Signal box

IN the interests of accuracy, may I be permitted to comment on the caption which accompanied the Hertford East/Leyburn station photographs “Historic signal box on its way to Wensleydale Railway” (D&S, Jan 28).

Originally there were two signal boxes at Leyburn, West and East. The former closed in 1936 with the latter, renamed simply Leyburn, taking over the entire signalling of the station area, surviving until the October 26, 1983, certainly not closing when the Northallerton-Hawes passenger service ceased, which was from April 26, 1954, not 1953.

Once the freight depot closed on May 31, 1982 there was no further need to retain Leyburn signal box, indeed it was surprising that it remained operational for another 17 months before its demise. Right until the end its two “Leyburn” nameboards had a white gap where “East” had been painted over.

The signal box at Hertford East, terminus of the ex-Great Eastern Railway branch from Broxbourne, with an ex Great Northern Railway connection to Hertford North, did indeed open in 1888. It closed on May 18, 2003, at the time possessing a 45 lever frame.

Charles Allenby, Malton.

Bus support

SHORTLY before Christmas, I wrote to 20 parish and town councils along the A684 route of the Sunday DalesBus 856 ie the four market towns of Northallerton, Bedale, Leyburn and Hawes, and all the parish councils and parish meetings on the route of this through (and all-year) bus service between Northallerton and Hawes/Gayle.

My letter asked for the support of these councils towards funding towards continuation of this remarkable bus service when the present generous funding from railway company LNER comes to an end in March. Inevitably, the differing frequencies of council meetings (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly and half-yearly) meant that responses would not all come in immediately.

It is my pleasure to report that Bedale was the first of the four town councils to respond, allocating £1,050 to the appeal – and also issuing a press release to help publicise the appeal’s message.

The parish council of the small dales village of Askrigg granted £100 towards continuation of the service, recognising that (although the 856 service does not run through Askrigg), residents and visitors walk (half an hour), drive or get lifts to join the service in Bainbridge.

Valid ENCT passes can be used for free travel on the 856 service, which runs all year on Sundays and Bank Holidays; the full timetable and information about DalesBus can be found on

Ruth Annison, Askrigg.

Child poverty

IN July 2021, I wrote asking if Kevin Hollinrake was serious about getting a better deal for children and if he could tell us his plans to address child poverty in his constituency. The evidence, six months later, is that children in Thirsk and Malton continue to be let down by Kevin Hollinrake and this Conservative Government.

The Trussell Trust’s most recent report shows that they have seen an 11 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels compared to the same period in 2019. Of 522 food parcels supplied by the three Trussell Trust foodbanks in Ryedale (April to September 2021) 155 were provided for children.

The Trussell Trust report states: “Alarmingly, families with children have been hit the hardest, with food parcels for children increasing at double the rate for adults.”

These figures do not show the impact of the ending of the £20 Universal Credit (UC) uplift in October 2021, for which Kevin Hollinrake voted. The Trussell Trust report commented: “We anticipate that the loss of the UC uplift will cause a sharp spike in demand from October onwards.” There are over 2,300 households with children in Thirsk & Malton claiming UC (December 2021) a figure which has increased since 2015.

So, Mr Hollinrake, I ask you again, are you serious about getting a better deal for the children in your constituency? If so, can you tell us your plans to address child poverty in Thirsk & Malton?

While the government continues to be distracted from their responsibilities, children in your constituency rely on foodbanks to have food to eat.

B A Southwell, Bagby, Thirsk.

‘Our’ BBC

THERE was a thought-provoking leader in the D&S recently “How impartial?” (January 21).

It came after Nadine Dorries, of Jungle Celebrity fame, made her announcement about the future of the BBC in a message on Twitter. It was an obvious distraction strategy to feed “red meat” to the media and supporters of the beleaguered Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

However, the minister for the dark arts has made it clear that the licence fee will go and will be replaced with ... something.

It has long been the aim of certain elements of the Conservative Party to dismantle the BBC. It started a long time ago when Margaret Thatcher insisted services had to be opened up to competition.

Look at the credits to see all the production companies that make programmes for BBC television and radio. Many people were dismayed when Bake Off moved to Channel 4, but the BBC did not make it and had no control over its move.

David Cameron’s clever political trick to claw-back funds from the BBC involved the government no longer paying for the highly-regarded World Service and the removal of funding for free licences in a flawed agreement over the licence fee settlement. This was a bad decision by the BBC’s board, but they were between a rock and a hard place.

It is surprising that many people believe the licence fee is for watching television. They quite forget that it covers all the radio stations, apps, podcasts, iPlayer and other services such as educational programmes.

I have enjoyed the BBC since the days of Muffin the Mule and I appreciated it even more during the Covid lockdowns. In particular, the broadcasts of Radio Three and Four and all the little gems on Radio Four Extra. It costs 43p a day. The Times newspaper costs £2.20, which is an interesting fact.

The sad aspect of the discussions about the BBC is that around the world it is admired and respected for its honesty and integrity. In this country, largely due to negative claims in the press and by politicians, it is portrayed as a decaying and wasteful organisation.

The BBC might need some reforms in its centenary year, but we must remember that it is ours. It does not belong to politicians – on the right or the left. It should not be used for political purposes. A solution to the licence fee situation must be found that preserves its special character. It should not be destroyed in an act of political revenge.

Terence Fleming, Guisborough.

Volcano rescue

WHETHER Boris Johnson survives partygate, or not, may well have been decided before this letter is published.

However, I believe that regulations around attending dying relatives and funerals during Covid lockdowns were illegal and morally wrong.

However, partygate did not put us at any increased peril and if Boris had not taken us out of European Medicines Agency, (Brexit) we could not have pulled off the miracle of mass vaccination achieved. Boris, despite his failings, “had a good Covid”.

The question now is, can the Conservatives survive in government with or without Boris? I say they can.

They must now put Conservative policies at the heart of Government. Energy security and affordability must be the priority.

Some scientists (not yet cancelled) now say that the Tonga volcano will pause/decrease global warming for a period of five to ten years. Thus, we can delay our zero carbon target from 2035 until, possibly, 2045. We must do so.

We can now do away with Labour’s green taxes (and VAT on fuel). We can start fracking. We can develop modular nuclear energy plants. We can stop wasting our money on solar panels (manufactured in China by slave labour).

We can even start mining coal again (if deemed necessary for proper energy supply security) and make our own steel and aluminium. Indeed, we can “level-up” and ensure our future energy security at the same time.

The “Blue Wall” Conservatives could be saved by a volcano. However, only if they adopt Conservative policies.

Even better news for the Conservatives and the world (but not for Italy) Mount Vesuvius is expected to erupt soon.

Alastair P G Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Double standards

THE USA takes the stance that the Ukraine, as a matter of democratic ideology should, as an independent country, be allowed to decide its own future, which alliances it is allowed to join, what military equipment it needs, from whom it acquires it, and where it could be deployed within its own country.

This of course is the exact opposite of the stance the USA took in 1963 when it prepared to take us into nuclear war to deny another independent country, namely Cuba, the same rights that it is now demanding for the Ukraine.

The USA also claims that it is Russian intransigence that is the current problem, even though the Russian stance is virtually that of the Americans in 1963.

You would therefore expect the Americans to have some sympathy with the Russians. As they do not, just who, and what, is actually driving the current American, and by default NATO’s, attitude?

I would suggest that a large part of the answer may well be in the American military arms industry.

Just a brief look at the increasing share prices of these companies shows how they benefit from potential conflicts.

Add to that recent disclosures about the millions of dollars that large companies in America spent on lobbying their political representatives for the sole purpose of influencing government policy and decisions.

What import to them of some proxy war in a far off land when set against profit, executive bonuses and shareholder dividends?

America itself is well protected from any conflict in the Ukraine. We on the other hand, particularly in the North East, are much more vulnerable.

Current and pending cost of living rises are already threatening to send many in this area into poverty. Disruption of energy supplies from Russia, particularly, but not solely, will again push those costs much higher as demand across Europe massively outstrips supply.

Who is waiting in the wings to sell us at least some of those energy needs at those massively increased prices, yes that’s right, America.

I would suggest that we, like the Germans, should adopt a much more considered approach.

We should not blindly follow the Americans’ confrontational stance when there is good reason to believe it is driven as much by a business ideology as any political one.

Look where that got the world the last time we did that.

John Hutchinson, Brompton on Swale.

Underground solution

AFTER all the damage and inconvenience caused to home owners and businesses after each and every storm, is it not time overhead power cables were replaced with underground cables to save this problem repeating itself constantly?

With modern machinery and technology it cannot be too difficult a problem and would save the power transmission companies a fortune.

CP Atkinson, Great Ayton.


WE heard on the news how the Highway Code has been adjusted for cyclists and horse riders, ie leaving them plenty of room whilst overtaking.

Can you tell me why cyclists and horse riders know immediately who the car drivers are due to registration plates, yet car drivers do not know who the cyclists/horse riders are – they could be anyone.

Doesn’t the public think the time has come for registration for cyclists/horse riders also?

Sue Frank, Castle Levington, Yarm.

Shared responsibility

NOW that cyclists have gained priority over road usage and pedestrians are able to stop cars at most junctions to cross, are the cost of road fund licences going to be reduced from motorists and shared with those on two wheels?

Maurice Henry, Darlington.