Litter angels

I AM writing to say a heartfelt thank you to the couple who were picking up litter from the roadside close to Exelby Services, Coneygarth, near Bedale, last weekend.

They had amazingly filled a number of bags with paper cups, cans and bottles; the rubbish that drivers or their passengers had thrown from their vehicles. I find it hard to believe that they feel it is acceptable to throw rubbish onto the roadside.

It would appear that customers of the services have a lot to answer for.

Pauline Hopkins, Crakehall, Bedale.

Industrial waste

I AM sure that after Storm Arwen everybody was appreciative of the efforts made by Northern Powergrid engineers working in extremely difficult conditions to reconnect power supplies.

However, I do wish that they had cleaned up after themselves. On Station Road in Great Ayton, a temporary generator with fuel tank was lifted over a field wall and connected to twin overhead lines. When the equipment was removed a large roll of heavy duty black plastic with the words "Northern Powergrid Caution cables below" was left in the grass.

Also on Little Ayton Lane, two support cables were fitted to a wooden pole in a field. After this job was completed a length of what appears to be stainless steel cable and some industrial fittings were left in a field on the roadside. Obviously these are a danger to both farm animals and wildlife. There is enough problem with fly-tipping without companies adding to it.

I have tried to contact Northern Powergrid but they do not have an email address on their website and when I rang the 0800 number it was the same message each time. The recorded message said sorry we cannot answer at the moment as we are out repairing damage.

CP Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Elections Bill

AS a voter, I know that the way I can hold those in power to account is by casting my vote in elections.

That’s why free and fair elections are so important.

I find it remarkable then that the current Government is driving through new laws that will make our elections less free and less fair.

The Elections Bill will let the Government itself set the priorities for the independent elections watchdog that polices our elections. It’s the equivalent of one manager in a football match getting to instruct the referee on what to focus on.

It doesn’t stop there. It introduces a devastatingly expensive (up to £180m over ten years) and wholly unnecessary requirement for voters to produce photo identity documents at polling stations. It is estimated that this will lead to at least a million eligible voters being turned away from polling stations at the next election.

This comes just weeks after dozens of Conservative MPs were telling us: “We do not want a society where we ask for papers and deprive people of their liberty."

The Elections Bill threatens our liberty and democracy. I urge local people to write to our MP to ask them to oppose it.

Kevin Branigan, Richmond.

A year of shame

THE year of 2021 was special for Richmond. In 1071 it was the birth of Richmond castle.

Of course the 950th events were just a ruse to stimulate tourism, but it could easily have been a celebration of the theft of Britain. The North of England had just endured its worst ever bloodbath.

By today’s standards, what had occurred was genocide and a huge portion of the people who lived here were slaughtered, starved or sent into hiding – 2021 was a year of shame.

It was also the year that the fate of Richmondshire’s council was decided. Our current government are planning to repeat the theft committed by their predecessors. Of course mass slaughter is no longer permissible but the crime is the same. We have suffered years of attrition and 2021 is again a year of shame.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Common people

IT seems that Downing Street were having a merry time while the rest of us were abiding by the difficult lock-down rules. Disappointing, but perhaps not surprising. Our outdated election system, aided by the relatively ineffectual opposition of the Labour Party, meant that we the people elected a great swathe of Tory MPs led by a bunch of old Etonians. Maybe public school boys think that the rules are just for the common people?

Richard Short, Great Ayton.

Queen of Hearts

EXPERIENCING Conservative Party defences from multiple accusations of ineptitude and amorality, on multiple fronts, reminds me of Alice's encounter with the Queen of Hearts.

Here the over-entitled ruler holds her sycophantic followers in paralysis, while uttering inanities, gibberish, stuff and nonsense.

Claims without veracity, promises intended not to be kept. Words mean only what the Queen means, not what the rules and conventions of grammar dictate, and even more confusingly, the use of words ceases to attach to the actions and purposes they entail.

In this surreal world, Queen Borisa admits responsibility, but doesn't do what admitting that entails. Sir Thomas Dugdale, 1st Baron Crathorne, could enlighten our PM of what is implied by accepting ministerial responsibility for catastrophic errors, including the current reckoning – misleading and insulting the Queen and Parliament. Sir Thomas did the honourable thing and resigned.

Taking responsibility is not a description, it involves taking the punishment for failure. But shame, guilt and resignation presume the adherent has a sense of honour.

Alongside ministerial responsibility, in our British constitution, is collective responsibility, which means that catastrophic failures in words and deeds by a Government should be followed by collective resignation.

Conservative Party voters, members, MPs and ministers like Liz Truss, recommend we voters will act like the Queen's consorts and leave things as they are.

These parties have all known about the Prime Minister’s character deficiencies, they know that he feels himself above the rules of decency and the law, they have factored in all of the failings now open before them, but powered him on nonetheless.

They are collectively responsible, fully implicated, fellow travellers, unless they convince us that he duped them, in which case they are extremely naive.

If the British constitution means anything then this Government should resign now for its collective failures and call a general election, which will then be a judgement also of the British electorate's ability to decide if words mean what they say or what Government spokesmen say they mean.

There should be consequences to actions, otherwise "accepting responsibility" means nothing.

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby, Thirsk.

Inquiry delays

ALL political parties would describe themselves as a “broad church,” but it would be impossible for anyone to believe in all the ideals of any political party.

That is why the Conservative Party was in such a turmoil in delivering Brexit until they choose Boris Johnson as their leader and he surrounded himself with ministers that only believed in his vision.

In the past weeks we have heard of the cheese and wine party, the Friday night parties, the leaving parties and the Christmas party all held in Downing Street while we the general public were trying our best to maintain the social distancing that the government told us was the “right thing to do”.

After the party which Mr Johnson attended for 25 minutes, he said he thought they were working, and if he had known that it was a party he would have sent them away. My question is, why have two rules, one for work and another for pleasure?

I am a great follower of snooker where the matches have a referee, but it is usually the snooker players themselves that declare that they have fouled. The Government, on the other hand, drag everything out with their infernal inquiries. The Grenfell inquiry is now coming up to five years and still going strong. I wonder how much that is costing?

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Sleaze in politics

SENIOR civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating the alleged parties at No 10 at the height of the 2020 lockdown, works for Boris Johnson and reports directly to him. He has to approve or reject her report.

There is not a hope in hell that Ms Gray will tell her boss he has broken the rules, effectively ending both their careers. Let him off the hook, as she undoubtedly will, and she will be rewarded with honours, a seat in the Lords, and prestigious, lucrative future jobs.

The Tory party and the Tory press will trumpet that the PM and his pals have “done no wrong”. This will be the party line, and all Tory MPs and candidates will have to comply or be deselected.

Any honest Tory will have to leave the party or give up all hope of public office. This is exactly analogous to what is happening in the USA where all hopeful Republican candidates must subscribe to the falsehood that Donald Trump “won” the 2020 election or be rejected. As with the UK Tories, the Republicans have chosen to keep a liar and a charlatan as their leader because he wins elections.

Thanks to the Tories, sleaze has now become an integral part of British politics.

Cllr Chris Foote-Wood, Barnard Castle.

Expert knowledge

"IT is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred" – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), AR6 WG1.

Trevor Nicholson “Climate debate” (D&S Times letters, Dec 24) has responded to our earlier letter “Scientific research” (D&S Times letters, Dec 3) using his apparently standard approach by stating that we have neither the scientific nor mathematical knowledge.

While we have taken the time to become scientifically literate, as we previously stated we quote scientists who have the expert knowledge. Mr Nicholson then goes on to dismiss scientists by saying that those who do not agree with his assessment of the importance of volcanoes to climate change, or we assume any opinion that he holds, are only interested in their "five minutes of fame".

We politely ask that Mr Nicholson, before questioning the ability and knowledge of others, provides some information on his own scientific knowledge and background.

He continues to insist, at some length, that volcanoes have a significant impact upon the climate. The IPCC AR6 WG1 states that "the average magnitude and variability of volcanic aerosols since 1990 has not been unusual compared to at least the last 2,500 years". So it is clear that it is not volcanoes that are responsible for the recent climate change despite Mr Nicholson's protestations to the contrary. To be very clear, he would have to show that there has been more volcanic action over the past century than in previous millennia.

However, we must not forget that sporadic large volcanic eruptions can lead to temporary drops in global surface temperatures lasting two to five years. The most recent such eruption was Mount Pinatubo in 1991 (IPCC AR6 WG1) and historically Mount Tambora in 1815 which resulted in 1816 being called "the year without a summer".

Excellent sources of climate change information can be found online at Carbon Brief, Skeptical Science, and the online magazine, The Conversation. The New Scientist regularly has articles about global warming and the online version is free through some libraries. As mentioned by others, NASA is an excellent source of information. The Met Office also provides informative reports.

The IPCC's sixth report is a heavy read and includes many specialist scientific subjects. If you have a spare three hours then an organisation called Climate Fresk has developed a collaborative process where small groups learn about climate science to understand how everything fits together. Climate Action Stokesley and Villages would be very happy to facilitate Climate Fresk activities.

Bridget Holmstrom, on behalf of Climate Action Stokesley and Villages.

Coastline pollution

I WONDER whether it has been considered that the serious flooding problems in Germany and Belgium last year could be the cause of recent problems on the North East coast in the form of masses of dead crustaceans washed up and dogs becoming ill after walking on the beaches?

I suggest this because the exceptionally flooding must have drained a great deal of pollution in the form of both raw sewerage and chemicals, agricultural and industrial, into the North Sea which could have gradually spread to the UK coast.

John Watson, Darlington.

Donation given

A MESSAGE to the editor and staff in respect of the letter you kindly printed “Way to be knighted” (D&S Times, Jan 14). Last week I sent a donation of £100 (cheque) to The Friends of the Friarage to be added to their funds for the Friarage Hospital.

Trevor Mason, Swainby.