Town's heritage

I WAS disappointed to read of the debate held by Hambleton District councillors at which the view was put forward that Northallerton has very little history (D&S Times, Dec 7).

I would like to reassure your readers there is plenty to see and learn about, even if we have to accept that we cannot recreate a structure long gone.

Our castle has not survived quite like those at Helmsley or Pickering but we do have a Motte and Bailey with a dramatic history. In addition, the site of the Bishop's Palace is very clear still, with its moat, even if it is now the old cemetery. We do not have a minster or cathedral but our All Saints' Church is on the site of an Anglo-Saxon minster and is a fine building with a wealth of interest inside, much of it reflecting our changing history.

Reference was made to Register House, beautifully cared for by Joe Cornish. As a building it is very little altered from the early 18th Century, and it also made a very important contribution towards Northallerton becoming the county town of the North Riding.

In addition, we have a fine Georgian High Street with such gems as Betty's and Waterstones, a very attractive Old Grammar School building dating from 1776 and the famous Porch House just opposite. Moreover Northallerton has some splendid early 20th century buildings: County Hall itself, the superb facade to the Station Hotel and the Barclays Bank building , to name but three.

However, an interest in local history is so much more than the actual buildings, as witnessed by the huge numbers who flocked to see the prison site, or the hundreds who filled the Forum to hear a distinguished medieval historian discuss the significance of the Battle of the Standard in 1138 AD. Local history is about what made us how we are. Why is the town the shape it is? How did we earn our living? What national dramas were lived through here? How many famous or infamous people have visited, even if they did often pass through on the Great North Road on their way to somewhere else?

I accept that we still need to find more ways of presenting information and many people locally are working on that, but I do feel there may be other reasons for visitors not staying long, like the lack of toilets and no convenient bus park.

Jennifer Allison, Northallerton

Golden days

I AM old enough to remember those golden pre-EU days that Trevor Nicholson rhapsodises over (D&S Times letters, Dec 7); however, I am unsure as to when exactly this "fantastic" period was.

Could it have been the early 1970s, perhaps, with a civil war raging in Northern Ireland, an economy in seemingly terminal decline and endless industrial strife?

Or was it the late 60s, with student unrest, devaluation and demarcation disputes?

Maybe the 1950s, with the Suez fiasco and race riots?

Or even the late 1940s (okay, beyond personal memory now) with austerity mark one, fuel shortages and the big freeze of 1947?

I could go on, but let's face it, there never was a golden age, and Trevor Nicholson is clearly a victim of false memory syndrome.

Tony Robinson, Northallerton

Fire service budget

I READ this item of news with increasing disbelief. Police, Fire, Crime Commissioner Julie Mulligan sets out the financial challenges facing the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, which despite wage cuts, merging police and fire service includes a "black hole" of £3.5m which means, she predicts, the service going bust by 2023. An essential service!

The solution is, as always, to present the council tax payer with higher bills.

The disbelief I experience is because it seems the rest of the UK, including Yorkshire, lives in a parallel universe to that which the politicians in their bubble of Westminster inhabit, when they distribute this country's wealth.

For in the international news, I read of the extreme generosity of the UK; a country so wealthy it gave £315m in aid to India, a wonderful country, and itself so seemingly wealthy, that its space programme alone is worth £400bn, and a country which recently built itself the highest statue in the world, at a cost of £390m.

India is now listed as the world's top emerging wealthiest trading nation along with China; another country to whom the wealthy UK also sends millions of pounds in aid.

Pakistan, a country also with a very ambitious costly space programme, and its own nuclear arsenal also receives UK millions every year for its poor, but who sadly, judging by the endless TV charity ads, are still short of water and needing our help.

Those two countries were only two of dozens to whom the UK sends millions, and far too many of them have a history of corrupt regimes, and repression.

For most of my life (even as a child) I have sent money to Africa, India, China etc. to help the poor people there, to build schools and hospitals and supply clean water. But the only difference made there it seems, is an increase in private armies for their despots.

I now believe that charity begins at home. It is about time our patronising politicians began to realise the same, and that the United Kingdom does not start and end in the Palaces of Westminster.

M.E. Johnston, Thirsk

Decisiveness needed

THE Prime Minister's delay at the 11th hour of the Brexit vote in parliament shows the shambles in Westminster.

At the referendum two and a half years ago 37 per cent voted to leave, 35 per cent voted to remain, 28 per cent did not vote. Only a politician could say that this was a clear democratic statement of the British people to leave the EU.

For two and a half years 650 of our MPs have talked backwards and forwards over Brexit and have come up with 650 different ideas, everything else has been put on hold.

For example plastic pollution in the sea where by 2040 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, global warming trying to reduce the rate of temperature rise, air pollution around our roads and cities resulting in the premature deaths of 40,000 people a year and the civil war in Syria.

This is typical for parliament, for 40 years they discussed increasing the airport capacity round London and finally approved a third runway at Heathrow but I am sure that will not be the end of that. We need decisive MPs capable of investigating a problem from all angles. The people and the world are laughing at us and we can do nothing.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Leaving the EU

NO matter which way one voted, the result of the vote would never satisfy everyone completely.

Currently the leave campaign is under investigation for alleged over funding on the spending limit allowed. This may have given the leave campaign an unfair, undemocratic advantage. Some of the leave campaign tactics prior to the referendum were dubious, the suggestion that £350m per week could be available for the NHS when we left the EU was a fallacy.

Much is made of the word democracy by those who voted to leave. A risible scenario! How do the people who voted leave feel about the way the leave campaign was conducted?

Those who voted leave say they wanted to regain control of our borders, control of immigration, laws, taxes, trade and control of our country. An odd wish list when we already have those things in place.

Two years on from the 2016 referendum, most people have a far better understanding of our membership of the EU, far better than in the few months leading up to the 2016 referendum.

Myths are promulgated ad nauseum. “Project fear” is one myth that is prevalent when those who voted leave are challenged.

Many business people, farmers, and financiers – all intelligent people – have been derided and vilified with the myth.

When the Bank of England governor attempted to alert us all to the possibilities and dangers of leaving the EU, he’s shouted down with the mantra of “project fear.” Reasoned and coherent argument is notably absent from the leave supporters’ dialogue. Do they really believe diatribe rules?

Mark Carney’s quiet professionalism and concern for our economy has impressed me, as has Phillip Hammond’s concern.

The time has come for another referendum to take place, yet that is once again shouted down with the mantra “we won you lost.” Time may yet overthrow that opinion.

I, for one, stand alongside the well written and reasoned correspondence (D&S Times Letters, Nov 30) of John Yorke, Susan Latter, Dave Dalton, Ian Hobson.

Michael Anderson, Thirsk

What Powerhouse?

IT is over four years since the Northern Powerhouse initiative was announced by the then Chancellor, George Osborne.

In its recent report ‘State of the North 2018’, the Institute for Public Policy Research has revealed how little has actually been achieved.

The figures are damning: since the inception of the ‘powerhouse’, spending per head in London has increased by twice as much as spending in the North; Northern productivity is 12.6 per cent lower than the national average; two million working-age people and one million children in the North live in households below the poverty line; and many neighbourhoods with the lowest life expectancy are in Northern cities.

Our congested roads and railways are a national disgrace and our broadband speeds are in the bottom third of the EU, behind Bulgaria.

According to the Political Economy Research Centre, inner London is Europe’s richest region but most of the other British regions are poorer than the European average.

This makes the UK the most geographically unbalanced economy in Europe.

Mr Osborne’s talking up of a Northern Powerhouse now looks to have been no more than a cynical smokescreen.

For almost ten years, successive Conservative-led governments have let the North down badly.

We deserve better than this: a national rebalancing plan and some real joined-up thinking.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton

Fly-tipping trouble

DEFRA has identified Redcar & Cleveland as one of the worst authorities for fly-tipping incidents.

Over the summer and autumn, I’ve spent countless hours battling this scourge in East Cleveland. It’s consisted mainly of household and building waste, but I’ve even had the remnants of a cannabis farm dumped in a lane, near Moorsholm.

Throughout, I’ve had 100 per cent assistance from the council’s officials who have inspected the rubbish for clues as to those responsible, before removing it at considerable cost.

Unfortunately, “professional” fly-tippers have learnt to dispose of the evidence before committing the dastardly deed; partly accounting for the recent low level of actions against them.

There’s an indisputable relationship between increased charging and the escalation of fly-tipping incidents. So, to minimise fly-tipping, we must make the deposition of both domestic and trade waste free at the point of use for the residents and businesses of our borough.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to deal with all the rubbish at one centre, free of charge, rather than rush around from pillar to post cleaning up after thousands of elusive fly-tippers?

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor

Northern Ireland

DURING last week’s debate on Brexit, Labour MP and Remainer Meg Hillier gave credit to the European Union for peace in Europe. What peace?

This is an affront to the many soldiers killed in Northern Ireland, and particularly to the late parents who lived in Redcar and the family of my cousin Malcolm, serving with the Green Howards killed alongside four of his colleagues in Northern Ireland.

Malcolm was there to keep peace in that country.

On Saturday I was talking to a retired colleague of mine who was serving with and a friend of Malcolm’s and was actually nearby at the time on the same patrol.

I agreed with his comment: Ireland is conveniently forgotten about, even though more soldiers died there than the total killed in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was the late Redcar MP Mo Mowlem who was at the forefront of the peace discussions that brought the end of that conflict.

We owe nothing to Europe in this regard and should not be used in arguments for remaining a part of the EU.

Colin Hatton, Marton