Dales conversions

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has received a fair bit of stick over the decision last week to turn down planning permission for three barn conversions. (D&S Times, Dec 14).

We are approving the vast majority of barn conversion applications – 100 approvals, against eight refusals over the past three years. These latest applications were refused simply because they involved field barns out in the open countryside, away from the road.

We change this unique farmed landscape of barns and walls at our peril. As Wensleydale residents Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley once wrote: "The barns, lathes as we call them, proclaim the story of the valley as much as does the ruined castle down the dale."

If repeated too often, barn conversions in open countryside could hurt the local economy, as it is the landscape that draws people here to live and to work, as well as to visit. We think public money should be spent on conserving barns and walls, as their upkeep is a public good, and we will be arguing for support to come through the post-Brexit agri-environment schemes that will be shaped in the coming years.

We are doing all we can to support the District Council to increase the number of affordable homes in the National Park that are suitable for the younger people that this area needs to retain and attract.

First, we are continuing to approve new-build housing on allocated sites and infill sites within towns and villages. Planning permissions last year were at a ten year high.

We have recently approved developments in West Witton, Bainbridge and Langthwaite. These schemes contain genuinely affordable homes. Barn conversions can make a small contribution to housing but, by comparison, they are not cheap or quick to complete, and will not be affordable on re-sale.

Second, we have allocated sites for 180 houses across the National Park. This includes two sites in Hawes for 21 homes and three sites in Reeth for 16 homes. We are actively urging the landowners to bring forward schemes to develop these sites, which are sustainably located near to shops, schools, community facilities and public transport.

Third, there are more 200 permissions for houses that haven’t yet been built. All of these permissions and sites have been published on our website to try to bring them to the attention of potential developers.

Carl Lis, chairman, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Food waste

IT’S Saturday, December 15 and I’m searching the deli counter at Tesco in Northallerton for some Manchego cheese. I find a pack but as I place it in my basket I espy that it is dated December 13, so, always seeking a bargain, I approached the lady on the counter and, showing her the item, I asked whether it shouldn’t be at a reduced price.

“ Yes, that’s it. £4.04,” she retorted. I pointed out that was not what I’d asked and she repeated her original reply. So, I pointed out the date to her. At which point she told me that it would be “binned”.

I asked her why she couldn’t just reduce the price as it was lump of perfectly good cheese. But she said no, it must be binned and she took it from my hand; went to the work counter behind her, opened a bin and threw it in.

I was horrified. Then within 30 seconds, I was disgusted. It wasn’t the lady’s fault, although her customer relations attitude could do with a bit of tweaking, but how is it that Tesco allow all this perfectly good food to be thrown away? Why do we need sell-by dates on hard cheese anyway? People are starving in the world!

The same morning over coffee, I was reading the daily paper and there was an item stating that the government was thinking of making it mandatory for every household to have a waste food receptacle.

Some questions were raised in my head, as to whether it was now really true that the inmates were running the asylum?

David J. Smith, Romanby

Thank you, Pru

PRU FARRIER, sub-editor of the D&S Arts Section, is retiring after almost three decades with the paper. The arts are an integral part of community life, drawing in people of diverse ages and backgrounds, with their role in promoting good mental health in rural areas being increasingly recognised.

Pru has made a significant contribution to the region’s arts with her stimulating coverage of professional and amateur events across a wide range of disciplines.

The arts section was her own initiative. She said: “I’ve been working at the D&S since the summer of 1990 when it was still a broadsheet. During a redesign a couple of years later I suggested having an arts page, so naturally was given the job of editing it!”

I know that readers and artists alike will have mixed feelings – pleased that Pru will have time for her retirement projects, but sad that the regional arts are losing a major champion. We all wish her well in that retirement.

Chris A Whittaker, Richmond

Supporting the arts

I WRITE to place on record my thanks to Pru Farrier who retires from editing the D&S Arts pages this week. Pru's interest in and support for music and arts in all their forms has given immeasurable encouragement to individuals and to music, theatre and arts groups across the region for many years.

Through her columns, the D&S has been a beacon of support for the arts in the North-East.

I am sure that I speak for a great many people and organisations when I say thank you to Pru and to the D&S Times for your support and encouragement. On behalf of us all who are doing our bit for the arts, thank you Pru and we wish you a long and happy retirement.

Peter Sotheran, Classical Cleveland Concerts, Redcar

Cumbersome name

AS one of those "thousands" who have always been angered at the change of name from the concise and meaningful Teesside Airport to the cumbersome and jumbled Durham Tees Valley Airport, containing no less than 23 characters, I was amused to discover the website for expressing one's disdain, www.backbensplan.com/what-should-we-call-our-airport contains no less than 52 characters (twice the alphabet) and is just about the most clumsy I've ever had to use.

Redvers Lamb, Darlington

A good life

I REFER to the letter by Tony Robinson headed "Golden days" (D&S Times letters, Dec 14)

Unfortunately I did not read the letter by Trevor Nicholson which was the subject of "Golden days" but got the gist quite clearly.

I was born in 1943 and enjoyed the years prior to the then Common Market entry.

I was born into a very hard working family. My mother was a mender in the mill, my father in the forces, and later in the ambulance service. I ate well and played well, had a grammar school education, no university, only the very brainy and fortunate were afforded the privilege then. I think I only knew two people who went to university before I was 20 years old.

I worked from leaving school, in the building trade, was never out of work all my life, could pack in a job on Friday and find a new one on Monday. Bought my own new house when 26-years-old, went short of nothing and retired when I was 65, and have no regrets whatsoever.

Fortunate you may think, yes I agree. But. If these weren’t golden says I don’t know what were.

Lawrence Whiteley, Thirsk


HERE we go again, more money for our hard up council bosses (D&S Times, Dec 14). Hambleton Council allowances for Mark Robson of £30,000 and Peter Wilkinson of £15,000 for the effort they put in.

Also the chairman of the planning committee gets £9,000, the vice chairman £6,000, and councillors down the line can claim a basic £6,000. Darlington council leader gets £30,000. The leader of Richmond council got £8,000.

Who are the people that vote these allowances, wages, pensions, leaving bonuses, and perks, oh yes its themselves.

How can one person get allowances of more than a year's salary of a nurse?

T E Rhodes, Bedale

Getting tough

IN January 2017, Theresa May declared that: “No deal is better than a bad deal” and, after losing the confidence of 117 Tory MPs, she must wish she’d stuck to that mantra.

To win back the confidence of her party and the nation, our PM must now get tough with Europe.

If, in the next few weeks she cannot obtain cast iron concessions, especially on the nefarious Irish backstop, on March 29, Mrs May must lead us confidently into a no-deal Brexit.

In the past, when Europe has tried to push us around, we’ve always come out on top. And, we can do it again, whilst saving our freedom and £39bn in the process.

With no deal, we’ll take an initial hit but I’m confident that, as in the past, we can rise to the challenge and restore our position as the world’s main trading centre, uninhibited by stifling EU laws and regulations.

No deal isn’t a disaster. It’s a God-sent opportunity to put the Great back in Britain.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor