Speeding drivers

I FEEL the time has come to raise the subject of the total disregard of the speed limit on the A684, particularly through Harmby towards Leyburn.

Since I moved here two years ago I have become aware of how many vehicles ignore the speed limit, which is 40mph at Harmby reducing to 30mph going towards Leyburn.

I witness, on a daily basis, the many HGVs of all sizes, which are in a large part, from local companies hurtling along this stretch of road. Local agricultural vehicles are also guilty, as are car drivers and motorbikes.

The section of road around the Pheasant public house, at the top of Harmby Bank, narrows down quite substantially and I feel it will only be a matter of time before a serious accident happens.

During this snowy weather I have walked along this road, to and from Leyburn, and that is a matter of taking your life in your own hands.

The speed of some vehicles, mainly HGVs, is often frightening and with the slushy snow and wet roads it is not a peasant experience when they are nearly all travelling in excess of 40mph.

I strongly believe that more signage is required along this stretch of road and perhaps the use of automatic speed checkers would deter these drivers.

Michael Woodard, Harmby.

Public footpaths

THERE have been several articles recently concerning walkers straying from the definitive line of a public footpath and subsequently causing crop damage.

The articles also state that the path network is maintained by the landowner or farmer for the public's benefit. This is an obligation that you accept when you become a landowner, or farmer, in this country.

As for the paths being maintained, I walk locally in arable countryside around Leyburn and rarely see any sign of maintenance.

All too often, stiles etc are poor. They should be safe and easy to use. There should be no barbed wire within a metre. Specifications are freely available.

Paths crossing a field diagonally are inevitably ploughed and these become muddy.

However, field edge paths, which should be a minimum width of 1.5 metres of level and firm ground which is never ploughed, are rarely seen; they are normally ploughed, which makes them difficult to use and muddy.

Winter is a muddy time to walk.

Leslie T Kinsman, Leyburn.

Closure concern

I WRITE in support of recent correspondence regarding the closure of HSBC branches in Richmond and Northallerton.

It was difficult enough for some when the Bedale branch was closed but the bank did get in contact and explain that accounts would be dealt with at Northallerton. For those without transport at least there was a bus service for those who wished to speak to staff personally.

But, had it not been for the article in the D&S Times on January 22 and The Northern Echo, some would not have known about the current plans and the HSBC have not even had the decency to contact account holders and explain or offer suggestions.

Those who live in our villages and local market towns do so from choice and support local businesses wherever possible.

However, many are not able or willing to do online banking and the bank closures are causing many concerns especially for the elderly.

Avril Gray, Bedale.

Bank action

JACK COOPER makes an interesting point in his letter berating Councillor Bryn Griffiths for his comments on bank closures (D&S Times letters, Feb 5).

To me, he makes the point that he himself is “far too keen to play politics”, suggesting that Bryn Griffiths is “naive and futile” in calling for our MP to stop the HSBC closures.

As I read the report (D&S Times, Jan 29) the suggestion is that Mr Sunak should do what he has said he will do before the banks close, so that his constituents might continue to have access to the services they need.

This is not the same as seeking to stop the closures.

Bryn Griffiths has a long history of service to the people of Stokesley, and in this example he seeks to protect all those who still require access to services handling cash and cheques.

Mr Cooper now seems to be forming a history of enthusiastic support for our MP, who is already “diligent and well-respected”, while not necessarily addressing the issues.

I know who I would vote for – but then I don’t live in Stokesley.

Richard Short, Great Ayton.

Political influence

ALEXA FOX’S report of HSBC’s proposed branch closures in Northallerton and Richmond has provoked many letters since it was published (D&S Times, Jan 22).

All correspondents, bar-one, describe many good reasons for retaining the branches in Northallerton and Richmond. They appear to believe that this should be possible.

It is striking and revealing that the Conservative candidate for Stokesley, Jack Cooper, merely wishes HSBC to justify the closures and provide vague assistance to the most vulnerable.

Mr Cooper described Councillor Bryn Griffiths’ call for our MP, Rishi Sunak, to intervene as naïve and futile.

Is this an admission that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not sufficiently interested or that he lacks the means?

Bizarrely, Mr Cooper states that the Chancellor “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”.

Does Mr Cooper seriously believe, or wish, that businesses operate free from the rule of law?

The Conservative Party does not appear to be interested in resolving problems affecting local citizens.

Whilst no wrongdoing has been identified, recent research by the Byline Times and The Citizens has identified that Government contracts worth £881m have been awarded to individuals who have donated £8.2m to the Conservative Party in recent years.

Perhaps such donors are more influential than the average citizen?

Mark Harrison, Swainby.

EU obstacles

REGARDING the letter by John Jesmond (D&S Times letters, Feb 5) – when will the remainers realise they lost.

The list of grievances he blames Brexit for, eg Channel trade, regulatory barriers, Irish border, export/import documentation are all made up and manifested by the EU because they spat their dummies out and are bent on placing any petty obstacle in the way of Britain.

The list of the remainer complaints are lamentable:

1. Irish Sea and border – how did we manage pre-January 3, 1973 when we were out of the corrupt EU? Easy peasy.

2. Rock bands playing in the EU needing visas. How did the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and the rest of British bands storm Europe in the 1960s?

3. How do Switzerland and Iceland (both European countries and in Europe) trade with the EU? Britain can do the same. Easy peasy.

4. There are 194 countries on the planet with only 28 in the EU. You don't need to be maths genius to work out there are 166 countries to trade with out of the EU.

There is no evidence of a mass exodus of British companies to the EU.

Despite of childish interference by a the EU, Britain will go from strength to strength while the EU will gradually crumble.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.

Hospital parking

OVER the past few months I have regularly attended Darlington Memorial Hospital for various tests due to recent illness.

On most visits I have had difficulty finding a parking space and couldn't understand why the car park should be so full when visiting is suspended due to the Covid restrictions and patients not allowed to be accompanied to hospital.

On one of my visits I entered the car park at 8.15am and was overjoyed to find that there were still several free parking spaces.

Whilst sitting in my car for less than ten minutes, I counted 12 members of staff parking in the public car park. Many were wearing the uniform of reception staff and I could clearly see NHS lanyards under jackets.

There is a staff only parking area at the hospital and although I appreciate it may fill up at times, it certainly wasn't full at 8.15am.

Visitors to the hospital can only park in the public parking area and when those spaces are full, are forced to walk some considerable distance. Many people visiting a hospital are incapable of walking far, for a variety of reasons.

During the pandemic, getting others to drop patients off at hospital isn't really an option, which means that every car park space counts.

Whilst NHS staff are to be commended for the tireless work they have undertaken during the pandemic, I really appeal to those, no doubt minority of staff, who are parking inconsiderately and ask that they reflect on their actions.

Many members of the public including me, took the time to applaud the NHS staff every Thursday night during the summer months; respect should cut both ways.

Name and address supplied.

Vaccine reserves

A REPORT has reached me of a most alarming nature, and I hope to learn that this is untrue. It is said, substantial numbers of people are failing to turn up for vaccination appointments. As a result, it is further alleged, a large amount of vaccine is being wasted.

If there is some truth to these allegations, could we perhaps organise local reserve lists, of the kind the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens described some weeks ago now, on the Andrew Marr show? When people fail to show up for their vaccination, could those on the reserve list then be contacted and offered an immediate vaccination appointment, if they could attend directly? When things go wrong good friends should say so.

Cllr Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

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.