Dales families

THE Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority claim to be the only show in town to care about the loss of young families from the Dales, very high profile a year ago, has as expected foundered on its own dogmatic refusal to allow the flexibility within the policy around barn conversions to provide often the only opportunity for them to stay.

Without young families in their presence, our local Dales communities will have no future at all.

Its determination to promote the cause of young families, the objective of its half-baked “at least five times council tax” publicity campaign it fronted with such relish – an initiative that would have driven young families away and made it worse for all of us who remained – was put to the test at the December Planning Committee and found to be of the distinctly hollow variety.

Worse still, the members of the authority who voted to refuse the three barn conversion applications, did so in silence without a word in explanation. A sharp contrast to shouting 12 months ago on National TV about its deep concerns for our future.

The applicants were all from local farming families, desperate to remain in the Upper Dales, and between them there were five young children. The private legal advice made clear that members could approve their plans with a degree of moderation to our reasoning.

If they could stay then they would become the foot-soldiers of landscape conservation, following in the proud foot-steps of their ancestors. YDNPA Chairman, Carl Lis talks of this work as all-important, but you do wonder who he thinks is going to do it?

And does he really consider that losing the tin-sheeted eyesore at Shoemaker Barn, Grinton that greets all at the entrance to the stunning scenery in Swaledale, places the National Park in peril when instead it could have become an attractive barn conversion occupied by a young family at the centre of a working farmstead. Just four miles away Arkengarthdale Primary School, with just four pupils on roll, will sadly close in July.

A YDNPA truly committed to young families would have helped these applications through. Instead my 21-year experience of the DNA of the authority tells me it remains as hostile to our well-being on barn conversions as it always has been, despite the new policy. Planning is the tool the YDNPA possesses to shape bright futures for our local Dales communities, not to ruin them forever.

John Blackie, Hawes

Julia Mulligan

NOTHING in your report about the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan facing fresh allegations about her conduct (D&S Times, Jan 4) was surprising, nothing that is until the penultimate sentence which read "Supporters of the commissioner have claimed the complaint is a politically-motivated attempt to discredit her".

Who are these supporters? As a former senior officer in North Yorkshire Police I have followed the saga with particular interest and I do not remember a single report mentioning supporters or any comments in support. None of these "supporters" have put their heads above the parapet to write letters denying what has been said in the very many critical reports and letters you have published. After she appeared before the panel on the first occasion she said she had had hugs and chocolates from her staff but I took that with a pinch of salt.

As for the claim the complaint is politically-motivated, I have seen nothing in the numerous criticisms since her appointment to indicate anything of the sort. I myself have written many letters to you about her poor performance and politics have had nothing to do with it – my attitude to politicians at all levels from local to national government, with very few exceptions, is a plague on all their houses. I have seen nothing political in the letters written by others. I do not remember the commissioner claiming political motivation in her unsatisfactory response to the findings of the panel about the first complaints made against her.

And as for the suggestion the complaint is intended to discredit her why would anybody need to do that when she has made such a good job of discrediting herself?

This is not about politics. It is not about discrediting the commissioner. It is not about her disastrous decision-making – disastrous for the people of Newby Wiske and the people who live near the new police headquarters. It is not about her continued failure to be open about the financial consequences of what she has done. It is about her unacceptable behaviour towards police staff and her unacceptable response to the previous substantiated allegations about her behaviour.

Baroness Harris was undoubtedly right when she said the commissioner should consider her position. She should go and the local Conservatives who selected her in the first place should be taking steps to be rid of her.

David Severs, Northallerton

Low Gates

I READ with interest the lead article regarding the cost of easing Northallerton's congestion being between £17m to £63m (D&S Times, Jan 4).

Some time ago I contacted our MP, and suggested that the solution to the problem of congestion caused by the rail crossing at Low Gates could be solved with the minimal of cost.

The crossing at Brompton is on the same line as per Low Gates but the time that they are closed is significantly less than those at Low Gates. At Low Gates it can sometimes take over a minute before a train arrives. At Brompton, which only has partial barriers, the time is less than 20 seconds.

As soon as the train passes through the barriers come up but at Northallerton there is a further delay.

The solution is not really "blue skies" thinking but should be sensibly looked at first, it's cheap and quick to introduce.

A second point. Traffic congestion is only going to increase in Northallerton as it has in Brompton, where the delay in opening Brompton Road is leaving the residents particularly frustrated.

Sometime ago, at a well attended parish council meeting, we were assured by the North Yorkshire County and Hambleton District councillors that the road closure would be 14 weeks. The 14 weeks has now passed, the road is no where near completion, and we have received a letter from the developers apologising for the delay but giving no firm commitments for an opening date.

Current rumours suggest April which will have meant a closure of twice the maximum they were allowed. Brompton residents who live closest to Northallerton have an additional two-mile trip every time they go into town. Assuming two trips per day, that's a tank of fuel by the time the road is opened.

Lead Lane at busy times looks like a filter lane onto the M25, with buses and tractors fighting with cars and pedestrians who don't have any pavement to walk along. It is amazing that there hasn't been a serious accident, especially as the road is very poorly lit.

The article mentioned that the new link road would be open this year. As the bridge is not scheduled to go in until Christmas then this year drifts to next year.

Phil Plackett, Brompton

Police precept

I READ Councillor Steve Kay's letter complaining that our Police Crime Commissioner is asking the public to hopefully

support an increase in the police precept (D&S Times letters, Jan 4).

May I remind Cllr Kay that Durham Police is one of a very few forces rated as outstanding by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary & Rescue Services, and this despite draconian government inflicted budget cuts, leading to a national reduction of over 20,000 police officers.

It's rather unfortunate that Cllr Kay should blame the "People's Party" for hoping to repair the damage done to our police, and indeed other vital public services by this government.

Ian Tidy, Darlington

Eating in

THANKS to Ella Walker (D&S Times Eating in, Jan 4) for highlighting chef Simon Hulstone's aim to "demystify cooking sustainable Norwegian cod", and thanks for the recipe provided. Unfortunately I remain mystified as to where, round here, I can find the necessary fennel pollen, verjus du perigord and, er, Norwegian cod.

John Cranston, Richmond

Sedgefield said

SEDGEFIELD MP Phil Wilson keeps telling us that an overwhelming majority of Labour’s voters, as well as its members, wants the public to have the final say on Brexit and whether we should stay in the EU.

Firstly, I doubt very much if it is as “overwhelming" as he thinks.

More importantly, he is totally forgetting that an MP is there to represent ALL of their constituents, not just those who voted them into office, and least of all their party members, who are actually a very small percentage of the electorate.

He is also politicising the issue when the referendum debate was cross-party, with a complete mix of politicians on both sides.

We had a referendum, with a huge turnout, and the majority of his constituents voted to leave the EU.

He has a duty to represent them.

G Carr, Aycliffe Village

Old steel site

MANY former steelworkers from in and around Teesside will be feeling a bit happier reading that a deal has been agreed to develop 1,500 acres of Tata land.

Most of us who have worked on these now redundant Tees steel sites will wish anyone well on getting the possibility of 20,000 jobs and drive an additional £1bn per year into the Tees Valley economy.

If we can get a viable local Teesside International Airport back into a better position via the £40m Peel deal then we will all be better off.

Hence it may be a big ask but if the five Labour leaders and the Tory Tees Valley mayor can park up the tribal party politics then we can all move forward. Like the Brexit fiasco, time will tell.

George Dunning, Ormesby

Five star service

I HAD to take my grandson to Darlington Memorial Hospital accident and emergency on Saturday after he got injured playing football.

We arrived at midday and after having an x-ray which was okay and then a number of stitches in his knee, he was all bandaged up and we left at 1.20pm. I cannot praise the staff enough for the care and attention he received.

I had visions of being in there for hours. What excellent service from both doctor and nurses and long may it continue.

Dave Bowes, West Auckland

Concert cracker

A WORD of thanks to everyone concerned in the Christmas Cracker concert 2018 at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington recently. It certainly went with a swing, with local choirs, operatic groups and the St. Teresa’s Sinfonia Orchestra taking part in aid of St Teresa’s Hospice.

Included in the festive fun was a sing-a-long.

I am sure I am speaking for the hundreds who attended that evening.

Vince Elsbury, Darlington

Big no no

THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham and Darlington Ron Hogg has the begging hand out for more money (Echo, Jan 3)

I think he has a total cheek in even asking, along with his Labour MP mates. Let us not forget that he has a nice large pension pot from his position as a senior police officer before his retirement. He employs a bunch of pen-pushers at a salary working people would love on top of the salary he pulls as well.

Why not get rid of 50 per cent of his mates in his office, live off his massive pension and hand his salary back into the police?

And he does not say we will have more police, oh no, he wants the money for, yes you have it, the pension pot!

I, for one, would like to know just what does Mr Hogg do for Durham police, a part from photo calls at every chance in order to get re-elected.

And then Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Darlington MP Jenny Chapman jump on the bandwagon – that says it all.

Mr Hogg, the UK is in a mess. Hard-working people are at risk of losing jobs. Food banks are supporting many, yet you want to grab more. Get into the real world and out of your political bubble.

My advice is to anyone who is consulted on this proposed rise is to say a big NO NO!

John Merry, Darlington