Affordable homes

BAINBRIDGE Parish Council has asked for an explanation as to why planning permission was granted for five affordable homes near the Rose and Crown pub “National park authority ‘not listening’” (D&S Times, Mar 12).

I am happy to oblige, because this should really be a 100 per cent positive story.

Parish councillors ask, how can the three-bed family homes in the scheme be classed as "affordable" at £280,000? The answer is that nobody will have to pay that sort of money.

What makes these homes affordable is that they will be put up for shared ownership. People will be able to buy, say, a 25 per cent share, with the remainder being owned by a housing association. It means that a young family in the parish could get at least one foot on the housing ladder for £70,000.

We know that there is demand for this type of housing in that part of the National Park, because people have already contacted us to say so.

A key point is that we can only approve what is put before us. Our job as a planning authority is to make sure that a developer’s proposals fit with national and locally agreed planning policy. In this case, they do. Shared ownership is the model of affordable housing promoted by the Government.

Our job is also to check that the plans are supported by the local housing authority, Richmondshire District Council. In this case, they are.

In the unlikely event that these homes do not sell for shared ownership, they will be rented out by a housing association for an affordable rent. Either way, it’s a win-win situation as there will be more houses available for local people to live in.

Lastly allow me to assure Bainbridge Parish Council that its views are very important to us indeed. Let’s all work together to make sure even more sites for affordable housing are found in the National Park.

Jim Munday, member champion for development management, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Independent vets

I WAS interested to read Anthony Kaye’s letter on the subject of local veterinary practices being taken over by large groups “Vet monopoly” (D&S Times letters, Mar 12).

I became aware of this some time ago when I telephoned my local vet to ask for a visit to my pony, only to be told that they no longer dealt with equines and they had been swallowed up by a large company offering them a great deal of money.

Having been with the practice for over 35 years, I was shocked that nobody had thought to inform their clients of this change. I wrote to complain, but received no reply. I subsequently joined an independent veterinary practice in Northallerton and the surgery in question has since closed.

I totally agree with Mr Kaye that pet owners should be sure to register with independent practices who have resisted the temptation to join these large groups.

Sally Craig, Great Fencote.

Catching litter louts

ANYONE who travels regularly on the A66 between Greta Bridge and Scotch Corner will undoubtedly have noticed the frequency with which police speed camera vans are deployed thereon.

The same drivers will also have noticed the disgraceful accumulation of litter on both sides of this stretch of road. This is one of the main tourist routes to the Lake District and Scotland. What must tourists think of Yorkshire and County Durham as they pass through?

Could not some of the police time spent in their speed detector vans be directed to apprehending and prosecuting the slovenly people who pollute our beautiful countryside?

I often visit the state of Kentucky in USA where frequent roadside signs advise that dropping litter will incur a $500 fine. Guess what? No litter, y’all.

James Delahooke, Barningham.

Parking loss

THE so-called upgrade for Northallerton High Street will see a loss of 12 parking spaces just to plant a few trees.

Shoppers come to Northallerton because they can park. They aren’t bothered about looking at trees.

They want to be able to park, so every space is precious.

Why does it cost £2.57m to plant three trees? In these times of austerity this kind of money should be spent wisely and not on an over-priced hare-brained scheme. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

William JL Barker, Thornton-le-Street.


ONLY now have I read Tim Piper’s letter (D&S Times, Feb 26) bewailing the decision of Hambleton District Council (HDC) to plant trees to enhance Northallerton High Street in planters, which they will soon outgrow, rather than plant them in the earth. Anywhere else, I would support Mr Piper – but not in Hambleton, wherein there be vandals.

In my archive of D&S cuttings, I see (from D&S April 25, 2014 and following) outbursts of rage against Cllr Mark Robson, leader of HDC, which had the trees in Thirsk marketplace cut down without any warning or consultation early one Sunday morning. It was a public health matter: pigeons hid in them to scavenge droppings from the chip shop. Mandy Metcalfe, of Kirkgate, correctly prophesied the pigeons would perch on the buildings and so the latter should be demolished. She also demolished his other arguments, but too late.

Mr Piper had best settle for the planters!

However, there is a parallel issue here. In the correspondence regarding Thirsk’s trees, much resentment was expressed at the apparent indifference of HDC and its councillors to local opinion. I took swipe at Cllr Robson in the Thirsk news sheet – to no effect. Mandy Metcalfe (D&S August 9, 2014) made a final cri de cœur. The following week, on the green outside my window, I confronted our tribune of the people and challenged him to reply to Ms Metcalfe via the D&S. No chance!

We now have a move to abolish the district councils to make North Yorkshire a unitary authority. Richard Flinton, North Yorkshire’s chief executive argues for this change as “delivering excellent services, underpinned by local action and greater accountability”. Really? Hoots!

On present boundaries, Hambleton, now with its 28 councillors, will have only 12 in a county council of 72. These councillors will supervise all the services now provided by both councils and represent many more citizens than each HDC councillor. Will this lead to “greater accountability” so minor issues like trees will be the better considered? That’s for the birds – or pigeons.

J Fyles, Sowerby.

Loyalty to royalty

ON the subject of Harry and Meghan, I declare an interest as a member of the Constitutional Monarchy Association.

Speech consists of two parts, one, the actual linguistic meaning of the words, two, the impact of what is said. The Sussexes are acting irresponsibly and immaturely, if not obsessively, and most of what they say is irrelevant but has far-reaching consequences.

There can be no doubt that their behaviour has affected our monarchy and caused unnecessary problems to our head of state. The Queen and her Consort are much-respected and beloved in this country and they represent all of us. An attack upon them, intentionally or otherwise, is an attack on us all.

The Sussexes should never have involved themselves in the subject of race. It never matters what colour skin one has, but it always matters how one behaves, regardless of skin colour. It could be said that a previous king was racist when he changed the name of the Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to the House of Windsor.

The Sussexes have shown little respect for our monarchy or the constraint which membership of that important constitutional arrangement places upon its members. They talk about “fighting" this, that and the other, and “renewing" this, that and the other; their attitude is more suited to California than London.

Whilst they seek to modify and change our monarchy, and show so little respect for it, perhaps they should renounce their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex; no doubt the people of Sussex would be delighted. Their stepping down from royal duties is no loss to me, or anybody else, by all accounts.

It is our duty to support our head of state, the Queen. She fulfils an important role in our lives because she holds certain powers which deny powers to others, thus, it is a cornerstone of our democracy. Meghan is not brave, she is confused, and I would say to President Biden, "shut up, and don’t comment on the private affairs of our Royal Family".

The consequences of the Sussexes actions, apart from their verbal gobbledegook, have been serious for our Royal Family, and I deliberately say “our”. God save our gracious Queen and her family.

Bernard Borman, Leyburn.

Peaceful protest

THE sacrifices made defeating totalitarianism in the Second World War are inspirational. As the first-hand pain and collective memory dwindles, wisdom critical to a civilised society is lost and the risk of extremism rises. To reduce this some countries, such as modern Germany, educate their citizens in the origins of the rise of Fascism.

It is shocking that our Government is imposing on England what Hitler failed to do ie the removal and restriction of our rights to assemble and protest peacefully.

The 300-plus page Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 has many good intentions; a summary is to improve safety, penalise serious crimes more severely and improve court efficiency. A closer look shows a sinister, subsidiary aim to: “Strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament.”

Joshua Rozenberg, the highly respected legal journalist, concludes: “Peaceful protestors who have caused inconvenience but no damage — or damage but no inconvenience — will, for the first time be facing lengthy prison sentences.”

Are we to accept being dictated to, unable to protest peacefully and living in fear of a ten-year prison sentence? Should protests such as that against the disastrous Iraq war be banned? Should those who took part in Countryside Alliance and more recent NFU and Save British Farming protests be imprisoned because they might have annoyed someone?

Why do the sponsors of the Bill including Rishi Sunak act to suppress dissent? Is this the “taking back control” which they intended all along? Like autocrats, they appear to only want the “will of the people” when it suits them. It is interesting that Rishi Sunak’s former boss at TCI, Sir Chris Hohn, saw fit to donate £200,000 to Extinction Rebellion. Perhaps he values the importance of peaceful protest in a democracy more highly than his protegee?

Would ministers like to face trial and possibly imprisonment for the serious annoyance and serious inconvenience to millions of citizens caused by their destructive actions?

The renowned Lord Hoffmann stated: “It is the mark of a civilised community that it can accommodate protests and demonstrations of this kind.”

The barbarians are taking over.

Mark Harrison, Swainby.

Councillor duty

MANY people will have thought it odd that Richard Short from Great Ayton is advising Stokesley people to vote for Bryn Griffiths "Bank action" (D&S Times letters, Feb 12). He also states that Councillor Griffiths has a long history of service to the people of Stokesley. However, Mr Short did not point out that he is a fellow Lib Dem.

The people of Stokesley, particularly the natives like myself, do not require your advice. Cllr Griffiths has not had a long record as a NYCC councillor in council service terms. He was elected in 2013 and scraped in by ten votes in 2017. I and many others are well aware of what he has done but more importantly what he has not done.

In December 2020 Stokesley was visited illegally day and evening for four weeks by a considerable quantity of people from higher Covid tiers. This greatly contributed to a Covid rate of 906.9 for Stokesley and Great Ayton at the end of December 2020. This was virtually the highest value in the North-East. When contacted, Cllr Griffiths replied in writing: "It beggars belief that this situation was allowed to develop as it did." What actually beggars belief is that the NYCC and Hambleton councillors did absolutely nothing to address this serious problem and protect the residents of Stokesley.

It should also be noted that he is a NYCC, Hambleton and Stokesley Town Council councillor. To be fair the issue was raised jointly with him, Stokesley Town Council and Hambleton Conservative Councillor Wake. However, requests for a response have been totally ignored. I believe it is totally unacceptable for councillors to ignore serious valid issues raised by residents. Some would say it is dereliction of duty.

It is noted that Mr Short in his letter also sniped at Rishi Sunak for not "addressing the issues". He also says he would vote for Cllr Griffiths but cannot as he does not live in Stokesley. Well if he could persuade his friend to stand in the Great Ayton ward at the next council election, his wish could be fulfilled.

Dave Peirson, Stokesley.