Bike infrastructure

I WAS delighted to read that North Yorkshire County Council intends to support the Bikeability training schemes for school pupils “Cash to boost cycling” (D&S Times, Aug 6).

These training programmes provide a proven way to increase young rider's confidence and competence in their early days of cycling.

Regrettably, many young riders lose their initial enthusiasm to ride when confronted with the realities of riding on our public roads.

Unless and until adequate cycling infrastructure is built up across the whole county (and not just in our major urban locations) there will continue to be a massive fall-out rate of young riders who fail to progress to being regular adult cyclists. The same is even more true for girls and adult women.

Some time ago our Prime Minister proclaimed that his term in office would herald in "a golden age of cycling".

Where is the strategic planning for this at a county wide level? I would be sad to learn that this is yet another example of an avowal long on rhetoric but short on commitment, targeted resources and practical implementation.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

No confidence

YOUR piece on the belated efforts to register public rights of way at Hackfall Woods, 37 years after a request was made, hardly inspires confidence in the new, improved county council we are now promised. “Woodland footpaths set to be dismissed” (D&S Times, July 23).

Of course, Carl Les, the current North Yorkshire County Council leader, is keen to see this new arrangement as it will almost certainly guarantee the continuance of the one-party state that is North Yorkshire; all opposition eliminated at the stroke of local government secretary Robert Jenrick's pen.

To claim, as Mr Jenrick does, that the county will have a "credible geography" is laughable. Geography and the small size of the council tax/business rate paying community has ensured that the county council appears to be in a perpetual state of financial crisis.

While the option of city regions was considered under the 1971 reorganisation proposals (albeit as a minority report), this did not even figure this time round, no doubt because of party politics and sentimental attachment to anything with "Yorkshire" in the title.

Tony Robinson, Romanby, Northallerton.

Vote thanks

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to thank the voters of Richmond West Ward for their confidence in voting for me to represent them on Richmond Town Council.

I look forward to working with my council colleagues, be they party affiliated or not, for the benefit of Richmond residents.

Small businesses have really suffered during the pandemic, but one of the side effects last year was that more people shopped locally.

I hope that we will be able to continue to promote the benefits of shopping, eating and drinking locally to support these businesses, which face ongoing challenges as furlough comes to an end. Small businesses are at the heart of the community and we need to exploit opportunities to support them and help them thrive.

Cllr Paul Harrison (Lib Dem), Richmond.

Bad PR

AS a longstanding Liberal voter and one-time member of the Liberal Democrat party I have to say I was disgusted and appalled by the political literature "Focus on Richmond" put through my door recently by our "local Lib Dem team" Cllrs Philip Wicks, Clive World and Paul Harrison.

I was ashamed that three local members of a party I once loved could put their names to it.

Headlined "101 Damnations – dog owners' fury as Rishi rejects pet theft laws", it suggested that the local MP had set his heart against a new law making it a specific crime to steal a pet.

Intrigued, I did some very basic online research to discover that this assertion was a travesty of the truth.

What has actually happened is that a clause to do just that was proposed by the Labour Party as an amendment to the Police, Crime and Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament.

The clause was withdrawn when it became clear that the Government was drawing up its own legislation for a new offence of pet abduction, with greatly increased sentencing powers and chances of successful prosecutions.

It had also been pointed out to the Opposition that its amendment would have had the unintended consequence of cutting the maximum sentence a perpetrator of such a crime could be given. They sensibly withdrew it.

Ironically, when this was being debated in the committee stage of the Bill, no Liberal Democrat MP even made a contribution.

This "publication", if you can call it that, has done nothing but smear the reputations of the three individuals – one of whom (Clive World) I have previously respected for his good works around the town – and shown up the Liberal Democrats to be now completely devoid of any constructive ideas and desperate to make an impression – even if it means resorting to the sort of tabloid "journalism" most reasonable people abhor.

Paul Smeeth, Richmond.

Investigation call

AFTER the exposure of the David Cameron and Greensill Capital debacle, couldn’t the same type of investigation be carried out with the takeover of Sirius Minerals' Woodsmith mine by Anglo American?

Many, especially the smaller investors in the North-East had invested in Sirius Minerals, often with their life savings only to have it lost when production was in sight.

Surely we are entitled to some sort of explanation from the then Sirius chief executive Chris Fraser and others?

Without doubt we, the shareholders, were given false information with regards to funding, and were offered preference shares just six weeks before the takeover, which many of us supported.

At the time of the takeover by AAL, the CEO Mark Cutifani stated that the Woodsmith could be one of their most valuable assets. Could that be the reason for the huge AA gains since the takeover?

AA shares at that time were trading at around £13 per share and since that date have been over £34. Surely that huge price gain reflects the fact that we were cheated.

We also need to know why Sirius rejected the funding in the form of a bond which would have opened up to full funding to take the Woodsmith mine to full production.

Ron Pritchard, Harmby, Leyburn.

Parking fees

AFTER reading the report on Bedale Town Council’s meeting (D&S Times, Aug 13), I would suggest that the councillors named are out of touch if they believe that the car parking charges in Bedale are £1.20 for all day, when they are, in fact, £1.80.

Christine Redman, Leeming Bar.

Sporting excellence

WE, the self-deprecating British, have the bad habit of undervaluing our sporting achievements.

England came within a hair’s breadth of winning the Euros; and now Great Britain has excelled in the Olympics, finishing fourth in the international medals’ table.

This is a fantastic achievement when you compare the UK’s population of 68 million with those above us. The top spot was taken by the USA with 331 million; China came second with 1.4 billion; and Japan with 126 million, plus home advantage, took third place.

The British team’s gold medal tally (22) was more than double those of comparable European nations: France (ten), Germany (ten) and Italy (ten).

Hearty congratulations to all the competitors, coaches, funders and supporters. You’ve shown the world again the true Greatness that is Britain.

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

Afghanistan withdrawal

OUR presence in Afghanistan has been controversial for about 20 years, since Russia pulled their troops out of the country, and successive American presidents have promised to pull their forces out of the country.

This time US President Joe Biden set a time and all coalition troops were removed from the country leaving the Afghan army alone, giving a free hand to the Taliban who have swept across the country at lightning speed.

In a matter of just a few weeks, everything that we have been fighting for in the last 20 years has gone, the trillions of pounds spent is simply wasted.

Ultimately this was a political decision. I believe that senior American army generals objected but they were overruled. Here we and other coalition countries simply followed America’s leadership, we were their “lap dogs” and I doubt if our government discussed the implementation with the British Army.

Over a year ago I did write to my MP suggesting that we should be talking to the Taliban and we are talking to them in Doha but the outlook on life of those we are talking to is a world away from the outlook of the fighters on the ground.

Ultimately I believe that we will have a rogue state where terrorism will be nurtured and exported across the world. For the people in Afghanistan today they are terrified. The relative security of the past has gone and the future is unknown.

If we cannot tackle this problem in Afghanistan then we can forget tackling climate change.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Climate crisis

THE world has been given a dire warning. Last week, top scientists released a report describing the results of human actions since the Industrial Revolution

Climate change is happening now and unless we all change our behaviour the world is doomed. The warnings can no longer be denied or ignored, so everyone must make life changes. We need to examine every action as though with a magnifying class before beginning to make drastic changes.

For years, naturalists, such as Sir David Attenborough have cautiously offered hope, whilst drawing attention to the sufferings of the planet. Now we are told that some damage caused by climate change is irreversible.

Unless governments throughout the world act now, the situation will worsen. Our TV screens have recently been bombarded with sights of severe flooding causing death and destruction and in recent days we have seen catastrophic fires caused by extreme heat.

The time has come for every-one of us to reflect for the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations. We must all do something before it is too late. Many young people, including school children, take the warnings seriously. We need to listen to them.

Helen Robson, Harmby, Leyburn.

Holiday fun

THE Bowes Museum has done it again with another imaginative and entertaining holiday exhibition for younger people.

This time, Clara the rhinoceros goes on her travels round Europe and by following her footprints round the museum, the young explorer shares her adventures while filling in a booklet with stickers and answers to the cleverly-put questions.

There is fun and appeal for all levels from five to 12 years, with a mystery trail in the gardens for older children, or a gifted-story-teller and mask-making for the younger ones in the newly built outside classroom.

My grandchildren, having loved the Nick Sherratt experience and previous exhibitions, couldn’t wait for a return visit this holiday, and weren’t disappointed having found the details on the website. Great credit must go to the staff and volunteers who went to such trouble to mount this worthwhile opportunity, and we are lucky to have this gem of a museum on our doorstep.

R Connolly, Aldborough St. John.

Over population

WE are being inundated with climate change horror stories – and worthless promises from global politicians who don’t think beyond the next election.

It’s strange that absolutely no-one, including Extinction Rebellion, are prepared to mention global numbers being the cause of all other problems.

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.