Village footpath

FOR years we have been contacting North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) footpath team regarding the maintenance of the footpath and whose responsibility it was to repair the dilapidated gates at both ends running alongside our house.

However they were not interested in addressing the issue so we contacted the parish council who again could not offer much support but at that time we did discuss replacing the gates and erecting a fence and no objection was made.

The fence was erected to determine a footpath for walkers and deter the hunt who have used it on more than one occasion and also vehicles driving down it following a family incident last year where our grandchildren witnessed their pet dog being run over and killed on a similar narrow footpath in the village. As you can imagine they were and still are traumatised by this event.

We felt the original article was one sided and gave the impression that we had blocked the footpath completely for the whole length of the lane, a total length of 1.5 miles.

In actual fact the fence did narrow the Public Right of Way but did not obstruct it and only for a length of 50 metres.

My husband and I are both keen walkers and appreciate the countryside around us so preserving this old right of way has always been our intention.

Since the fence was erected we have noticed a lot more walkers using it and have had several positive comments about its appearance.

Within weeks of erecting the fence we were served notice to remove it. This is ironic given we have been contacting NYCC for years previously with no response. We have tried to enter into dialogue with NYCC on several occasions. We recently contacted NYCC again to request clarification about the intended use of the footpath ie whether vehicular access is allowable, but again we are awaiting their response.

Reluctantly we have complied with the enforcement order and have had the fence removed so that the footpath is restored to its full width again. However we are very concerned about the stated intention by various parties to use the footpath going forward to access their land with their service vehicles given the damage this will cause to this ancient lane which was not built for modern vehicles. We are also very concerned about the significant safety risk this will impose on ourselves as residents and other walkers who walk their dogs along it.

The planning application which the article related to was inaccurately described as a kitchen extension. It was to extend very slightly the “outhouse” and a new roof, this would extend no further than the current porch which was erected in 1997 with full planning permission and approval from the Church.

We feel that views were distracted from the article around planning and it was used as an argument around the fence and footpath. The planning application has been withdrawn.

Diana and Kevin Foster, East Harlsey.

Rule breaking

I DO not claim to have any particular depth of knowledge regarding politics and usually read the pages of Comment and Opinion to hear about local issues.

Last week however it did not go unobserved that six out of the eleven letters to the editor were to voice public frustration at the unfairness that’s peaked recently following the Conservative Party’s lack of collective accountabilities regarding a range of issues.

Dr John Gibbins letter with his analogy of “Queen Borisa” to the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland evoked a wry smile as we – the public – have to tolerate headlines of double standards and sleaze by a Government that’s members’ and leader’s words and actions are seemingly devoid of all personal and collective consequence.

Through a time of unprecedented stress and worry, the actions and words of the people in charge have become meaningless, producing public disaffection and frustration through the process of a betrayal of trust.

When will this endless rule breaking be stopped and by whom and with what consequence?

S J Rolph Northallerton.

Jobs at risk

THE NHS has many infilled vacancies and 100,000 current staff are to be sacked because they are unvaccinated. As far as I know, all these staff wear protective clothing when necessary and are well trained.

Every weekend, several times the above number, with no checking or masks, ignore social distancing to watch their favourite sports.

As the pandemic appears to be on the wane, surely someone in authority has enough common sense to stop the NHS shooting itself in the foot.

I am not an anti-vaxxer and I have had all my jabs. Please can we have some logical thinking.

John Ashton, Richmond.

Fuel alternatives

WE are facing a serious rise in the cost of energy which in turn will produce a major rise in the cost of living. This should be seen as something that our Government could have allowed us to avoid.

For decades environmentalists have warned that the burning of fossil fuels and wood must be stopped and replaced by renewables.

Britain is so well placed to generate energy from wind, sun and tides, yet most of us are going to suffer from the lack of investment in these alternatives.

The Government cut financial support for all these renewables. They stopped wind turbines being developed on the land. They cut down the grants on solar panels. They would not agree to pay for electricity generate from tidal barrages.

They need to reverse these errors. Bringing in VAT reductions, awards and increased benefits are not long term solutions.

At the moment we have a chance of a private investment into a solar farm near Richmond, but the company has to battle for planning permission with no subsidies. People need to support a rapid move away from fossil and timber fuels.

Michael E. Chaloner, Green Party candidate for Bedale Ward in unitary council election.

Cook the explorer

RIGHTLY, there’s a growing demand for the return of the replica of Captain James Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, to Middlesbrough’s Cleveland Centre.

Unfortunately, it’s fashionable nowadays to present Cook as an imperialist who invaded Australia and other antipodean lands. How could he when he didn’t have an army? Nor did he command a man o’ war, for HMS Endeavour was a converted collier.

Cook’s expeditions were primarily scientific, with botanists and astronomers on board. His fame was not as a conqueror, but as an explorer, navigator and cartographer.

Cook treated both indigenous people and his own crew with respect, protecting the latter from scurvy by insisting they included sauerkraut in their otherwise unhealthy diet.

Yes, in 1770, he did name New South Wales and claim it for the Crown. But, it was virtually a wilderness and he did not take it by force of arms. His initiative marked the start of a new nation, Australia. Like Cook’s global circumnavigations, it should not only be remembered but celebrated. For years, the Endeavour replica was a sight to behold in the Cleveland Centre. May she berth again in her home port.

Steve Kay, Deputy Leader, Redcar & Cleveland Council.

Royal protection

THE Royal Family contribute to our country by representing Her Majesty, but even they have human failings, including Prince Andrew, who, in looking for contact with “ordinary” people, may have been ill-placed by casual association with questionable characters.

His advisors and the security services should have protected him, both against forces outside his control, and legal systems outside the UK; he was let down.

One should guard against condemning the Prince as this is a complicated legal issue.

English law and its language differ from that of the USA and the American legal system has no place in Britain, raising the question of fairness. There should be no victim-blaming but good law. No guilt has been established against him, nor should it be, as the UK age of consent is different from that of New York.

Parliament should introduce a system where the Royal Family are protected against actions by third parties, be they right or wrong, because the Royal Family hold a special and privileged position and any attack on them should be referred to the Lord Chancellor, who should take responsibility, with Parliament.

The damage to the Prince is disproportionate and this seems to be an abuse of process which goes to the core of our country.

Bernard Borman, Leyburn.

Conservative values

THE historic Conservative (and Unionist) Party stood for what its name implies, and whilst I often disagreed with them, I could respect their point of view. However, today’s party, effectively run by right-wing extremists, is a very different animal.

Brexit has ended our EU membership, which was after all arranged by a Conservative Prime Minister (Ted Heath) 50 years ago, and even Margaret Thatcher supported the creation of the Single Market, which we are now excluded from, at great cost to our prosperity.

And in pursuit of hardline Brexit, the Union with Scotland and Northern Ireland is now under real threat.

Moreover, whatever these inveterate liars may say, they now have their sights set on destroying two great British institutions, the NHS and the BBC, as we have always known them.

I suspect that many of the great Conservative Prime Ministers of the past, including Winston Churchill, must now be spinning in their graves.

The sooner the Conservative Party returns to its traditional values, the better for everyone.

Alan Jordan, Middridge.

Save our BBC

YORKSHIRE people will be dismayed by the announcement that the government plans to hit our local BBC television and radio services.

The proposed two-year freeze on licence payments would in effect be a fine of £285m on our national broadcaster, forcing it to cut back on programming. This would come on top of the real terms cut of 30 per cent made to BBC funding since 2010.

Many of our senior citizens can’t afford the pay channels that target a younger audience, so instead rely on the BBC for local countryside programmes and news. Since 1927 the BBC Charter commits it to “inform, educate and entertain”, and its freedom from commercial profiteering has enabled world-beating content: from the excellent CBBC to Bitesize Education, which supported 5.8m students during the pandemic, and quality wildlife documentaries by Sir David Attenborough. In fact, according to the National Audit Office the BBC is used by 90 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds every week.

Decisions over its funding should be an independent and transparent process and should not be made on ministerial whim to divert attention from the floundering Boris Johnson.

If you want to preserve the BBC’s range of excellent services then please write to your MP.

This act of vandalism must be stopped in its tracks.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton.