Defence spending

YOUR recent article “New era of operations off Yorkshire coastline” (D&S Times, Oct 9) describes current naval exercises in the North Sea as involving the largest assembly of UK and NATO forces in 20 years.

In it Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, is quoted as saying: “The new… Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power…. HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing… and we will be ready to fight and win in the most demanding circumstance”.

Wow! But what does this boy's own paper stuff actually mean? Who is the enemy? Who is likely to invade the UK? What imperial possessions do we need to protect?

Surely the main threats likely to face this country for the foreseeable future are terrorism, cyber-sabotage or pandemics, against all of which HMS Queen Elizabeth is totally powerless.

Other European countries seem to manage happily with much more modest expectations and defence budgets. I don’t see nations like Norway, Sweden and Denmark green with envy or quaking in their shoes because they don’t have a ship on the ridiculous scale of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Shouldn’t the obscene amount of money being spent on such posturing be used for humanitarian objectives that actually benefit the population at large rather than just the egos of politicians and the Gilbert and Sullivan commanders of our armed forces?

Unfortunately the comment by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1962 that “Great Britain has lost an empire but not yet found a role” remains as true today as when it was made.

The pity is that, nearly 60 years on, we still haven’t accepted it.

Robin Brooks, Barningham, Richmond.

Dominic Cummings

I HAVE read with interest both in your sister paper The Northern Echo and an article on the internet, that yet again Dominic Cummings has broken rules, this time getting away without paying an estimated £30,000-£50,000 in council tax. At the present time of financial difficulty this money could be used for many reasons.

We have heard a lot of stories during this pandemic, for instance a Scottish health minister travelling to her second home 50 miles away, a Scottish MP who travelled to London and back on a train knowing she was tested positive, the government were advised by scientists to take further action some weeks ago to curb the virus but chose to ignore the advice, and now it is escalating.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Dominic Cummings (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Dominic Cummings

We are constantly told that if we, the public, break the rules we can be arrested and fined so why not MPs and government staff?

On top of all this they are apparently in line for a £3,000-plus pay rise when the rest of the country is suffering financially. It seems to me that yet again the Conservative Party are only interested in themselves and not the rest of the country. The population voted them in so why don't they work for us?

C.P.Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Rights of way

I FIND it great that people are starting to talk about cattle and rights of way.

What I am increasingly disappointed at is the assumption that the footpath is owned by the people rather than a rite of passage across land owned by someone else.

Asking the owner not to keep cattle in the field with a footpath in would be the equivalent to a garage been asked not to use a hydraulic lift if a footpath ran alongside it.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Right to roam questioned

While I accept that as keepers of cattle we have a duty of care, the other side needs to recognise their demands impact on the land value and eating potential for the farmer.

I have written this letter not to stop anyone from using footpaths but rather to have a balanced adult debate about the issue.

Robert Spensley, Castle Bolton, Leyburn. 

Stoppy back memories

FURTHER to Mr GO Wright’s letter ‘Time, please’ (D&S Times, Oct 2).

I arrived in Northallerton in November 1973 to discover the town enjoyed more than 20 active and lively pubs, most of which were manned by largely cheerful and welcoming landlords and landladies.

I joined a group of six new pals who played friendly knockout darts games.

We played in one particular pub we liked, despite the fact that the landlord could be fairly grumpy.

I recall one evening the landlord was unusually cheerful and friendly. One of my pals suggested he had "lost a penny and found a quid"!

However, towards the end of the evening he approached us in a conspiratorial manner, winked and whispered the sacred creed “fancy the six of you for a stoppy back lads?” WOW! ...We waited patiently and eagerly for the bar to clear of the non-privileged customers ... closing the doors he returned to the bar...

“Right lads, what would you like....tea or coffee”.

His fame from then on spread far and wide.

John Richards, Romanby, Northallerton. 

Treasury move

THE Treasury department re-locating to Teesside Airport area sounds fine.

At least three decades ago I recall the National Maritime Museum was to move to Hartlepool. Being interested in old ship research, I was hoping for a position.

Museum staff refused to move, and there was a similar reluctance from another government department to move to Newcastle.

Are these jobs new or a wholesale relocation of London staff?

Also fancy a massive traffic problem unless a direct new road comes off the A66.

Top level mandarins are powerful, probably more so that Rishi Sunak.

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Hospital treatments

HOW dare they! I have just watched Monday's Covid briefing when they specifically said that NHS treatment in hospitals is still available, and people shouldn’t be afraid to report problems or ask for help. Rubbish!

My husband chipped a tooth, exposing a nerve, which became infected. He looked like a lopsided chipmunk, and was in quite a lot of pain.

As it was a Sunday I contacted NHS 111, explained the situation and asked if I could be directed to somewhere I could get antibiotics so that he could start treating the infection and reduce the pain.

Their advice was that he should apply a cold compress, sleep sitting up, and see if his dentist would see him on Monday.

Darlington and Stockton Times: NHS 111 service is working in South Essex, claim

When my husband phoned his wonderful dentist he was told to go straight round, and was given a prescription for antibiotics.

Such was the level of infection that he was unable to do a full examination and he made an appointment for two weeks later, when he felt the infection would be clear and the swelling would have gone down sufficiently for a full exam.

His verdict was the tooth needed to be pulled, however, due to my husband’s ongoing health problems, he needed a medical team to be present, so he referred him to the hospital.

Can you imagine our disbelief when the hospital sent a letter saying the problem was not sufficiently urgent or serious, so they would not treat him!

We now have a large stock of painkillers, and a hotline to his dentist so when the infection starts to recur (which it does) he can get antibiotics to treat it as soon as possible. How we can solve this I just don’t know.

As a bit of a coincidence, last week I was told by my optician I needed cataracts to be removed, the left eye being the worst.

You’ve probably already realised that he’s referred me to the hospital. I try not to be too cynical, but I’m waiting for a white stick to arrive in the post!

And if anyone thinks I’m being selfish and should bide my time until the hospital has got control of Covid (which obviously is the most important thing of all) – well I didn’t say treatment is still available in hospitals!

G Nixon, Darlington.

Ad breaks

ONE drawback to self-isolation during the current pandemic is the endless stream of adverts on daytime TV imploring us to adopt a polar bear, a snow leopard, a tiger, a dolphin, a rhino, a jaguar, or an elephant, as well as a donkey, protect a cat, or sponsor a guide dog.

Not forgetting, providing clean water, prevent Glaucoma, repair cleft palates, and sponsor a girl and abolish forced marriages and FGM.

When most of the world's problems are caused by ignorance, greed, corruption, inept governments, and civil war why should we be expected to pay over and above our current overseas aid?

Darlington and Stockton Times: Place your bets on the Donkey Derby!

Then, of course, there are the medical ones, for vaginal dryness, feminine incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and constipation, with over 50's life insurance, natural cremations, and free will advice included as light relief.

Even the BBC is not exempt with their trailers for forthcoming shows and the 24-hour news.

Gone are the days of adverts and jingles for everyday products like One Thousand and One carpet cleaner, Pepsident toothpaste and 'Murraymints' – the too good to hurry mints.

So now we can each save the planet and cure all the world's ills by simply donating £3 per month – though terms and conditions apply.

P Holmes, Barnard Castle.

Failing strategy

IT is a good six months since we have had a system of protection and isolation amongst the community to combat coronavirus. It hasn’t and isn’t working.

Our economy has been decimated and our social lives affected and many have died of treatable diseases, like cancer, because they are unable to access treatment.

Further to this people are living in agony awaiting operations like knee replacements, cancelled because of this pandemic.

In Sweden they have been operating a “herd immunity” system. Sweden is a country Brits may visit and return from without need to self-isolate. Why, because “herd immunity” is working. Yet we continue along this path of desolation.

Now 7,000 scientists and medics worldwide have said enough is enough and are in favour of “The Great Barrington Declaration,” that, more or less, states following the Swedish model. Only vulnerable groups need be protected, the rest of the population live lives as normal.

And remember that of the thousands of students testing positive for the virus in the North-East, only about ten per cent displayed symptoms. And for the general population of the healthy amongst us that will be the effect.

Sadly the government are refusing to listen and continue to cite “evidence” that none of us see as reason to plough this pointless path that, far from helping, has seen infections rise in the most sanctioned and repressed areas like Manchester, up by tenfold since local lock down in July.

Let common sense prevail.

If you feel a need to isolate, do so and be supported. Wear masks in public. Do not frequent a pub, restaurant or cinema. Don’t use the bus. And the rest of us, a sizeable majority I’d say, live life as we used to, not a prisoner in our own homes.

After all, it’s worked in Sweden and 7,000 scientists and top medical professionals, people more knowledgeable than any member of parliament, say it’s time to admit the due process has failed.

J B Collinson, Middleton in Teesdale.

Missing mail

I MAY have set a new British national record.

Two weeks ago four friends each posted to my wife and I a greetings card by First Class Mail.

Of those four cards, only one has arrived.

Anyone able to "better" that, as it were?

Bobby Meynell, Stockton-on-Tees.