Rushed plans

WE are told that the leaders of district councils in North Yorkshire are opposed to the plans for new unitary authorities in North Yorkshire.

Yet we see them working with this failed Conservative Government to deliver just that.

The only difference between the position of the district council leaders and county council is the size and shape of the proposed unitary authorities.

The Conservative county council want two unitary authorities based on the existing boundaries of North Yorkshire and the City of York.

The mainly Conservative district leaders want two unitary authorities more equal in size of about 400,000 people covering both North Yorkshire and the city of York.

Neither would work effectively if the Government’s plan for a single dictator, sorry, “mayor” for North Yorkshire and York combined is enacted.

As members of Richmondshire District Council, we were given just one week to review a 180 page wish list drawn up by North Yorkshire district leaders before being asked to vote for it. This was better than the 24 hours we were given to review a Governance document for the region.

These devolution plans will not deliver the “billions” in extra income for the region that council leaders claim.

If, and that’s a big if, this Tory Government sticks to its promise of extra money for North Yorkshire and York, it will still only be about £25m a year. That’s only about £30 a year per head of population. Compare that to your council tax bill per head and you will see that it’s peanuts.

Proposals for remote unitary authorities for North Yorkshire are undemocratic and will take local government even further away from the people they purport to represent.

The collaboration of the district and county council leaders in this rushed and ill thought out scheme is a disgrace.

Given that the UK has one of the worst mortality rates from Covid-19 in the world, you would think that they and this failed Conservative Government would have more important things to do?

So let’s just tell Dominic Cummings what to do with his latest cunning plan and focus on keeping people (and democracy) safe.

Cllr Leslie Rowe, Brompton on Swale.

Golly sales

HOW disappointing to read the article about Goathland Village Stores (D&S Times, Aug 21).

We have retailed the Golly merchandise previously and it is an excellent product and popular with people from all backgrounds, including black people.

Clearly Colette Cambridge has a problem and is on a personal crusade to add to the abolition of Baa Black Sheep, the Black Board and all things that were part of our innocent youth.

Racism is an acquired characteristic, no one is born a racist.

The continued suppression and mindless campaigns will not change the mindset of those who are racist, it will only fuel the problem with resentment.

As with our customers, people bought the goods because they loved the items, not because they were racist nor because the merchandise promoted racism.

Before everyone goes on the rant about the history of the Golly, I like many, and my children, played with these as a toy and at no time were we moulded into a racist as a consequence, exactly the same way I wasn't turned into a gun toting thug by playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians.

Good parenting, tolerance and understanding will prevail, not people like Colette Cambridge who thinks she is some eminent authority on the subject. Perhaps Goathland would be a happier place if she stayed at home in York?

A Waites, Leyburn.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Derek Whiting, of Stokesley, took this serene view of Saltburn last Friday, although he adds: ‘It looks very peaceful, until you descend the steps and see the crowds along the pier and the promenade’

Health hub

I WAS puzzled but not completely surprised by Patricia Kassell's suggestion (D&S Times letters, Aug 21) that because here in Catterick Garrison we are to have the benefit of a new health centre/hub on the site of the old Duchess of Kent Military Hospital, it means that Richmond is to lose GP services.

I believe that what our MP Rishi Sunak was saying in his column in the D&S was that the new health hub would house the Garrison GPs and a number of other health services, which could be used by patients throughout Richmondshire not just the Garrison.

I'm told these will include some mental health services which is very good news for the whole area.

Ms Kassell's attitude is, I'm afraid, rather typical of some folk in Richmond who see the development of much-needed services in the Garrison with its rapidly-growing population as some sort of threat to Richmond.

Ms Kassell should pay less attention to the Richmond rumour-mill and its conspiracy theorists. Having read up a bit about the Catterick development, I can find absolutely no reference to Richmond residents having to travel to the Garrison to see a GP because it is being built.

Edward Harden, Catterick Garrison.

Public service tax

SEEMINGLY Mark Wade (D&S Times letters, Aug 21) believes I missed a point regarding BBC bashing in my letter (D&S Times letters, Aug 7).

I do agree that I did not address his point, namely that the TV licence should not exist because it is irrelevant to him and his family.

Where I believe we differ is that I consider the BBC to be a public service as intended on its inception.

I regard the TV licence as just another tax. As with such as libraries and buses it is one's prerogative to use it or not. If one does not use them one does not expect tax relief.

Regarding the well-worn accusation that BBC news is "too negative, partisan and anti-government", I do not think the Tories on the BBC Board of Directors would allow it.

It is the duty of journalists to challenge the government of the day.

The fact that the majority of the governments have been Tory throughout my 70 years understandably means they have their policies and actions challenged more than any other government.

At the same time Blair, Campbell, Abbott, Corbyn et al have been given a hard time when questioned on the BBC. Would a pro broadcaster as in Russia, China and Korea be preferable?

Mark Wake prefers Sky which is overseen by a single family. James Murdoch has even stepped down from News Corps citing "disagreements over certain editorial content". And Fox News .....

Ian Wilson, Guisborough.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Under the bridge in Arkengarthdale, by Heather Middleton

New housing

IGNORING the wholesale opposition of the villagers and the parish council, Hambleton planning has just approved the construction of two estate-type houses in prime agricultural land, outside our village boundary, on a narrow, busy single-track country lane and in full view of the National Park.

Would I be cynical in suggesting that our locally elected councillors are now working for the government rather than serving the interests of those who elected them?

What price local democracy?

Dr John Davies, Kirkby in Cleveland.

Iconic tower

BY opposing the demolition of the Dorman Long Tower, on our former steelworks site, Jacob Young MP is, rightly, representing the views of most Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough people.

I’ve usually resisted attempts to preserve every last vestige of our industrial past, like rusting, derelict blast furnaces and ugly shale heaps.

But, I believe the tower to be exceptional as it’s, both literally and metaphorically, an outstanding, symbol of our industrial glory days. And, the easily visible, historic words Dorman Long on its side are the icing on the icon.

Built in the 1950s, intentionally or accidentally, in the brutalist style, this stupendous concrete structure must be retained. And, I agree with the suggestion of Teesside historian, Tosh Warwick, that the tower can, eventually, be used for arts and sporting purposes.

For once, let’s speak with one voice and resist the temptation of turning our much-loved Dorman Long Tower into a discordant Tower of Babel.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor.

Fairtrade cocoa

AS members of Stokesley and Ayton Fairtrade Group, we urge readers to sign the petition to Nestlé, in order to help farmers who are producing cocoa for our KitKat bars.

Readers may or may not know that Nestlé are to end their relationship with fair trade.

For many years Nestlé’s Kit Kat bars have carried the Fairtrade mark, giving British consumers assurance that the farmers producing the cocoa for the bars (in Cote d’Ivoire, on the African continent) are receiving the Fairtrade Premium payment (on top of the market price of their crop).

This premium payment has allowed the farmers and their co-operatives to pay for health and education provision in their communities and, during times of particular hardship when yield is poor and/or the market for cocoa is low, they have been able to weather that storm.

Nestlé plan to continue to support the cocoa farmers but in a different way and one that will not give them the same protection that has hitherto sustained their communities.

Withdrawing the premium payment support, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic, is set to have a devastating impact on one of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

Fair trade representatives and MPs have met with Nestlé to urge them to rethink their position and an online petition has attracted thousands of signatures. To date this has been to no avail. Conservative MP Jason McCartney has urged Nestlé “to be much more transparent about the detail of their [….] proposals [to mitigate the impact of their decision on cocoa farmers]”.

As the great great granddaughter of Henry Isaac Rowntree (who created Kit Kat) has stated: “Rowntree was a Quaker firm based on Quaker principles of fairness and honesty. Fairtrade matches those principles. The farmers who produce the cocoa for Nestlé are as much their workers as those directly employed and are owed a duty of care”.

For more information go to the Ivorian Fairtrade Network; the Fairtrade website; All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Fairtrade Statement: KitKat.

Readers can sign the petition on the website and we urge them to choose products with the Fairtrade mark.

From the Fairtrade groups of Stokesley and Great Ayton.

Richmond delights

AFTER such a long time without being able to do ordinary things, we wanted to say how nice it is to get back to enjoying some of the delights of living in Richmond – the Station Cinema, the swimming pool and the library are old favourites we're happy to be able to visit again.

In all three we feel safe, people are masked where appropriate and extremely safety conscious.

Thank you to all who have made this possible, the district council for their grant and the library volunteers particularly.

Helen and Mike Harper, Richmond.

Police HQ

WITH reference to your lead article "Police HQ sale delays cost taxpayers £750,000" (D&S Times, Aug 21), I find it almost beyond belief that Newby Wiske Action Group have had the nerve to criticise the cost of maintaining the former police HQ when they are the main cause of the delay in its sale.

What hypocrisy!

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.