Bridge to nowhere

THE decision of Hambleton Council’s Planning Committee to approve the consolidated scheme to improve Stokesley Levenside, presented by Stokesley Town Council, reflects a lack of detailed consideration by that committee to some of its individual elements (D&S Times, Dec 24).

When drawing up the scheme, Stokesley Town Council staged an exhibition seeking comments from its residents, and others, and it is now abundantly clear many of those comments have been swept aside so the council may fulfil its wishes, ignoring those of its residents.

I have not been alone in objecting to the ludicrous proposal to replace one of two surviving historic and often used plank bridges crossing the river and which, on the north side, leads to an exit by public right of way.

This passageway is narrower than the bridge itself. The absurd argument put forward by Councillor David Oxley and his supporters that this bridge is a Health and Safety hazard is utterly fatuous and ludicrous. I would be obliged if he would treat the residents who put him onto our council with a modicum of intelligence.

There is no evidence of accidents at the bridge and I submit the council chairman, a lifelong Stokesley resident, could verify this. Perhaps the occasional “feet wet”, however this plank bridge is a historic and light hearted asset enjoyed by visitors to our town. (Did I read somewhere this scheme is about encouraging visitors?) Put simply, you are wasting money.

I urge Stokesley residents to join me in attempting to make our town councillors see reason and leave this plank bridge undisturbed. The logical question ultimately has to be why is only one of our two plank bridges in question?

The opportunity must also be taken – and immediately – to determine the origin of the £300,000 cost of the entire project. Where has this colossal estimated sum originated and given current financial constraints, who will provide funding?

Alwyn Boulby, Stokesley.

April Fool

I KNOW that it was unseasonably mild on New Year’s Eve, but after reading Harold Mackenley’s letter “Stick with the PM” (D&S Times letters, Dec 31) I imagined that it was April 1.

Must we continue to treat Boris Johnson as an overgrown, naughty schoolboy? As far back as April 1982, a teacher at Eton wrote in a letter to his father: “I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.”

That was a serious warning for a parent. Here was a young man who thought that rules and promises were like pie-crusts – made to be broken. Of course, the warning went unheeded.

Detention or any punishment at school is only useful, Mr Mackenley, if it prompts a change in behaviour. Our Prime Minister has never learned to modify his behaviour. Max Hastings, his former newspaper editor wrote: “Johnson would not recognise truth, whether about his private or political life, if confronted by it in an identity parade.”

The lies, far too many to be itemised here, have continued throughout his private and public life. The problem has been the lack of consequence. For, despite his lies, Mr Johnson continued to prosper. Sacked from one newspaper job, for making up stories, did not prevent him from making a move to another newspaper – until he was sacked again. No lesson learned.

Former Prime Minister, Michael Howard, dismissed Mr Johnson from the cabinet for lying. Was this a surprise to his former teachers, employers or even his family? Probably not – and again no life-lesson was learned.

About the same time, a myth began and it grew and grew. It was the “Boris phenomenon”. His supporters saw in him a clown prince who had a strange bouncy, bumbling charisma. He had become a first-name celebrity.

The Conservatives did not elect him to high office for his decency, honesty and wisdom. Nor, when he became Prime Minister, has he surrounded himself with the great and the good from his party.

Mr Johnson became a darling of the Conservative right for one reason and that was Brexit; the reward for achieving that goal was a huge majority in Parliament. Were the people lied to? Has he kept his promises? Does a leopard change its spots?

I would like my Prime Minister to be the envy of the world. Someone that other countries respect for their serious intent, reliability and honesty. Is that too much to ask?

Terence Fleming, Guisborough.


READING the letter from Harold Mackenley “Stick with the PM” (D&S Times letters, Dec 31) forced me to check that the date was not April 1. To have Boris Johnson described as a “very good PM” is beyond belief.

A man sacked at least twice for lying, once from the government for lying over an affair, once for making up newspaper articles.

A man who refused to discipline another over bullying of a civil servant, which caused the resignation of a top civil servant in protest.

A man who tried to bend the rules over the Owen Paterson lobbying controversy or tried to prorogue parliament involving the Queen which was shown to be illegal.

One could add the illegal lockdown parties in Downing Street, or the mysterious wriggling over who was paying for the redecoration of his flat.

Is this not enough to deny him the right to be described as a “very good PM”.

Most other commentators describe him as one of the worst.

Eric Gendle, Middlesbrough.

20’s Plenty

THE Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party is firmly committed to supporting campaigns and policies that have positive impacts on the health, safety and environmental welfare of our neighbourhoods for the benefit of all who reside in Thirsk and Malton.

We fully support the nationwide 20’s Plenty campaign which seeks for speed limits of 20mph to be the norm on residential streets and in town and village centres where people and children live, work and play. Globally, the World Health Organisation and United Nations endorse the adoption of 20mph default limit as best practice.

Lower limits saves lives so it is no surprise that regionally the adoption of a 20mph default limit, in areas where people mix with vehicles, has been supported so far by 56 North Yorkshire parish councils.

Nationally, according to a report from the Department for Transport, surveys have shown over 70 per cent of the public are in favour of 20mph limits in residential areas. Increasing numbers of people in the UK now live in authorities with default 20mph policies.

Despite this widespread support and implementation of a 20mph default limit in other parts of our country, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is about to reject a general 20mph limit in our towns and villages at a meeting of its Executive Committee on January 11.

It is of great concern that this knee jerk rejection of a beneficial and progressive policy is being done without proper evaluation of existing schemes in other areas or full public consultation and in conflict with representations made by many parish councils.

We call upon NYCC to reconsider, listen to its residents and follow best practice as other local authorities have done. We encourage residents across the constituency to contact NYCC calling on them to support a 20mph default speed limit in towns and villages. Residents can also ask their local parish or town councils to support this campaign.

For more information about the 20’s Plenty for North Yorkshire Campaign contact

Mick Johnston, Rachel Henley, Alan Avery, Jill Wells, Graham Scott, David Yellen, on behalf of Thirsk & Malton Labour Party.

New Year resolutions

AT the pre-Christmas concert by the East Witton Male Voice Choir in the Leyburn Methodist Chapel, I was asked by our director of music, Diana Hartley, to read out a list of things to do at Christmastide.

Now that we are in 2022, I realize that such a Christmas list also makes a fine target for New Year resolutions. Just alter the word Christmas to New Year.

This New Year:

Mend a quarrel: seek out a forgotten friend.

Write a love letter: share some treasure.

Give a soft answer: encourage youth.

Keep a promise: find the time.

Forgive an enemy: listen!

Apologise if you were wrong: think first of someone else.

Be kind and gentle: laugh a little.

Laugh a little more: express your gratitude.

Gladden the heart of a child: take pleasure in the beauty and the wonder of the Earth.

Speak your love: and speak it again.

If you should manage to obey all 20 commands, then you will surely qualify for “canonisation”.

Donovan Leaman, Leyburn.

Well deserved

CONGRATULATIONS to Mr Viva, the well-known and well respected Middlesbrough plastic surgeon who has been honoured by the Queen in the New Year Honours list.

People like Mr Viva only come round once as they say and there must be thousands of people far and wide who are indebted to him, and whose lives have changed for the better because of him.

I met him only once, having met his late mother in India when she gave me her homemade sweets to bring home for him.

It’s such a pity he has to be on the same list as Tony Blair, a man who took this country into an illegal war in which many of our men and boys lost their lives or where maimed for life.

Mr Viva was once an immigrant from India, how lucky we are that he chose to come here and stay here.

Councillor Joan McTigue (Ind), Longlands and Beechwood, Middlesbrough.

Donation thanks

WE would like to publicly thank the Darlington Hippodrome Theatre for collecting on our behalf after the Cinderella Pantomime.

Theatre goers have been very generous and they raised £969.10 for us.

This comes directly to Darlington Samaritans and helps us to keep going, pay our overheads and help other people.

With our volunteers help, through grants and the publics generosity, we have managed to carry on during the challenges of Covid.

With much appreciation to all concerned. Happy New Year.

Lillian Howell, on behalf of Darlington Samaritans.

Prescription plan

THE Government is considering a plan which will increase the cost of living for the more mature ill, and that is to raise the age at which NHS prescriptions are dispensed without charge, from 60 to age 66.

Thus will 4.4m patients find themselves paying the £9.35 for each item on a prescription which now they receive freely.

There is of course a logic about this, relating it to when the payment of OAPs start, but it must be understood that this can only be applied to England, as all NHS prescription medicines are provided in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to all, free of any fee.

The devolved governments can afford to provide this very costly benefit, but only because of the iniquitous Barnett Formula which heaps them shovels full of nationally collected monies, by far and away most of which is provided by English tax payers, who thus subsidise a huge advantage of living elsewhere in the UK.

The Barnett Formula is given very little mention indeed by any government, because to do so would demonstrate to the English just how financially badly they are treated by it.

Scotland also provides free care in residential homes, and free university education, which is heavily subsidised in Wales and Northern Ireland, English students alone who attend a university pay £9,250 a year for the privilege.

It is glaringly obvious that the mechanics of the wretched formula are deeply flawed, and even its originator declared in retrospect that it was being mis-applied.

Why are governments allowed to continue with it? Because the English, in general, are ignorant of its financial consequences for them, and to enamour governments to appeal to the Celtic nations, rather like a sugar daddy?

Bobby Meynell, Stockton.

Blair’s legacy

NO sir for Tony Blair. This man was the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had.

He took us to war and has blood on his hands. For his mates in the EU he opened up our borders to all but had no plans on how we would accommodate the new intake.

He left us in a financial state that we still today are trying to overcome. He had no respect for our royalty, and when things went wrong he upped and ran and left his accomplice Gordon Brown to the carry the can.

He tries to interfere with the government running the country but thankfully nobody seems to take notice of him. The best place for him is the Tower of London and leave him there.

John Armstrong, Newton Aycliffe.

Sir Tony?

TONY Blair a knighthood? Really? The past obviously forgotten. His wife wouldn’t even courtesy to our Queen. Let’s see if they both turn up at the palace.

Mrs Lishman, Bishop Auckland.