High Street trees

I READ with great sadness of the decision by Hambleton District Council to decide against planting trees in Northallerton High Street and use planters instead due to opposition from the Showman’s Guild. “Protest as tree plans changed for planters” (D&S Times, Feb 19).

Northallerton High Street like many other high streets around the country will have to evolve from mainly retail to a blend of retail, hospitality and residential if it is to survive.

The addition of an attractive public space in the centre of the town would be a key part in this, encouraging visitors to the town which would in turn reap its own financial benefit for businesses on the High Street as well as providing an attractive multipurpose venue to host outdoor events such as music, live theatre or a host of other community events.

Over the years, planted trees would mature and future generations would enjoy a greener, more pedestrian friendly area.

Like many people, I love visiting the fair. It is a wonderfully vibrant, exciting event that brings people together but it is only a few days a year.

Surely like the High Street, the fair itself must evolve. I would think it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to modify the layout of the fair to accommodate mature trees in the future. Indeed, the presence of trees around the rides would only enhance the appearance of the event. I do hope the council will reconsider its decision.

Nigel Fox, Northallerton.

Tree support

I NOTE, with great disgust, that Hambleton’s councillors are once again acquiescing to the demands of private business at the cost and well-being of its inhabitants.

In the last five years they have capitulated to housing companies, allowing them to build Thurstan Park (north of Northallerton) whilst deferring construction of the link road, they have presided over a very lacklustre redevelopment of the prison site and now are not prepared to stand fast on the planting of just three trees in a revamp of the town’s High Street.

As a retired landscape architect I can assure your readers that trees planted in containers have a very limited life expectancy, but you don’t need professional training to know that. Just take a look at Long Street, Thirsk. The trees planted in containers there have long since succumbed, never to be seen again. But maybe that is what the Showmen’s Guild are counting on.

I recall the last High Street revamp and was horrified that trees were not included then. Now, some 35 years on, the world is a very different place with global warming threatening our very existence.

We know for a fact that tree planting can play a part in slowing this process, especially when located in urban areas, so come on Hambleton Council, give us our three trees – in the ground, not in coffins.

John Elm, Northallerton.

Motorcycle noise

IN December 2020, a joint parish council group CANS (Councils Against Noise and Speed) was set up in response to resident complaints about the disturbance caused by motorcyclists breaking noise and speed and limits in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Lune Valley.

CANS represents parish councils in Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria (see below) and is a campaign group which aims to ensure the law is being enforced on noise and speed limits.

We are encouraged by the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Lisa Winward’s proposal to hold several days of action, at the beginning of the 2021 season.

These include "an uplift in the number of safety camera vans and an uplift in traffic officers for stopping vehicles and the conducting of physical examinations for construction and use offences".

With the support of the YDNPA and local MPs, Rishi Sunak, Tim Farron, Julian Smith and David Morris, the CANS campaign will press the police and highways authorities to sustain and develop these and other measures so that everyone can enjoy the unique beauty and tranquillity of the national park.

Hamish Wilson, chair of CANS (Garsdale Parish Councillor).

The following councils have representatives on CANS: Kirby Lonsdale, Casterton, Barbon, Middleton, Sedbergh, Garsdale, Hawes and Abbotside, Ingleton, Ireby and Leck, Burrow-with-Burrow, Melling with Wrayton. Nick Cotton (Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale County Councillor) and Kevin Lancaster (South Lakeland District Councillor) are also members.


AS usual the Looking Back feature brought back memories recent and further back (D&S Times, Feb 26)

To begin with the section on dovecotes was fascinating and I imagine you may be flooded with letters regarding the omission of readers' favourites.

One I would like to mention is a fine example at Burrill-with-Cowling, which is a Grade II listed building and was very tastefully renovated by the landowner (Thornton Watlass Estate) in 2012. I must declare an interest as I was then working and dealt with the planning application.

Secondly I was also taken back in time with your feature on the black car in Thirsk Market Place. A Citroen!!?? It is most certainly a Ford Popular.

At that time (mid 1950s) Ford produced three similar cars, the Anglia and Popular which were externally virtually identical except the Anglia had larger headlights, and the Prefect which was slightly larger and had a sloping back.

I remember clearly my father passing his test in 1959 in our Anglia. Can it really be 62 years ago?

John E Howe, Bedale.

New day

THIS is not a moment for timidity or tinkering. Politically, there has never been a better moment to make fundamental changes to simplify our tax system and reform our political institutions.

The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and a whopping majority provide the Government with all the cover they need to act boldly and strategically.

To do otherwise would be to squander a moment in history that will not be seen again for generations. The Chancellor must seize the day and herald an exciting new programme for national renewal.

Robert Birch, Thornton le Beans.

Vaccine for all

IT is clear that vaccination is going to be our only way out of the pandemic.

We are very lucky in this country to have such good access to vaccines.

Unfortunately, poorer countries are not in the same position.

The UK, the US and the EU have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations three times over by the end of 2021 (if all those vaccines currently in clinical trials are approved for use).

Meanwhile nearly 70 low-income countries will only be able to vaccinate ten per cent of their population this year. Some countries could even be waiting until 2024 before they get the vaccine.

Pharmaceutical companies operate monopolies for their products which means that only they can sell them and patents prevent other companies from making and selling that medicine.

Monopolies mean bumper profits and the pharmaceutical industry is set to make at least $10bn in profits each year from Covid vaccines.

Those companies have invested in the research and obviously need to be recompensed for the risks they have taken and the costs they have incurred. However, they have not borne these costs alone because all of the companies have received billions in public funding from many countries (estimated to be a total of around £80bn).

These vaccines should therefore belong to the public and be produced by as many manufacturers as possible in order to meet global demand. Its scandalous that publicly funded vaccines have been privatised and that a few corporations will profit massively from our investment.

Vaccines should be produced as global public goods – manufactured in mass quantities and affordable to all but instead of this supplies are restricted and distributed according to wealth. Wealthy countries are hoarding medications and this will be devastating for human lives around the world.

There is a clear moral case for ensuring that life-saving treatments are shared with the poorest people but this may also turn out to be in our self-interest.

As has been repeatedly stated "no one is safe until everyone is safe".

Ultimately hoarding vaccines is self-defeating because it will leave the virus to spread unabated in large parts of the world. This will allow it to mutate, potentially rendering the effective vaccines of today useless tomorrow.

Barbara Welford, Secretary of East Cleveland Global Justice Now, Scaling, Saltburn.

Tenant farmers

I READ with interest your article on the concerns of the Tenant Farmers Association regarding the shift from the EU’s Basic Payments subsidy to our Government’s proposal to replace it with the ELM Scheme (D&S Times, Jan 22) ie Environmental Land Management.

It appears that most of them will be excluded from the new scheme.

Our Government is only allowing the actual landowners to participate in the roll out of any proposals from the changes to the countryside. This may appear to be quite right seeing as they own the land.

However, this is taxpayers' money which, since joining the EU almost 50 years ago has been spent towards the upkeep of the farming industry which included tenant farmers. Without a continuance of the same, in whatever new form, many tenant farmers will be unable to farm. Many are already struggling.

If they cannot make ends meet they will be forced to find an alternative occupation. They will then have to vacate the land and their farmhouse homes, in accordance with any terms of their tenancies.

It is a shame that they are not be to included, their livelihoods depend on their working of the land, they are committed to it. There must surely be some sort of inclusion for tenant farmers in the discussions for the required forthcoming diversification of our land.

Our Members of Parliament and of the Lords will also play a valuable part in the changes, after all many of them are themselves owners of much of our landscape.

It is really incumbent on them to act in the most reasonable way towards their follow land users.

If they are not to be included then it could appear that only self-interest may dominate discussions. There must be some sort of representation.

The Americans have a saying “no taxation without representation”. Tenant farmers are a part of our nation, let them have a say. It’s our money.

Reg Rowlinson, Eaglescliffe.

No apology

IN reply to the letters from John Gibbons (Feb 26) and John Hopkins (Feb 19) I shall not offer any apology for describing the incompetent EU officials in Brussels as those who "spat their dummies out" over the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum because that's exactly what they did, metaphorically speaking.

In this respect Mr Gibbons needs to descend from his lectern of lecturing me on the use of the English language. He is obviously unaware that language, especially English, is a dynamic entity, example, when young people use the words 'cool' and 'wicked' they are not referring to temperature and behaviour. They are giving praise.

He then descends on a diatribe on the word "woke". Again an example of dynamic language. It is not included in my father's 1948 English dictionary.

Next he accuses me of not addressing the problem. My point is that the incompetent EU officials have deliberately procrastinated on the negotiations which is evidenced in their petty objections to British customs documentation.

I quoted three simple examples of this procrastination, Irish border, British rock bands in Europe, Swiss relationship with Europe.

Each one no big deal, but examples which could be resolved with no sweat over a pint on a Friday afternoon in a local pub (before you blow a gasket Mr Gibbons I am being pedantic).

Finally Mr Hopkins invites me to state what benefits the UK has obtained after Brexit.

How about that the largest German newspaper BILD has heaped massive praise on Britain’s performance in distributing the vaccines while condemning Germany, France and the EU as pathetic and shambolic. Mr Hopkins has got to swallow that one.

Also, check the currency tables. The little pound sterling is doing very well against the dollar and the Euro.

Mr Hopkins refers to the EU as our largest trading power – for now but that will change soon. To use those immortal words "Rock on Tommy".

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.

First ePetition

HAMBLETON DISTRICT COUNCIL has recently completed a new addition to its website – ePetitions – and the local Green Party is the first to use it. We welcome people living in Hambleton District Council area to sign it and join with many others in declaring a climate emergency and to develop, and implement, a climate change action plan to address it. The details of the petition are below:

We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet. Responding to this climate emergency will affect us and our children for generations to come. It will require collaboration across party-lines.

We ask the council to:

1. Declare that it recognises a climate emergency.

2. Pledge to do everything within the council’s power to make the whole of the Hambleton district carbon neutral by 2030.

3. Develop an ambitious sustainability strategy for reducing the council’s emissions.

4. Continue to work with partners across the district and region to deliver this new goal, through all relevant strategies and plans.

5. Report back to full council in six months on an action plan to address the emergency, and then every six months after this on the progress being made, and

6. Dedicate sufficient staff and budget to achieve these aims, including training all council staff and councillors.

Local government plays an important role in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy and we note the commitments and progress the council has already made towards reducing Hambleton’s greenhouse gas emissions and becoming carbon neutral. But much more needs to be done.

Making a climate change emergency declaration and developing and implementing a climate change action plan will empower our community, encourage others to follow suit, and help all of us treat the climate crisis as the real and threatening emergency that it is.

Many UK town, city and county councils have taken the step of declaring a climate emergency, pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, including the City of York, Craven, Ryedale, Richmondshire, Scarborough and Selby. It’s time for Hambleton to join them and implement action plans.

You can sign the ePetition by going to the webpage: democracy.hambleton.gov.uk. Section 6 ePetitions.

Michael Chaloner, Secretary of Richmond Constituency Green Party, Aiskew.

Mast approval

I WAS shocked, but not surprised, to read the report on the approval for the 5G mast scheme in Coverdale "to improve connectivity" (D&S Times, Feb 12).

I felt particularly sad to read that planning committee member Ian McPherson had over-ridden his own wariness about mobile phone masts on grounds of "environment and health" concerns and been persuaded to vote alongside the other members in favour of the application.

When planning committee members were told "the applicant had confirmed the development would meet international health standards". They were not told, as pointed out in my objection letter, that Public Health England [PHE] guidance, taken in turn from International Commission on Non-Ironising Radiation Protection guidelines, are only guidelines and not legally binding.

It would seem, as I also pointed out in my objection, that PHE's legal team have categorically stated: "A public body must determine how much weight to put on PHE guidance. Equally that body must determine what other evidence from ... other members of the public .... to consider in making any decision." ie PHE guidance should be balanced with other sources of evidence.

Further still, it would appear neither were members told, that ICNIRP guidelines do not concern themselves with impact on flora, fauna, pollinators, or other aspects of the environment.

When it comes to humans, these guidelines only concern themselves with the thermal impact of EMFs, when numerous non-thermal biological effects have been researched in 100s of peer-reviewed documents, which should also be taken into account.

It will be too late for regrets when these biological impacts become increasingly apparent.

The selling point for these rural 5G masts is always the vital importance of connectivity, again ignoring objectors pointing out that, whilst dearer to install in the short-term, can be more safely and effectively put in place, with faster download speeds, through a wired fibre-optic system.

Susan Holden, Richmond.