Quiet please

MY partner and I frequently call for a coffee in one the plentiful coffee houses around Leyburn and Northallerton areas.

We enjoy a quiet coffee and to read the daily newspapers, however this is increasing becoming more problematic with the loud conversations between other cafe users disturbing the ambience.

Even though they are only sat a foot or two away from each other at the same table, we can be six or seven tables away and can clearly hear every single word of their conversation.

Not only are we enlightened as to the shopping bargains at Marks and Spencers but often two or three of them at the same table are talking over each other all at the same time.

After 20 minutes or so of this unwanted dialogue it does become irritating. Only a few days ago there was a group of five people in a café where one person was screeching with laughter really loudly for about five minutes non-stop!

It was like drinking coffee in a school playground.

I find these middle aged people’s arrogance, lack of manners and selfishness unforgivable.

I did recently point out to one person that the dialogue was so very loud that we could hear every word and I was told that I should not be listening – when I could do no other, and that I was rude.

If any readers can suggest where we can find a quiet coffee house I would be grateful.

Chris Green, Constable Burton


IN standing up for the local communities in the Upper Dales I have the privilege to represent, I see the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has wheeled out its chairman to mount cheap personal attacks in your newspaper (D&S Times letters, Jan 18).

No change then since Camms Barn when the Secretary of State shot down the YDNPA and instead supported the 1,500 signature petition from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council to allow a barn conversion, amidst me being reported to the Standards Board, which rejected complaints as thinly veiled attempts to remove a dissenting force from the authority.

The barn conversion policy I support has the flexibility to approve those applications recently rejected in silence by the gang of seven members. This would have allowed three farming families with young children to remain in the Upper Dales they were brought up in – yes complete with washing lines and TV aerials – whilst maintaining the iconic fellside barns in their role as foot soldiers of conservation. The last thing they want is to destroy the countryside they have brilliantly looked after for centuries. The National Park are new kids on the block.

I strongly support having young families in our local communities, as without them they have no future, so I opposed the five times council tax on second homes which would have driven out the young people we need to stay.

The YDNPA in bringing forward this discredited initiative is now seen as show-boaters, reinforced by turning off its hollow commitment to young families as quickly as it turned it on.

Solutions include providing services and employment locally that appeal to young families and the YDNPA earns no credit by ignoring North Yorkshire County Council investment in the Upper Dales by say, maintaining small primary schools or providing superfast broadband in our remote communities.

Or the determination of the Upper Dales Community Partnership (UDCP) I lead to provide the Little White Bus, Hawes Post Office and our filling station with its very cheap fuel. I note all these services are heavily used by local young families. This beacon finds Hawes and the Upper Dales being nationally recognised as the self-reliant capital of England, provides 27 jobs, engages with 70 volunteers, injects £250,000 payroll annually into the local economy yet in 20 years has never seen an official visit by the YDNPA.

The UDCP has moved into building affordable houses to rent in Langthwaite aimed specifically at young families. If the YDNPA had spent more time doing the same then maybe Arkengarthdale Primary School would not be closing. I wish, but sadly my 21 years on the YDNPA tells me, this leopard will never change its spots.

John Blackie, county councillor for the Upper Dales

Duties of faith

LETTERS from Bethany Morris, and from a trinity of Conservative candidates (D&S Times letters, Jan 18) seem to want us to renew our faith in the goodness of the Conservative Party.

Theresa May, their leader, has done everything she could to get her ill-fated deal through parliament. She even called on the heavens to help her by telling MPs it was their sacred duty to vote for the deal. It was a continuation of her theme of healing the wounds of division; helping the 'have-nots' and bringing society together.

We can hear echoes in these words to ones used by Mrs Thatcher after her first election. She paraphrased the prayer of St Francis of Assisi: "'Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

And her words, on the steps of Downing Street, were meant to heal division. However, she went on to unleash the gates of hell on society.

Mrs May's own pleas to heaven were not heard, by the almighty or most of her own MPs. It was a good try from the vicar's daughter who is often photographed going in or coming out of church. Perhaps she should have listened a bit more when inside. On this occasion, her faith did not move mountains.

However, that other pillar of faith, Jacob Rees-Mogg – the pontiff of pomposity – has given us the answer. He might have to think back. No, not to the 18th century, merely 2011.

Here he says it all: "We could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed."

Such wisdom and clarity from Mr Rees-Mogg; this is the solution we need for Brexit.

Then, we can turn to the other duties of faith: feeding the hungry, protecting the weak, sheltering the homeless, curing the sick and helping the poor. Duties that this tragic government has failed to carry out; as we see by looking at schools, hospitals, food banks and the homeless on our streets.

Another, less well-known, quote from St Francis says: "Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

Terence Fleming, Guisborough

Party politics

WE have a parliament that cannot (or will not) carry out the wishes of the people who elected it.

We have MPs who think that once elected they can ignore both national and constituency electors and pursue their own policies and prejudices because they think they know better than the people they are paid to represent.

We have police and crime commissioners who believe that once elected they can ignore even their elected local representatives and pursue policies that are unwanted (other than by themselves and their party leaders).

What has party politics got to do with managing the emergency services?

We have a national parliament that spends more time on bickering and internal devious politics than it does on doing its job of running the country.

Is it any wonder that voters no longer respect or trust politicians

whose primary aim appears to be personal profit and self-aggrandisement?

Who can you vote for when every party has large areas of policy with which you disagree totally but, should you vote for that party, you will be deemed to have agreed with them?

Is it not now time that one of the options on a ballot paper is in

favour of "none of the above" and, should that get the greatest number of votes, all the candidates should be rendered ineligible to take part in any further ballot for 12 months?

At present neither abstaining or spoiling the ballot paper has any significance or influence upon the candidates.

Roger Kendall, Ferrensby

Open fires

I SEE on recent news bulletins that the illustrious Department of Environment is planning to ban open fires and wood burning stoves.

Obviously masses of planning and thought has gone into this proposal. Great consideration has been given to the residents of the North York Moors, Swaledale, Wensleydale, the Lake District, Peak District and the high Pennines, who rely on this type of heating.

Will the government pay for all these people to be connected to the national gas supply? I think not.

Also to be considered are the fuel suppliers who undoubtedly will lose jobs.

Will this also mean that garden bonfires will cease including November 5, the burning of grouse moors will stop, and what about the letting off of fireworks?

If that is so then all local councils will save a fortune.

Also in their wisdom there is talk of farmers being banned from spreading fertiliser, so what happens to all waste from farm animals heaped up? Or are all the animals to be fitted with nappies to stop contamination of the fields?

Plants are like us, if they do not get fed they starve.

C.P. Atkinson, Great Ayton


DESPITE the fact that 27 of our 28 Hambleton District Councillors are of the Conservative Party, we are not seeing the effects of a council which is conservative (small c) in principle. The traditional political spectrum deems Conservatives to favour small states and low taxes.

Given the majority of councillors happily support council tax increases, plus ludicrous £30 annual green bin collection fees, can they truly call themselves Conservatives?

Okay, additional fees may be necessary considering local authorities have to make cuts – but cuts are happening in the wrong places.

What everyone really wonders is why we are being punished in such tedious ways all the while council chiefs are awarded dizzyingly-high salaries.

If any councillor could justify this to myself and the readers, it'd be much appreciated. We must also take a look at the state of Northallerton; there are social media pages devoted to sharing photos of Northallerton from yesteryears. They showcase the town in all it's glory. Where is that glory now?

The number of empty shops downtown is simply disgraceful. Is this really what we want for the County Town of North Yorkshire?

Fair enough, all high streets are being hammered from both online competition and high business rates. I can already hear some readers crying "but rates are central government's responsibility". This is true, though once again, if the Conservative council wishes to stick to Conservative principles of reducing the state's size, they would be fighting for rate-setting powers to be devolved to local authorities – just as council tax-setting powers are.

The advantage of this would be that local rates would be set by local people – the people who know their communities better than central government do. Of course, the Government assures us they are pulling their fingers out to save the British high street. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have very long fingers.

In the meantime, however, if those councillors who have supported council tax increases alongside the stupid green bin fee wish to keep their jobs after this May's local elections, I would suggest they take a leaf out of the book of the godfather of conservative ideology, Ronald Reagan.

The former president knew that high taxes create an impression that citizens exist to serve the state. To paraphrase Reagan: "We are a community that has a council – not the other way around."

Independent parish councillor Joseph Lambert, East Cowton

Victoria Road

USE of outside consultants producing an exhibition of ideas for an improvement scheme to beautify the approach from the station to Darlington town centre seems a waste of money.

Anyone with intelligence could have done it quickly and easily.

The immovable problem: Victoria Road has buildings each side. Their idea of a continental tree lined boulevard with cycle lane seems unfeasible!

Further, consultants have not spoken to Network Rail, the Post Office, doctor’s surgery and other businesses in the area.

They appear unaware of the current effect that they have, let alone future.

There appears to be a lack of consultation between Council Planning and Highways, if I heard it correctly.

No one could say how the closure of the Cattle Market might affect plans for the proposed one-way system, plus car parking for residents, train travellers and visitors to the PO Distribution Centre.

There’s no overall plan for this part of Darlington so the venture is no more than cosmetic: just paint the road green and ask Banksy to paint the buildings an attractive option and encouraging tourism?

Norman Webber, Darlington

Police chief

I’M very sorry to learn of the sudden resignation of Cleveland’s latest Chief Constable, Mike Veale, whom I have met several times and who had some excellent ideas on reforming Cleveland Police.

There does however appear to be a jinx on our local constabulary; one of the few remaining vestiges of the long defunct Cleveland County Council.

It’s difficult to understand why but, throughout its life, Cleveland Police has been dogged by crisis after crisis, causing the demoralisation of its officers and a widespread loss of confidence amongst the public.

A separate problem is that it’s one of the smallest police forces in the country.

To save Cleveland Police from its endemic malaise and, in these cash-strapped times, to benefit from the economies of scale, the force should be split, with the area north of the Tees amalgamating with Durham and that to the south going in with North Yorkshire.

I sincerely hope Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, will be able to take his mind off Brexit, and his leadership ambitions, long enough to deal promptly with this extremely serious matter.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland Councillor.


THE Friends of Darlington Libraries would like to encourage people to engage with the conversation meetings on the future of our libraries.

The council say they want:

  1. To increase access to library services so more local people have the opportunity to fully engage in education, learning, employment and community initiatives at Crown Street.
  2. To ensure that the public library service within Darlington can respond to the community’s needs both now and in the future.
  3. To keep books and reading at the heart of the library service.
  4. To support the town’s ambition that by 2026 Darlington is recognised for its world class heritage and as the birthplace of the modern railway, by:
  • Providing a range of creative and cultural activities for people to engage in;
  • Promoting awareness and enjoyment of Darlington’s heritage and culture;
  • Opening up access to the Centre for Local Studies, which tells the story of Darlington’s history.

We would like as many people as possible to engage and provide direction to the Council on how to achieve this and the importance of incorporating our history and culture into our future and maximising assets like Crown Street in supporting the town.

You can find details of these events on both the council website and the Friends Facebook page.

Paul Howell, On Behalf of the Friends of Darlington Libraries