PCC election

I HAVE recently received my voting card for the by-election of a new Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire. What a waste of public money.

It has been estimated that the Northumbria PCC by-election in July 2019 cost nearly £2m with a turnout of less than 15 per cent – that is about £13 for every vote cast.

In terms of cost and turnout, the by-election for North Yorkshire will likely be a rerun of that in Northumbria, indeed if the weather is bad, as it well might be in late November, the turnout may be even lower and the cost even higher.

Why could this election not have been put on hold until the council elections in May?

Does this farce of an appointment not provide for a deputy to take over if the incumbent is indisposed? If not why not?

The post of PCC has only been in existence for less than ten years and here in the North East has been bedevilled with problems, so surely we could have managed without a PCC for a few months.

I never understood why the post had to be politicised in the first place. No doubt our seemingly increasingly corrupt political system will require an election to take place as soon as possible so that we maintain our full quota of politicians.

It will need to be a particularly fine November day for me to bestir myself to go and vote, however if I do will it be, to paraphrase Mark Twain, "a good walk spoilt".

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.

READ MORE: Who is standing in PCC by-election for North Yorkshire

Tax rises

UNDER plans recently announced by the government most of us will pay more tax from April 2022, but younger graduates, recently qualified nurses for example, will be particularly hard hit.

Like the rest of us they will pay more in National Insurance, but added to that the government want to lower the salary threshold at which they start to repay their student loan, in effect, changing the agreement they had signed up to when they took out the loan.

Currently repayment starts when earnings reach £27,295 per year, the proposal is to lower that threshold to £21,000.

That would mean that a recently qualified nurse would need to pay back as much as £400 extra each year from next year on student loan repayments alone, and it could take them the rest of their working life to clear the debt.

Remember the government only awarded them a three per cent pay rise this year – the increased loan payments and the increase in National Insurance mean that increase will be lost at a time when living costs are spiralling.

The proposed changes are neither progressive nor are they fair. They hit the youngest and least able to pay in our society while the highest earners, or those able to draw upon the bank of mum and dad to clear their student loan, will be debt free in just a few years having paid back far less.

When the opportunity arises, I urge our MP Kevin Hollinrake to support his hard-working constituents and oppose these unfair proposals.

Professor Graham Scott, Hunmanby.

Grinding down?

AS it is the season for screeching u-turns perhaps our member of parliament would like to take the opportunity afforded by his government’s reversal of policies on sewage pollution and lobbyist MPs to execute his own handbrake turn on Universal Credit?

When Kevin Hollinrake gave his impassioned justification of the righteousness of taking £20 from the poorest families, he may have been banking on Rishi Sunak to restore social justice through his Autumn Budget. It was rumoured that he would, in the interests of levelling up. But when the dust settled on the Budget, after the jolly scenes in parliament and Tory celebrations in Westminster pubs, it was revealed that the rescue was a sham.

Respected independent researchers at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Resolution Foundation calculated the net effect of inflation and all the government changes affecting those on Universal Credit. They found that of those in work three quarters were still worse off than if Universal Credit had not been cut. Those not in work were not helped at all by Mr Sunak’s jiggery pokery and remain £1,040 worse off each year.

In Thirsk and Malton therefore the 3,500 households on Universal Credit and not in work will now take the full £1,040 hit to their annual income, while 2,250 of those households in work but on Universal Credit due to low pay will also be worse off.

The government advice seems to be, don’t ask us to run the economy fairly, get a better job. A variant of blame the victim. Norman Tebbit will be proud.

Now that the figures have been clarified, Mr Hollinrake has a chance to point to the real problem. Universal Credit is simply set too low to prevent grinding poverty, Covid or no Covid. So what is he for? Levelling up or grinding down?

I think the solution is to raise benefits to adequate levels comparable with equivalent Western European democracies. What does he think?

Mick Johnston, Ebberston, Ryedale.

Council protests

I SYMPATHISE with “name supplied” from Kirkby-in Cleveland and their “Hedge horror” (D&S Times letters, Nov 12). Do you remember four years ago when the council in Sheffield were cutting down mature trees that lined the streets despite local protests. After a year this was put on hold, surely you could not do that today?

I despair at the business acumen of senior managers in my council and the fact that elected councillors and MPs are not able (willing) to challenge their work.

Some years ago the D&S Times reported of a “fiasco” at the upgrading of some council properties, this was because asbestos had not been identified as being present before the contract was signed. In the council’s detailed review the manager said “it is often better to see if asbestos is present while the work is ongoing” and no elected councillor or MP challenged the incompetence of that remark.

In my village, a boundary had to be defined for an extension to a graveyard. I thought that the council would have explored all possible ways of carrying out the work, but no, we have a stone and cement wall.

We could have had a hedge with fruit and a haven for wildlife. How can we vote for councillors that have not the imagination to do their bit for climate change?

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Oil heating

YOUR correspondent AJ Gobbi correctly points out that the government’s “Net Zero Strategy” will make the replacement of domestic oil boilers illegal from 2026 (D&S Times letters, Nov 12).

This will leave a large number of householders in this area with only two options when they need to replace their boiler.

Rather than a cost of about £2,500 to replace their boiler, they can either move to all electric heating, at a minimum cost of £7,000, or install a heat pump, with improved insulation and larger radiators at a cost, which is likely to be at least £30,000, with a questionable ability to achieve the required room temperatures.

The Government’s strategy suggests the installation of 11 million heat pumps by 2035, which will involve households in a minimum expenditure of £330bn pounds.

Clearly such a strategy requires a proper and systematic examination of installation and operating costs and the heating effectiveness of both types of heat pump.

There are now more than 250,000 such installations, and so a properly sampled survey of costs and effectiveness for different types and ages of houses, could readily be carried out, based on past experience and a reasonable estimation of technical improvement.

One would assume that such an examination has been carried out, with the financial aspects confirmed by the Treasury, before proposing such a major change.

In the interests of openness and gaining public support, I have asked my local MP, who happens to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to arrange for the results to be published.

It would also seem sensible to give wider publicity to the change which users of oil boilers will face from 2026.

I await the response with great interest.

Ian Murdoch, Welbury, Northallerton.

Sea life mystery

I WOULD like to add my theory to why all the dead sea life were washed up on Redcar, Seaton and Hartlepool beaches recently.

It seems strange that these shores were all in the proximity of the former Redcar steelworks.

Could it be that due to the steelworks being demolished, that the stagnant toxic waste and water has been released from the disturbed ground, thus leaking into the sea?

If this disaster had been caused by a virus it would have affected crabs etc all around the coast of Britain not only the local beaches nearest to the steelworks.

M Lockey, Stockton.

Middleton memories

I WOULD like to thank you for printing the article “Chance to go back in time” (D&S Times Co Durham edition, Nov 12) about Middleton St. George fish and chip shop.

I was born there in 1941 and my parents ran a shop near the Fighting Cocks.

My dad was on the council for several years and my grandparents and family members lived there and some still do, so it brought back so many memories for me.

My dearest wish is to one day go back and see the village as it is now.

I do get snippets of information from the man who comes to run our Wednesday Post Office, he is from Middleton St. George, but only if he has a quiet moment.

Dulcie Farmer (nee Race), Catterick Village.

Climate culprits

THE recent COP26 event in Glasgow has produced the unsurprising gaggle of scientifically illiterate speakers, for example John Kerry of the USA.

All they speak about is fossil fuels as the only culprit to climate change. No mention of the huge volcanoes (four in the past decade) as well as the undersea volcanoes which spew out more greenhouse gases in one day than humanity can spew out in 20 years.

Meanwhile, in his letter (D&S Times letters, Nov 12) Frank Broughton calls anyone who disagrees that climate change is purely man made as a "denier". I pose two questions: 1. How has the planet suffered 11 ice ages in the last 4.6bn years?

2. How were coal seams formed from vegetation over billions of years? In the North East coal pits would mine coal in seams from three feet to five feet thick. Each seam would be typically at a depth of 300 to 600 feet apart.

The answer to these questions is climate change.

In the same D&S edition an excellent letter was submitted by David Race “Sustainable living” quoting population growth as the main threat to the planet.

Mr Race is absolutely correct – he should have been addressing COP26. More people means more food, water and energy is required, another fact which cannot be disputed by the climate fanatics. Not to mention more people means more plastic rubbish ends up choking our oceans. But was population explosion mentioned in Glasgow? No.

Mr Broughton also seems to have a naive belief that the kids protesting in Glasgow will save the planet.

How many of them will be studying A level maths, physics or chemistry? Don't hold your breath. More like media studies, health and beauty, sports and leisure, and travel and tourism.

They need to get their heads out of the mud.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.

Refugee crisis

THE hardships of the refugees camped on the Polish-Belarusian border is hurtful, the more so because we can all see it happening on TV.

Yet nothing is done because each party is looking at the other side to give in.

The EU does not want refugees. The UK does not want refugees.

No-one wants refugees because they will cause the standard of living to decrease. That is the fear anyway.

However, by keeping the refugees out, the standard of life does go down.

The standard of living of anybody is not just material wealth, it is also moral wealth. If you hoard your material wealth you lose your moral wealth. You are better off but less of a person.

If our prime minister wants to be a leader in the world and wants others to follow him, he should offer to bring the migrants to the UK. It’s a great opportunity for our prime minister and our country to be great.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.