Treadmills traffic

THE former prison site in Northallerton desperately needs to be redeveloped but not at any cost. Your front page and editorial last week along with the letter from David Severs (D&S Times, Oct 12) raised substantive issues to which I would add concern about the increased traffic and extra traffic signals in East Road introducing further delays and widening the Link to access more than 100 parking spaces on the site.

What Northallerton needs is something which enhances the town but does not damage the High Street.

However, my main concern is who takes the decision? Hambleton District Council has a 50 per cent stake in the development company.

Retailers have already been signed up to occupy the two major shops and a cinema company the four-screen cinema. The company and the council will share the rental income.

It appears to me that the council in determining the planning application would be judge and jury. Whether the application is eventually approved as submitted, with changes or refused, that decision should be taken with no hint of money outweighing proper planning considerations.

The arguments, in my opinion, should be heard by an inspector appointed by the Planning Casework Unit in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

John D Rennilson, Northallerton

Where in Yorkshire?

YOUR front page article (D&S Times, Oct 5) makes reference to Redcar being a host location for the Tour de Yorkshire.

I am somewhat puzzled as Redcar is several miles away from North Yorkshire.

Even Middlesbrough, Guisborough and various parishes are not in North Yorkshire.

I also learn that there are council erected signs reading that "You are on the Yorkshire coast”.

Could someone enlighten me please – or could Cleveland/Teesside councils provide a definitive answer?

David Fawcett, Morton on Swale

Aping Trump

PUBLICATION of the UN climate change report last week demonstrates once again this government's environmental illiteracy.

Stark warnings of the dystopian consequences for the human inhabitants as well as for the flora and fauna of our planet contrast glaringly with the government's approval of Cuadrilla's commencement of fracking, and its decision to reduce subsidies on electric and hybrid cars from November or earlier.

The launch of its Green GB Week this week is heavy with irony and redolent again of "cognitive dissonance". James Hansen, father of climate science, has described the Tory fracking programme as "aping Trump"; "The science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the 'unconventional' fossil fuels, such as tar sands and 'fracking'." Wake up!

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave

Take a bow

HATS off to the Northern Power Grid team, who on Friday, October 12 worked in what can only be described as extreme gale force conditions to make repairs and get the power back on for the DL6 area.

Many thanks on behalf of us and all our neighbours who were affected by the storm – take a bow guys, you definitely scored ten out of ten.

Trevor & Sue Mason, Swainby

Road closure

REGARDING the closure of Northallerton Road, Brompton from October 8 for 18 months, the people of Brompton have been totally disregarded.

Taylor Wimpey appears to be responsible for the closure, but they have not done us the courtesy of replying to our emailed questions. All they have done is close the road and put diversion signs up.

They have not done a letter drop to Brompton residents or held a meeting explaining what provisions they have made for the buses used mainly by the older residents to run between the village central crossroads and De Bruce Road. Presently they are only dropping off at the village crossroads.

Northallerton Road has lights but the two diversion roads do not. We are expected to use the narrow Lead Lane which has a 3.5T limit or Station Road which has a single track bridge directly in front of the Primary School.

I witnessed a near accident at the junction of Lead Lane/A684 on Tuesday morning, October 9 – cars coming from Northallerton are travelling up to 60mph at that point.

Also will someone be arranging for the gritting of both of these roads when the weather gets icy as they are probably not considered main roads?

Should consideration be given to putting temporary lighting along the A684 to the junction, reduce the speed limit and put temporary traffic lights on the junction with Lead Lane?

L Edwards, Brompton

People's Vote

VOTING leave in the 2016 referendum was like going into a restaurant and asking for a meal without looking at the menu – without being offered a menu, or even a price.

Later this autumn we will see what the government have cooked up for us by way of Brexit. Will it be an appetising and nutritious meal, or a half-baked concoction with toxic ingredients (and a side order of Irish stew) – or a dog’s breakfast? And will Boris Johnson have spat in the soup?

Theresa May is more concerned with placating the factions within her party, and the DUP, than with what’s best for the country. The Labour Party is also hopelessly split on the issue. Let’s cut out the failed politicians in Parliament and have a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

The Green Party believes that the British people deserve the chance to vote again, once we have seen what is on offer and the true cost. However, you voted in 2016 – even if you didn’t vote – you should have the opportunity now.

Tens of thousands of people will be marching in British cities on Saturday, October 20 for a People’s Vote.

John Yorke, Green party parliamentary candidate, Richmondshire

Mental health

AS someone who has suffered a period of significant mental health difficulty in my life I take exception to politicians using this subject for some yah-boo-sucks, knockabout point-scoring.

Philip Knowles', chair of Richmondshire Liberal Democrats', rather scatter-brained thoughts on the issue (D&S Times letters, Sept 28) is a case in point.

He throws together a whole series of vaguely-related headlines to make his point about the Government supposedly not taking mental health services seriously while criticising our MP's carefully-reasoned thoughts on young people's mental health (Rishi Sunak column, Sept 14) and some of the practical steps the Government is taking to tackle the issue.

He then refers to the (delayed) closure of mental health beds at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton in support of his argument and the Richmondshire Liberal Democrats' campaign against this – an ill-considered campaign in my view and typical of Liberal Democrat gesture politics.

If Mr Knowles and his colleagues had taken the trouble to talk to users of mental health services in this area, they would realise that the really important issue here is not whether we retain some sub-standard mental health wards at the Friarage but the quality of community mental health services that will take their place.

Mr Knowles needs to understand that the last thing the vast majority of people who are mentally ill want is to be admitted to a ward. They want to talk to the health professionals who can help them and in some cases they may need drug therapy, neither of which require a hospital bed. They want that care at home or as close to home as possible

And if they are so ill that a bed is required, whether it is in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Northallerton or Middlesbrough is frankly neither here nor there. They just want the best treatment so they can get out of hospital as soon as possible.

Having corresponded with Mr Sunak on this issue, I feel he is the one local politician who has taken the trouble to hold health chiefs to account, to request the detailed information about how the new community services will be delivered and to ensure that the money saved by not having the Friarage wards (which do not meet modern standards) is invested into the local services.

Edward Harden, Catterick Garrison

Modern slavery

THE British Government estimates that tens of thousands of people are in modern slavery in the UK today. They can be people forced into prostitution, into labour or into unwanted marriage. It is about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.

Citizens, communities, businesses, voluntary and community sector all have a role in bringing this unacceptable practice to an end in our society. Local government has an important part to play. Councils and their local partners can help to identify, refer and support victims in their area, fulfilling their responsibilities for adult safeguarding, child protection and community safety.

The country’s councils spend over £40bn procuring services through the contracts they sign every year: this means that they have significant leverage with which to eliminate modern slavery being practised in their supply chains.

The Coop Party has produced a charter against modern slavery to commit signatory councils to taking ten practical steps to ensure their contractors do not exploit anybody as a modern slave, for instance through forced labour or debt bondage.

Your local branch of the Co-op Party is asking Hambleton District and North Yorkshire County Council to commit to the ten points of this Charter to improve the lives of people being subjected to the cruel and degrading treatment of the modern slave masters. There is cross-party support for this issue –the government, with full parliamentary support, has done some good work at the legislative level. It is now up to our local councillors to step up to the plate to help eliminate this abominable practice.

The Co-operative Party, Richmond and District

Measuring units

I SENT an email to my MP Rishi Sunak on September 8 with my idea for the bottle top (cap) on all bottles of spirits to measure the recommended one unit of alcohol.

Mr Sunak sent my idea to the appropriate government department' on September 10. He also wrote to me telling me he had done this.

I telephoned his office on September 28 to ask when I could expect a reply, and I was told it would be at least another two weeks.

Are these long communication delays due to the government offices being in London where the running costs are extremely high, therefore fewer staff are employed?

Why not spread these major offices throughout the country where I am sure more staff could be employed and get the country moving faster.

I am still awaiting a reply.

Christina Rea, Hutton Rudby