Brompton bridge

WITH regard to the article on page 2 of last week’s Darlington and Stockton Times “Search for funding to replace village bridge” I would like to take this opportunity to update residents of Brompton and users of the village green at Water End, Brompton about the footway bridge closure.

A flood risk assessment is currently taking place and the town council will shortly be submitting a planning application for a new bridge.

Residents will be consulted on the new bridge through to the normal planning process.

The new bridge however will be different in appearance from the existing bridge due to health and safety and other modern requirements but will be sympathetic to the surroundings.

The Environment Agency will require the new bridge to be half a metre above the highest recorded flood level to take in calculations due to global warming.

The council's agents will be considering alternative designs and materials for a new bridge and when this has been agreed they will then invite tenders for its construction and siting. The new bridge will be accessible to all and will need to meet all current regulations but will also need to be sympathetic to the existing aesthetics of the village.

There will also be licences and environmental issues to be approved through the Environment Agency.

Hopefully this will all be resolved so that the construction of the new bridge can be undertaken in late Summer.

It is important to get this right as the new bridge will be there for hopefully at least the next 80 years.

Residents can keep up to date regarding progress via the council's website at

Barry Martin, chairman of Brompton Town Council.

Library friends

WHILE many of the events that brighten Bedale life, like the car boot sales, cannot be enjoyed this spring (Spectator's Notes, D&S Times, Feb 26), thanks to volunteers and the Friends of Bedale Community Library, a service that has remained available is the Community Library. Borrowers enjoy seeing a friendly face at the library, currently open on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10am to 12noon and 2pm to 4pm.

Our running costs continue despite our shorter opening times, and we have to continue raising funds. The friends have arranged a remote event, with a prize draw, on Tuesday, March 23 when local author Tracey Iceton will be interviewed by Brian Cook.

To find out how to join the friends and attend the event, visit or contact the library in Bedale Hall (01609 534573) or visit the website at

Susan Perkins (BCL trustee, FoBCL chair), Newton-le-Willows, Bedale.

Celebrating women

AS president of Darlington Inner Wheel Club, on behalf of the ladies of our club as we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, I would like to thank all those women throughout the world who have given their time, expertise and compassion, without any thought for their own safety, to care for the vulnerable and sick people suffering the effects of this terrible pandemic.

They have risen to the challenge not only in nursing, but also in small ways by making scrubs, masks, shopping for those shielding and lending a sympathetic ear where needed.

Women have also volunteered to help with the daunting task of vaccinating the population, because none of us are safe until we are all safe.

Karen Campbell, president, District 3, Darlington Inner Wheel Club.

Poor pay offer

WHAT a disgraceful pay offer has been made to the medical profession after all the hard work they have had to endure during the pandemic, and losing some front line staff to the disease.

I am surprised that even Boris Johnson has not stepped in to help after he suffered a bout and was looked after in hospital, But it shows where priorities lie in a crisis when a local council leader is given a £5,000 pay rise for sitting in an office, and all the years of specialist training that our wonderful medical teams have to go through to qualify, and they are offered peanuts.

CP Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Be grateful

I AM absolutely disgusted with the NHS Providers and unions' response to their proffered pay rise; their attitude is a disgrace to their profession.

I fully accept that they have had a difficult year but it is hardly compares to the hardship suffered by the thousands of members of our Armed Forces who have defended this country’s interests during conflicts with less pay, no overtime, on permanent callout and without the luxury of going home at the end of the day’s shift.

Hundreds of thousands of people in this country have either received very little income this year or have had their incomes significantly reduced, let alone be offered a pay rise, and the Government has spent billions keeping this country afloat so how dare they complain when we are all in such dire straits.

Regardless of previous promises, all of which have been more or less rendered undeliverable by the exceptional circumstances, the NHS representatives should either shut up or put up and be grateful for even being offered a pay rise.

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.

Double standards

FOR a decade the Government has deliberately blighted the NHS on the grounds of austerity. There are thousands of staff vacancies, and many hospital wards have closed.

Then comes Covid-19.

The Government suddenly springs to attention: it now says the NHS is incredibly important.

It pleads with the NHS staff to meet the challenge. They more than do that: most are exhausted and some lose their lives.

Had the NHS been properly staffed, we would still have had Covid, but the prospect of fighting it would have been rather enhanced.

Perhaps more lives of the public would have been saved, and much anguish and distress avoided.

Then comes the question of staff pay. The Government makes the most pitiful offer. It says it can’t afford any more in the public service.

Is it not curious that it is different in the private sector where employees tend to be paid what they are worth?

We, the public, ultimately employ the NHS workers. I can tell the Chancellor that my cheque for £1,000 is ready to go into the NHS coffers just when he wants.

I will buy a little of the Government’s shame.

Mervyn Wilmington, Harmby, Leyburn.

Census contract

I HAVE been surprised to learn that our government has awarded the £65m contract to run the 2021 census to an American defence company, Leidos.

In my naivety, I had assumed we had the capability within our own Civil Service to run the census ourselves. Whatever happened to "take back control?"

If you are interested as I am, in reducing the profits of such a company, it is simple to request a paper copy to fill in.

Jennie White, Leyburn.

Vet monopoly

I HAVE recently become more aware of a growing issue in our area as local veterinary practices have been taken over by large groups, effecting a monopoly of pricing and limit of services in the area.

Recently a friend had an accident with a working dog, causing a tear. Thinking of the animal's welfare he took it to the recently taken over local vet who stitched the dog and returned it to good health.

When the bill came it was close to three times the amount expected with local independent practices when checked, and though challenged, he was told there was nothing which could be done as all prices are set centrally.

In the unfortunate situation your pet should need urgent care, your thoughts should be towards the nearest and best welfare for your pet, not where you need to travel to be treated fairly with reasonable pricing.

Additionally, there is a secondary issue caused by group ownership affecting our rural farming community – the group practices no longer cater for large animal care, so restricting the availability of services from the former independent practise as they become absorbed into the group.

I would urge readers with pets to make arrangements to register your pet with a local independent practice before you need urgent care and face astronomical charges handed out from the groups whose interest seems more aligned towards their bottom line than your pet's welfare.

Anthony Kaye, Thirn, Ripon.

EU relations

ONCE again, Trevor Nicholson (D&S Times letters, Mar 5) holds up the Swiss relationship with Europe, along with Iceland (D&S Times letters, Feb 5), as "easy peasy, no big deal" examples of how the UK should trade with the EU. Unfortunately, like many of Mr Nicholson’s statements, these do not stand up to scrutiny.

Iceland is highly integrated with the EU through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), the Schengen Area and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This Government chose not to retain membership of these schemes and cannot therefore expect to enjoy any of the benefits.

Switzerland signed a series of seven sectoral agreements with the EU in 1999 including the free movement of people, technical trade, agriculture and air and land transport. Further agreements were signed in 2004 including participation in Schengen and, in 2010, participation in EU education and youth training programmes.

As a result of these agreements, Switzerland has paid financial contributions to EU member states totalling over £1bn since 2007. No big deal indeed.

This Government negotiated the thinnest of trade agreements with the EU because it chose to do so, and therefore is unable to enjoy the same trade benefits that Iceland and Switzerland enjoy. Not so easy peasy after all.

We all understand that Mr Nicholson doesn’t like the EU, but it is the government of the UK that procrastinated and left things until the last moment.

Forget fishing, small and medium businesses in Richmondshire are already finding that trade barriers are costing them time and money to the point that jobs are being lost and investment is draining away to Europe.

"Remainers" accept that the referendum vote of 2016 was lost, but that does not prevent us from highlighting that this Government’s ideological pursuit of Brexit represents the greatest act of self-harm to the UK and the interests of its citizens.

You won, Mr Nicholson, we have left the EU, it is time that you accepted responsibility for the choices you made.

Cllr Philip Wicks, Richmondshire District Council, Richmondshire Together.

Seeking old friend

I AM trying to trace an old childhood friend whom I first met in the 1960s in Matlock, Derbyshire. We sang in a group called The Folk Set in the mid-60s.

He married Kathleen Flynn in 1998 and they lived at 73 Salutation Road, Darlington from about 2002 to 2004. He was a teacher, possibly in the area around Darlington, and it might be that a reader knew him at that time and might have even worked alongside him.

Any information would be useful to me in trying to trace him. I would be extremely grateful if you have any details if you could write to me on

Gordon Beastall, Withernsea, East Yorkshire.

Road tax

MY car was due for its road tax renewal at a cost of £30. I can well remember when the tax was £12 10s, a large sum for a young man in the 1950s.

Surely we should be paying at least £100 to bring it up to date? Perhaps a tax of £100 for every 1000cc would be more realistic, who knows it might help reduce the number of cars on the road.

William Robotham, Barton.

Treasury location

TORY leader of Darlington Council, Heather Scott, inadvertently gives the game away when she says her town “is ideally placed with good rail, road and air connectivity”, for this is the real reason that Darlington, rather than one of the other Tees Valley authorities, has acquired the government’s new Treasury hub (D&S Times, Mar 5).

We should never kid ourselves that top Civil Service mandarins welcome a move to the North-East. So, to compensate, they’ve pushed for a town from where they can escape back to the capital in a time far shorter than their favourite opera or ballet.

Steve Kay (Ind), Redcar & Cleveland councillor.