Town treasure

EVERY town and city have their own treasures – in Darlington’s case Locomotion No 1, having saved it from the scrapyard in the 1850s thanks to Joseph Pease and his family paying the £50 restoration work.

Not so long ago Locomotion No. 1 got celebrity status by the Bank of England showing the engine crossing the Skerne Bridge in Darlington on the back of the £5 pound note.

With the bi-centenary celebrations fast approaching in 2025, our star attraction could be missing, so now is the time for Darlington folk to voice their opinion and sign the petition or by this time next year it could be gone for ever – it’s in everyone’s own interest.

Fred Iceton (retired railwayman), Darlington.

Real poverty

THERE are none so blind as those who will not see. I refer to the letters by Messrs Harris and Goff (D&S Times letters, Nov 13) in response to my letter the previous week.

They both have completely missed the point.

Firstly Mr Harris’s crude analogy that seeing three Scotsmen driving Volvos means that all Scots drive Volvos, is laughable.

My remark about seeing women in supermarkets pushing a trolley full of junk food (pizzas, crisps, burgers, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, chocolate bars, 2l bottle of Cola) the junk trolley, compared with the healthy trolley (fresh mince, chicken, fish, pork and fresh fruit and vegetables etc) is based on ten to fifteen years of observation.

The cost of the “junk” trolley will be about 35 per cent higher than the “healthy” trolley which can easily be checked out on line. Not rocket science.

The accuracy of any statistical/scientific study depends on two main factors. Number and frequency of observations and length of period of time. I consider that observations over ten to fifteen years satisfies any statistical criteria.

Poverty in the UK is defined as anyone who has earnings less than 60 per cent of the UK national average income of £29,600 which equates to £17,760 pa which is enough to buy the most basic of healthy foods.

This puts 30 per cent of children into poverty but it is grossly incorrect to assume 30 per cent of children are starving. Just because parents who cannot afford the latest iPhone, Adidas trainers and tracksuits does not constitute starving children.

Today you do not see any children running around in rags as were seen in the 1940s and 50s.

Regarding Mr Harris’s assertion of the link between lack of nutrition and the decrease in average height of UK boys, height variation depends on many factors.

The Department of Health has declared childhood obesity as a national emergency. It is costing the NHS £6.1bn per year on treating obesity with a further £41bn on treating obesity related illnesses. This is more than the cost of running the police and fire services.

For children in the UK, 25 per cent of reception children, 35 per cent of year six and 20 per cent of ten to 11 year olds are obese. This must be dealt with by educating parents to feed their children healthy affordable food and on exercise.

This education has partially started with most schools banning fizzy drinks and chocolate bars in packed lunches and the Government declaring war on junk food manufacturers, but there is still a long way to go.

So to conclude child poverty does not mean starving children. To see true starving children, go to a developing country.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.

School meals

COME on Mr Prime Minister, don’t be so selfish.

Get your government of MPs to forgo their 2020 annual pay rises, and donate this to pay for these free school meals for children, whose parents or single parent cannot afford to feed their children because of their present financial and personal life difficulties.

One free hot meal a day would certainly be a great asset to any child.

Also Mr Prime Minister, what about these extra laptops for vulnerable children who are studying at home because of the lockdown?

These children are our future generation.

Roland Bramham, Richmond.

Bilsdale childhood

I WAS very interested in your article on Bilsdale (D&S Times, Oct 30) as my maiden name was Ainsley.

As a child I used to play in the old Sun Inn when it was full of all sorts of bits and pieces presumably from the farm, before it was taken over by the North Yorkshire Moors Historical Society and became a visitor attraction.

In my father’s day, he was William Cyril Ainsley, there were a lot of Ainsleys in Bilsdale. We used to visit William and Madge whenever we were in Yorkshire.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

William Ainsley on the rather uneven cricket field at the Sun Inn, Bilsdale

In the 1980s we had several Ainsley family reunions which included cousins from California. We always referred to Chop Gate as Chop Yat as we always understood that “shut yat” meant “shut the gate”.

Mary C. Smith, Birkenhead.

Employment case

I SINCERELY hope former Middlesbrough resident, Catherine Maughan, gets justice in her case against Great Ormond Street Hospital, where she worked as a data manager.

Catherine alleges she was picked on because she was a white Christian woman.

We must never forget that the laws against racism, as well as religious and sexual discrimination, apply equally to all citizens of our country, including supposedly privileged whites.

And, if justice is to be served, the Central London Employment Tribunal, hearing Catherine’s case, must recognise this.

If anyone suffers discrimination, harassment or bullying they should keep a detailed diary of events to build up a case against the perpetrators.

Unfortunately, in my experience, few have the persistence to keep this up for a long period.

Catherine, however, had the good sense and determination to make a record of the alleged bullying and unfair treatment over a period of years.

This evidence should greatly strengthen her case.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland Councillor.

Editor’s note: The hospital denies all the allegations.

Mobile access

MOBILE Access North Yorkshire [MANY] is being promoted on an ever more frequent basis both door to door and in the press.

How can the MANY partners prove that their desired rollout of 5G, for which the telecoms industry has never commissioned any independent safety tests, is not going to contribute to the disastrous outcome of the extermination of our pollinators.

Anne Currie, Richmond.

Death penalty

I WAS prompted to write this letter after the news of Peter Sutcliffe’s death which I believe is nearly 40 years too late for the relatives and friends of his victims.

For nearly 40 years he has been in prison for his crimes where he will have gained a celebrity status, lived a comfortable life, received offers of marriage from deluded women and cost the state a fortune to keep him.

When the death penalty was abolished in 1963 the majority of the public was in favour of keeping it and I believe this is still the case, but whilst we have by and large a liberal Parliament upheld by a mainly wishy washy law lords and judges this will continue to be the case.

I can understand why people are against the death penalty and they will always bring up the case of Timothy Evans, wrongly convicted and executed but it is my belief this would not happen today with the advances of DNA technology.

I would ask all those against the death penalty, if it was a relative of theirs who had been his victim or a victim of the Moors murderers, the Black Panther, Dennis Neilson or a terrorist would they still hold their beliefs?

To further my argument one of the reasons given was that a life imprisonment, meaning life would be imposed in all cases. What a joke.

I can’t support my argument with figures but I believe that there have been many murders committed by prisoners released who should still be in prison or executed.

Finally I am only advocating the death penalty be considered in cases of malice aforethought.

Thomas Ball, Barnard Castle.

Leaseback costs

THESE days schools, hospital, courts, prisons, and police stations are leased from private companies at enormous expense to the taxpayer.

These lease back arrangements now swallow up gigantic amounts of taxpayers’ money and are very wasteful. Why are we doing this?

There are cases where the taxpayer has been paying £2.5m annually to lease a piece of equipment in an NHS hospital which has a book value of £750,000.

Four months rental would buy the equipment. This is often equipment the NHS owned at one time anyway.

The NHS bears the cost of staffing and running costs too. So, what are we exactly paying these PFI companies for?

These contracts can be ended cheaply quickly and easily by act of parliament avoiding the penalty clauses in the original contracts and by bringing such buildings and equipment back into public ownership.

Compensation may be awarded (if we wish) by more reasonable terms set out in the act instead. This is how the NHS was first created in 1947.

Cllr Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Pet care crisis

THE Covid-19 pandemic continues to be exceptionally difficult for all of us, but has also led to crisis levels of “pet poverty” in the UK.

PDSA is a charity that provides free and low cost vet care for those who struggle to pay treatment costs for their sick and injured pets.

Since the first UK lockdown began, we’ve seen an overwhelming number of additional enquiries from pet owners who have hit hard times. In the first three months of lockdown alone, we carried out more than 6,400 operations and 15,000 x-rays for pets in need.

On average, we’re providing 2,300 phone appointments every day to desperate pet owners. We predict there will be as many as 50,000 more pets eligible for our services over the months ahead, as a direct result of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

For many sick and injured pets, whose owners are struggling financially, PDSA is their only emergency service.

For more information on PDSA and the pet care crisis and how you can help, please visit

Paul Manktelow, PDSA vet.