No conspiracy

I AM writing this letter to make my annoyance known about these people who seems to have got the notion in their heads that this virus is one big conspiracy theory and that we are being played by the government.

I would say to those people, if the virus was such a big hoax, why have so many people sadly lost their lives?

Their misguided notions are very dangerous and they can’t see it because they are the type of people that believe everything they read on the internet, yet call themselves “free thinkers”. Really?

In the end, the people who have done their bit by following the rules, getting their vaccine and who are self testing twice a week like myself are the ones who are suffering from their misguided opinions that are floating around on social media.

Just get the vaccine, stop believing everything you read on the internet and let’s get back to normal.

D Shields, Barnard Castle.

Polar population

“PROPER science was ignored” says Alastair Welsh in your last letters page (D&S Times letters, June 11), citing the growth of polar bear populations. Of the known 19 polar bear sub-populations, just two small populations are growing, five are static, four are in decline, the remainder are stated as data deficient.

I would ask any climate change denier why they believe scientists when they say the earth is not flat, but will not listen regarding climate change? The earth is round, our climate is changing dangerously fast.

Proper scientists have stated the following. Changes in the Arctic habitat of polar bears are currently of more concern than the effects of hunting, and are likely to remain so into the foreseeable future. The extent, thickness and duration of Arctic sea ice in particular is leading to increasing challenges to the health and long-term viability of the 19 sub-populations (

As Oscar Wilde said “you are what you read”

Richard Baker, Middleton One Row.

Warming planet

I CAN only admire the persistence of Messrs Welsh and Mason (D&S Times letters, June 11) in pursuing their line of climate change scepticism in the absence of any objective evidence or the citing of any relevant scientific research.

Whether politicians have misled the electorate in the past on many issues (and may, no doubt, continue to do so in the future) is wholly irrelevant. We can all see what a tremendous success Brexit has been.

The overwhelming scientific opinion, backed by undeniable data, is clear: the planet is warming and the implications are dire unless action is taken now to stop this.

The fact that Mr Welsh says that David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking “have done very well out of climate extinction” reveals the paucity of his arguments. Obviously they were only in it for the kudos!

Bob Sampson, Newton-le-Willows.

Lines of sight

IN what I hope can be a final response to your two indefatigable climate change denialists Messrs Mason and Welsh, I will simply quote the well-known but very true adage “there’s none so blind as those who will not see.”

Unfortunately, it will be the next generations who will pay the price if such blindness prevails.

Frank Broughton, Brompton-on-Swale.

Child poverty

EVEN before coronavirus hit, more than four million children were living in poverty in the UK. Now our most vulnerable children and families face the toughest of challenges, as the financial and emotional impact of this horrible pandemic truly hits home. Action for Children – an amazing charity I’ve worked with for many years – is determined not to let this generation of lockdown children become a lost one.  

 For over two decades now I’ve taken part in the charity’s annual sleepout. Before the pandemic this meant bedding down in a London location, getting very little sleep and always being chilled to the bone by the time the sun rose. Yet I would get to go home and have a shower, something to eat and very soon would be feeling normal again.

For the vulnerable families that Action for Children works with hardship is their normal – fear and worry over paying their bills, not being able to put food on the table or clothe their children. I’ve been privileged to see the work Action for Children do every day to change people’s lives. Last year alone, their coronavirus emergency fund provided essentials, like food and warm clothes, to around 20,000 children and young people. Frontline key workers kept 99 per cent of services open. And Parent Talk, an online support service, was a vital lifeline for more than 350,000 children and families seeking reassurance and advice.  

They are doing all they can but now they need your help. They need you to Boycott Your Bed to raise money for some of the country’s most vulnerable kids. 

This July 9 they – and I – are asking families in your area to ditch their duvet, put away their pillows and bunk down somewhere unusual in their homes or gardens. Last year I slept out in my treehouse. Everyone who signs up will get an exclusive invite to a night of incredible virtual entertainment, raising desperately needed money. Because no child should go to bed hungry. And no child should lie awake feeling frightened about how their family is going to cope.

Please do sign up at and I can’t wait to see you all virtually this July.  

Jenny Agutter, Action for Children Ambassador.

Dominic Cummings

SACKED from his job, Dominic Cummings is the last person entitled to criticise Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock over their handling of the pandemic.

As the government’s top adviser at the height of the pandemic, if he disagreed so strongly with policy, why didn’t Cummings speak out then?

This unelected gentleman undermined ministers, whilst showing his disrespect for the institution of government by arrogantly turning up for work dressed as if he were coming in from the beach.

Cummings says Boris was slow to act on the pandemic but, if he were so keen on preventative measures, why did he ignore the rules and drive hundreds of miles to take his infamous break in the North East?

If Cummings thought Boris “unfit for the job”, why didn’t he resign? He admits “trying to create a structure” around the PM to get his own way. In other words, he was willing to flout democracy and use his non-elected cohorts to run the government from behind the scenes.

The reason Cummings is coming out with all this anti-Johnson and anti-Hancock nonsense is explained in just one word – revenge.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor (Ind), Moorsholm, east Cleveland.

Freedom delay

BORIS JOHNSON’S freedom day has been delayed and it is mostly his fault. He is responsible for the delayed inclusion of India on the travel "red list" as well as the ongoing gaps in our infection containment strategy.

According to the Independent SAGE, there is still inadequate support for isolation, thus many symptomatic individuals do not self-isolate.

Public Health England reports show that many outbreaks now occur in educational settings. The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers has accused the Government of having responsibility for the rise in schools with its decision to remove the use of face masks from May 17.

There is no certainty at this stage that we will achieve herd immunity on July 19 and it is unwise to promise the removal of all restrictions, including the use of face masks in enclosed spaces. Vaccinating below the age of 18 and an autumn vaccine booster covering the variants might be required.

Our Government is wrong in ignoring the rising number of infections. The risk of the emergence of new variants, potentially escape mutants, increases with the number of infections.

Unrealistic Covid expectations are not helpful. Freedom day will come only when the threat is over.

Dr Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi, Durham.

Long-term vision

TEES Valley mayor Ben Houchen’s vision is years down the line and I’m afraid large numbers of Teesside’s unemployed (or perhaps superfluous) will have reached retirement by the time it is fulfilled.

He fails to understand global industrial production saturation and finite resources.

From now on, the global economy will operate like a pack of rats over the last slice of bread.

Mr Houchen mentions saving the Redcar site from the Thai banks, but Scandinavian nations do not allow non-citizens to own land in their countries, and nor should the UK – it should only be leasehold.

GB Butler, Stockton.

Litter problem

THERE is a deliberate and serious litter problem on Darlington’s Thompson Street East railway bank and slightly beyond, Darlington borough councillors please note.

Four times over the past three weeks large amounts of litter have been strewn on both sides of the road and the bank. This has consisted of William Hill A4-size betting sheets and sheets of newspaper.

On each occasion, with my litter picking equipment provided by the council, I have collected the litter up and advised the town hall staff so that the deed could be logged.

First of all, I would like to say to the person(s) throwing the litter that if you know me would you give me a break, and, if you don’t know me, would you please consider giving me a break.

My time on this earth could be nearing its end and I could be spending my time listening to Elvis Presley music, watching one of his films or even reading on the patio.

The latest episode was on Wednesday and on contacting the council I was told it could take up to five days to have the litter removed so I decided to collect it (again) but this time with my Sherlock Holmes hat on I discovered amongst the litter a stamped cop of an invoice receipt issued by a company in the west end of Darlington for £34.52 paid for, I believe, using a credit card. The operator is clearly named and the items purchased clearly identified.

Thinking this could be useful, I contacted the council but was advised the invoice could not be investigated because, would you believe, I had removed it from the scene and it was therefore “contaminated” (the council’s words). However if I had left it, it would have blown away.

I know it was a long shot, and it may not have been the owner of the invoice who threw the litter, but the reaction of the council staff member was to say, at the least, disappointing.

Mike Taylor, Darlington.

Hitting the spot

I HAVE just driven past Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside stadium and noticed a vaccination centre set up there. After the season that the Boro had, it’s nice to see that they have finally got a team that can get shots on target.

Steve Turnbull, Co Durham.

Faith in humanity

ON Tuesday, returning from a doctor’s appointment, I had a fall in Greenbank Road, Darlington.

I would like to say thank you to the lady in the car who stopped, and to the gent living opposite for their help and kindness in getting me back on my feet again.

You both have restored my faith in humanity and may god bless you both.

Terence Fineran, Darlington.