Railway crossing

TO all those people who think a bridge over the Low Gates level crossing in Northallerton is the answer to congestion when the gates are down, may I suggest that they take a Covid-compliant look at what is being built to take North Moor Road over the same railway line.

If they do, they will realise that a bridge is a complete non-starter and that the answer can only be to move the line to the North of the town, as was suggested a few years ago in your newspaper.

Given the increase in traffic that the new Northallerton estate is likely to generate and the potential increase in rail traffic when Teesside becomes a Freeport it really is time that that the various government agencies got together and came up with a coherent plan to resolve the chaos created by Low Gates crossing, a chaos that can only get worse.

For those who don’t know, North Moor Road is, I understand, the name of the new North Northallerton Link road, although we have yet to see any road signs to confirm that.

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.

Bank closures

I REFER to your piece on the bank closures in Northallerton and Richmond and how devastated the local community can be at the loss. “HSBC bank branch closures branded ‘appalling’” (D&S Times, Jan 22).

We are about to lose the Yorkshire Bank in Malton in about six weeks’ time. In the Summer TSB are moving out.

We are told the Malton branch of the Yorkshire Bank is one of the busiest in North Yorkshire.

As we are so rural, many people are not online, many can’t get a signal from areas on the moors.

Like me, we like someone to talk to if we have a problem, there are so many scams going on, especially on the phone, it’s good to go into the branch for reassurance.

We are told to go to York or Scarborough or Whitby. We are in a pandemic and told not to travel or risk a fine.

Our local Post Office is small and I doubt will be able to cope with the extra people, there are long queues outside as it some days.

Despite all that is said on the pros and cons of this very sad situation, it is about people not just money and technology.

Many who have been with the bank most of their lives, who go each week, take out their cash and spend it on our town.

Farmers coming to the weekly markets and doing their banking and business in the town.

Without people and loyalty we wouldn’t have the banks, they need customers.

Customer service is still important to people, how about some grateful loyalty from banks to their customers.

Joan Lawrence, Malton.

Branch loss

I LIVE in Richmond, I bank with the HSBC, and I am retired, like I believe are the majority of people in Richmond.

So you will understand how baffled and angry I am that some person in the hierarchy of HSBC, who probably has never been to Richmond, has made this crazy decision to close our branch.

Not all retired people bank online or want to. We like to speak to people if we have a problem. There is a lot to be said for the personal touch.

Richmond is a town where people choose to retire, now and in the future.

When HSBC closes there will be one bank in the town, and two cash machines.

We are a tourist town, how will tourists and residents manage on weekends and holidays if they need cash?

I could moan and complain and do nothing, or I can put pen to paper and write to anyone who will listen to try and get this lunacy reversed, and I ask anyone who feels the same to do what is necessary.

Joanne Mankin, Richmond.

Futile comments

MOST people will understand the naivety and futility of Stokesley Lib Dem county councillor Bryn Griffiths’ call (D&S Times, Jan 29) for our MP Rishi Sunak to stop the closure of HSBC bank branches in Northallerton and Richmond.

Rishi Sunak might be Chancellor but he doesn’t have the powers to tell a private company how to conduct business and neither would we want him or any Government to have such draconian powers.

As a diligent and well-respected constituency MP, he is doing exactly what we expect him to do which is to ask HSBC to justify its closures and to ensure the most vulnerable affected by closures are assisted in every way possible.

Bryn Griffiths knows this perfectly too well and is sadly far too keen to play politics – at a time when our MP is dealing with the enormous impact of this tragic pandemic – with such a cheap stunt in try to defend his wafer-thin majority at the council elections in May.

Jack Cooper, Conservative candidate for Stokesley.

HSBC is closing 82 of its branches including in Northallerton and Richmond

HSBC is closing 82 of its branches including in Northallerton and Richmond

Vaccine roll-out

OH what a Jeremiah Mervyn Wilmington is “Erratic supplies” (D&S Letters, Jan 29).

To read his letter, one would think the vaccine programme round here is on the point of collapse.

As I see it, that really is not the case.

I had my jab two weeks ago and many of my friends in their late 70s have also had theirs too.

Last Tuesday, my surgery was able to announce that it had done every one of its over 80s, everyone at Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge and was making good progress on the over 70s. It described the flow of vaccines as steady.

I know the magnificent staff working at the Tennants centre would like to have more vaccines. I imagine that applies to all the centres around the country.

We have to accept that this is a great national effort but also recognise that Yorkshire is one of the best performing regions for the roll-out. For Mr Wilmington to say that because he knows of people in Oxfordshire aged under 80 who have been vaccinated is evidence that Richmondshire is being starved of vaccine or not being treated fairly seems to be nonsense.

Patricia Metcalfe, Leyburn.

Twin jabs

I LIVE in Sigglesthorne, East Yorkshire, my twin sister lives in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. Both of us were waiting to hear about a vaccination date, and on Saturday, January 30 we were both given appointments for Thursday, February 4 at 3.25pm.

It didn’t surprise us!

Judy Palin, Sigglesthorne.

Poor deal

NEWS in the UK of the impact that the Brexit deal has had so far in Britain has been dwarfed, understandably, by coverage of attempts to manage the pandemic and the replacement of Donald Trump in the USA.

But, what a deal. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove's promised teething problems on leaving the single market and customs union have proved to be a lot more than teething problems. We were led to believe that Brexit would free us from EU red tape and wasteful bureaucracy. However, the deal has given us the strangulation of Irish Sea and Channel trade, huge regulatory barriers in the UK and costly British bureaucracy. This Conservative Brexit deal is an act of conscious economic self-harm. By making exporting and importing more difficult and sluggish and transactions more costly, then it is obvious that there will be less trade.

Overwhelmed by new costs some British companies will fail, some will stop exporting to the EU, some will move elements of their operations out of the UK to inside the EU and some will move all their business out of the UK.

Many EU hauliers are already deciding not to bother to come to the UK. VAT charges that did not apply when the UK was in the single market have been another bombshell. EU companies importing UK goods are telling couriers that VAT will have to have been paid before they receive any goods. EU companies exporting to the UK also face VAT issues trying to sell into the UK.

Teething problems are supposed to disappear – not whole businesses. To quote William Keegan: “Brexit is not only a disaster: it is also plain stupid.” Brexit stinks like rotting British fish.

John Hopkins Jesmond, Crakehall.

Protect our NHS

I WAS very disappointed to learn that our MP, Kevin Hollinrake, along with the rest of the government, voted down an amendment to the Trade Bill which would protect the NHS (“a comprehensive publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery”) in post-Brexit trade deals.

This past year has shown just how much we rely on our healthcare service, and I am deeply concerned that this may be jeopardised.

If parts of the NHS are sold off and privatised, the financial effects could be disastrous for all but the very rich. According to a study published by the American Public Health Association in 2019, 530,000 bankruptcies are filed in America each year due to healthcare debts.

A University of Michigan study has shown that on average an ambulance ride costs $550 even after the insurance pay out; for an air ambulance, this figure is about $20,000.

Those who would sell off the NHS will argue that it is no longer "fit for purpose", and is not cost effective. Even if that were true (which it isn’t) it would only be because, over a decade of austerity, successive Conservative governments have deliberately underfunded the health service.

Since 2010, funding for the NHS has only increased by 1.4 per cent annually, compared to 3.7 per cent annually since its establishment in 1948. Consequently, the Conservatives are able to make the claim that privatising parts of the NHS is necessary.

It seems that, once more, the government has decided to put profit before people.

In Kevin Hollinrake’s case many of us have given up hope that he will stand up for our views and rather expect that, once again, he will compliantly follow the whip.

Rosalyn Cousins, Pickering.

VAT cut

I CAN’T say I was very impressed with Philip Knowles' inaccurate and rather puerile snipe at our MP (D&S letters, Jan 8) over the very welcome decision by the government to cut the VAT on sanitary products following this country's departure from the EU.

Mr Knowles is a failed Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who put up a very poor show when standing against Mr Sunak last year.

His fact-checking is clearly as poor as his politics. Anyone with an internet connection can easily find out that Mr Sunak did not, as Mr Knowles wrote, vote against cutting the rate of VAT in 2015.

He voted against a proposal that UK start negotiating with the EU and, separately, its 28 constituent nations "within three months" to get the tax reduced – clearly an impractical step given the way the EU operated.

The government remain committed to the cause of zero-rating on sanitary products – a commitment it was able to deliver on when we left the EU at the beginning of this year.

Trevor Sellars, Bedale.

Council coffers

COUNCILS made £891m in parking fees and fine last year.

On top of that they have council tax and the government takes road tax.

Meanwhile our roads are the worst in Europe. There’s more potholes than craters on the moon.

In fact it’s probably safer the drive on the moon. Beam me up Scottie!

Councils are always pleading poverty but they always seem to have cash for expenses and they waste money like it’s going out of fashion.

Charles Jeans, Middleton Quernhow, Ripon.

Get voting

ONE hundred years ago in this country, women fought and sometimes died for the right to vote. People all over the world are doing so still. We are told that every vote counts.

The Brexit vote was won on a narrow margin, if more voters had made the effort, things might have taken a different course.

If more Americans had turned out to vote for Donald Trump, the United States and perhaps the world would have a different future.

Why is it then, that our members of parliament willingly abstain from voting in the House of Commons when ordered to do so by the Whips.

The image that conjures up is best avoided. Just remember, when the next election comes around, go out and vote. We did not fight for the right to abstain.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Grateful thanks

AFTER suffering a fall at home and on the advice of my GP, I attended the Friarage Urgent Care Centre recently and what a credit it is to the people of North Yorkshire and our NHS.

On arrival I was seen promptly and all the unit staff were efficient, friendly and reassuring.

The X-Ray department were able to confirm that despite my debilitating pain nothing was broken and all would be well.

Thank you to everyone who has campaigned long and hard for this service to be available for our community. I, and I’m sure many, many others are extremely grateful.

Liz Macpherson, Sessay.

Press comments

RECENT press coverage of a statement by Richmondshire District Councillor Leslie Rowe has caused some confusion.

Richmond Constituency Green Party want to make it clear that Councillor Rowe is not a member of the Green Party, and any statement he may make is not on behalf of the party.

Councillor Rowe is the leader of a group on the council, consisting of himself and Green Party Councillor Kevin Foster.

Councillor Foster said: “I work closely with Councillor Rowe in our group, but in his recent interview with the press he expressed his personal view. I hope this clarification will allow us to move on and focus on more important matters, especially the council’s urgent response to the climate emergency.”

Anna Jackson coordinator, Richmond Constituency Green Party.