Post Office move

I AM amazed, if not entirely surprised, at the reaction to the news that the Post Office is considering relocating its counter services in Northallerton to the branch of WH Smith further down the High Street (D&S Times, Oct 19).

This reaction can briefly be summarised as because Northallerton is the county town it deserves to have a main post office. There are spurious comparisons to the loss of the court and changes to services at the Friarage Hospital. What pompous rot.

From a business perspective, the move makes sense for the Post Office and WH Smith. The Post Office needs to cut its costs because, in case anyone hasn't noticed, we not sending each other letters anymore (this letter is being submitted by email) and we renewing our car tax/applying for driving licences/receiving benefits online.

For WH Smith it make sense because, like all High Street businesses, it is affected by the digital revolution too. It needs to encourage footfall within its stores and having a Post Office located in its shops encourages that.

And for all you online shoppers out there, grinding your teeth in angst at the loss of a High Street institution, you can rest assured that the Royal Mail delivery office behind the current Post Office is not affected by the change I understand, so you will still be able to collect your parcels.

The principal issue at stake here is the current suitability of the Northallerton WH Smiths. Its current layout is appalling and, as our MP Rishi Sunak points out, cluttered, cramped and gloomy. I called in there this week and navigating the narrow aisles was a nightmare thanks to strategically-placed displays which I reckon the store manager must think will catch people's eyes. In reality, they are a obstacle course.

A member of staff told me the plan was to locate the Post Office counters in the rear third of the store. If they do that they will have to de-clutter the front of the shop to ensure easy access (particularly for those more elderly people not comfortable with going online and who I suspect make up the bulk of counters customers) and I think WH Smith can easily achieve that because I get the feeling it currently carries a huge amount of stock which doesn't turnover very quickly.

What we would then have would be a Post Office that was more centrally-located than the present one and with much extended opening hours at weekends.

If anyone thinks this cannot work come to Romanby where the dedicated standalone post office closed about a year ago. It is now located in our McColls convenience store across the road with much longer opening hours.

This strange belief that because Northallerton is the county town it is immune from the changes affecting our High Streets is naive. Those proposing to man the barricades in defence of the existing post office which, frankly, isn't particularly spacious would do much better in backing the commendable efforts of the Northallerton BID (Business Improvement District) team in finding new ways to keep our town centre busy and attractive.

Jane Saunders, Romanby

North Riding

YOUR correspondent David Fawcett (D&S Times letters, Oct 20), who is puzzled about Redcar being referred to as in Yorkshire, needs to understand the difference between geography and authority.

Whilst the administrative boundaries of various authorities changes over time, geography does not. So the same rivers, hills and watersheds determine the geographical boundaries of the three Ridings of Yorkshire now as they have done through a thousand years and more.

No one has moved any mountains or rivers. All the places he mentions are very firmly in the North Riding of Yorkshire, the northern boundary of which is determined by the River Tees.

Marion Moverley, Richmond, The North Riding of Yorkshire

Proper Yorkshire

IN response to David Fawcett's letter last week headed In Yorkshire (D&S Times letters, Oct 20) he may live in Morton-on-Swale but I hazard he is not a Yorkshireman.

All true Yorkshire folk know that Yorkshire is not that which the bureaucrats butchered in the 1970s but the County of the three Ridings which of course includes Middlesbrough, Redcar and Guisborough.

Let him try telling the former Yorkshire and England fast bowler Chris Old and his brother Alan that they are not Yorkshiremen.

John E Howe, Aiskew, The North Riding of Yorkshire

Prison eyesore

I WAS surprised to read of the Inspector of Historic Buildings, Kerry Babbington's letter expressing his concerns "regarding some of the listed buildings which we consider could cause unjustified harm to their significance" in Northallerton (D&S Times, Oct 12).

I was surprised, because he was talking about a prison, a grim eyesore which is in complete contrast to this lovely market town's High Street.

The prison was built in 1783 on swamp land and the town's rubbish tips, with 12 cells for males, females and children.

To read the history of the prison is to get an insight of the poverty and injustices of that era. For example; A woman from Bedale was incarcerated there prior to being transported to the Colonies. Her crime, stealing some milk from her neighbour.

To put that in perspective of double standards operating at that time: "Rising concerns of malnutrition in Northallerton Prison found that a regularly visiting Justice narrowly avoided censure, for having fed meals from the prison to his dogs for years."

That was in 1783. This is 2018. Should any brick, stone or piece of wood be spared of this place, which must have been hell on Earth for the occupants, simply because it is historic or old?

What a missed opportunity, to stage a competition for young, aspiring Yorkshire architects to re-plan this area with ideas for its use from the public, without (as at present) resembling a miserable prison.

Treadmill? In the Oxford Dictionary: "The soulless 'treadmill' of urban existence; a situation that is tiring, boring from which it is hard to escape."

Maureen Johnston, Thirsk

Selfish reasons

THE machinations of the last few days have been fascinating but frightening. Agreement in no nearer and attitudes appear to be hardening. The main players in the UK are driven by one thing – greed. The Tories want to stay in power, Labour wants another General Election so that they can win power, Boris Johnson wants to be Prime Minister and the people who funded the leave campaign wanted to make more money by reducing workers’ rights. None of them are looking at what is best for the country but what is best for them.

The issues over Ireland are a direct result of the red lines that Theresa May set. No single market which breaks Strand 2 of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement by creating a border in Ireland – and a potential border in the Irish Sea breaks Strand 3. We then have no free movement of people and no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice which breaks core EU principles. The UK government cannot agree to the first and the EU cannot agree to the second.

Sovereignty is another figment too. "Let’s fall back on WTO rules and crash out" I hear frequently. There’s a clue there – rules. The WTO has rules about how trade takes place. The EU has a lot of clout in the WTO (more than the USA which upsets Donald Trump). We will have to follow the WTO rules and we will have little say in them.

The Liberal Democrats believe that the UK will be better inside the EU rather then outside it. That’s not out of self-interest – we’ve taken a lot of abuse for our stance – but out of a genuine belief. You cannot get a better deal by being outside a club otherwise why would you be a member?

I am the first to admit that the EU isn’t perfect – I believe that the EU is starting to see that too – but you cannot change a club by being outside it. Prior to the Referendum the UK was one of the fastest growing countries in the EU but now we are on of the slowest. Membership of the EU costs each of us less than £2.50 a week but the CBI reckoned that the benefits to the country was £25 for each of us.

I don’t think we can get a better deal than that.

Philip Knowles, chair, Richmondshire Liberal Democrats

Borough honour

WHY hasn’t world land speed record holder, Wing Commander Andy Green, an old boy of Bydales School, Marske, never been honoured by Redcar and Cleveland Council?

Andy holds the world record of 763mph (Mach 1.016) and, with his new Bloodhound car, wants to up it to over 1,000mph. But, unlike earlier British world record breakers, Sir Malcolm Campbell, John Cobb and Donald Campbell, Andy’s is not a household name.

The least our council can do is grant Andy the Freedom of the Borough – an honour he fully deserves as a local world record breaker.

When Boro genius, Wilf Mannion, was granted the Freedom of the Borough in 1996, my sadly deceased colleague, Councillor Bruce Mackenzie, and I decided that George Hardwick, captain of Boro, England and Great Britain should receive the honour too.

Of course, we took up the cudgels because George hailed from Lingdale in our Lockwood ward. After five years' campaigning, George rightly received the honour.

Similarly, the Marske councillors should take up the cause of their own super-hero Andy Green. No one deserves to be a Freeman of Redcar and Cleveland more than Bydales’ world record breaker!

Steve Kay, Redcar and Cleveland councillor

Fossil fuels

DAVID CRAGG-JAMES is being unrealistic in his letter discussing the government’s "environmental illiteracy" (D&S Times letters, Oct 20).

In 2017 oil comprised 40.5 per cent of energy production and gas 31.7 per cent. These are the two sources by which the great majority of people heat their homes. Nuclear, wind, solar and hydro-electric together provided only 16.6 per cent of power.

There is no possibility that, in the foreseeable future, renewables can replace oil and gas. Indeed, when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine the output from renewables drops to near zero and gas has to fill the void.

We are now obliged to import the majority of our gas from Russian and Middle-Eastern suppliers – not secure or reliable – and the proportion and cost will increase as our own gas fields are approaching depletion.

We have about 50 years' supply of shale gas available that can be obtained at a huge cost-saving over imported gas – and shale gas produces 8.5 per cent lower emissions. This valuable resource should be tapped as soon as possible for the benefit of the people of the UK and the UK economy.

The UK is responsible for less than two per cent of all CO2 emissions. China and India are building coal-fired power stations as fast as possible and increasing CO2 emissions daily. Reducing our own emissions further would have no global effect.

John Micklethwaite, Huby

Woodland woe

OVER the last few months, on our weekly walks to Cod Beck and the surrounding area, my husband and I have noticed an increasing amount of poo bags getting tossed in and around the woodland.

This is becoming an eyesore and very inconsiderate of certain dog walkers.

If you’re prepared to pick up your dog's poop in the first place, then please, either take it home with you or put it in the bin provided.

On that note – we have noticed that there is no bin in the large car park at Cod Beck, where there should be, and a huge wheelie bin in the small car park – which I have to say is an utter disgrace on the council’s part.

Surely if people are prepared to pick up their dog poo and put it in the bin the council at can at least empty it occasionally. The bin is overflowing and has a mountain of poop bags sitting on top of the bin as it is full. Not only on the top, but around the bin too.

It looks terrible.

After the recent winds, it will be blown all over the place.

Cod Beck is a favourite spot for a lot of people, it’s a shame to have it spoiled in this way.

Name and address supplied

Globe cost

THE benevolent Stockton Borough Council borrowed £17m to build a hotel for the wealthy hotel Group, Hilton, this money to be repaid of course, by ratepayers.

Yes, the town does need additional accommodation for visitors but absolutely not funded for cash rich international consortia by residents.

The council is at it once more. The Globe Theatre, a 90-year-old derelict building, is being renovated, the original estimate being a whopping £4m, but this unbelievably without knowing or investigating fully the truly appalling condition of the edifice.

Because of this the estimate has now risen to £18m of which the borough council is obliging its ratepayers to donate £13m, presumably borrowed.

When these ruinously expensive ventures became public knowledge, the council propaganda machine was swiftly brought into the equation to justify the expenditure for both schemes.

Bearing in mind the Freedom of Information Act, perhaps Stockton Borough Council will feel obliged to reveal what the full costs of the repayment of capital and interest will be over the period of the loan(s)?

Will the benefits to Stocktonians outweigh the cost of these ventures? Probably not.

Bobby Meynell, Stockton