Unitary authority

IN North Yorkshire we are famous for our straight talking so I want to be clear on what an opportunity we have before us.

Government has given the green light for a new single council, which will deliver all local services to every household in the county from Spring 2023. Not in itself perhaps the most exciting line on earth – but the benefits this approach will bring are real and must not be underestimated.

Put simply, that’s eight councils, with a wealth of dedicated and skilled staff between them, coming together to form one focused workforce, joining up all those services that will make life easier for everyone.

Aligning things like planning, broadband, highways and housing to build stronger communities. Joining up job opportunities with education and skills.

Support for families with health, leisure and cultural offers.

The chance to enrich and improve the lives of very many people here and offer residents everywhere a fairer future.

It will also save tens of millions that can be ploughed back into strengthening public services and empowering communities to drive and deliver on what matter most to them.

So we are rolling up our sleeves because alongside all the essential business as usual priorities, we will be continuing our good work with town and parish councils and community groups.

Together with our district council colleagues we will work hard to design and deliver the revolution in local powers and decision-making we promised as part of our proposal.

We will be pursuing the benefits of devolution to ensure that our great county can play its full role as a rural powerhouse, punching its weight nationally and regionally and flying the flag for our county, a place we are all proud to call our home.

So, whatever your view on the timing of, detail or context for big changes to how services are future proofed here, please come together as one to help deliver the very best for every single person in the county. Team North Yorkshire is resilient, caring and focused. Let’s show the nation what we can do. Thank you

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.

Feeling forgotten

I ALSO agree with every point made by both Robert Brown “No-go zones” (D&S Times letters, July 23) and James Quin “Unruly visitors” (D&S Times letters, July 30).

I have lived in Richmond for 42 years, I have never felt so forgotten. This town and surrounding area, are totally undermanned for police.

The night of the Euros football final, there was one officer in the town, to cover us and the Dales. It was by good luck that nothing happened here, but he was later called to up past the Reeth area.

Let’s face it, we are being forgotten.

Why pay council tax for services we don’t appear to be receiving?

Do the powers that be do something now or do they wait till our beautiful town and Dales are ruined beyond saving?

Joanne Mankin, Richmond.

Beaver support

WITH reference to beavers being reintroduced into the UK, I wish to disagree with David Moore “Beaver Population” (D&S Times letters, July 23).

According to the River Otter Beaver Trial Science and Evidence Report, beavers bring “measurable benefits to people and wildlife”. The careful managed release of beavers on the River Otter in Devon in conjunction with landowners, Defra and the community concluded that the benefits compensate the negative impacts.

By building dams they create new ecosystems, benefitting a host of other species. Water quality is improved by filtering, reducing pollutants, including fertilisers, manure and slurry. Beavers make the landscape more resilient to climate change. Their activities reduce flooding downstream.

Carefully managed, monitored release of beavers in specific locations, enriches the countryside and significantly reduces flooding downstream. The presence of beavers boosts tourism.

Carole Davies, Brompton on Swale.

Political views

I DISAGREE with Ian Wood's point of view that town councillors should be apolitical “Upcoming elections” (D&S Times letters, July 23).

Firstly, if someone has political affiliations it is an honest thing to declare them. Secondly, for me as a voter their declaration gives me a lot of information.

Declaring you are Conservative, Labour or whatever gives me a “backdrop” of what your views will be on a variety of issues. I will have some idea on how they would vote on local issues knowing that as their party is pro or against improving roads or rail.

If there party is not pro local business supporting rather a big business agenda, again it informs me what stance they might take on grants and help for small businesses.

Does their party have policies about helping carers or the vulnerable or do they believe that people should stand on their own feet?

Sadly with Independents I have the opportunity to find out in detail what their thoughts are on climate change, housing policy, transport, local business and so on. To do this they would have to deliver a book not a leaflet.

Being local and a nice woman or man is not enough. We’re entrusting these people with huge responsibilities and huge amounts of money.

This is not about a cabal it’s about giving the voter as much information as you can.

C Pode, Richmond.

'Proper' politicians

IT seems that Councillor Ian Woods is something of a contortionist “Upcoming elections” (D&S Times letters, July 23). As an elected politician he advises people not to elect politicians. But perhaps I am being unfair.

What he means to say is that they should not elect proper politicians. Cllr Woods is not a proper politician, he’s just a man who loves Richmond, and that’s all you need, he says.

In my experience, people want representatives who understand and can make an appreciable difference to their lives.

They want representatives who can come up with solutions for problems that they can support; solutions that accommodate a range of opinions and that will stick.

The skills and resources needed to achieve that for people have more to do with up-to-date knowledge, ideas, networking and negotiating with a wide range of people than being local. Problems may be local, solutions are often regional, national and even international: that’s the complicated world we now live in.

The Liberal Democrats are known for their effectiveness in local politics across the UK. They have 2,600 councillors and they invest in their skills and knowledge.

They offer a direct route from local to national through their MPs and peers to whom local councillors can escalate problems that need a wider approach.

They value local politicians and often build national policy from what they learn from them, not the other way around. And, as a registered political party, they are regulated by and accountable to the Electoral Commission.

Councillor Woods is affiliated to a political grouping called North Yorkshire Independents, who can’t claim any of this.

Let’s have a "proper politician" for West Ward.

Kathryn Streatfield, Croft-on-Tees.

NHS privatisation

I HAVE been told for years that the Conservative government isn’t going to privatise the NHS. People told me that they would never get away with it, that people would not tolerate this. I think that this would be unacceptable to most people and that there would be a national outcry. However, the Tories are privatising the NHS by stealth.

Most people probably haven’t heard about this Bill because it has been passing through parliament at great speed. The only saving grace is that it has been delayed until September, but believe me it will have serious repercussions for those of us who cherish and use the NHS (most of us)!

The Bill is called the Health and Care Bill. It was proposed to supposedly help the NHS recover after a period of severe change, namely the pandemic, and to support an overworked service.

They said it would help more people get the treatment they needed. We’ve all heard about the PPE contracts for cronies scandal which still hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. This Bill will accelerate the privatisation of many parts of the NHS to the detriment of all its users.

The Tory government is proposing to set up Integrated Care Boards which will mean that private companies can sit on these boards and influence contracts and patient care. It will mean that they will be creaming off a profit, as private companies do.

The NHS is a publicly funded service which should not be making a profit. Like the BBC, the government will be able to recommend people to serve on these boards who are sympathetic to government policies, therefore politicising it.

This process will weaken a service that already has enormous pressures placed upon it and consequently there will be less scrutiny of the service and a postcode lottery of services where it will depend on where you live as to what treatment you get.

We should all be worried about this. Many parts of the NHS, like optical and dental services have already been almost completely privatised and out of the reach of the people who need them most.

The pandemic has provided a convenient cover for this Bill to be rushed through parliament without most of us knowing about it. We do not want to be facing a situation where we have to sell our houses to be able to afford medical treatment as they do in the US. Some people go bankrupt because they cannot afford to pay their bills. I urge you to write to your MP to show your opposition to this Bill.

Helen M Smith, Ripon.

China threat

I AM very scared. Britain has sent its new aircraft carrier to the South China Sea with only one thing in mind, to confront a rising and challenging China.

This seems an extreme step up to facing these challenges and does not seem a rational next step in coming to some mutual agreement. The only next step is conflict.

We live in a near perfect democracy but this is a big thing that is done entirely below the radar.

Another move which is going ahead on the quiet is the abolition of many local councils and their replacement by unitary super councils. The selection of these super councils is based only on “sensible” processes , only occurs after “extensive” consultation but smells like a move away from democracy.

If we were governed by a small group of always right people I would not be so concerned, but I am not sure that is the case and a wider range of participation and discussion seems best, especially when big things are at stake.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Expensive extension

REGARDING the controversy about changes in train timetables, I read again the £900,000 cost of extending one platform at Northallerton Station by 20 metres (D&S Times, July 30).

How can 20 metres of concrete and paving possibly cost nearly £1m? I would have thought £10,000 should have covered it.

Gerald Hodgson, Spennithorne, Leyburn.

Good examples

IT’S been great watching the Olympics. It’s nice to see the young people from this country trying to win medals, instead of hearing stories of vandalism or anti-social behaviour, the not so good side of some of the younger generation.

G O Wright, Sadberge.

Birthday appreciation

I WOULD very much like to thank everybody who sent cards and presents on my 80th birthday on July 12. It made me feel very special and I really appreciated the well wishes sent from family, friends, neighbours and members of the evangelical church. I had a lovely day out with my family and enjoyed a special birthday meal.

Joy Hartley, Leyburn.