No-go zones

HAVING lived in Richmond for several years and Richmondshire for many years before that, I’ve recently become very concerned with the rise in anti-social behaviour in Richmond and the lack of response from the authorities.

This seems to be the result of the crowds flocking to the falls after its promotion as the “Ibiza of the North”.

Word seems to have got out that this kind of behaviour is accepted in Richmond and it has attracted a very unsavoury element. There are regular gatherings of youths on the river bank indulging in underage drinking, smoking and drug taking. They are then rowdy and aggressive in the protection of their “turf”.

As a result, several people have told me that parts of the riverside have become no-go zones. Others no longer feel safe walking into town on an evening.

I’ve had visitors complain about the rowdiness in the local pubs and feeling unwelcome as a result.

I have neighbours who’ve had garden furniture smashed and who are now frightened to go out.

Another person was attacked by a group of youths after confronting them for taking a short cut through an old lady’s garden to get to the falls. Several have also told me they are considering leaving the town – including long term residents.

Crime statistics for the local area confirm this pattern. They show that both anti-social behaviour and violent crime are higher than the national average. Not what one would expect or want for a country town.

What is worst is that local councillors continually ignore the issue or trivialise it. People who have raised the issue on social media have been told they are bringing the town into disrepute and seem to be the subject of more acrimony than the offenders.

I’ve raised this myself with councillors and the issue is either denied or trivialised. People tell me they are reluctant to confront offenders or raise the issue as they feel they will be targeted and get no support from the local authorities. As a result incidents are unreported and under-recorded.

I’ve now come across trails of blood on Richmond bridge twice. The first time I reported it to the police and my local councillor.

The only response, was discovering that this is now regarded as normal in Richmond. Indeed gangs of youths chasing each other on the streets does seem to be normal from my experiences.

The second time I didn’t report it. Even I am accepting that anything goes in Richmond.

There seems to be an attitude amongst councillors that the town “needs the money”.

They would do well to look at the example of Newquay, where I lived for a while. This is a town that also encouraged a party culture in the hope of generating income for the town but gained an unsavoury reputation with respectable people as a result. Ultimately it came to regret the unsavoury element this attracted and regretted this policy.

I for one do not want to see Richmond turn into a new Ibiza or Newquay.

Richmond seems to be at a crossroads. We had hoped that the excesses that Covid brought were going to be temporary, but it now seems that the floods of unruly visitors who are attracted not by Richmond’s historic or natural attractions, but only by a laissez faire “party town” attitude, may be a permanent feature.

What kind of town does Richmond want to be? How is Richmond going to continue to attract traditional family visitors if they don’t feel safe and comfortable walking the footpaths and visiting the pubs? Ignoring the problem is not a solution.

Maybe the days have gone when you could leave your doors unlocked, but I don’t expect the kind of behaviour I see or hear about in a small country town like Richmond.

It is certainly not what I expected when I moved here and I still do not think it should be tolerated or regarded as either acceptable or unavoidable.

Robert Brown, Richmond.

Parking woes

BROMPTON Town Council has on occasions asked if periodically the local traffic warden could visit the village as there have in the past been a few issues about parking at road junctions which could lead to obstructions for other traffic.

To the council's knowledge such occasional visits most probably never happened. No-one has ever claimed to have seen a traffic warden in Brompton.

Therefore it was extremely surprising that two residents very recently received enforcement penalty notices at 5am one morning. The tickets were given for partial parking on a white advisory “keep clear” line on the road outside the church. This was installed some years ago so that motorists do not block the church entrance access for funeral and wedding vehicles.

As the carriageway lines were merely advisory the penalty tickets have subsequently been withdrawn. However this leads to a very basic question as to what the traffic wardens are doing working through the night patrolling small villages?

It would indeed be unusual, especially during lock-down for a funeral or wedding to be held at the church before 9am anyway, by which time the vehicles had been removed.

Is it therefore a case that the local traffic wardens have to meet a specific penalty notice target, and even so, why is it necessary for them to be working at such strange times of the night?

Brompton unfortunately is not alone in this as periodic reports to the press have shown in the past.

M Shiel Dods, chairman of Brompton Town Council.

Rural Commission

FOLLOWING the launch of their landmark report at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, I wish to applaud members of North Yorkshire’s Rural Commission for the huge effort they have made over the last 20 months, continuing against all the odds through the pandemic, to make their findings public about the future of our rural communities.

The commission, the first of its kind nationally, was set up by the county council, supported by the county council, but independent of the county council.

Its task was to seek out fresh and innovative solutions to endemic issues facing the county’s rural communities.

We made clear from the very start that the commissioners should be led by their own investigation and that a wide-ranging, evidence-led enquiry was necessary

Some of the recommendations in the report “Rural North Yorkshire: the way forward, Beautiful, connected, and embracing the future” are undoubtedly challenging.

This was not set up to give us or anyone a pat on the back, although it is pleasing to see that the commission does recognise work that the county council has done, and that the pursuit of devolution is the right thing to do.

But now we need to play our part in evaluating the recommendations and deciding how best to deliver the desired outcomes.

I give heartfelt thanks to the Dean of Ripon, the Very Reverend John Dobson DL, and his fellow commissioners – Sir William Worsley, Professor Sally Shortall, Martin Booth, Chris Clark, Dr Debbie Trebilco, Jean MacQuarrie, and Heather Hancock – for the work they have undertaken to gather opinions and evidence, to distil it, and come up with recommendations to tackle numerous problems that have troubled rural communities for years.

It has been most useful to have fresh eyes look at these problems, and join up the thinking into one report.

We also recognise and thank the many people and organisations that provided the evidence, and to media colleagues for covering the issues so comprehensively.

This report isn't just for the county council to consider – it includes organisations within the county like our district councils, and National Parks – and organisations that are outside the county, often nationwide, and including central Government for its levelling up agenda.

We all now have a duty to take these recommendations forward purposefully and apply them strategically to make sure, in the words of Dean John, “that North Yorkshire remains beautiful, IS fully connected and embraces the future with hope”.

County Councillor Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.

Upcoming elections

WHEN I stood for election to Richmond Town Council in 2019, I stated in my candidature information that the role of a town councillor, unlike district or county councillors, was to serve for the love of community.

Town councillors receive no remuneration for the work they do and that is as it should be. The town council is the first tier of local government, being the closest to citizens and therefore more accessible.

It is sad to see therefore the intrusion of national political parties into this local agenda and by this I refer to the Liberal/Democrats leaflet "Focus on Richmond" which makes the claim that their candidate for the vacant position in West Ward has been "selected as a Liberal Democrat" and indeed the candidate himself states that he is "honoured to be representing the Lib Dems as we already have a great team on the town and district councillors".

The leaflet goes on to claim that the candidate will be a "great asset to the Lib Dem Council team" thereby implying the formation of a cabal at the heart of the only truly local body which acts on behalf of the residents of Richmond.

I sincerely hope that the election choice on August 12 includes a non-political candidate who will be standing purely because he/she loves the town and wants to do their utmost to serve the residents of West Ward.

Ian Woods, Richmond Town Councillor – West Ward.

Strip colour

I THINK Middlesbrough should have thought more carefully before going for a new-look green away strip, for kit colour can be the marginal difference between failure and success.

Boro’s home kit is great because, psychologically, "red for danger" puts fear into the minds of the opposition. Look at Liverpool and Manchester United.

White also gives a team an advantage by making players, not only appear bigger in stature, but instantly visible to their team-mates. Look at Germany, and Leeds United in their hey-day

The biggest mistake on strip colour came in the semi-final of Euro 96 when England wore a grey kit against Germany, in white.

I’m convinced that, had England gone with the World Cup-winning red shirts of 1966, we’d have had a clear win in normal time, thus avoiding eventual defeat in the penalty shoot-out.

Speaking of shooting, I fear that, by going green, Boro have shot themselves in the foot before the season even starts.

I pray the Green Goddess proves me wrong.

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

Beaver population

WITH reference to beavers being re-introduced in the UK, do the public realise that 87 were culled in Scotland after they had damaged farmland?

Beavers, along with other large mammals, became extinct throughout Britain centuries ago, when the population of humans was minuscule compared with today.

I wish some of the conservationists would realise that every time a pair breed their young have got to find a new territory, expanding the population to new areas that will encroach onto farmland and forestry, through their natural instincts causing damage. No matter where introductions, the same result will take place, so why introduce them when in time they have to be culled. A no-brainer in my opinion.

Culling applies to all creatures in the UK as soon as they inconvenience man’s activities.

The latest is the voicing from some in the angling fraternity to cull otters – you know why.

Dave Moore, Hutton Magna.