Shuttle bus

IT would be wonderful and a huge relief to many if a shuttle bus service between the Friarage Hospital and the James Cook Hospital could be reinstated (D&S Times, Jan 24). It was deplorable that it should be discontinued in the first place. On so many levels such a service is needed for patients, visitors, and staff.

First and foremost public transport links between the two sites are inadequate. Hospital service users may not be in the fortunate position of having family or friends to provide a lift, even when they do, they may prefer to make their own arrangements, sometimes for very personal and private reasons.

We often feel anxious when going to appointments. The previous bus was a great form of support. Passengers were able to ask how to get to individual clinics or wards and generally feel the warmth of social contact.

We are in an era of increasing awareness of climate change. Surely a shuttle bus would result in a reduction in South Tees Trust’s and the commissioning groups’ overall carbon footprint through a significant reduction in individual car journeys.

Joined up thinking and funds will be needed to make such a service viable. For example, patient appointment times could be linked to the bus. The staff could be actively encouraged and supported by management to use the bus for travelling to work and for meetings.

I think it could and should happen. Fingers crossed.

Name and address supplied

Transport link

JACK DOBSON, chairman of Northallerton Over Fifties Forum is being somewhat economical with the truth in the front page report (D&S Times, Jan 24) when he is quoted as saying “People are being left high and dry because to try to get to James Cook by train or bus they have to leave at something like 6.30 in the morning”.

If your reporter had done a fact check she would have discovered that there are eight trains daily between 7am and around 2pm from Northallerton to Middlesbrough, all with connecting trains to James Cook, and where a day return ticket using a railcard would cost under £9.

Abbotts bus service 80 has buses leaving Northallerton at 9.45am or 12.10pm to Middlesbrough which call at James Cook on route and which would be free to holders of a National Bus Pass.

Public transport in our rural areas should be publicised as often as possible as it needs all the support it can get

Brian Rawling, Appleton Wiske

Number 81

THE government in its wisdom is telling us to stop using cars and start using public transport more often.

People in the Great Ayton and Stokesley area are now being told by Arriva drivers that the 81 service from Stokesley to Guisborough is to cease in April.

As usual, no thought has been given to the elderly who want to go shopping and visit the market, and anybody who needs to visit the Jobcentre. As usual fares on all public transport keep rising and the service gets worse.

C.P.Atkinson, Great Ayton

Sirius Minerals

AFTER being a Sirius Minerals shareholder from the planning stage, I’m sure like many other shareholders I feel very let down by recent events, Surely we at least should get some sort of explanation as to why at this time it will be given to an American multinational?

As small shareholders, we can only follow progress through RNS statements and other media channels, and not too long ago we were led to believe that the mine would start production in 2021 and full production in 2024.

As I see it there have been no unforeseen circumstances with the general progress or construction, in fact things were ahead of schedule, there was just the funding issue As all progress is going as planned, why almost over night have the shares crashed? I am personally down 75 per cent, as I have invested in mining for many years I am fully aware there can be problems, but with Sirius I feel there is something strange happening.

So Chris Fraser, Sirius chief executive, let’s have some answers, and in particular why were shareholders offered shares at 15p in May last year to generate cash if all was well? And we need more details regarding the bond offer.

What are the local MPs doing in support of the Northern powerhouse, or was that more empty rhetoric?

Ron Pritchard, Harmby

Mine future

WE have seen much comment in the media and by many commentators advocating the offer for Sirius Minerals by Anglo American, however we have seen little or no comment from those who invested from the start of this company because of the potential benefits of jobs and wider prosperity for the area.

That is until Robert Goodwill MP the member for Scarborough raised his head above the Tory parapet and suggested another route to keep this essentially community-backed company in the game. Not so the other newly installed local Conservative MPs.

His suggestion to Anglo – “I’m going to ask if people can take shares in Anglo American rather than cash. That way they can maintain their shares, see the project delivered and reap some of the benefits in the future.”

The comments from Sirius chairman Russell Scrimshaw that Anglo’s offer was the only alternative is indicative of someone looking to keep their well paying job and showing no interest in the many retail investors who believed in this project and its long term aims.

Anglo’s team, having visited the site, was highly complimentary as to the progress and operation of the sites, so it beggars the question why has this project suffered so badly?

The answer is the capitalist vultures of the short selling fraternity who have sucked the life blood from it.

There are plenty of advance orders and progress is on target and in line generally with the outlined plan, so to my mind they are the villains in this tale.

But we should not forget the government who can quickly throw money into the hole of Cross Rail and FlyBe but not this viable mine in the North. Why is that?

I think I have answered my own question.

C.Gallacher, Middlesbrough

Litter pick

HAVING spent a few hours collecting rubbish from the roadside a couple of miles outside Northallerton. I am amazed at the quantity I have collected since last year.

Six bags! Yes six bags and in just 500 yards. This rubbish wilfully thrown out of vehicle windows, upsets me.

We live in the best county in England, and yet some drivers think it is okay to tip stuff out.

Surely our council have the knowhow to catch some offenders in the act and push for action from the courts? This would send a strong message to these offenders.

Clean Yorkshire is worth fighting for.

David Hoult, Great Langton

Head of state

WHAT with Andrew, Harry and Meghan, more of Her Majesty’s subjects have come to the conclusion that the monarchy should go.

I am opposed to this view and believe that the monarchy is still of immense value to our nation.

The Queen, who studiously avoids politics, is the perfect Head of State, whom no partisan president could ever replace.

In times of national crisis, like the two world wars, the Monarch represents continuity and holds the country together.

The Monarch personifies and animates our glorious history which, otherwise, would be confined to dusty museums and old film clips.

A further criticism is that the royal family lives in a degree of splendour. But, valuable foreign visitors wouldn’t be interested if the royals lived in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, as in Sue Townsend’s satirical novel The Queen and I.

In Richard II, Shakespeare recognises how the institution of monarchy keeps the peace and protects us “Against the envy of less happier lands”. Take the Brexit crisis. Even though the country has been divided and frustrated, we’ve had little serious disorder.

Without the monarchy, we’d no longer be special on our sceptred isle.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor

Brexit Day

IF published, your readers will see this in the last hours of UK membership of the EU.

Much though I fear disaster, I have not supported a second referendum, believing no result would be overwhelming and the only solution is to try Brexit.

If it works – and lucrative trade deals and the weekly £350m for the NHS soon follow – then excellent.

If Brexit fails to deliver the sunlit uplands, we will be assured by its national advocates that it is but a matter of time – just around the corner, at the end of the rainbow/yellow brick road.

This will continue until those who have invested their political careers in the Leave cause have retired, possibly having followed their own assets to a tax haven.

I can do nothing about them.

However, as early as November 14, 2014, and continuing in an organised way after the referendum date was announced (Feb 20, 2016) I have archived all Brexit letters to the D&S with their prologue, Sunak’s declaration for Brexit of February 26.

If my fears prove unfounded, I will publicly admit it. If, as time goes by, the smiling promises dissolve, I can at least confront and call out those hereabouts who made them.

J. Fyles, Sowerby

Locomotion No1

THERE are other places beside Shildon and Darlington that could lay claim to displaying Locomotion.

The engine was, after all, built at “Stivvies” (George and Robert Stephenson) factory on Forth Banks on land between the Tyne and the present Newcastle Central Station.

The impetus for the new S&DR was as much the availability of deep wharves at Stockton, and in addition Locomotion worked the first train service to the Teesside coast for the S&D associated Middlesbrough and Redcar Union Railway.

Now, given that Shildon, Darlington, South Stockton and Redcar are all now represented by Tory MPs, could this be the issue that opens up the first crack in our new “blue wall” ?

David Walsh, Redcar

Greatest asset

MANY years ago, Darlington lost its initiative to become a centre for railway heritage and let York take the lead.

Years of not putting heritage at the centre of the town’s agenda has had a devastating effect with a loss of many significant buildings – are we to lose now our greatest asset?

Although late, the admirable regeneration of Head of Steam will be significantly undermined and the town of Darlington will lose a tourism draw.

Darlington has much to gain if we shout about our many achievements, our Quaker heritage and keep our icon of the town, Locomotion, in Darlington.

Much of the media these days seems to bypass our role in railway history, putting the Rocket at the beginning of steam – but without Locomotion there would be no Rocket!

It was Edward Pease who dedicated the latter part of his life to establish the Stockton and Darlington Railway, making sure the Locomotion engine worked through trials and tribulations and finally putting his money where his mouth was, he changed the world.

It is therefore essential to tell our story and Locomotion is essential and central to it. It should stay in Darlington.

Jean Kirkland, Darlington, local historian

Loco battle

IT saddened me to read your headlines (D&S Times, Jan 24) about the “battle” to oppose the removal of Locomotion No 1 from Darlington to Shildon.

This does not augur well for a harmonious celebration in 2025 if this sort of contention is going to flare up. It is quite unnecessary and seems to me to be triggered by London-based or backed administrators making decisions at a distance on matters they obviously know little about.

If any town has claim to caretaking this historic locomotive it is Darlington. It was Darlington money, mainly through the Peases and the Backhouses, that bankrolled the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Locomotion No 1 was built in Newcastle, not Shildon, and was put on the rails at Heighington.

It is at Darlington that the engine spent its retirement, firstly on a plinth outside North Road station, before removal to Bank Top.

How it eventually came into the care of the Science Museum is probably by happenstance through the British Railways Board.

I’m sure this almost 200 years-old pioneer locomotive could not be in better curatorial care than at North Road Head of Steam Museum, where it belongs.

The policy makers at the National Railway Museum should be told to respect the historic local connections in this matter and not regard the venerable old engine as some kind of trophy that is up for grabs to fulfil their own celebratory plans.

Colin Foster, Scarborough