I WISH to elaborate on some of the statements attributed to me with regard to the proposed development at Wilbert's Farm, Aiskew (D&S Times, February 22).

I referred to the plan of the site as being more suitable for a board game such as snakes and ladders. That was not a very good analogy, it is more like a maze and obstacle course.

A driver living at the far corner of the site would have to negotiate seven right angled bends to reach the exit point, not to mention the many cars which would undoubtedly be parked on the road. An elongated site such as this would be better served having the exit midway instead of at one end.

The road leading up Sandhill Lane from the mini roundabout does not have a footpath, therefore pedestrians have to walk on the road, quite often with their backs to oncoming traffic. The Highway Code advises pedestrians to face oncoming traffic, in this case not a feasible or safe option.

The other dangers of this junction have been well documented and are the main concern of drivers using this junction as the 150 people who signed the petition would confirm.

There is another stretch of roadway between Spruce Gill and the proposed site without a footpath. This would become even more hazardous with an increase in traffic.

If the site was redesigned and an exit onto the Bedale Road made opposite Jubilee Road, most of these problems would be solved.

In last week's edition our MP was quite specific with regard to the need for more affordable homes, yet at this development the affordable homes have been reduced to less than half recommended.

As part of Barratts' sales pitch, they have earmarked a green area presumably for children to play on. Very good, except that it is tucked away in a corner. I'm sure that parents would prefer it to be situated more centrally where they could keep an eye on their youngsters.

I have no doubt that this project will go ahead but it should not at the expense of aesthetics and safety for motorists, pedestrians and children.

Brian Prattley, Aiskew

Rented homes

I WATCHED Chris Jackson on BBC Inside Out and was shocked to hear that in Northumberland ten per cent of privately rented houses are unfit for human habitation.

I was shocked because about five years ago there was a BBC Panorama programme showing that many privately rented houses, mainly in the South of England (one was in the constituency of David Cameron who was then Prime Minister) were also in a disgraceful state.

I commented on this to William Hague, my MP at the time, so it would appear that parliament has done absolutely nothing on this important issue. Parliament would perhaps like to say that it had nothing to do with them but for councils to act, but parliament must show leadership and direction rather than let each council invent the wheel separately.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Post Office

THERE have been many letters in your newspaper on the subject of Northallerton’s Post Office but not one of them has mentioned my greatest concern. The present building which houses this important establishment has a unique appearance.

Once the office is closed, and I believe that, sadly, this is a foregone conclusion, what will happen to the building? Will it join the increasing number of empty buildings in our High Street? Is it a listed building? How many people really care that relocated business at the rear of W.H. Smiths will be open on Saturday afternoons and a few hours on Sundays? Or that there will be seating for customers? Is the reason for this that there will be less “windows” on the counter, therefore causing longer queues?

If anyone has any comments they wish to make about the relocation proposal this can be done at or in writing to FREEPOST Your Comments. The closing date is March 6.

Joy Marlborough, Romanby

Cook's Cottage

GRAHAM Smith, of Stokesley, is of course correct in pointing out that Capt Cook never lived in the Great Ayton cottage so often described as his boyhood home (D&S Times, Feb 22).

Nor does Australia, where the cottage now stands, present it as such. Carefully entitled Cook’s Cottage, the guidebook published to mark its restoration in 1978, the 250th anniversary of Cook’s birth, states: “It cannot be said with certainty that Cook actually stayed at any time in the cottage, built by his parents.”

But it is as certain as can be that Cook visited his father in the cottage in 1771-2, when he travelled to Yorkshire with the double purpose, expressed in a note to the Admiralty seeking “leave of absence”, to transact “some business” and “see an aged father.”

Cook stayed with a friend, Commodore William Wilson, of Ayton Hall, from Thursday, December 26 to Tuesday, December 31, when he rode down to Whitby, and thence to Hull. But he returned to Ayton for a further night before leaving for London on January 4.

The Ayton visit was probably to arrange for Cook’s father to move to Redcar, where he lived temporarily with a daughter until a home nearby was found for him. Cook’s link with his father’s cottage might be slight but, since Cook is a major international figure, it is not insignificant. Those who cross its portal are following directly in Cook’s footsteps.

They can picture the (hopefully fond) reunion between father and son, imagine Cook perhaps standing in front of the open fire, maybe even taking a turn around the garden, even though it was winter. Most of all the cottage still potently symbolises the renowned navigator’s humble rural origins.

Great Ayton has much to regret in letting the cottage go.

Harry Mead, Great Broughton

Julia Mulligan

I DON’T recall which government of which particular persuasion, dreamt up the ridiculous notion of unaccountable police commissioners to replace a tried and tested, accountable Police Authority, which had functioned for decades as part of the answerable local authority democratic process.

We, in North Yorkshire, who generally will vote for anything with the slightest of bluish tinge had foisted upon us a Conservative nominee as police commissioner of whom we knew nothing, there was no published information as to her ability, past success in similar roles, qualifications or suitability for this role.

Other parties and independent nominees in North Yorkshire have little chance of success, meaning any other well qualified candidate stood little chance of having control of a business (and that’s what the police is) with a colossal budget, financed by the tax payer.

Despite public dissatisfaction with the ability of Julia Mulligan, and a collection of grandiose, pointless projects, such as relocating the police headquarters to a totally unsuitable green-field site; subsequently returning into a totally unsuitable town centre site in Northallerton.

She got re-elected at the first re-election process, because the political blue tinge swayed the vote. Irrespective of her previous results, people were voting on party lines as opposed to what was good for the area. An independent nominee who was well-qualified stood against her and lost, leaving the tax payers of North Yorkshire to finance more nonsense and inefficiency.

During her tenure there has been a series of short-term lack lustre Chief Constables. We now hear the crime rate is increasing, public confidence in the police generally is at an almost all-time low; and yet expenditure at Mulligan Towers in Harrogate is rising with fancy titled jobs assisting this inept operation.

Despite the district councils and the county council opposing the inclusion of the fire service into Mrs Mulligan's remit they were overruled by the Home Office, is this another former county council function to be eroded into obscurity?

Unfortunately, the elected Police and Crime Panel is, through legislation, toothless and can only advise and recommend the Home Office on commissioners' success or failure, but they failed to block the recent ten per cent rise in the police precept for 2019-20 fiscal year. Inflation, wages and pensions are running at about three per cent for the rest of us.

Fortunately, the Conservative Party has seen the light and has declined to re-select Mrs Mulligan.

Paul Sherwood, South Kilvington

Cleaning up

WELL done to the two ladies of Skeeby for their public spirited actions cleaning up after irresponsible dog owners (D&S Times, Feb 22).

As county councillor for the Middle Dales, I have recently given money from my environmental budget to Leyburn and Middleham town councils. This is to purchase posts holding dog poo bags, appropriate signage asking owners to clean up after their dogs and spare dog poo bags.

Incidences of dog fouling around the playpark on Dale Grove, Leyburn have been reported, responded to and the dog mess removed. Well done, RDC Street Scene!

All of this time and money spent would not be needed if only the dog owners responsible for leaving the dog poo would pick it up. Please?

Cllr Karin Sedgwick, NYCC and RDC

Visiting Barney

NEVER wanting to waste a rare sunny and warm day in February I decided to drive to Barnard Castle with a borrowed dog and explore. Although I have been to the town many times I have never ever dog walked there but I will definitely be doing it again.

Behind the castle there is an absolutely wonderful woodland walk. It is also a history lesson with information boards along the route, so I had a very educated afternoon.

There used to be a gas works there and I could still smell gas in that area. There is a weir with lots of information on the fish and wildlife you can expect to see. I learned that mayflies don't have a mouth so can't feed.

I passed over Percy Beck and found a great seating area to sit and relax. Again, information boards with interesting facts about the history of the area.

I met other dog walkers to pass the time of day with and had a thoroughly enjoyable time and all for free.

It's nice to enjoy the open air, the snowdrops, birds singing and sheep bleating all within a stone's throw of a busy market town. Miller the dog enjoyed it too and can't wait for his next excursion.

Kirstie Walls, Ingleton

Roads woe

I READ with interest turning to dismay, on reading the Stokesley Town Council's monthly meeting report (D&S Times, Feb 22). Five large columns taking half a page and not a mention of the appalling state of several roads in the town.

The High street is getting worse while the "trench" between the Methodist church and the bank is getting wider and deeper. North Road is an absolute disgrace and needs to be dug up and resurfaced, not just a few pot holes filled in. The speed humps are falling apart and to me it should be made a one way system. The buses use it one way so no problem to them.

Springfield area also could do with resurfacing as could Station Road, which is a nightmare to drive along. Finally, the cobbles along the High Street need attention to make our town the pleasant place it is to live in.

Whoever is in charge of our council, I hope to see in the next report, action on our roads is first on the agenda at the March meeting.

Derek Whiting, Stokesley

Simple G&T

I RECENTLY visited a local gin bar and was astonished how to see a simple g&t is served these days. The glass was the size of a goldfish bowl, it was filled with ice, a slice of cucumber, a cocktail umbrella and a straw!

I hate to think of what my old friend the Queen Mother would have said.

Her late Majesty who knew a thing or two about gin drinking preferred, as do I, just a slice of lemon in the bottom of the glass and a couple of ice cubes.

Sardeen Belcher, Richmond

Natural beauty

I STRONGLY disagree with T Luxmore (D&S Times Feb 22) who says the Yorkshire Dales needs a large theme park to attract people to the area.

The attraction is in the area's natural beauty. Simple as that.

Libby Harding, Leeming

New position

YOU report that the police, fire and crime commissioner is advertising for a managing director to be paid between £105,000 and £115,000 (D&S Times, Feb 15). My first reaction was that I would write to you simply to say I was lost for words.

However, I have now looked at the advertisement for the post on the Enable North Yorkshire website. The advertisement is full of gobbledygook and contains several grammatical errors – I hope the person appointed will be able to write better than the person who wrote this advertisement.

In the middle of the advertisement there is a table showing the commissioner on top and the chief officers of the police and fire services beneath her. This is reflected in your report where it is said the person appointed "will work under the commissioner – in between … the chief constable … and … chief fire officer".

As I have pointed out in your columns before, this is not the PFCC’s true position in law and it should not be in practice. The commissioner Julia Mulligan is not in charge of the police force or the fire service although there is lots of evidence she thinks she is. She should not have been shown at the top of the table. If the table was necessary at all then she should have been shown to one side where she belongs. I have assumed the unnecessary table is there solely to show her on top.

In my letter to you of January 1 I said the PFCC should not be encouraged in her delusions of grandeur. The advertisement with its table confirms what I said about her delusions.

If we are to continue to have a PFCC, and it seems we will despite the creation of PCCs being flawed, and if local Conservatives do what they should at their re-adoption meeting later this month, we will be rid of this commissioner and hopefully we will get a new commissioner who will better understand his or her true position and allow the chief officers to lead their men and women without any suggestion they are beneath the commissioner.

David Severs, Northallerton

Prescription costs

IT was infuriating to read (Echo, Feb 22) that from April 1, the charges for each item on a doctor's prescription is to rise to £9, and it was so frustrating that the author of the article, for whatever reasons, made absolutely no mention that this applied only to England, because prescriptions are dispensed freely in the rest of the UK.

That such a situation exists is beyond belief, but it may be suspected that there is a powerful political motivation behind it, as no MP seems to query it, or speak up for the English, and are happy to allow them to pay these iniquitously high charges for their medicines.

When a question was raised on a related topic asking why care in residential homes is free in Scotland, but astronomically high fees must be paid in England, the answer was that the Scottish Government chose to provide that service from its own income, much of it provided by the application of the Barnett Formula.

This provides monies raised from general national taxation for each country in Britain, according to its perceived needs.

It would be axiomatic to suppose that when such costly facilities as care can be provided free-of-charge, then the providing country is being given too much money from the national pot, and so too with free medical prescriptions.

The inventor of the formula, Lord Barnett, conceded that it was unfair and out-of-date, but even so no politician appears willing the change it, very very much to the detriment of England which acts as the milch-cow for the rest of the UK.

Time for change was long ago, so let's have it right now, along with a much-needed English Parliament.

Bobby Meynell, Stockton