Is this progress?

I HAVE just finished reading the D&S Times (Jan 8) and came across the article on the proposed business park on the northern edge of Northallerton.

Whilst I approve of forward planning in most public ventures, with this proposed plan I am at a loss with regard to the lack of proposed vehicular infrastructure management.

As things stand, the northern link roads avoiding the troublesome frequent – but necessary – level crossing closures seem to be putting even greater strain on the East Road traffic flow.

There are four pedestrian traffic-light controlled crossings at the most congested part of our town’s roads, none of which appear to be synchronised.

There seems to be no visible plan to bypass the town either to the east or – now becoming a rat-run – to the west for heavy vehicles which will be involved in the ongoing construction of the current developments. The effect on the road surfaces is beginning to tell its own story as more and more heavy construction vehicles pummel the limited access roads.

Progress yes, but not at any price.

David H Grant, Romanby, Northallerton.

Toilet support

WE wholeheartedly agree with the comments of Malcolm Gill regarding the provision of public toilet facilities in Northallerton “Toilets plea” ( D&S Times letters, Jan 8).

We are continually told by Hambleton District Council and Northallerton Town Council of their aim to attract more visitors to the town but they refuse to provide even the basic amenities, seemingly quite happy for private businesses to provide toilet facilities.

Where else in North Yorkshire is there a market town without public toilets?

We challenge both councils to confirm that public toilet facilities will be included in the improvement project.

We will not hold our breath.

Danny and Anne Myers, Northallerton.

Policy failures

WE may all disagree on values, principles, aims and ideology but we should be able to agree on our judgement of the performance of our governing party when it comes to its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Firstly, policy formulation – did they identify the problem early enough to allow effective protections? The West was aware of the pandemic in Wuhan in December but started to act only in March 2020. It allowed mass virus spreading events to continue.

Did it make the correct estimation of the problem? We were told it was only marginally worse than flu, so we did not need to wear masks, distance ourselves from groups etc.

Did they act to limit the risks of transmission? For a party focusing its attention on controlling borders there was a complete lapse of mind.

If we had limited entry via airports from January, taken temperatures, forced quarantine isolation of those considered risky, contact traced inbound travellers (as they did in New Zealand) the epidemic could have been curtailed. This policy was finally announced for Britain this week, ten months too late.

Did they protect key workers and those deemed most at risk? Not until late in the summer, by which time care homes were devastated, medical staff dying, and our death rates per million in the top five of comparable countries. All of this supports the judgement of “too little, too late”.

Policy implementation has been an equally disastrous fiasco, even discounting the frustrations following regular policy flip flops. The most disastrous choice was to circumnavigate the entire system of public health management and Civil Service professionalism established for decades, in favour of a rag bag of private/public providers (with dubious performance records like Serco, Virgin Health, G4). The results have been a continued and gratuitous waste, inefficiency and delivery failure. The now failing Track and Trace systems have cost over £22bn pounds and still don’t work.

Health professionals lacked mask and PPE provision until it was too late. Meanwhile friends of friends with no experience gained contracts, financial accountability evaporated, deliveries stalled and lives were lost.

The inescapable conclusion is that this government has performed abysmally during this crisis, it has failed the country. By choosing to prioritise the economy over protection of citizens, both goals have been missed. Let’s just pray the vaccine roll out goes better, but literally and metaphorically, don’t hold your breath.

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby, Thirsk.

Covid rules

WE are constantly being asked and instructed by the government to stay indoors to help stop the spread of Covid-19, so why, oh why, on the TV news recently did we witness Chorley football players packed into a changing room singing an Adele song with no consideration for the safety rules whatsoever?

And over the weekend Middlesbrough players travelled to Brentford for a match – apparently not the normal team as quite a few were off with coronavirus.

My question is what is so special about football that clubs can override all the rules that everybody else is supposed to adhere to?

I have also read that the rules could to be strengthened due to the massive rise in cases, one of which is in regard to shopping in supermarkets. Who is going to police this as shop staff are not trained to do this nor put up with the inevitable abuse that seems to be given these days. Are we going to see a police officer in every shop? I don’t think so.

A lot of the problems with the lack of NHS, police, and other front line staff is the Conservative governments cutbacks a few years ago now coming back to haunt them. Emergency services should never have suffered staff cutbacks

But of course sitting in nice warm offices in London, they know better.

CP Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Selfish behaviour

VISITING my local supermarket today I was concerned to see that a small minority of shoppers are refusing to wear face masks.

The most recent figures state that one in 50 of the population has Covid-19, so statistics suggest that a typical supermarket will have someone wandering around in it with the virus. If that someone isn’t wearing a mask it’s very likely that he or she will have infected several others before they leave.

Wearing a face mask is an act of reciprocal altruism – I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me. By doing so in areas of unavoidable close contact, such as when shopping the risk of spreading this dreadful virus is reduced.

Quite frankly, failing to wear a face mask in shops whilst the virus is spreading at such alarming speed is an act of utter stupidity and selfishness.

John MacPherson, Sessay, Thirsk.

Fracking views

MANY of us in North Yorkshire have strong feelings about fracking – which is unsurprising as we would be living with the consequences for decades to come. In the past our Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinrake, actively supported fracking, something that dismayed many of his constituents who care about the environment and the legacy we leave for future generations. So, I was delighted when Mr Hollinrake said at a recent public meeting hosted by Ryedale Environmental Group, that he thought that: “the time for fracking has passed”.

I wholeheartedly agree. Renewables are now a more economically and environmentally viable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Can we now look forward to hearing our MP express his support for a formal ban on fracking in Parliament? We hope so.

However, I remember his dismissal of Marcus Rashford’s appeal for the government to provide free school meals in the holidays only to then welcome the idea when the government U-turned and provided money to local authorities.

I urge Mr Hollinrake to honour his words given to his constituents during Ryedale Environment Week and hope that he will campaign and then vote to ban fracking once and for all when Labour introduces an amendment to the Environment Bill to outlaw fracking in the UK.

Mark White, Tollerton, York.

Reason to be cheerful

ON January 22, 2021 the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will pass into international law.

Quakers, locally, nationally and internationally have been working alongside nearly 600 organisations, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent, for over ten years to bring about this historic moment.

More than 50 nations have now signed the treaty to eliminate these inhumane, indiscriminate weapons and the threat they pose to the environment and human survival.

Practically their use is becoming obsolete as warfare moves towards cyber-crime and drone warfare. Our government wants to spend more than £200bn on upgrading our nuclear weapons and Trident submarines when the threat to us all is coronavirus and climate change.

We welcome this moment of light in these dark times and urge our government to join others working for a more peaceful solution to our problems.

Jennie White, Leyburn on behalf of Wensleydale and Swaledale Area Quaker Meeting.

Carbon impact

RICHMONDSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL adopted a climate emergency motion in July 2019, and in November 2020 appointed a new officer to take forward its work on the climate emergency. I wish the council, and the officer, success. They could start by not making things worse.

When RDC moved into Mercury House, they took over the management of the area immediately behind and below the building, which was woodland. They cut the trees down, and some of them – cotoneasters and elders – grew back into scrub.

Since then, their management plan is to send in a couple of workers every January with petrol-driven strimmers to cut the cotoneaster and elder trees down to knee height. By midsummer the area is a sea of shoulder-high nettles and thistles, thriving in the absence of shade, which in due course disperse their seeds widely.

This is a missed opportunity in more ways than one.

If RDC simply left the area alone, the workers wouldn’t be emitting carbon dioxide from their strimmers, and could be doing something more constructive elsewhere.

Left alone, the trees would grow, and produce blossom to benefit bees, and then fruit to benefit birds. And as they grew, the trees would absorb carbon dioxide, and do their quiet bit to counteract global heating.

Bird-sown trees would germinate and get established. Once the tree cover was complete, the shade would discourage the nettles and thistles. Brambles – with more blossom and fruit – would provide the ground cover and more wildlife habitat. All this by just leaving the existing plants to get on with it.

This is just one example, which should be easy for RDC to understand because it is literally in their back yard. But the point must apply all over Richmondshire. Everything RDC does should be aware of the climate emergency. The best way to increase tree cover is to allow scrub to turn into woodland.

I drew my councillor’s attention to this issue – and the potential for a quick win on RDC’s carbon footprint, and a helpful precedent for the wider district – last February. This morning the workers were back again with their strimmers.

Dave Dalton, Richmond.

Vaccine experience

ON Thursday, my sister and I went to Tennants in Leyburn for our Covid vaccination and I would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to everyone involved.

From the courteous car park attendants to the nurse who administered my, almost, pain free injection to the other NHS staff and all the volunteer helpers who all contributed to its being a successful, stress-free event, thank you. We were in and out within 25 minutes which was a tribute to the careful, thoughtful planning. Well done everybody.

Daphne Clarke, Richmond.

Highly professional

PLEASE may I take this opportunity through your paper to express my grateful thanks to all personnel involved in the Covid-19 vaccinations in the Forum, Northallerton, last Saturday.

The mammoth logistics involved in organising the programme led to a highly professional clinical procedure. Car parking stewards were more than helpful in advising and assisting patients into the centre despite the snow and ice.

Medical staff, care workers and volunteers, all at risk themselves, must be commended for their dedication and commitment. My thanks also to Glebe House GP Surgery and Mills Pharmacy, Bedale. Thank you NHS and all connected.

Muriel Blythman, Bedale.

Care thanks

AFTER a recent visit to the Scott Suite at The Friarage, Northallerton, I am expressing my grateful thanks for the exemplary care I received from everybody working there, in whatever capacity.

This unit should be used for training purposes as a gold standard of what can be achieved with care, thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

In addition, the system of instant results was a reassuring bonus, designed with the worried patient in mind.

I must also take this opportunity to thank the very efficient members of the Community Care office at Thirsk who organise a system of voluntary drivers to take patients for hospital appointments.

Both organisers and drivers show great kindness, consideration and understanding. Thank you to everyone.

Anita Haisley, Thirsk.