No more excuses

WHEN a scheme designed and installed to prevent a road from flooding allows that road to flood it can only be described as a failure.

As a retired plumber and heating engineer if I had designed a heating system that worked in the warm weather but did not produce sufficient heat in the very cold weather I am sure it would have been deemed a failure.

If a bridge designed to take pedestrians as well as traffic worked fine with pedestrians but collapsed with traffic I am sure it would be considered a failure.

How can the Dalton Bridge flood prevention scheme, which failed, possibly be defended on the grounds that the quantity of water that arrived was not catered for (D&S Times, July 17).

The design was flawed to the tune of £300,000 (the cost of rectification), the dip in the road which flooded was there long before the scheme was designed and is the root of the problem and has been totally ignored until now.

Why can Hambleton District Council not hold up its hands admit they have boobed and get on with sorting the problem out instead of making ridiculous excuses.

After all they accepted the designs.

Lawrence Whiteley, Dalton Bridge.

Trade deal

IN the run up to the General Election, Boris Johnson said he had "an oven-ready deal" and that businesses in Northern Ireland could put any additional paperwork in the bin.

It seems to be taking an awful long time to defrost this turkey with Liz Truss writing about her concerns about whether we will be ready in January and Andrea Leadsom saying recently that everyone was told in 2016 that a no-deal Brexit would result in lost jobs.

That’s not my recollection as we were told it would be the “easiest trade deal in history”.

I hear Brexiteers saying that the EU are being awkward. These are the same people who were saying that the EU would be desperate to do a deal with us.

If there isn’t a negotiated deal by January, we have a real problem.

Almost 50 per cent of our food is imported from the EU.

If the Government doesn’t want price increases on this food (and other imported items) it will need to put zero tariffs on them. Unfortunately, if we do that, World Trade Organisation rules would oblige us to put zero tariffs on all other imports of the same type from the rest of the world.

We would be giving free access to our market with no obligation for them to do the same in return.

Our farmers and businesses will not be able to compete with low cost and low animal welfare produce being dumped on our market.

Rishi Sunak should be representing the needs of this rural constituency by vetoing no deal.

Philip Knowles, Richmond (Yorks) Liberal Democrats.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Railways plan

IT is easily forgotten today that the Government’s announcement on 11 April 1989 “to refuse consent” to the then British Railways Board’s proposal to close the Settle to Carlisle (S & C) line to passenger services, also included the route from “Blackburn (Daisyfield Junction) to Hellifield”, which includes Clitheroe.

Your correspondents who referred to this route (D&S Times letters, July 10) might like to take heart from the further Government announcement (31 years later!), in May 2020, to include the line through Clitheroe in the list of successful bids for the first round of its “Ideas Fund”, with the next step apparently to prepare a business case for a new regular service.

With a similar proposal possibly in the offing for a reinstated railway service between Hawes and Garsdale, a joint effort by both groups could be mutually beneficial, albeit with the greater challenges in the Dales of no remaining track or equipment, and, unclear funding arrangements.

Even if the Dales railway proposal did not eventually stack up, an enhanced, connecting bus service from Garsdale, to include the existing route to Hawes/Wensleydale, and, a renewed one to Sedbergh, could be a significant outcome.

In its railway guide to the S & C, published back in 1976, the Yorkshire Dales National Park referred to Garsdale as a “Road – Rail Interchange”; its full potential has still to be realised once again.

Graham Thompson, West Burton, Leyburn.

Butterfly sightings

MY wife and I have recently been walking the Cleveland Way in short stages.

The other day in warm sunny weather we had the good fortune to see on the section of the path from Sutton Bank to Kepwick the following species of butterflies:- Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Large White, Small Copper, Skipper and Small Heaths (many).

Walking, natural history in general and butterflies in particular have been lifelong interests of mine.

Neil Heaton, Great Ayton.

Boring Beeb

IT was very interesting to note that our secular BBC stopped broadcasting their Sunday services the weekend that football matches resumed.

To add insult to injury, we are informed that the elderly will no longer qualify for free TV but must pay the standard licence fee.

It would seem that this will enable the powers that be at the Beeb to waste even more money on football. If there is not a ball involved it is unlikely to be shown on BBC (and we only ever seem to get highlights of golf tournaments nowadays) and every time a new series begins it comes with the warning that it usually contains "scenes of a sexual nature and strong language" (substitute strong for foul).

Apart from the news, which often seems politically biased, I find very little of interest on BBC TV anymore.

June Fountain, Kirkby Malzeard, Ripon.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

TV choice

WITH regards to the BBC licence fee I think it should be the same as Sky or any of the other TV stations – if you want them there is a fee, this is for everybody not just the over 75s.

The BBC might be shocked as to how many people are not bothered about them, plus there is a lot of free TV channels for everybody.

GO Wright, Sadberge.

Licence fee

I AM 87, I complete my jobs each morning and spend most afternoons and evenings watching television.

Am I alone in being absolutely fed up with having to watch repeat after repeat programmes, some from the 1940s, 50s and 60s or all the cookery, gardening, competitions etc and so many American programmes?

Nearly all the more recently made programmes are full of gratuitous violence, and appalling and unnecessary foul language.

There are, thankfully, some enjoyable programmes, mainly on the commercial and Freeview stations, however here the afternoon advertisements are mostly from charities or funeral pre-payment companies.

I am repeatedly asked to contribute regular amounts from £3 to £30 to worthy causes which, if each were responded to, would commit me to over £90 a month.

I already support local charities that don’t spend money on advertising or executives and management salaries.

Then there are those continuous and upsetting reminders of how much my funeral will cost, probably over £4,000 and rising six per cent each year.

I should now consider pre-payment arrangements immediately. However, not me as they only accept customers up to 79 years old.

Having become increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with television I am now listening more to classical music and the radio.

Unfortunately, television is still more companionable when you live alone, specially under the present coronavirus restrictions.

I certainly do not relish the idea of having to pay a BBC licence fee to cover the exorbitant salaries paid to BBC management and so-called personalities (like whiskery boring old Gary Lineker) and repeat fees to watch the same programmes over and over and over again all day.

I now know every Murder She Wrote, Poirot, and Miss Marple by heart.

I do wish members of parliament would step in and remind the BBC of their social responsibilities in this matter. Also give much more consideration to the elderly who are not claiming additional social benefit payments and will, therefore have to pay the totally unwarranted BBC licence fee.

Mary Watson, Thirsk.

London link

TEESSIDE to London City Airport is only of use to business folks waiting Canary Wharf or central London, as it was built on former East End dock property, and I understand requires "STOL" aircraft ie short take-off and landing.

City Airport is completely useless for long-haul from Heathrow.

The problem of crossing the city on a sardine tube train is just too much and little wonder folks from Teesside go via Schiphol Amsterdam.

Without a direct Heathrow long-haul connection, Teesside Airport is, realistically, going to remain provincial.

GB Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Abolishing the Lords

ALTHOUGH I am not a Labour Party supporter, Rebecca Long Bailey’s proposal to abolish the House of Lords was something I have wanted to hear for a long time.

Successive governments here promised to reform the House of Lords but with about 900 members and counting, the place has become a costly retirement home for party cronies, wealthy donors and clapped out ex-MPs and civil servants etc. (not forgetting, alarmingly in this day and age, hereditary peers).

How can this country preach democracy to others when we have this bunch of unelected individuals influencing legislation?

Instead of having this expensive talking shop of noble lords, lets sack the lot, save the taxpayers a small fortune, and at last, claim to be a genuine democracy.

Michael Strong, Bishop Auckland.

Mask rules

I HEAR the Conservative government are to fit all empty stables with reinforced barn doors after the alarming amount of horses that have bolted.

The introduction of compulsory face masks in shops effective today (July 24) is over three months too late.

We have a trial and error government, with a huge emphasis on error.

The wearing of compulsory face masks in shops has been introduced because the government think the public will feel extra safe, go out in their droves and start spending bags of cash.

It is likely the vast majority will wear masks in shops but there will also be a lot of people who will feel confused that you don't have to wear a mask in a sweaty gym, a crowded pub or restaurant but have to whilst shopping.

A lot of people will simply do their purchases online, so it's goodbye high street.

Masks are not cheap and I don't recall hearing any news about the government issuing free ones.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Summer holidays.

THE summer holidays are upon us, and, after weeks of concern about how children will make up for lost time, I think we should also consider the children who, regardless of global pandemics, are always victims of an educational gap.

Working in early years, every September we see the very apparent gap between children born at the start of the academic year, who are on the cusp of being five when they start school, and those born in July or August, who have only just turned four.

In formative ages, such as ages two to four, children are learning new social skills, like potty training and manners, and without dedicated support, they may not be quite as ready as their older peers.

With free nursery places available for children from the age of two, I sincerely hope the parents of summer babies will consider the value of early years to bridge this gap before it becomes an issue for the child.

Alice McCullagh, director at Rosedene, Northallerton.

Town parking
I’M pleased to see that on Tuesday, North Yorkshire County Council is to finally consider extending free parking in Northallerton High Street.

However, should it really have taken a global pandemic for them to even consider it? Add to this the fact it has been over two years since Northallerton BID published a report which stated “an overwhelming majority of 63 per cent [of around 100 surveyed local businesses] believe the charging regime has brought a negative or very negative effect on their business”, how could the leaders at NYCC not have realised sooner that the charging regime is an embarrassing failure?

Indeed, in many private conversations I’ve had with several High Street shop owners over the years, they’ve often cited the current charging regime’s negative effect on footfall as the chief factor behind increased prices of goods.

While I understand the argument that parking fees may bring more revenue to NYCC, the proof is in the pudding. This particular charade has proven the current charging regime is nothing but false economy. It is harming businesses, shoppers, the council and the community alike. It’s high time the county council pulled their fingers out and started looking after the very businesses and business people who help fund NYCC through their council taxes and other rates.

Furthermore, I’d very much like to address something which I haven’t yet seen discussed anywhere. How much revenue does NYCC (or even Hambleton District Council) earn from the current parking charges, considering the High Street parking contract is owned by Scarborough Borough Council?

As if a three-tier town, district and county council system wasn’t convoluted enough, the unfortunate people who end up being fined by the overzealous parking wardens have to endure a de facto four-tier council system due to the superfluous involvement of Scarborough Borough Council!

I’m confident I speak on behalf of the Northallerton people when I say the town would be better off if that contract was brought back in-house.
Joseph Lambert, East Cowton.