Rail services

TRAIN services from Northallerton will be reduced next year if timetable changes proposed by two major operators come into force next May. For a town that prides itself on its main-line connections, this is a major concern.

LNER is planning to discontinue direct services to Edinburgh, and its new direct service from London to Middlesbrough will not call at Northallerton. While it is suggested CrossCountry Trains may fill gaps on direct Edinburgh services, passengers will be loath to lose their more modern and spacious Azumas.

TransPennine Express is also planning significant changes in services from May 2022. Its draft Northallerton timetable reveals the loss of direct trains to Newcastle (with the exception of one westbound train at 4.48am), and connections with Darlington are extremely spasmodic.

Journeys across the Pennines are in danger of taking longer as Northallerton will be relegated to the Saltburn to Manchester path. Currently these services are usually operated by the older and inferior Class 185 trains rather than the newer and more spacious Novas.

It begs the question why so much money was spent extending the northbound platform to accommodate the longer Azuma and Nova trains if fewer of them are likely to stop here.

Your readers may be surprised to learn how many people travel long distances by train to shop in Northallerton. We know of one furniture shop that regularly attracts customers from London keen to buy the same product for half the price, with free delivery included.

We must do all we can to resist these changes and if others feel as strongly as we do, they can make their views known via the LNER and TransPennine Express consultation programmes, which are open until August 5.

LNER: https://lner.citizenspace.com/user_uploads/consultation_timetable_a4_web-5.pdf

TransPennine Express: https://www.tpexpress.co.uk/about-us/our-plan/east-coast-mainline-consultation

Graham Bell, manager, Northallerton BID Co Ltd.

Town councillors

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to respond to the letter from Ian Woods about my candidacy for the Richmond Town Council by-election. “Upcoming elections” (D&S Times letters, July 23).

I agree with Mr Woods that it is important that representatives love the town and want to do their best for it.

After 25 years living in Richmond, that is precisely why I am standing.

I feel it is time to give something back to the town I love. I hope that my experience as someone who has brought significant funding into the area, as a former headteacher and a businessman will enable me to contribute to Richmond’s development.

I want to turn some of the challenges we face into opportunities, not least by exploiting Richmond’s heritage as a market town and as a great place to do business.

Mr Woods claims that by representing a political party, I am intruding in some way and am part of some cabal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our electoral system is a representative democracy and voters are free to choose their councillors, be they party representatives or independents. All parties and individuals are free to stand candidates and it is for voters to choose who to elect, based on both their values and ideas.

Mr Woods implies that as a party member, I can have no interest in the community. I cannot understand his rationale. I am a Lib Dem because I believe in fairness, providing opportunity for all and working at a local community level, and my priority in this election is to take on board the concerns of residents and to further Richmond as one of the best places to live and work.

Paul Harrison, candidate for Richmond Town Council.

Political views

COUNCILLOR Ian Woods seems to believe that no candidate for town council elections should say what political party they support. “Upcoming elections” (D&S Times letters, July 23).

I have always, in parish and district elections, stood as a Liberal Democrat, for the last seven elections because I believe in being open about my political convictions. Those are well illustrated in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution, which states the party exists "to safeguard a fair, free and open society…. in which no-one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity".

I’ve heard it said that town councils should have nothing to do with national political issues. When government policies result in the disgraceful need for foodbanks and the closure of libraries, I completely disagree. I have promoted and supported donations of food, from Richmond Town Council to the town food bank and funding to help set up CRACCL, the voluntary group that helps to run local libraries, council actions to combat poverty and ignorance.

The Government decision to impose a unitary council system on North Yorkshire and the failure to reform the way councillors are elected are likely to result in parish/town councils being the only way that local people can implement non-Tory decisions. Whether Cllr Woods likes it or not, town councils will become more political.

John Harris, councillor for East Ward, Richmond Town Council.

Unruly visitors

I HAVE just read Robert Brown’s letter regarding anti-social behaviour in Richmond and I have to agree with him in all the issues he has raised “No-go zones” (D&S Times letters, July 23).

I have lived here for 27 years and have never seen it so bad with rowdiness around our lovely town.

This appears to be worse since and during this awful pandemic. Cars being driven round the market place with no regard for anyone, and not a police vehicle in sight.

Friends have said that cars were abandoned on Riverside road and no tickets issued by a traffic warden or police.

Locals would get a ticket if they parked on this road during the week. I do wonder if there were any on duty last weekend when all this was going on?

It seems that the visitors can do as they wish and locals will avoid their own natural beauty spots. Furthermore, the mess they leave behind still has to be cleaned up.

It is about time that the local people got the service from the council and the police they deserve and put an end to this once and for all.

James Quin, Richmond.

Religious beliefs

REGARDING the Methodist conference recently backing church marriage for gay couples, as a 91-year-old I have been part of that denomination from my youth upwards in the Bedale village of Snape, which was continually active through wartime until my marriage and then active in the Methodist circuit of Thirsk.

Again, involved in the church activities, with preaching and youth work continuing in the Methodist tradition founded by Reverends Charles and John Wesley.

More good things brought a fresh renewal of church activity through the ministry of men of the calibre of Dr Billy Graham throughout the British Isles, helping many churches to gain membership.

Sadly, I personally have witnessed a rapid decrease in membership, lack of clergy in the pulpits, churches closed, sold, turned into houses, in nearly every area of North Yorkshire, for example Thirsk had 18 chapels open and now there are only two.

The Methodist Church Conference passed a resolution to define marriage as a union between two people rather than between one man and one woman.

My disappointment is that nine tenths of the voters agreed with the resolution and sadly the Bible is being by-passed to allow people to execute their own rules.

I am not ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour, and I share these words as a challenge to all readers and observers.

Jim Wilkinson, Newsham, Thirsk.

Expensive employee

HAMBLETON District Council is to pay someone £165,000 a year to work three days a week as a Financial Officer. “£165,000 bill for three-day officer” (D&S Times, July 9)

I would suggest the council pay that person £1,000 a week which is excellent pay for a three day week.

This would equate to £52,000 a year saving the council £113,000.

But then, why would Hambleton Council want to save all that money. To them it’s just chicken feed.

William Barker, Thornton-le-Street.

Unitary authority

“ALL politics is local" said Tip O'Neill, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and yet this wise mantra has been abandoned by careerist councillors and central government with the decision to establish a remote, unitary authority for North Yorkshire (D&S Times, July 23).

The highly efficient Hambleton District Council, along with other district councils, is being abolished with little appreciation of local needs and how best they should be addressed. Under the excellent leadership of Councillor Mark Robson, by all measures Hambleton is one of the effective and responsive district councils in England.

However, when considering principles in the days ahead, I hope that Hambleton councillors Carl Les and Gareth Dadd, the leader and deputy of North Yorkshire County Council, now voice their disappointment and opposition to this change.

After all they did support Hambleton District Council's opposition to a unitary authority. Even so, I doubt this will be the case and can only hope that their personal political ambitions at the expense of Hambleton residents is called to account, either at political hustings as they scrap for a seat on the new council, or at the ballot box where voters can express their opposition to this ill-advised and unwanted change. The end of Hambleton District Council will be a sad day for residents, local accountability and democracy.

David Forster, Aiskew.

Northern Ireland

IT is essential when making a proposal on how to move forward from the Troubles in Northern Ireland that we understand the feelings of all those that are involved. That is very difficult for us here in England who have not lived there to appreciate the hatred that has been instilled in some people from birth – we simply cannot understand them.

Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided that there must be an amnesty, a statute of limitations on anything that the paramilitaries and the British soldiers did before the Good Friday Agreement.

It is apparent that this has not been discussed with anyone – for once all political parties in Northern Ireland are in absolute uproar in their opposition and Stormont has been recalled from their summer break to debate.

One thing that I have learned in my life is that listening and discussion is absolutely essential in understanding how people feel and that is something that is lacking with politicians.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

New police chief

WITH reference to the article "Search to start for new chief constable" (D&S Times, July 23)

Whatever one’s opinion on Richard Lewis leaving Cleveland Police after a short time in charge, we must look forward.

Steve Turner, the Police and Crime Commissioner, must listen to the public and appoint someone prepared to be unpopular – unpopular with those that use violence as a matter of course, unpopular with those who deal drugs, who traffic fellow human beings.

Unpopular with those whose anti-social behaviour blights many communities.

Unpopular with those who seek to impose a political agenda on the police.

Unpopular with the Home Secretary for wanting more resources.

This may not be a comprehensive list but it would be a start.

Timothy Wood, Guisborough.


THE destruction of democracy by this Government is alarming and threatens us all.

The rise of dictators and oppressive regimes follow frighteningly similar paths.

The newly published Elections Bill gives ministers the power to define what is campaigning and to restrict or prevent it.

This bill could cause co-ordinating opposition to be an offence, and permits political meddling in the Electoral Commission.

In practice "Take Back Control" is merely a power grab by our Prime Minister's cabal. A cabal which lies with impunity.

Our democracy is critically dependent on free elections in which unaffiliated organisations, charities and even the person on the street can be part of the debate.

By putting restrictions on campaigning and cross-party co-operation, this bill stifles healthy opposition. It is an attack on the foundations of our democracy.

My MP, Rishi Sunak, is at the heart of Government and should be challenged about this, not just given a platform to sell himself. Post-Covid, he should have the guts to make himself available to a public debate with his constituents.

Mark Harrison, Swainby, Northallerton.