Pub dreams

WOULD it not be lovely to stroll down to your local pub on a beautiful Yorkshire evening? The sun is still shining, your friends and neighbours are awaiting with friendly conversation, the opportunity to sample local food and drink awaits and just the feeling of relaxation, companionship and community togetherness makes the time seem all so real.

That is the scenario proposed and developed by a group in my village of Skeeby, who wish to own and reopen a public house that has been closed since 2008 (D&S Times, Mar 19).

The idea is noble. It does offer a sense of community togetherness and has engaged many who have good intentions and wish to improve the social, and aesthetic, landscape. But where it has fallen short is disappointing, and I would like to add, could be argued to be bordering on flippant.

A community thrives when all sections are consulted at the outset regarding a community issue. People feel considered and valued. When a group recognises and asks from its launch to understand the opinions and knowledge of local residents in how local infrastructure will be affected, then it shows great deference, humility and consideration. When it goes gung-ho, accepts support from individuals and groups with their own agenda, and considers any scrutiny to be "hostile", then it falls short.

Any new development (and this is a new development, regardless how old the building is) has to take on board concerns regarding traffic and parking from the outset, not address the issue once the purchase has been completed. A complete plan for the pub has to incorporate how it is to integrate successfully with the the community, but just as importantly, the impact it will create in terms of self-generated traffic and also consider the increase in traffic the village will face from nearby large developments that are being built.

Regular press releases to local news outlets and a two minute "filler slot" on a quiet weekend for a local news channel do not remedy the concerns of those who have been affected by lack of an initial concern.

Is reopening (not "saving") a village pub worth the problems it will bring?

David Wilkinson, Skeeby.

Where’s the logic?

MATHEMATICS is not my area of expertise, I’m better at logic. I find it difficult to see the logic of these areas of government spending:

The cost of HS2 is likely to be between £72.1bn and £78.4bn in 2015 prices. Is this necessary when many businesses are now using online conferencing?

The Government upped the defence budget by £16.5bn in November 2020. An increase in real terms of ten to 15 per cent.

We are more likely to be threatened by cyber and viral attacks rather than becoming engaged in traditional forms of warfare, is the extra spending on defence really necessary?

Downing Street has spent more than £2.6m on renovations to hold White House-style press briefings. Was this really necessary?

Companies recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority over £10.5bn worth of coronavirus contracts without a competitive tender process. Could it have been done more efficiently and cheaply?

The contract (£65m) for implementing this year’s census was given to an American military IT and support company, Leidos. This company is also involved in developing future defence technologies. Will the profit they make from completing our British census be used for American military purposes? Were British companies invited to tender?

The nurses, doctors, care and support workers in the NHS have been working overtime for over a year under extremely stressful conditions. Even before the pandemic, nurses were underpaid and some were already contemplating leaving their nursing careers. You have told us that the Government cannot afford to give these exhausted workers more than a one per cent rise, which is below inflation.

I have asked the Chancellor, our MP, to explain the logic behind these decisions.

Judith Nicholls, Askrigg, supported and endorsed by a group of friends from Bainbridge Quaker Meeting.

Bill support

WHY did Kevin Hollinrake MP vote for ill thought out, populist legislation?

On Tuesday, the MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake supported the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021. No doubt he will point to aspects of this legislation that attract widespread public support – stronger management of terrorists and sex offenders, for example. But there are worrying implications of Mr Hollinrake’s vote.

Primarily, it conceals a major blow to human rights – in particular the right to assemble and to protest peacefully.

In the future, instead of using Covid-19 legislation to impose a £10,000 fine on a nurse who organised a peaceful protest against a one per cent pay rise as happened to the 61-year-old nurse Karen Reissmann in Manchester, the police can resort to this Bill.

One section (section 59) of the new law allows a ten-year prison sentence for anyone who causes serious harm by "creating serious annoyance" to another person. Seriously; serious annoyance – ten years! Imagine how annoying the suffragettes were and how half the population of the UK would not have won the right to vote had they not been so annoying.

Our freedom to voice our thoughts and concerns in public – long taken for granted by politicians of all parties – will depend on how local police choose to interpret the law. This should concern every single one of us.

The consequences of more than a decade of austerity are visible in every aspect of society. To thrive after Covid and Brexit, we need investment in human capital and economic growth – not suppression of dissent and creativity. As chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty, Mr Hollinrake will appreciate this more than most. All the more baffling that he voted for such an ill thought-out, populist bill. Would he care to explain his actions to his constituents?

Mark White, Tollerton.

Housing in Bainbridge

IN response to Jim Munday “Affordable homes” (D&S Times letters, Mar 19) regarding housing in Bainbridge, his answer is not good enough to satisfy many of the villagers and the parish council.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) twice approved the original application for five houses with a discount of 30 per cent for 100 per cent ownership in 2018. An ideal solution for housing for local people who want to remain here to live and work, this was fully supported by the parish council and the community. YDNPA were threatened with a judicial review because of this approval, based on the houses being too expensive. Priced at £196,000 for the most expensive. The YDNPA were not prepared to face such a challenge, but, discussed shared ownership instead.

Shared ownership has proved not to work with the existing development in Bainbridge. Consequently, a new application was submitted for shared ownership, this was approved by the planning committee, although the local members of the committee voted against it. The house which previously cost £196,000 now costs £280,000. This means you can buy 80 per cent for £216,000, pay rent on the remaining 20 per cent increasing year on year, and 100 per cent maintenance fees, regardless of what percentage you buy.

Mr Munday is right when he says you will never need to pay £280,000 because this isn’t allowed. If you buy 25 per cent for £70,000, he fails to say rent is payable on the remaining £210,000. Basically you could have owned 100 per cent for £196,000 but now you can own only 80 per cent plus all the additional add-ons for £216,000. The fact that there were numerous letters of objection, including the parish council, also a petition against this type of development, these were totally ignored.

My question remains, how can a house at £280,000 be classed as affordable by the National Park Authority when they themselves said one at £196,000 wasn’t?

Rita Cloughton, Bainbridge.


IN his letter “Councillor duty” (D&S Times, Mar 19), Dave Pierson rightly draws attention to the significant numbers of people from higher Covid tiers coming into the Stokesley area during December, many of whom visited local public houses. He questions why local councillors did not address this situation.

In fact, as Mr Pierson is already aware, it was up to the police to act against people breaching the ban on travelling between tiers. Like him, I am extremely disappointed that the police appeared to ignore this breach of the rules. However, councillors are not responsible for the police actions or lack of them. That responsibility falls with the chief constable, who is managed by the police, fire and crime commissioner.

Mr Pierson is also aware that local councillors asked Hambleton District Council’s Environment Health officers to ensure that hospitality businesses were complying with regulations. Officers made many spot checks during this period and offered support and guidance, to ensure the law was adhered with. Several legal notices were issued to premises to ensure compliance with the law..

For Mr Pierson to state that “requests for a response have been totally ignored” by councillors is simply not true.

Cllr Bryn Griffiths, Stokesley.

Free trade

WITH reference to Phillip Wicks letter “EU relations” (D&S Times, Mar 12) he is over elaborating on the importance of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Schengen States, and the European Economic Area (EEA).

EFTA was formed in 1960 by seven European states, Britain being one, to compete against the EEC, later the EU, which comprised six or seven countries at the time. By 1995 only two states were left ie, Norway and Switzerland. The other five had joined the EU.

Schengen was formed in 1985 by 26 European countries, 22 from the EU. The principal objective being to create an area with no passport or border controls. There would be free movement to travel around the EU countries for work and to settle.

The EEA was formed in 1994 to include the EU countries and three non-EU countries. It's basic objective is to allow extension of the EU single market to the EFTA states.

With regards to Mr Wicks holding Switzerland in high esteem, a country which has a history of striking agreements over the years to protect its banking industry. I say no more.

So in conclusion I do not consider dealing with the three organisations above is that important in the scheme of things. Negotiations between USA, Russia, China, Europe, Britain, Iran on nuclear development is a big deal

I am fortunate enough to remember pre-January 1, 1973 when Great Britain was free of the EU shackles. Take the North-East – we had thriving steel, chemical, coal, ship building, engineering industries. Tens of thousands of skilled jobs. Okay, one of these industries has expired naturally. What have we got now in place of the thousands of skilled jobs? A Japanese car plant (fair play) and a forest of call centres, but no comparison to the jobs we had.

Thankfully in Darlington we still have a worldwide engineering company, Dorman Long (originally from Teesside) operating internationally (as far as I am aware) and Darlington will benefit from 700 Treasury jobs. But these jobs are no thanks to the EU.

So Mr Wicks, I respectfully suggest instead of pontificating on your knowledge of three relatively small agreements hanging on to the coat tails of the EU you expand to studying the holistic implications of staying in the EU. Ask yourself what is the World Trade Organisation all about? Britain can trade with 166 nations outside the EU. Has the penny dropped?

If anyone needs just one reason why we need to divorce from the bullies in the EU just look at the current performance of distributing the Covid vaccines, Britain has been a resounding success while the EU's performance has been a shambolic, incompetent mess.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.


THE wilful damage caused by demonstrators in Bristol is disgraceful but I think an in-depth review needs to take place.

I regularly query issues with my MP about what I think are serious issues. They include:

1.The Grenfell Tower fire and the lack of progress.

2.The working practices of Richmondshire District Council which do not comply with the rules of any private company.

3.The lack of thought in lifting the rules after the first Covid-19 lockdown.

I get so frustrated. If my MP or councillor gives trivial replies, and if I point out mistakes to normal working practices, they change the goal posts or simply do not reply.

I am sure that if the peaceful demonstrators at Clapham Common or Bristol wrote to the authorities, very few replies would be forthcoming. I believe it is understandable why people feel the need to demonstrate, unfortunately in Bristol this demonstration was overtaken by pure thugs.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Good Samaritans

ON Saturday I tripped, not for the first time, on the uneven Richmond pavements, landing heavily on my knees and shoulder close to the kerb. In an instant two men and two women were by my side picking up my bags and my glasses. After a few minutes, they were able to haul me to my feet. The nearby butcher had, meanwhile, brought out a chair for me to sit on.

Someone rang my husband who arrived quickly but the four people stayed with me until I was safely in the car. I just want to thank these unknown helpers. It is good to know that Good Samaritans are still to be found on our streets.

Daphne Clarke, Richmond.

Time for change

I WRITE in response to Bernard Borman's ode to feudalism "Loyalty to royalty" (D&S Times letters, Mar 19), I truly cannot believe such dizzying levels of toadying towards the monarchy. Surely it’s time for us to redesign a better system of Government. The Queen may have presided over the last death rattle of the British Empire, but surely it’s time to allow her Madge to stand down and spare us the horror show that will be King Charles III.

Mr Borman's criticism of Harry and Meghan reflects poorly on him. They are telling their story as they see it and should be respected. I’m sure the Queen, with her immense wealth and power, won’t lose any sleep over it as long as there is people like the Mr Borman tugging his forelock.

God Save the Queen... tourists are money!

Jonathan Dobson, Darlington.