Filling potholes

I WRITE in response to your article “Claims county is region’s worst for fixing potholes” (D&S Times, Feb 4).

Using data from the “Fill That Hole” website, you reported that only 21 per cent of defects reported on North Yorkshire County Council roads had been repaired. This is far from the reality.

Our reporting system shows that from January 1, 2021 up to now, we received 6,576 reports of defects on roads or pavements across the county’s network of 5,800 miles of road, one of the longest in England.

Of these, 6,079 have been repaired – that’s about 92.5 per cent – and a further 334 are due to be completed. That leaves just 163 – less than 2.5 per cent – to be addressed.

Figures for previous years reveal a similar, consistent picture.

“Fill That Hole” relies on someone emailing the website to tell them that a defect has been repaired. We have our own reporting system, through which we notify the person who made the report when the defect has been addressed.

We do not notify Fill That Hole, as that would duplicate work.

We place the highest priority on providing safe, reliable roads for residents, businesses and visitors across our county. Our highways teams, who have the local knowledge afforded by being based in local depots around the county, work hard all year to achieve this.

Budgets are tight, but we spend around £55m a year on maintaining the county’s roads and always take advantage of opportunities to seek additional funding to support our two-pronged approach of planned maintenance and responding to problems as they arise.

All reported potholes are inspected and, where necessary, promptly repaired based on the level of risk they present to road users. We welcome reports from the public and encourage anyone who sees a pothole or other carriageway defect to use our online reporting system at

We are proud of our performance in responding to reports and repairing potholes as part of a much wider, planned maintenance programme, and reassure the public that this will always be a priority for us.

Karl Battersby, corporate director, Business and Environmental Services, North Yorkshire County Council.

Solar solutions

WE are an overpopulated country and growing, so the use of agricultural land for solar panels is criminal.

We are losing good land to overdevelopment and re-wilding. We need all this land for food production.

I am a big fan of solar panels, I have had 16 on my roof for seven years and they paid for themselves in four years, so it’s win win.

They generate power even on cloudy days whereas wind turbines only work if the wind is blowing.

All towns and some villages have industrial estates with large sheds which should have solar panels on them.

Barkers department store in Northallerton have at least 300 – well done to them, but what about Tesco, Lidl, Sainsburys? All garages offering charging points. Farmers' grain stores, cattle yards and all new build houses with south facing roofs should have them.

We should be thinking outside the box. Why not cover car parks with a structure to support the panels and park cars underneath, thus also helping to keep them cool in summer?

Theatres, concert halls, stadiums – there are thousands of areas out there.

W Calvert, address supplied.

Saving energy

WHY has nobody, including the government, seen the current energy crisis as a tremendous positive for the battle against climate change?

If it makes the majority of us find ways of reducing our energy usage, surely that is a good thing?

It is, though, still vital that people who need help, for whatever reason, are given help and support.

Ann Davies, Great Ayton.

Rural costs

THERE has rightly been much publicity and comment by politicians regarding the cost of gas and electricity. There has been a deafening silence about the cost of heating oil.

In January 2021 we paid 37.5 pence a litre, a week ago we paid 56.56 pence – an increase of over 50 per cent in a year.

I know that this is of no interest to the urban elite but those of us that live in the country have no choice but to depend on this unfashionable source of heating.

There is no government agency to protect us and our political representatives are completely silent. What will it take to make any one of our MPs take some notice of this increase in the cost of rural living?

Geoff Solomon, Danby Wiske.

Price rises

SURELY the massive hike to energy costs shows that privatising essential services is the wrong way to go?

Energy companies have been pocketing profits for decades, and have been happy to do so.

They are now faced with a situation that they apparently could not anticipate and did not plan for. They are not happy. So they want to pass on the costs of this lack of foresight and basic business nous to the consumers who have already been used as milk cows.

Essential service suppliers should focus on maintaining and improving their services – not banking massive profits while failing to plan. They should be made to do so or be shut down and the service they provide be nationalised.

Energy de France (EDF) in France have their profits limited by the government and used to keep prices low. It’s telling that the increase in energy costs over there is forecast to be only four per cent.

D Duell, Durham.

A new low

BORIS JOHNSON’S entire political career from the illegal prorogation of Parliament, through his double dealing over the Northern Ireland Protocol, to the lockdown festivities in Downing Street, has demonstrated his belief that standards of behaviour that others follow do not apply to him.

Nor is there any depth to which he will not descend to further his personal advancement.

However, with his recent smearing of the leader of the Opposition with an allegation that he was personally responsible for letting Jimmy Saville escape justice, an allegation that his (former) chief policy advisor, and long-time political ally, has described in her resignation letter as “scurrilous”, he has reached a new low.

That he should use a false claim, circulated by far right-extremists, as a debating point at Prime Minister’s Question Time beggars belief.

This man, who holds the title of Leader of her Majesty’s Government, is totally without judgement, integrity or honour. He should go, and go now.

Robin Brooks, Barningham.


THE Prime Minister is correct in stating that the public want the Government to get on with business.

However, why Boris Johnson and the MPs who are propping him up think a man who lacks any sense of morality and who embellishes the truth should lead them in this is difficult to comprehend.

Conservative MPs should reflect on if they are representing their constituents' views or just trying to help a lame duck PM cling to power who surely can no longer be classed as an election asset but is now an election liability

Sue Barton, Sessay.

Vaccine approval

ALASTAIR Welsh’s letter exemplifies what happens when a Prime Minister repeatedly lies to the public “Volcano rescue” (D&S Times letters, Feb 4).

At the time when both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccines were approved the UK was still part of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The approvals were under the EMA Emergency Approval systems. In fact, the head of the MHRA, Dr June Raine, is on record confirming that approval was given under EMA rules and the repeated statements that Boris Johnson makes denying this are blatant lies.

Also, Mr Welsh may not be aware that the EMA was headquartered in the UK until Brexit and subsequently moved to Amsterdam.

As for Boris having a "good Covid" unfortunately the friends and family of the 178,488 people who have died from Covid haven’t had a "good Covid" and the UK’s death rate at 2.5 per 100,000 is almost twice that of the EU’s at 1.27 per 100,000.

Philip Knowles, Eppleby, Richmond.

No compensation

THE decision by Northumbrian Water not to compensate customers for the expense and inconvenience arising from last week's contamination of water supplies in Darlington exposes the fatal flaw in the privatisation of the water utilities which has created private sector monopolies with carte blanche to rip-off their customers to the benefit of its shareholders and reward their chief executives accordingly.

The Government needs to tighten their grip on the water companies, restrain their profiteering and make them improve the service to their customers.

John Watson, Darlington.

Wage disparity

WHAT fascinating and compelling viewing Geordie Hospital provides.

The radiant joy of the young couple given the chance to have children and of the chap whose thing was “relieved” of a tumour the size of a football must have overwhelmed viewers.

Society owes so much to the teams of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses etc on whom so many daily depend for life itself.

We know money isn’t everything, but internet websites indicate NHS surgeons get £75,000 per annum.

They can make a “bit” on the side privately, but this doesn’t even begin to match the £350,000 per week of some Premiership footballers.

In effect, what our society/culture is saying (at least in economic terms) is “we value and consider footballers more important than surgeons”.

Michael Baldasera, Darlington.

Where’s the money?

WE were promised that once we leave the EU, there would be £350m per week available to give to the NHS.

If this was true, where is it and why is there an increase in National Insurance to raise more money?

What happened to the VAT removal from energy bills? Perhaps the money has been used to hold the Downing Street parties.

I would have written to our local MPs, but it would be waste of time, they would only come up with the standard Conservative Party Central Office line. As previous emails to them have shown to be the case.

John Richardson, Hurworth.

Nothing’s “free”

I WONDER if the Tories knew about global companies when they made it financially attractive for them to take over classic British businesses.

We have them wanting to control every aspect of our lives, especially our money.

We keep hearing about government money for this and that, but it’s public money, our money.

Yet the Tories still generously give huge sums to their privatised companies, so it looks as if they’re giving us something for free.

I’ve been offered free central heating and double glazing because I may qualify, but it comes from an energy company.

Like the smart meters, they pester me to have “free”, four relatives use these only to tell them when they need to pay up, not one can tell me how much they pay for a unit of electricity. Yet the £12 meter I got off Amazon tells me everything and that hasn’t cost the taxpayers £2bn or more as so-called smart meters have.

C Davison, Billingham.

Nothing new

LEVELLING UP Secretary Michael Gove, visibly still amazed that that’s an actual job title, has announced plans to boost poor areas to make sure the north no longer sits in the shadow of the south-east.

There is a cracking line from a classic 1970s Dad’s Army episode when, on night manoeuvres, Private Fraser (John Laurie) tells the Warmington-on-Sea platoon the story of the Auld Empty Barn (“there was nothing in it’’).

And there is nothing in this new announcement either.

There is no new pot of gold, in fact no new money at all.

Margaret Thatcher was exactly the same in the 1980s in her attempt to lecture the peasants. She removed large sums cash from the North directed it to the South, then promised the wealth created would eventually trickle down. It never did.

The Government stands accused of trying to manipulate announcements on funding for poorer towns in an attempt to gain popularity, especially in those Red Wall seats.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.