Bid support

NOW that North Yorkshire councils have received a letter inviting them to put forward proposals regarding local government reorganisation, as the former leader of Scarborough Borough Council and as a county councillor, I am of the opinion that to get the best for the people we serve, the county council should be successful with their bid in creating a new authority.

As a councillor representing Scalby and the coast, I accept if North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) are successful with their bid this will create a whole new authority within the curtilage of North Yorkshire and that is a very important point, because the size of the new authority will not be any bigger than it is now. The new unitary authority does not encroach into any neighbouring council.

At the moment NYCC deliver very good services both in adult and child care, which could put lives at risk if such experience is lost in breaking up what is already well respected services. Other services including education, highways and economic development are all punching well above their weight.

The proposal by the District/borough leaders to create an eastern unitary and a western unitary is ridiculous to the point that quite rightly the City of York have made it perfectly clear that they do not want to play any part in the eastern unitary, so here we have an “ arranged marriage” where one party is totally reluctant to play any part in it, a recipe for disaster for the people we serve and the economy.

Have they considered what will happen to the police, fire and rescue services following the excellent way our PFCC Julia Mulligan is running the service, a service that will need splitting in two, with expertise and knowledge lost to either or both of the east/west proposals.

Parish and town councils will be encouraged to take on more responsibilities where there is a desire to do so, step by step with professional support similar to how the libraries transferred into “local ownership”. No service will be transferred down until thorough checks and balances have been exhausted I would urge all interested parties to back the county council unitary bid, a bid that will serve the people in a most professional way, and one which will be the most cost effective, a bid that will prove the present NYCC has an excellent track record, a bid that will work with businesses to attract investment, a bid that will set out how it intends to improve the economy, a bid that will show the diverse beauty of the county.

County Councillor Derek Bastiman, Scalby, Scarborough.

Climate emergency

HAVING unanimously passed a motion declaring an environment and climate emergency in July 2019, Richmondshire District Council has hardly achieved anything that would class as a response to an emergency.

Admittedly the Covid pandemic has required more immediate attention but failing to get to grips with what is happening to the environment and the climate will have even more serious long-term and far reaching consequences.

What is behind the failure to appoint a climate change officer? Why will RDC not even include a critical motion on its coming agenda? What has happened to the action plan?

Richmondshire is being made to look ridiculous.

The council is being put to shame. There needs to be urgent multi-agency working together, which won't happen in the absence of leadership.

Lisle Ryder, Newton-le-Willows.

Food standards

I READ Mark White's letter (D&S Times letters, Sept 25) about Kevin Hollinrake not supporting an amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would have legally protected the UK's high food standards now that the UK is leaving the EU. Sadly, I see he has wasted another opportunity to support his constituents, from those who work in agriculture to the overwhelming majority of us who want to see the UK's high standards maintained.

An amendment to the Agriculture Bill proposed by Lord Curry was passed by the House of Lords with a majority of 107.

The motion was moved by Conservative peer Baroness McIntosh of Pickering. Anne McIntosh, pictured below, was our constituency MP until 2010.

Darlington and Stockton Times: LOVING SUPPORT': York MP Anne McIntosh, whose mother  died aged 88

As for Lord Curry, he knows about farming. He chaired the Policy Commission on the future of Farming and Food that helped the industry recover from the disastrous foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001.

If the amendment had passed into law, it would have given the Trade and Agriculture Commission set up in June the power to provide Parliament with independent advice on the impact of all future trade deals on British food and farming standards.

The Commission would have established criteria for maintaining standards that could not have been ignored.

Kevin Hollinrake states time and time again that Parliament will not allow any lowering of UK food standards, yet he keeps voting against any such protections. As Parliament no longer has any vote on future trade deals, something that he voted through, can he tell us exactly how lower food standards will be prevented?

Janet Guy, Easingwold.

US imports

WITH all the ongoing concerns about Covid-19 it is difficult to find time to think about other things that are going on at the moment. A really big current issue is the ongoing talks about trade deals.

In order to draw attention to this matter a number of campaigning groups are getting together to support a day of action against the proposed US trade deal on Saturday, October 24. In advance of this date there have already been two demonstrations by farmers in Northallerton and Stokesley, as covered by the Darlington and Stockton Times.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The protest in Stokesley

Farmer, Andy Welford is a member of the NFU and also a member of GJN, Global Justice Now. Both organisations are extremely concerned about the implications of the UK’s efforts to strike a trade deal with the US. It is well known that the US has much lower food standards than we currently have in the UK.

In the US farmers routinely give hormones and anti-biotics to their animals as well as washing their chicken in chlorine.

At the moment the UK is struggling to negotiate our post-Brexit trade arrangements with our nearest neighbours in the EU. As a result our government is desperate to get a deal with the US.

It seems that no one in this country wants to have lower standards but so far the British government has resisted putting protection of our standards into the Agriculture Bill. A petition launched recently by the NFU on this subject got more than a million signatures which shows that there is huge public demand for our present food standards to be maintained.

The farming community are particularly anxious that in future they will be struggling to stay in business when cheaper food produced to much lower standards starts to appear on our supermarket shelves.

So as the cattle say – this is a bad mooove.

Barbara Welford, Secretary of Cleveland GJN, Scaling, Saltburn.

Navy deterrent

FURTHER to Mr Robin Brooks "Defence spending" (D&S Times letters, Oct 16).

Although he and I live in beautiful rural locations, we must remember that we are an island nation.

Our Navy has played a pivotal role in the defence of these islands for centuries, and we owe our very existence to all the brave men and women who defend our way of life.

He must also remember that Her Majesty’s Royal Navy is tasked to protect our interests and nationals where ever they are in the world.

Iran capturing a British registered tanker in the straits of Hormuz July 2019 for instance, I doubt just asking nicely for our ship back would have worked, without the backing of the Royal Navy hovering in the region.

The reason we have enjoyed world peace now for 75 years is simple: Deterrent.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth is just a part of that deterrent, she would also have been invaluable in 1982 when a certain military junta invaded a peaceful island in the South Atlantic. I know how easy it is for some to knock our nation these days, it is almost the fashion to do so. But for all that, these tiny islands are still held with the greatest respect by countries across the globe. Hence throughout history all those poor souls fleeing tyranny and persecution have risked their very lives to reach here.

Laurence Wetherall, Bedale.

Indicate, please

I NOTE with sadness that the dreaded London lurgy has reached the roads of Richmondshire. I refer, of course, to this strange disease in which sufferers seem incapable of signalling their intentions when driving.

It is not as if it is a difficult operation. When I learned to drive, one generally had to wind down the window and make the appropriate hand signal: now one just has to flick a lever.

On a recent visit to Northallerton, I had three incidents when my journey was made difficult by my not knowing what the vehicle in front was about to do.

And on one occasion, I had to take swift avoiding action when the car in front suddenly turned across my bows. Yes, I had noticed that it was slowing down but had no crystal ball as to indicate why.

I have noted, incidentally, that it is almost exclusively male drivers who are so inconsiderate. Are we women, then, more courteous to our fellow road-users and thus are better drivers?

Daphne Clarke, Richmond.

Planning algorithm

WILL Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake hand power to an algorithm?

The Planning White Paper, Planning For the Future published by the government in August proposes to sweep away the discretion of local councils and impose house building numbers determined by a new algorithm.

Areas with a large gap between incomes and house prices will have large increases in house building forced on them, in the most extreme case a tripling of the building volume currently allowed. At the same time the government proposes to eliminate the requirement for affordable homes on all schemes with less than 40 new dwellings.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Government warned it will miss its 2020 house building target

It is widely recognised that there is an acute shortage of affordable housing for local people in Ryedale, Scarborough and Hambleton, the result of a wide gap between incomes and house prices.

Many feel that house building has already been excessive around towns like Malton and Thirsk but the new government proposals will almost double the number of new homes to be built, according to the Lichfields Planning Consultancy.

So, a lot more houses but fewer affordable ones for local people. It is reported that up to 70 Tory MPs, horrified at the impact on their constituencies, are known to be lobbying for a rethink and threatening to vote against the white paper in its current form.

As Local Government Association spokesperson, Tory Cllr David Renard, said: “Algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by councils and communities who know their areas best.”

It would be nice to know that Mr Hollinrake will also be standing up for the local communities he represents but to date it is not clear that he is.

After the distress caused to so many A-level students by the government’s blind faith in an algorithm, can they seriously be proposing to plan housing development using the same principle?

Nelly Trevelyan, Appleton-le-Moors.