Monty Python

WITH reference to Tony Webster’s comments that planners at North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways department are like Monty Python sketch writers (D&S, August 17). In Great Ayton we have a similar problem of heads buried in the sand.

On the grass verge on Guisborough Road there are five dead and dying trees, which are an eyesore. I have even had visitors to the village making comments about them. I contacted the parish council only to be told “it’s not our problem it is North Yorkshire County Council”.

So I duly contacted NYCC after seeing children climbing some of the trees. I asked who was responsible if a branch snapped and a child was injured. Twenty four hours later later a council staff member was taking photographs. The reply I received was that as the trees did not reach the criteria they would be monitored.

So as a tourist area we have to put up with an eyesore. I wonder if the problem was on the High Green in the village centre it would only be monitored?

C.P.Atkinson, Great Ayton

Bedale art trail

WILL WILLSON takes offence at the artwork in Bedale (D&S Times, August 17) and those who have worked to see it created and installed. I can understand if a piece is personally not a preferred style, but all I could detect from the letter was a grouse at the PCC, The Community Forum and by all accounts the planning department. People were consulted, to see what images best represented Bedale.

As a Bedale lad I have seen and tried many attempts to collect and incorporate views of local residents; blood from a stone springs to mind! To actually get a result is an incredible achievement. Quite clearly the writer has no idea about the commissioning process, cost for test pieces, installation costs and insurance etc to understand where money goes. Try getting a single brown heritage sign for less than £10,000.

What has come across in the letter is a list of personal targets and gripes. This was Bedale residents’ opinions about what they feel is the best about our town, and if I was visiting it would spur me on to investigate the features shown.

I look forward to the next commissioning process when Mr Willson should be able to provide details of things more “in keeping with the area”. I for one think they are in keeping, are informative and promote a positive image of the town; so I don't know which “to a man/ woman” have been spoken to because I can counter that with plenty who do like and appreciate what has been created.

Phil Wright, Thornborough

Sweeping statement

I WRITE in reply to two of your correspondents (D&S, August 17). I can reassure Mike Taylor that the leak affecting our house and garden, reported on August 3, was fixed by Yorkshire Water that same day. If that was the result of your coverage, I must thank the D&S and especially your reporter Ashley Barnard.

Steve Kay’s letter about, yes, you guessed it, Brexit, contains the assertion: “Britain voted to leave the single market and customs union, to free itself from European courts and to get a grip on immigration.” That’s too sweeping to be fully accurate, in two ways.

First, what did we vote for? The question on the ballot paper was: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

What leaving the European Union meant, in detail, was not spelled out, and we are still waiting to find out.

What it meant to each individual voter, varied from person to person. Speaking for myself, I voted remain at least partly because the leave campaign was led by people like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, motivated by personal ambition and indifferent or reckless about how the outcome could affect the country.

Second, who voted? Of those who voted, more than 17 million, or 52 per cent, voted leave. But turnout was 72 per cent ¬- about 13 million people chose not to vote. So leave voters made up 37 per cent of those eligible to vote. And that leaves out those who could have voted if they had been registered, and people who were too young to vote, but will certainly be affected by the outcome of Brexit.

As for Britain voting to leave – Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for remain, so it is more accurate to say that England and Wales voted to leave.

For these and other reasons, the result of the referendum isn’t as clear-cut as Steve Kay thinks.

Dave Dalton, Richmond

Woodlands Walk

THE Darlington and Stockton Times’s editorial comment on August 3, headed Being Accountable, asked the question who is accountable for all the problems the new development behind Woodlands Walk in Stokesley has thrown up.

As one of those residents I would like to thank the D&S Times for their support on this issue, and for bringing it to the attention of local people. This development got through on appeal after a hard-fought battle. Residents were concerned about flooding, and the unsuitability of the land chosen for development.

It was generally accepted by residents when the appeal went through, but we didn’t realise then the nightmare we would have to face.

We have seen that field regularly underwater, so the developers spent months raising the land in an attempt to combat the problem. I would like to know who passed the plans to enable Kier Living to build so high and so close to existing properties?

Whoever it was has shown no regard for the rights of existing residents. A road runs right through the centre of the land which is so high in places, the wheels of passing lorries are above some of the fences on Woodlands Walk.

The noise and dust is intrusive, and the weeks of piling has caused excessive vibrations through the houses. We haven’t been able to fully enjoy the summer in our back gardens because of the dust which has coated everything, and because of the constant noise from the building site. The question of privacy is a huge issue as the land is so high and the new properties will be so close.

We have been sending emails to Kier, Hambleton District Council and Environmental Health trying to get answers to all the issues which have concerned us. There have been intermittent newsletters, and meetings from Kier which have been at times during the day, not convenient for people who work, and often conflicting messages have been received. We know that visits to the site are rare from the people in Hambleton District Council involved with planning and enforcement, so we have had to police and monitor the site ourselves.

If the original plans had shown any consideration for existing residents, none of these problems would have occurred.

Name and address supplied

Affordable homes

RISHI SUNAK’S column (D&S, August 10) discusses the lack of housing affordable to youngsters. Your readers don’t need me to tell them that the price of housing is determined by supply and demand.

Mr Sunak describes how the government has increased monetary demand (Help to Buy loans and ISAs) and taken measures to increase supply.

It is perplexing that Mr Sunak proposes to improve affordability by increasing monetary demand, and even more perplexing that Mr Sunak has no suggestions as to now demand might be controlled.

I am glad to be able to help him.

The Oxford University Migration Observatory (24th January 2018) has reported that between mid-1991 and mid-2016 net migration resulted in an addition of 4.5 million people to the UK population, accounting for just over half (55%) of total population growth.

The observatory reports also that immigration is making a significant indirect contribution to UK population increase by expanding the birth rate: for example, for the period 2001-07 the estimated overall contribution of foreign-born women to the increase in the number of births is 65%.

The government has complete power over non-EU immigration yet ONS figures show the following non-EU immigration for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017: 279,000, 265,000 and 311,000 (Provisional Long-Term International Migration estimates, 16 July 2018).

These millions of new residents and their future offspring all require housing, schools, road space, pavement space, medical care, water, an energy supply and all other necessary resources. The continuing arrival of immigrants en masse makes it ever more difficult for people already in the country to afford housing. Control immigration and demand for housing will be controlled.

England is desperately crowded: France has a just slightly greater population in four times the area. Immigration cannot go on like this.

Jonathan Couchman, West Witton

Broadacres report

THANK YOU for your article reporting huge financial losses and mismanagement by Broadacres and Mulberry Homes Yorkshire Ltd regarding the Leeming Bar and the Sowerby Gateway Developments (D&S Times, August 10).

Members of STUFF, the local campaign group who predicted risks and other negative impacts in 2011 will not be surprised, but sadly, will feel vindicated.

At Hambleton District Council planning meetings, in the press and at parish level, we predicted problems that are now evidenced and proven: including traffic overload and hazards especially at Blakey Bridge; future amendments to agreed planning guidelines to remove requirement for 40 per cent social and affordable housing; unaffordability of the project; overruns of budgets; unfinished and blighted development; and loss of control of public money.

Now in its audit report the authoritative national Housing and Communities and Association, judge, 'serious failure', the management not identifying the 'risks involved', lack of 'appropriate degree of skill, independence, diligence, effectiveness, prudence and foresight in relation to the management of its commercial activities and associated investments'. I couldn't have said it better myself - it's a complete condemnation of mismanagement, and those responsible should be investigated by a competent independent body (not HDC themselves).

I call upon fellow residents and councillors, political parties and groups, to join with me, and to write to HDC and the HCA and call for a full public inquiry into the proven mismanagement of Sowerby Gateway Project and the attendant loss to the public accounts of the reported £5.5m. Where did the money go?

But this audit report covers only 2011-2016, and we need now to get transparency on events since. Heads should roll.

Dr John Gibbins, Sowerby