Fair location

THE loss of the traditional Stokesley Show again this year should have given Stokesley Town Council an opportunity to discuss with the fair organiser its relocation onto the town's show field.

There is no reason why in future years this could not be organised which would then allow two distinctly separate events to take place, along with a revenue uplift for the Stokesley Show Committee.

As things stand yet again the residents, businesses and enterprises of Stokesley have to contend with the disruption, loss of business and revenue and loss of amenity whilst this fair quite unnecessarily dominates the town centre for one week.

Please, councillors, do the sensible thing and set about moving the fair from our town centre.

Alwyn Boulby, Stokesley.

Spare a thought

SO Helen Johnson and Ralph Windward enjoy Northallerton's traffic free

High Street on market days (D&S Times letters, Sept 10). Bully for them!

They might spare a thought for the less mobile elderly population who, with both the High Street bus stops out of action, must haul their shopping north to the stop near the church or negotiate the underpass at the south end to wait outside the library where there is neither seating nor shelter.

They might also think of those who approach Northallerton from Bedale or Thirsk either by car or bus on market days. On one recent Saturday the 54 bus took half and hour to travel the length of South Parade.

The buses run late or not at all and the drivers are upset and sometimes rude. Pedestrians experience increased pollution when we are supposed to be reducing it.

Shame on those who thought up the idea of putting four sets of traffic lights on the main north-south route through Northallerton.

Personally, I avoid visiting Northallerton on either a Wednesday or a Saturday.

Susan Latter, Scruton.

A military solution

REGARDING the disastrous fire at the Bilsdale TV mast, surely if the BBC/government treated this incident like a force majeure the Signals Platoon of the TA (Neasham Road, DL1) would have been immediately brought in and they would have the TV stations mast up and running within three days.

RS Johnson, Darlington.

Action needed

WITH yet another apology from Paul Donovan, CEO of Arqiva, regarding the problems at Bilsdale mast, it is small recompense for the lack of service for over four weeks with no real end in sight (D&S Times, Sept 10).

If affected households insist on a cash refund for their TV Licence or mount a group legal action for compensation from Arqiva, perhaps that would focus minds more and create a far greater sense of urgency to solve the problem.

When our public utilities and national infrastructure are owned by foreign companies, pension funds, and investment groups, is it too much to expect, in the 21st Century, a reliable and efficient service or is this to be the norm?

Platitudes wear thin after more than four weeks of lack of service and actions speak louder than words.

P Holmes, Barnard Castle.

Festival thanks

SOME of us were lucky enough to pick up a leaflet in August about the forthcoming Thirsk Hall Festival that ran from September 3 to 5.

Our original response was charitable – we wanted to support and encourage local arts initiatives. My view now is that the festival was a charitable gift to Thirsk and all who attended its events, on behalf of whom I wish to convey my thanks publicly.

Each event was very reasonably priced, well planned and presented, and exceptionally well situated around St Mary's Church, the Thirsk Hall Sculpture Park and Barns. The varied contributions, the melding of musical forms and worlds, provided something for every taste.

But the standout point was the quite exceptional quality of the performers and performances which brought audiences to their feet in admiration and thanks. The performances were exceptional but nobody will easily forget that of the choir and orchestra's performance of Bizet's Pearl Fishers Duet on Friday night.

My only plea is that the organisers, including Daisy and Zillah Bell, Benjamin and Emily Taylor and festival director Willoughby Gerrish, commit themselves to making this an annual event, and that other sponsors join Severfield Engineering with financial support to guarantee this – please.

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby.

Leading the way

ALASTAIR Welsh's last letter (D&S Times letters, Sept 10) contains a mix of climate change denialist irrelevances and misunderstood science.

It’s quite true that, as he says, the earth has experienced repeated cycles of warming and cooling, due to variations in solar activity, volcanic action, the effect of changes in the earth’s orbit and its attitude in relation to the sun (the so-called Milankovitch Orbital Cycles).

However, detailed investigations have confirmed that none of these factors is responsible for the recent dramatic rises in global temperatures.

These comprehensive studies also undermine the suggestion that rises in carbon dioxide (CO2) are a consequence and not a driver of climate change since no other cause of the recent temperature increases has been identified.

Furthermore, the observed global warming over recent decades equates closely with calculations of the expected increase due to the measured rise in man-made CO2 in the atmosphere.

Mr Welsh goes on to suggest that reducing CO2 levels will “condemn people to death” by starvation through a negative impact on food production. This is a travesty of the facts. Food production is affected by a wide range of physical conditions, including temperature, rainfall and length of growing season. In addition, the relative frequency of extreme conditions (for example the recent droughts in parts of the western USA and Australia) and the impact of pests and diseases (which tend to get worse as temperature increases) all have a bearing on the volume and reliability of agricultural output.

As one would expect, modelling these interlinked effects is complex and challenging but the forecast maps produced to date show a significant negative impact of rising temperatures on the food output of regions which support the majority of the world’s population, including South Asia, most of Africa and South America. The fact that agricultural output in Greenland might increase is hardly likely to compensate for increased risks of famine in India and Ethiopia.

Mr Welsh concludes with the familiar argument that action by the UK is pointless since other major emitters will not curb their carbon output. The answer to that is simple: we led the way in causing the climate crisis and it’s up to us to lead the way out of it. If we don’t, nobody else will.

Frank Broughton, Brompton-on-Swale.

A real crisis

ALISTAIR Welsh assures readers (D&S Times letters, Sept 10) that the climate scientists have got it wrong.

Increases in CO2 will help to green up the planet, so not only do we have nothing to worry about, but “cut C02 and you condemn people to death".

So, with COP26 hoping to set targets for reducing greenhouse gases, the world’s politicians are bent on killing us (and themselves). I don’t think very highly of them, but surely they are not quite so deranged?

Fortunately, our Government is more likely to listen to qualified scientists than Mr Welsh, who so far as I can discover has no relevant credentials.

The climate crisis is real and urgent. My fear is that the Government, while making at least some of the right noises, is doing far too little in practice to implement the necessary policies. The views of such as Mr Welsh would be dangerous were anyone in authority to take them seriously, but no-one can who has troubled to do their homework.

Rev Richard Bradshaw, Thirsk.

Driver shortages

MANY of your readers will have seen empty supermarket shelves, which are due, according to widespread reports, to a shortage of qualified applicants for jobs as lorry drivers. The same shortage is apparently threatening deliveries of ‘flu vaccines and other important supplies.

This has been caused, according to expert opinion, by the effects of Covid and Brexit. I am amazed that the Government has sat back and done nothing when the effects of both were predictable and could have been reduced by prompt action.

As the CBI’s director general is quoted as saying: “Standing firm and waiting for shortages to solve themselves is not the way to run an economy.” (Guardian, September 6). Instead of adopting an ultra-capitalist approach the Government should have trained more instructors and examiners, as well as reducing fees, and seems totally unwilling to grant short-term visas to drivers from Europe.

Paying people more to drive lorries may work in the long run but will push up food prices and in the interval VAT income is being lost and manufacturing jobs are being compromised.

John Harris, Richmond.

Mining debate

THE debate going on regarding the possible opening up of a new coal mine in Cumbria to service the steel industry should be carried out by experts in steel production.

The old arguments about creating new jobs for the area should be considered along with many other things like considering climate change.

I read that instead of using coking coal for steel production it could be possible to use hydrogen. If that is the case then it should be debated by all manner of experienced people.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Universal Credit

THIS month the Government will decide on whether or not to keep the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and our eyes will be on Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, to see if he supports that retention.

In October 2020 Kevin Hollinrake posted on his website that: “I have always been clear that we need to look after those in most need and that none of us want to see children go hungry”. Despite this assurance his record in his own constituency tells a different story.

In Ryedale alone, between April 2020 and March 2021, 942 food parcels were delivered to children (source Trussell Trust) and a total of 2,213 children now live in absolute poverty within his constituency, an increase of 365 since Mr Hollinrake became the MP in 2015. Added to this, a total of 6,417 of his constituents depend on Universal Credit, of whom an average of 38 per cent are actually in work. Despite these appalling figures within his own constituency, he has nevertheless voted 21 times in six years for measures that have reduced benefits for people both in and out of work.

In the UK the median income of the least fortunate has fallen by an average of 3.8 per cent each year since 2017. Mubin Haq, the chief executive of Standard Life Foundation, has said: “The rise in wealth for those at the bottom has been paltry even taking into account the £20 a week increase in universal credit payments to those on the lowest incomes. The announcement of the cut to UC risks further widening the wealth divide which ballooned during the pandemic.”

So, will Mr Hollinrake argue and vote to maintain the £20 uplift that is so important to so many? The signs are not encouraging. Two weeks ago he tweeted his approval for an article by Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) that argued that “it makes more economic sense to focus on a decent standard of living (absolute incomes) rather than comparing lowest and the highest earners (relative incomes)”.

Despite offering no definition of what a decent standard of living actually is, it is a convenient way of obscuring unpleasant facts. For instance, the fact that the wealthiest 100 people in the UK have as much money as the poorest 18 million people combined, according to the Equality Trust.

The questions to Mr Hollinrake are simple: will you voice your support for keeping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit; and will you go further and bring forward proposals to reverse the increase in child poverty that there has been in your constituency on your watch?

Mark White, Tollerton, communications officer, Thirsk and Malton Labour Party.

More development?

WALKING along the footpath by Darlington's Merrybent Community Wood I was surprised to see construction workers and machinery on the field alongside Baydale Beck.

I am hoping against hope that this is not the start of another sprawling housing estate, adding to the already seriously congested traffic on Cockerton roundabout and beyond.

Sadly, I am not alone in despairing at this turn of events. Everyone I met and talked to this morning felt the same, utterly helpless to change anything or have their voices heard.

This is how it always ends. First the incessant talking, then the silence, followed by the construction workers. But look on the bright side. Our loss is some developer’s gain.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Chapel praise

I TOO was surprised to read the criticism of the West Cemetery chapel in Darlington by Howard Smith (D&S Times letters, Aug 27).

I attended a funeral there recently and was very impressed with the wonderful Gothic building, designed by Darlington architect JP Pritchett in 1886-58 – so more than 160 years old.

Pritchett also designed the buildings at York cemetery 1836-7 and St. Andrews, Newcastle 1855-57. A very accomplished man.

The chapel is designated Grade II and has a wonderful atmosphere.

The day I visited I found it cool and calm, and very restful – a most appropriate place for an intimate family funeral.

I do hope when the new crematorium is completed at West Cemetery, the public will be given the choice as to which chapel to use – I have already made my decision.

K Devin, Darlington.