Public transport

IN 1870, this country accepted the principle of universal education with the Forster Education Act.

Then, as we emerged from the Second World War into the difficulties and deprivation of the post-war world, the government of the time established the National Health Service in 1948.

Now we pay tribute to the achievements of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, available to all..

Public transport is at a cross-roads, with "millions and billions" of expenditure promised for the government's Bus Back Better plans (a long-term strategy for buses in England announced in March).

Local government has to make some in-principle decisions about public transport in June, followed by the end of October by detailed bids for funding. Meanwhile we await reports from the consultations by North Yorkshire Rural Commission (which included a section on transport) and the Department for Transport's Strategy for the Future of Rural Transport.

Quite separately, it is acknowledged that the rail industry has been quietly and effectively re-nationalised, thanks to substantial taxpayer funding during the pandemic.

As with education in 1870 and health in 1948, would 2021-2022 be an opportune moment to share ideas on the future of public transport and personal travel?

What do we expect for future mobility in exchange for the "millions and billions" to be spent in the next few years under the overall heading of transport?

Would the ideals and practicalities of a National Public Transport Service be of wider community benefit than the hotch-potch of arrangements we have now – in spite of the undoubtedly best endeavours of all those who provide transport today?

Ruth Annison, Askrigg.

Vaccine take up

YOUR piece “County to use learning over high uptake of Covid vaccine” (D&S Times, May 28) on North Yorkshire’s Covid vaccine uptake being significantly above the national average should not come as a surprise. After all, a Yorkshireman, particularly of the northern genus, knows a good thing when he sees it, especially when it is free.

Roland Butter, Sinderby.

Global warming

I READ Martin Coady’s letters on the subject of climate change (D&S Times letters, Apr 30, May 14). Everyone is entitled to their views – that is the point of a letters page – but any facts that are quoted really ought to be accurate.

Martin Coady states that there has been no net global warming for the last six years. I really wish that was the case.

Unfortunately the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.08c per decade since 1880 and at twice that rate (0.18c) since 1981. This is a measurable fact that is not disputed by scientists although for some people there is possibly a debate about the causes and the likely impacts of the warming.

Barbara Welford, Scaling, Saltburn.

Climate discussion

THERE has been much correspondence related to climate change and the resultant politics.

I suggest that anyone interested either for or against, access the BBC Radio 4 “Start the week” broadcast on Monday, May 24, 2021.

Ian Mawson, Burrill, Bedale.

Climate arguments

ALASTAIR WELSH (D&S Times letters, May 28) claims he has read up on climate science before deciding that human actions cannot cause catastrophic climate change. Your other correspondent on the matter, Trevor Mason, has apparently, studied “technical data” from numerous, though unspecified, sources before coming to a similar conclusion.

Perhaps they should reflect on the fact that their findings are at odds with those of people somewhat more eminent in this field than themselves.

In 2015 no less than 36 Nobel Prize-winning scientists signed a declaration that “the world must make rapid progress towards lowering current and future greenhouse gas emissions to minimise the substantial risks of climate change".

In 2017 another scientist they may have heard of called Steven Hawking wrote: “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face and its one we can prevent if we act now.”

The following year David Attenborough, addressing a UN Climate Change Conference, said: “Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years, climate change. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisation and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

I leave your readers to decide whose arguments carry the greatest weight.

Frank Broughton, Brompton-on-Swale.

Biased reporting

DISRAELI’S claim about "lies, dammed lies and statistics" tragically seems to be much more relevant today than ever.

Our national media outlets would seem to be much more interested in using superficial analysis of statistics to produce headline news items that are full of heat; and as such bound to generate action and reaction, rather than apply much more rigorous and professional analysis that produces a real, but less controversial, truth.

In this particular incident I refer to the use of school exclusion stats by the BBC and reported in news bulletins and documentary reports.

They use a headline to say that the stats show black afro-Caribbean children are three times more likely to be excluded than white.

Superficial analysis of the figures produces this, what appears to be, a scandalous result that is bound to engender controversy when published which tragically, seems to be the priority.

However even a basic analysis of the government figures shows that it is not that simple. White British children are actually much more likely to be excluded than either Asian or Black African children.

The same figures also show white travellers are more likely to be excluded than any other group.

So are we saying that the teachers are not only racist but they are very selective in their racism?

Also boys are much more likely to be excluded than girls. So are those same teachers, who are selectively racist, also blatantly sexist?

Whilst I cannot prove this – but know several teachers (and parents) who confirm it informally – boys tend to be more disruptive than girls (with apologies for generalisation and stereotyping).

I would further suggest that children’s behaviour in school, and resultant consequences, are influenced much, much more by their family backgrounds, expectations and ambitions rather than teacher prejudice.

Media misrepresentation and partial use of any official statistics has serious implications for the public. In this particular case it will do nothing but harm to race relationships and will de-motivate professional teachers, throughout the country, striving hard do their best in ever more challenging circumstances.

John Hutchinson, Brompton on Swale.

Finance Bill vote

RECENTLY I attended a meeting, organised by the Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party, with our MP Kevin Hollinrake.

I was pleased to hear Mr Hollinrake raise the need for a fairer tax system to rebuild our economy after the pandemic. So, I was disappointed, but not surprised, that on May 24, Mr Hollinrake voted against an important Labour Party amendment to the Finance Bill for a global minimum corporation tax; something proposed by President Biden and supported by all G7 countries except the UK.

The bill would have ensured that global corporations like Amazon paid the tax that they owe in the country that they operate. If the bill had been passed, taxes on profits made in the UK would have directly benefitted people in the UK including Mr Hollinrake’s constituents.

It could have been used to give the NHS a proper pay rise; it could have been used to build infrastructure; it could have been used to strengthen our education system and give young people the best start in life; it could have been used to provide support to the elderly and to the most vulnerable in our society.

Because Mr Hollinrake and others voted against the amendment none of this will happen. Kevin Hollinrake also said that “the government has no money only, only tax payer’s money”, and that “all this spending will have to be paid back”. So does he expect the people of this country to be taxed more instead of large corporations?

Professor Graham Scott, Hunmanby.

Freedom of choice

WHO does the food shopping for Phil Hunt – “Long term harm” (D&S Times letters, May 28). When my local supermarket starts to sell imported (tariff-free) Australian beef and American "chlorine washed" chicken I can either, choose to buy it, or continue to buy locally produced produce. My choice. I don’t need the Government, the EU, or Phil Hunt, to decide what I eat. The demand for such produce will soon dictate the level of imports.

I’m not sorry that my Brexit vote has caused Mr Hunt to have to think for himself, without his EU comfort blanket. This is democracy in action.

When we were in the EU and Animal Rights campaigners managed to stop us importing livestock from the EU, the EU insisted that imported beef (from the EU) when butchered and packaged here, had to be labelled “British Beef”.

That is, our Government had to lie to consumers in order to stop the export of livestock from the EU. So called, animal rights campaigners proclaimed this a victory, despite the fact that the carcasses exported had probably travelled the length and breadth of the EU as livestock, in cattle trucks (with no semblance of animal husbandry) prior to export.

Who threw our beef producers under a bus then? Also, how does reclaiming and managing our own fishing grounds equate to, “throwing them under a bus”?

It is unfortunate that the rear-guard of remainers are still unwilling to embrace the advantages of Brexit: world-wide free-trade, increased choice and cheaper prices. I recall the naysayers who said that free-trade agreements would take more than six years to achieve. I also recall Sedgefield Labour MP, Phil Wilson, threatening us with Hitachi and Nissan leaving. The remain campaign lost the argument. It is time they stopped spitting out their dummies and enjoyed the benefits of our re-found freedoms.

Alastair PG Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Bank closures

AS one would expect, the forthcoming bank closures in Northallerton and Richmond have caused a wave of protest.

Business owners and the oldest and poorest members of society who are unlikely to have their own transport will probably be the worst affected.

Statistics show that over two thirds of the UK’s bank branches have closed in the last 30 years but more locally it is incredibly shocking to read that almost half of all the branches in Yorkshire closed between 2015 and 2020.

In recent times we’ve seen townships such as Boroughbridge, Ferryhill, Great Ayton, Hawes, Kirkbymoorside, Pateley Bridge and Shildon left without a single branch. When Filey, with a population of over 6,000 lost its last bank many were astounded and now Knaresborough’s last bank has shut meaning that the 15,000 residents now live in North Yorkshire’s largest town without a bank.

I believe that Barnard Castle, Easingwold, Haxby, Helmsley, Leyburn, Masham and Stokesley are all now down to just a single bank branch each and what happens when the closures of these are announced? The Lloyds bank television adverts make a mockery of the situation when they claim to be “by your side” having already closed hundreds of branches and now planning to close another 56 this year.

Apparently if bank closures continue at a similar level in the future, then every single remaining branch will have closed within a decade from now.

Dale Edwards, York.

Shopping habits

THEY say only two things are certain in this world, death and taxes. Well, the rich have knocked that on the head.

Only two things are certain in my world. I will never shop on Amazon, I will never buy anything made in China.

If you do not know why, you are asleep. Wake up.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.