Saving lives at sea

I AM one of Samuel Plimsoll’s great grandchildren. He had his children from his second wife, Harriet Wade, and I descend from one of their daughters Eliza Harriet who married Prof. H J Rose. As I am sure you will appreciate I am enormously proud of my great grandfather.

The article in the Darlington and Stockton Times is delightful (Looking Back, June 18) and I was so glad that one of my many cousins, who always takes your paper, drew it to my attention.

Thank you so much for raising his profile in this way. However, I am afraid that there is a fundamental error in the article. It is perfectly understandable, as it is a popular misconception, as the mark is known as the Plimsoll Line!

The idea for the line was not Plimsoll’s as the writer of the article states. Credit and honour for that goes to James Hall, a wealthy shipowner from Newcastle. James Hall spent his life in shipping, was massively respected and understood the technology in ways that Plimsoll never did.

Samuel Plimsoll himself stated that his interest in the welfare of sailors was born in Redcar during his stay there. He had sailed from London to Redcar in 1864 and the ship struck bad weather. His wife, who was waiting on shore for his long overdue ship, had feared for his life and he himself had been most upset by the harrowing sight of four wrecked ships while his ship struggled against the waves. At that point he and his wife pledged their lives to doing something for seamen.

A few years later in 1870, with Plimsoll by now MP for Derby, James Hall, amongst other, petitioned the government for a Merchant Shipping and Maritime Bill. Plimsoll showed a copy of the petition to his wife, and indeed met Hall. Thus began his campaign.

Nicolette Jones wrote an excellent and meticulously researched biography of my great grandfather titled “The Plimsoll Sensation – the great campaign to save lives at sea”. It is a splendid book, beautifully written and very easy to read. It won the Mountbatten Maritime Prize in 2006, the year it was first published, and indeed was a Radio 4 Book of the Week. I commend it you and your readers.

I do hope you do not mind my pointing out the error, but, like Samuel Plimsoll himself, I am a great believer in justice and fairness.

Daphne Rose, Malton.


MY husband, with dementia, has recently had his driving licence revoked. I went to pick up his prescription for him at Scorton Medical Centre to receive a note which said telephone repeat prescription calls will no longer be allowed due to the fact they were getting mixed information and errors were occurring.

Most importantly, and I think the crux of the problem, is that the phone line is being jammed and consultations which are now mostly by phone are being jeopardised. Don’t ask how it is you can see your dentist.

The note did not say how you were now to get your prescriptions. Have a guess. If you don’t drive and you don’t have the internet it seems you are rather up the creek.

GPs nowadays do not work in the NHS but are very very well remunerated for working for it. I would therefore suggest that they put their hands in their deep pockets and install a dedicated and independently manned phone line for repeat prescriptions. Not beyond the bounds of realism is it.

Funny they’ve managed to cope with mixed information for years and years. It’s taken another string from my husband’s bow as he can’t get there and couldn’t do it on the internet and put another burden on my shoulders. There will be others in a worse situation.

Diane Vallance, Brompton on Swale.

Care worker jabs

THE government must make coronavirus jabs mandatory for care home workers.

After tens of thousands of lives have been lost to Covid amongst care home residents, I’m astonished this belated condition of employment hasn’t universal support.

Neither of the arguments against the compulsory jab stands up, morally or practically.

Opponents of compulsion say care workers have the right to choose and that job shortages will result if it is enforced.

But, doesn’t a resident’s right to life trump the right to choose of those looking after them? Furthermore, despite possible shortages of care workers, does society really want carers in post who won’t even get a simple jab to protect the old and vulnerable for whom they are responsible?

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

Benefit sanctions

IN this so-called civilised society, the Government must urgently reassess pointlessly cruel benefit sanctions.

Benefit sanctions are penalties served on claimants who do not meet conditions such as applying for a set number of jobs, or being a few minutes late for a job centre meeting.

For a first offence the penalty is four weeks – around £300 – meaning the welfare safety net has turned into a benefit trap.

Since the Tories took power, Job Centre chiefs have dished out over four million Job Seeker’s Allowance sanctions, 500,000 Universal Credit sanctions and 130,000 sickness benefit sanctions.

Even in Covid-hit Britain, sanctions have been ramped up.

Benefit sanctions serve little purpose as they lead to anxiety, depression, debt and homelessness, social issues that will cost the Government dear in the long run.

There is an old saying: "Penny wise, pound foolish’’.

Despite all this, Job Centre chiefs still insist sanctions are reasonable, proportionate and are only ever used in the minority of cases.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Protest vote

WELL done the good burghers of Chesham and Amersham for this slap in the face to those foisting HS2 and yet more housing estates upon them. The more so as it was achieved without transferable voting: the protest vote might have been split several ways. It should indeed be recognised as a protest.

The Lib Dems cannot carry forward the platform which gained them the seat. This was hypocrisy and opportunism on their part, being wedded to the notion that the whole world is entitled to a place in Britain.

They and the Greens must be challenged on their logic of ever more people without more transport infrastructure and building.

This is not just an issue for the South East. Only Scotland claims to want more people. The Conservatives must recognise, as Labour were already having to, that dumb party loyalty is over. A party with only rhetoric to offer against population growth will be punished at the polls. Being the least bad party is no longer good enough to get the vote out.

John Riseley, Harrogate.


MALCOLM Lloyd might be interested to learn that it is the Government that is responsible for the withdrawal of ear treatments at GP surgeries, not the regional health authorities “Service removal” (D&S Times letters, June 11).

I recently contacted my GP to have my ears syringed as part of an ongoing investigation. I was informed the Government has barred GP surgeries from carrying out all such ear procedures; however my GP did not know if this is for the duration of the pandemic or a permanent ban.

An interesting coincidence perhaps that an Ear Clinic has just opened in Ripon. Could this be privatisation by stealth with loss of more NHS services to follow?

I think we should all be alert to this possibility.

James Wood, Ripon.

Fighting Cocks

ON the plans to change the Fighting Cocks public house in Middleton St. George to a convenience store (D&S Times, June 11), this is our heritage, surely we should try and save our North-East roots.

Jasmine Gosling, Darlington.

Station plans

I HAVE been carefully studying Darlington station’s re-hash/enlargement and approve of the plan.

I’m familiar with the layout from boyhood trainspotting from the 1950s onwards. Transferring platform two and three to a new site, was an obvious thing to do, and I’m astonished it was not done decades ago, when the Cleveland Bridge site was vacated.

If southbound express trains are now to use the new platform five, what use is there for platform one? As this is southbound it involves crossing the “non-stop” tracks – same problem as platforms two and three.

Is platform five to also incorporate the southbound freight line? Maybe platform one line gets “out of use” and becomes the northbound freight line?

A little more information on all the above points would be of interest. Platform five would appear to be on the site of the 1840s “Great North of England” railway station?

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Dress up Rishi

WHAT an arresting image of Rishi Sunak at Catterick Garrison you showed us (D&S Times, June 18).

Hand on hip and in a safety helmet he looked like one of The Village People.

Dare we hope to see Rishi in a cowboy outfit next time?

Colin Robinson, Barnard Castle.

Social care

THIS week marks 100 weeks since Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and pledged to reform adult social care. It is a scandal that we are still waiting to see those proposals.

That’s 100 weeks where too many older people are still unable to get the care they need in a complex and unequal system that causes distress and confusion for people when they need it most.

We are living through a pandemic, where care workers have given their all to protect those most vulnerable to Covid-19, and yet we still await proper pay and recognition for those doing life-changing work.

Over two thirds of people have told us that social care should be a top priority for the Government with almost half believing it doesn’t care about the needs of older people.

In the last 20 years, there have been green papers, white papers, commissions and reviews but nothing has changed.

Adult social care and the people it supports deserve better.

People everywhere are joining with us and asking the Government to #FixCareForAll with our five asks:

A new social care system that is fully resourced with a fair price for care

A national workforce strategy that values our people

Transparency and accountability through regulating the system

Care which is co-designed by older people and the sector

Seamless pathways between health and social care

Find out more and join us in making sure older people get the care system

they deserve.

Sam Monaghan, Chief Executive, Methodist Homes (MHA), Derby.