More mast woes

THE Bilsdale mast operators are considering offering to pay for a “dongle” for the probable more than 40,000 households in a “not spot” not covered by the temporary mast – but is this one step forward and three steps backward?

I have been able to get online to find out what these dongles can do. They seem to require a TV with the version of something called HDMI first introduced in November 2017 – and not widely fitted to new TVs until mid-2018. If your television is more than three and a half years old – it seems tough luck.

A second requirement is an internet connection – ideally with a signal strength of more than 15 MB. 15MB in the Dales is something many can only dream of.

Wait a minute though. If you have broadband you are 99 per cent likely to have a computer.

With a computer you can watch many TV programmes including BBC (but not Ceefax/red button) for free either on your computer or on your TV if both accept an HDMI cable.

If you have either slow broadband or no broadband – as is true for many elderly people – and cannot get a TV signal at home – then thinking a free dongle is a solution indicates a complete lack of understanding of the real world problems for many people caused by no signal availability.

Some say the performance so far of the mast operators Arqiva has not been fit for purpose. They could be right.

Len Shepherd, Leyburn.

Crossing danger

JAY-WALKERS in Northallerton are risking serious injury at the pedestrian crossing leading to Tesco car park on East Road, close to the former prison.

When traffic stops on red on East Road some pedestrians assume (wrongly) that it is immediately safe to cross. However traffic then comes from The Link road round the corner.

Unaware, some pedestrians fail to wait for the lights round the corner to turn red. Drivers from The Link should of course drive with appropriate care but it would only take one to knock down an unaware pedestrian stepping out in front of them.

The problem is that pedestrians cannot see vehicles waiting on The Link. Having a Puffin crossing near a junction compounds the risk. Puffin crossings lack the more obvious, Pelican style, red/green man showing clearly on the opposite side of the road.

Instead, pedestrians need to watch for a green light on a post. On the side opposite Tesco car park entrance and adjacent to the junction, the post is actually behind them.

Given that some seem to know better than the Puffin when it is safe to cross, I hope that you and your readers will support action to reduce pedestrian exposure to a crossing accident.

I have contacted North Yorkshire County Council. You can add you support at

NJL Gardener, Northallerton.

Town congestion

NOW that North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) Highways has cancelled the regulations that effectively banned through traffic from Northallerton High Street on the Wednesday and Saturday markets, with very little notice to all concerned, it’s worth noting that one of the reasons quoted for this action was the increase in traffic and subsequent congestion due to the relaxation in the Covid regulations.

If the NYCC Highways could be bothered to investigate further the reasons for congestion, they would find that it occurs in four main areas: the roundabout at the bottom of South Parade, the roundabout in Friarage Street that goes up Brompton Road, the pedestrian crossing at the junction of the High Street and Friarage Street and the roundabout at the junction of the High Street and Friarage Street.

The main reasons for congestion are inconsiderate drivers who block access and egress at these roundabouts, frightened they may lose their place and the heavy use of the pedestrian crossing, particularly at lunchtimes and school leaving times.

This is particularly galling as the NYCC Highways have been approached many times about the problems and dangers to pedestrians using this crossing over the years – their stock answer being the solution would be worse than the problem.

Surely, congestion would be eased if some drivers were more considerate to others. The roundabouts wouldn’t get blocked up and NYCC Highways can give some considerable thought to solving the problem of the pedestrian crossing rather than just saying “we’ve looked at this before and it can’t be fixed without making things worse”.

John Prest, Northallerton.


I READ with interest your article about Dr Barningham returning to Richmond School to talk about Antarctica, “Antarctica survey leader inspires future experts” (D&S Times, Oct 8).

It reminded me so much of my own experience many years ago when I was at school.

I attended a similar lecture that so enthused me, it turned into one of those life changing events as I too went to work for the British Antarctic Survey, measuring ozone in the days before robots. Perhaps someone from Richmond School will be similarly inspired.

Robin Harmar, Great Ayton.

Waste removal fees

I READ, with interest, your article “Warning to fly tippers” (D&S Times, Oct 15). It brought to mind my own recent experiences.

My granddaughter lives in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and needed three large items removed from her home. I booked this with the local council, who charged £10, which could include up to five separate items. No problem, two weeks later the council collected said items.

A couple of weeks later we had to purchase a new tumble dryer. I contacted our council to arrange removal of the old one and to my surprise, for up to five separate items, the cost was £47. Of course I had to make other arrangements.

Now I fully condemn any illegal tipping, especially in our beautiful countryside, however it makes me wonder which council has the best policy in their efforts to eradicate fly tipping.

Ken Parkinson, Hunton.

Development sites

FRANCES STONE has indeed had a short, sharp introduction to the local planning process regarding the large-scale application for a country store and hotel in Leyburn “Planning debacle” (D&S Times letters, Oct 15).

The democratic system is clearly undermined by the need to make a large profit. In this case it will be at the cost of a textbook example of a fine meadow, with dry stone walls and a long-established ecosystem. However, it isn't making money.

The worked-out quarry in Leyburn is clearly brownfield and it is out of sight; it would be the obvious solution.

I am unclear as to why this particular field must be developed – presumably it is the gateway for more infill housing – and more money-making.

I feel sorry for the objectors, who are happy to live in a small Dales town which has now clearly been designated as a tourist parking point.

However, why will tourists flock to see yet more urban sprawl, rather than a pretty Dales community?

Given the large amount of planned development eg at Scotch Corner and Colburn, both deliberately destroying green field sites for all future generations, and again simply to make money, may I suggest that Richmondshire District Council now formally re-names itself Richmondshire Urban District Council?

Susan Chipping, Catterick.

Early lockdown

THE Government delayed for several weeks before deciding the country should go into lockdown. My wife and I had been very concerned for a long time before then that we should be doing that. Two weeks before the Government eventually took its decision, my wife and I locked down.

It was not easy cutting ourselves off from friends and family like that, but it had been obvious it was the right decision from what had been happening abroad.

The Government denied that it had a policy of herd immunity, but it was clear from what several ministers had said that such was in their minds.

It is now confirmed in the Parliamentary report that the Government’s inaction cost many thousands of lives.

Was not this the Government putting money before saving lives?

Mervyn Wilmington, Harmby.

Climate threat

IN response to Alastair Welsh “Cancel culture” (D&S Times letters, Oct 15) I was not proposing that climate change deniers should be denied freedom of speech.

The editor of these august pages has given Mr Welsh and his one or two fellow travellers more than enough space to spread their defeatist and anti-science message. More than enough.

Ninety seven per cent of scientists say that anthropogenic climate change is a real and present threat. Ninety five per cent of us believe the scientists, and that rational response is confirmed by the evidence of global weather patterns even to those of us who are not scientists.

The comparison with the Flat Earth Society was a little unfortunate, for him: I am pretty sure that most of us would agree that it is the deniers who sound like flat earthers.

Similarly it is not just the Green Party, every serious political party, including the Conservative government, has for some time recognised the reality and seriousness of the threat to civilization and nature.

The climate crisis is certainly very difficult to face and it will probably take the equivalent of a war effort over several decades to meet the challenge.

At COP26 all the nations of the world are coming together to work out how humanity tackles this enormous challenge – and our local MP is a pivotal figure.

Much more serious than Mr Welsh and co, does Mr Sunak get it? Does he want to be the villain of the piece or the hero of the hour?

If unlike Mr Welsh you take climate change seriously and care about the future of your children and grandchildren, please write to Rishi Sunak House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or email to tell him, as your representative, to take urgent and effective action on climate change now.

RD Hildyard, Colburn.

Climate debate

R D HILDYARD asks whether climate change deniers should be given space to air their views, “Positive message” (D&S Times letters, Oct 8) but goes on to say "the views of citizens and voters on climate change do matter".

An old saying comes to mind "I may disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it".

I disagree with the views of climate change deniers, but giving space to people with whom we disagree should, and does, stimulate debate which is a positive thing as long as it does not descend into a slanging match.

As to whether their letters should appear so often, another saying comes to mind: "Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself."

G Cunningham, Ripon.

Plant changes

ALASTAIR WELSH is right to comment regarding the changes in plants affected by increased CO2 emissions “Cancel culture” (D&S Times letters, Oct 15).

The facts are there for all to see if we look. The University of Washington has recently carried out studies on the thickening of leaves in trees as CO2 emissions increase.

As a professor of atmospheric science and biology, Abigail Swann, the author of said report has my attention. She says because of that thickening, trees and plants have become less productive in the area of CO2 removal.

The global carbon sink or capture capability of those plants has decreased by a little over a phenomenal six billion tonnes per year.

Because of this thickening, global temperatures could rise by even more than predicted, estimated between 0.3 and 1.4 C on top of those temperature rises already feared through the burning of fossil fuels.

She goes on to say: “Plants are crucial modulators of their environment, without them, the earth’s atmosphere would not contain the oxygen we breathe.”

The D&S Times has a duty to publish opinion and facts both. Where facts are basis for that opinion, a truth exists.

Where however an opinion is formed and published for its own sake, without regard to the facts, a newspaper has failed in its duty to inform accurately.

As C.P. Scott, newspaper magnate, said in 1921: “Comments are free, facts are sacred.”

Richard Baker, Middleton One Row.

Brexit puzzle

I’M puzzled as to why Professor David Hunter feels disenfranchised following the Brexit referendum and even more so regarding his assertion of no clear decision “Disenfranchised” (D&S Times letters, Oct 8).

Was he denied a ballot paper, and how much clearer could the decision have been? More voted to leave than remain.

K Mungham, Potto.