Highways policy

I REFER to the letter from County Councillor Derek Bastiman (D&S Letters, Oct 23) concerning the proposed council reorganisation to a unitary authority in which he states that the Highways department is punching well above its weight.

I could not believe what I was reading.

From what I see around about where I live nothing could be further from the truth and it is impossible to see that any policy exists.

The man with the white spray marks out some of the potholes for repair and leaves others to get larger and be "repaired" at a later date.

Most of the holes marked for repair have been fixed at an earlier date, with repairs usually consisting of making holes into bumps.

It would be good to know who is responsible for what is going on, the contractors or the council. Also who decides which roads are to be repaired?

I note that the road from the A6055 into Burneston has been marked out for considerable repair. There are no potholes but some rough patches but clearly it is considered to require substantial repair.

By contrast the road from the dangerous junction on the A61 (which should have a roundabout) for the short distance to The Barker Business Park has literally hundreds of holes and bumps, whilst the lane from the Thornborough to Carthorpe road into Well has been skimmed off and resurfaced. There is no logic to the policy.

Will matters be any better after reorganisation or will this be another costly mistake if the same people are in charge?

It seems strange that both sides in this argument can come up with the answer that their solution is best and have spent a lot of money on reports – not their money I don't suppose. Both of them can't be right and it seems to me that what they propose has more to do with empire building than anything else.

A few weeks ago the D&S Times had a report and photograph of a meeting between Carl Les and Ben Houchen. I assume they were out for their morning stroll and happened to meet on the county boundary. What has re-organisation in North Yorkshire got to do with the Tees Valley mayor?

I don't suppose the ratepayers of North Yorkshire will be consulted – ie a ballot – but at least we can be sure that when all this money is saved we will not be expected to pay any increase in rates for a number of years. Dream on.

David Law, Melmerby.

Mark Parr

LAST week (D&S Times, Oct 30) you announced the death of Mark Parr, who in the late 1980s came to the then Northallerton Grammar School as senior chemist (later head of science). In these Covid times, former students and staff won’t be able to gather to honour his memory. Perhaps you will allow this short tribute, to record what I am certain many will feel.

Mark was a wonderful influence, both in the lab and in the staff room. His kindly wit and lively presence made him irresistibly likeable. And he had the good teacher’s gift of making hard topics both graspable and interesting.

He was a key player in a group of outstanding young teachers who made a failing science department into a very good one, with results to match. Above all, he was kind, generous and highly professional, enriching the lives of all who were lucky enough to work with him.

I know that those who were at the school then and who knew him, would want to pay tribute, and to extend our sympathies to his family.

John Bell, Leyburn.

Food standards

THE Prime Minister’s self-imposed deadline to secure a trade deal with Europe has come and gone.

We were all promised a comprehensive oven-ready deal with Europe but the government is running out of time to deliver on that promise. As the second wave of Covid begins, it’s never been more crucial to reach a recovery-boosting deal with Europe.

We are already seeing job losses and business closures in our communities.

A recent report by Best for Britain shows that countless professions, products and industries will be severely impacted from day one of a no deal exit. To leave the transition period with no plan and no deal would be disastrous in this climate.

A few weeks ago, the Agricultural Bill was passed without the necessary amendments intended to protect our food standards and our farmers. It was a stark reminder that the best guarantee of our high standards is to trade with an ally who shares them.

To leave Europe without a plan in place would compound the already vulnerable position of North-East and Yorkshire farmers.

This is not an abstract matter of diplomacy and trade – our lives and our livelihoods are on the line. The government should pursue a recovery-boosting deal, which allows us to work with Europe to both recover from Covid and keep our standards high.

M Doyle, Saltburn.

Lockdown effect

IT seems so unfair that small retailers have to close as we approach Christmas but supermarkets can continue to sell a wide range of non-food items.

It must be so hard for book and toy shops amongst many others to close only to see supermarkets continuing to sell the same lines.

The irony is without exception the small businesses I have used have provided a safe environment in which to shop. This is in stark contrast to a recent visit to a supermarket where there was no one monitoring the entrance and once inside it was so busy social distancing was impossible.

I really hope that all the smaller retailers survive and once better times arrive they receive the support they deserve.

Sue Barton, Sessay.

Time’s up

FOR the past few weeks the sound of fireworks has heralded the approach of November the fifth.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Brean fireworks display thrills the crowds

Leaving aside the usual pleas about animal welfare and the demands on the emergency services, isn’t it time we struck this "celebration" from the calendar on the grounds that it is based on religious intolerance and the suppression of the rights of the individual to lawfully challenge the status quo?

We have in many ways come a long way since the days of Guy Fawkes and yet in some matters we have hardly progressed at all.

Timothy Wood, Guisborough.

Dogs or sport

I DON’T have a dog, I don’t use a playing field, but I do have grandchildren who are devoted members of their junior football team.

All credit to dog walkers who “clean up” after their dogs (I mean that sincerely) but there seems to be an assumption that, if only all dog owners would do so, they and sports people could share the same bit of grass and the problem would disappear.

It won’t. Let’s be blunt, inevitably clean-up can only be partial and traces will remain for some time.

How many dog-owners who use playing fields to walk their dogs would be prepared to slide face down on a patch of grass that has been “cleaned up” of their dog faeces/urine? To my amazement, that is what they expect my sporty grandchildren to risk.

Dogs or sport, you can’t allow both.

Hugh Thompson, Osmotherley.

Two metres

I WAS surprised to see the photograph of the Brompton dog walkers on the recreation field (D&S Times Yorkshire edition, October 30) not because of the dogs, but they did not appear to be keeping to the two metre distancing. Are the rules different for them?

T. Wood, Brompton.

Hungry children

I REFER to John Gibbons letter (D&S Times letters, Oct 30) which is a misguided, emotional, tear jerking cause of child poverty in the UK.

I accept that there are a minority of single mums who struggle to feed their children due to no financial support from absent fathers.

This is a problem for the child maintenance agency to sort out. Also, there are a certain amount of people on benefits who spend a disproportionate amount of their benefits on alcohol and tobacco. This may be an unpalatable fact for the “woke brigade” to accept but it is an undeniable fact.

There are no starving children in the UK. If anyone wants to see starving children then they should go to Yemen. I have been there several times and it is not pretty.

The UK is the obese capital of Europe. A recent health study has found that 25 per cent of children in reception are overweight or obese and 35 per cent of children in year six are overweight or obese.

This does not support any emotional sanctimonious claims that we are a nation of hungry children.

I would challenge any of the “woke brigade” to make a clandestine visit to any supermarket. Statistically they will see an overweight young woman pushing a trolley containing the obligatory bag of 24 packets of crisps, pizzas, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, beef burgers, chocolate bars and various biscuits.

Fresh fruit and vegetables will be conspicuous by their absence.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.

Postal woes

FURTHER to Bobby Meynell's letter regarding postage problems (D&S Times letters, Oct 16), I moved to Stokesley a year ago and the Royal Mail delivery system is a joke.

I currently receive a "weekly" delivery. Yesterday I got eight letters having seen nothing for almost seven days.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Royal Mail hits back over backlog

The postage dates displayed and dates within prove how long they have been stored up. Having complained to Royal Mail several times, their response follows the same line relating to Covid and being short staffed.

Please, you can't use that chestnut forever, postal and parcel deliveries are very virus safe and folk are desperate for employment.

Because I have bought a new house we sadly haven't been allocated a proper postal round yet. Finally, I had to take on a small mortgage yesterday at the newsagents to buy a book of First Class stamps. World, let me off.

Gill Lonsdale, Stokesley.

Covid shutdown

I AM angry at the almost complete shutdown for four weeks.

It’s difficult to think of an environment that is safer than a golf club or a tennis club.

The ones I have visited take all precautions. Now all such clubs have to shut yet where is the evidence for that?

The UK has an excellent test and trace procedure which reveals how many Covid cases occur on a daily basis and in which localities. Where is the proof anyone has caught the virus at any golf club for instance?

I think the shutdown has been ill-thought through, catching the safe activities and punishing the “innocent”.

It is clearly over the top.

Malcolm Dunstone, Darlington.