mean that collective bargaining is wrong in principle.

For working people, it’s simple: united we stand, divided we fall.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

Green spaces

CONGRATULATIONS are in order to Councillor Nick Wallis and his department for the three prestigious Green Flag Awards (D&S Times, July 27). As he said, “We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors…” A sentiment I fully endorse.

However, just how this sits with the current proposals to decimate the green spaces and woodland to the north east of the town is beyond my comprehension.

But then the Local Plan proposals for the Skerningham Strategic Development appears to be just another example of the lack of joined up thinking I have witnessed in the over twenty years I have lived in Darlington.

James Chalk, Darlington

War weary

YET another “1940s Weekend”- this time in Leyburn (D&S Times, July 27).

Anyone would think that the 1940s ended on VE Day (VJ Day barely gets a look in); how about something to celebrate the real social achievements of the late 1940s instead?

Yes, I know that dressing up as a nurse, a social worker or a town planner doesn't compare with riding round in a Jeep dressed up as a general or a GI, but I really wish we could give up our obsession with the war and treat it not as some glorified fancy dress party, but acknowledge it for the enormous human and political tragedy it really was.

Tony Robinson, Northallerton

Warning signs

I KEEP seeing “temporary” warning triangles telling me of floods. Sometimes these remain long after the risk has passed.

Surely it would be most helpful if our councils would warn us with similar triangles (hopefully only needing to be temporary) of potholes - a much more topical hazard in these days of austerity for council budgets.

This might well lead to fewer accidents, fewer claims and savings for us all.

Lisle Ryder, Newton-le-Willows

Typo image

WHAT a delightful picture is conjured up by the report in last Friday’s Weekend Walk in the D&S Times that “over 1,000 navies” built the Ribblehead Viaduct.

One wonders quite how they all managed to sail there...

Tom Banfield, Thornton-le-Beans