Land grab

IN last week’s D&S Time there was an article about the proposed solar farm at Husthwaite which will take 250 acres out of agricultural production “Solar farm plans split community” (D&S Times, Mar 11).

You do not say what food this farm produces now or is capable of in the future. Can we afford such a loss?

Land taken for solar farms is out of use for 40 years. In the early 1900s did anyone foresee that by 1941 this country was on the brink of starvation and every acre that could produce food was needed.

In the ever-changing world situation we see today, we need to secure our supplies of cereals, vegetables, meat and milk with home production and not rely on imports.

It is folly to take good land out of production.

Solar panels can be sited in many other locations, business parks, factory roofs, warehouses etc.

Will the proposed development at Scotch Corner be covered in solar panels?

Marion Moverley, Easingwold.

Solar support

THE letter from Colin Telfer promoting a greater reliance on solar energy is very apposite, “More solar energy” (D&S Times letters, Mar 11). During a visit some years ago, a noticeable feature from a river boat on the Yangtze was the number of villages with solar panels on all houses. I assume that this was the result of corporate policy rather than individual enterprise.

China has a poor record on pollution control, but this one example shows at least recognition of the value of solar power and its practical application.

Solar power may not provide all the answers, but has much to commend it, with few disadvantages. Greater use of sun energy would reduce the risks associated with other sources, including insecurity of material supply.

Alan Pallister, Middleton St George.

Refugee crisis

THE loud thud you heard last Sunday was the nation’s collective jaw hitting the floor when it was announced that just 50 Ukrainian refugees had been allowed into the country.

While other countries have waived visa requirements for the time being and welcomed refugees with hot food and drink, clothing and medical assistance the UK has greeted them with red tape, a KitKat and a bag of crisps.

If their paperwork is not in order or they fall foul of some requirement or have not had a biometric eye test, (all of which are apparently to root out any terrorists, and I wonder how many of those there are) they are turned away.

This for people who have travelled hundreds of miles by whatever means they can, their whole lives packed into a suitcase, to escape the horror that has descended on them. This not just shameful, it is cruelty.

If they arrive in Calais, believing that assistance will be given to them at a designated office they find it closed, a note on the door giving them a phone number, or they can go online and instructions to “make their way” to Paris or Brussels.

When I turn the radio on each morning I sometimes wonder if I am listening to the news or some black comedy, with each new episode revealing some new unexpected twist. Meanwhile here, ex-soldiers with field hospital experience and many others who want to go and assist with humanitarian aid are told they may face prosecution.

While the government talks about quotas and procedures many Ukrainian families and other volunteer groups and individuals are ready to welcome the refugees with a whole lot more than a KitKat and a packet of crisps.

Graeme Cunningham, Ripon.


WHY is the UK government putting endless bureaucratic obstacles in the way of innocent Ukrainian women and children fleeing a brutal and unprovoked war, when it welcomes undocumented people arriving in Kent on boats with a cheery wave and instant support from the state?

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor (Ind), Moorsholm, east Cleveland.

Unfair trade AS a supporter of Fairtrade, I wonder how many folks realise this idea was put forward in the early 1980s, via the Brandt report?

This proposed that “x” tonnes of rice/cocoa/coffee/sisal – whatever – always equated to say a 100HP tractor.

The EU nations and Canada were in agreement, however two nations refused and were happy to screw the poor without a thought to their attitudes effect – they were the UK and the USA – anyone remember this event?

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Yemen war

THE deaths in Ukraine now number in the hundreds and we are rightly shocked. The people of Ukraine are being brutally killed by lethal weapons including missiles fired from fighter jets.

The deaths in Yemen now number in the thousands (from bombing alone, the war overall has killed 377,000) and we are only slightly shocked.

The people of Yemen cry, just like us, just like the Ukrainians.

What is worse is they are being brutally killed by missiles fired from fighter jets provided by the UK.

Where are the crowds supporting those Yemeni people?

The UK government does very little to end the war there and repeatedly cites its support for its strategic partner Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps this has something to do with the profits to be made; estimates put the real value of UK arms to Saudi Arabia at over £20bn.

The one thing I am sure of is all the arguments in favour do not match the horrible consequences against.

Email your MP to end the war in Yemen. At least ask your MP to stop the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

Let us hope they too see the deaths of people in Yemen as horrible.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Education progress

IT’S been announced that Eton College has offered to fund a sixth form college in Middlesbrough and it’s “ being considered”.

What’s to consider? Grab it with both hands! As if history was repeating itself, Labour Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald does not agree. Go back to 1988-89 when it was announced by the government that a privately funded City Technology College was planned for our area and Middlesbrough was in the running.

There was article after article telling readers the ruling Labour group in the council did not want it and trying (but failing) to convince us why. In the first year there were almost 1,500 applications for less than 500 places at the college and now their exam results are always very good.

What’s the common denominator here? It’s the fact that the Tories were in government and approved the scheme. Once again, it is politics getting in the way of progress. Needless to say, in time, some Labour councillors chose the college for their own children. To refuse this once in a lifetime offer is spiting our children and those who oppose it must be named.

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

Half-baked Houdini

THE cost of living is increasing at an alarming rate.

The Government, I’m sure will blame Covid and rising energy costs, however, Covid and energy are worldwide problems. I’m convinced that the “oven ready deal” for leaving the EU was at best only half-baked and has lumbered the people of this country with additional living costs.

Police investigations into high-jinks at Number 10 and the Sue Gray report have somehow been forgotten.

Boris Johnson and his motley crew have a lot to answer for, but will another war save his skin like the Falklands did for Margaret Thatcher?

Johnson looks like doing another Houdini act. As Pete Postlethwaite gnomically said in the film Brassed Off – “Land of bloody hope and glory.”

Edwin Pickering, Darlington.

Oil prices

I HEAR the British public are heading for a financial shock even worse than the 1973 oil crisis.

Oil has shot up to $240 (£182.87) a barrel.

But isn’t that a good thing for British public? After all we are an oil rich country, totally self-sufficient in the black stuff. When it comes to drilling oil we are top rank. When it comes to turning that oil into petrol or gas we fall flat on our backsides.

Do we actually have any oil processing plants or storage facilities in the UK?

Is the UK that incapable of processing its own oil rather than relying on European companies to do the job for us.

Not that the government are bothered – with petrol prices soaring, so are tax revenues.

But the mug public won’t see any of it, in what can be best described as highway robbery worthy of Dick Turpin.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Cost of living

WE are all facing a huge rise in energy bills both gas and electric, and what are the government doing about it? Absolutely nothing.

Why are BP and Shell allowed to make billions of pounds in profits and not having to pay a windfall tax?

The Government wasted billions of pounds on test and trace, dodgy PPE contracts for their mates and counterfeit furlough claims but when it comes to helping the British public – forget it.

In France the government have subsidised their energy bills and it’s only risen by 4.4 per cent, why can we not do the same. The people on a low, fixed income are going to suffer the most, not the politicians who, despite being paid an awful lot of money are completely useless.

Dave Bowes, West Auckland.

Time for reflections

SPRING is symbolic of new beginnings. It is a time to begin healing from the emotional scars left by the pandemic. For many, however, these scars run deep and have not begun to heal.

This is why we are asking you to take part in the National Day of Reflection on March 23 – two years since the first UK lockdown. It provides an opportunity for everyone to come together and remember those who have died and to support all those who have been bereaved.

The pandemic has increased the complexity of grief being felt.

Families can now be with loved ones, free from restrictions to memorialise those who have died. For many of the people I’m supporting, this has unlocked a tidal wave of grief.

The National Day of Reflection is an opportunity for us all to remember and to support our bereaved friends, families, neighbours and colleagues.

Giving them the space to open up and talk about the person that died is incredibly important. It shows we care and that what they are feeling is normal.

At 12 noon, the nation will come together in a minute’s silence.

People can visit Walls of Reflection across the UK, to commemorate loved ones by adding their name, photo or perhaps their favourite song lyric – whatever feels right.

With the news reminding us every day of the value of human life, it is vital to take the time to connect with each other, to show people who are grieving that they are not forgotten, that we are here for them and we remember the person they still love.

We hope you will join us at midday on March 23 to reflect and then reach out to the people in their lives who are grieving.

Jane Murray, Marie Curie Bereavement Services.

Space invaders

I DON’T know what time the traffic wardens start in Darlington or even if there is any. Between seven and eight on a morning the misuse of the disabled parking bays in the Market Place is a disgrace, people park up and go to the cafés for coffees while genuine disabled people can’t find a space.

GO Wright, Sadberge.

One to ponder

RECENTLY I completed one of the North Yorkshire Moors walks published in your newspaper five years ago (yes, I am one of those people who keeps them for future use!).

Darlington and Stockton Times:

This walk began at Lordstones country park and returned across Whorlton Moor and, towards the end, the directions mentioned looking out for Brian’s Pond.

I saw that it was marked on my Ordnance Survey map but, to check my bearings, I looked at Google Maps and was surprised to see it is shown as Brain’s Pond!

Surely the all-knowing Google can’t have got this wrong?

David Fewster, Darlington.