WE are regularly being advised by our national government to walk and cycle more.

However this advice does not seem to have reached North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and Hambleton District Council (HDC), whose highways and planning departments, respectively, seemingly make very little effort to encourage people to walk and cycle.

A case in point is the cycle path alongside Northallerton Road between Stone Cross, the site of the HDC offices, and Brompton, Northallerton.

The hedge that adjoins the path between Stone Cross and the partially opened North Moor Road has not been cut for at least two years and it now overhangs the path to the extent that a third of the path is unusable.

The hedge and the field behind it belongs to the Church Commissioners and, despite numerous requests from both Northallerton and Brompton town councils, both NYCC and HDC seem incapable of or unwilling to enforce the law requiring the owners to cut the hedge.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 prevents the cutting of hedges between March 1 and September 1, which means that now that the growing season has started the path will become virtually unusable.

The more urgent issue though is that of the totally inadequate provision for users of the path when crossing North Moor Road.

The plans provide for a refuge in the middle of the carriageway which when built will be just about big enough for a solitary cyclist and their bicycle, sideways on to the traffic. So how does a family of four out for a cycle ride, or indeed someone pushing a pram or buggy, cross, what will undoubtedly be, a very busy road?

The riddle of the “fox, a chicken and a sack of grain” comes to mind for someone trying to get a young family across the road.

The path is very busy throughout the day with both cyclists and pedestrians, in particular children walking to and from school.

HDC, who presumably authorised the design of the road, clearly gave no consideration to it bisecting a cycle path or the volume of pedestrian traffic and have, despite numerous requests, refused to get involved.

Likewise NYCC are not interested until the road has been adopted by HDC and subsequently becomes their responsibility.

So do we have to wait until someone is seriously injured or, worse still, killed trying to cross North Moor Road before the "professionals" in these matters in HDC or NYCC realise the potential danger that is patently obvious to us lay persons?

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.

Railway route

ON Friday (Mar 18), the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority announced their proposal to create a "multi-user route" or bridleway on the six-mile railway track bed from Garsdale to Hawes, thus precluding reinstatement of the railway for the foreseeable future.

The members of the authority are invited to support this proposal at their next full meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 29.

Whilst other attractive, alternative routes for the bridleway are feasible, the railway can only follow its original alignment. It is a matter of deep concern, in view of the considerable public support for reinstatement, that the loss of opportunity to realise the wide-ranging environmental, transport, social and economic benefits of bringing the railway to Hawes and Upper Wensleydale is not properly considered in the proposal to the members of the authority.

In this age of the climate emergency, the national park faces significant challenges of balancing the needs of tackling climate change with the needs of millions of visitors, many of whom travel to and around the park by car. I would suggest that to hinder the advance of a sustainable transport initiative is in no way compatible with the radical solutions that this challenge requires.

Andrew Longworth, Chair, Upper Wensleydale Railway Association.

Grammar School

AS there seems to be no end to Russian aggression and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of the Ukrainian population, with the facilities in adjoining countries stretched to breaking point by the influx of refugees and 43,000 people offering to take in Ukranian refugees within the first 24 hours of the appeal, the Grammar School in Northallerton has now stood empty for some considerable time and there is no reason why it cannot be used as a temporary accommodation for these poor refugees.

Yes, I hear those in authority saying the facilities are very basic and possibly not conducive to be used as accommodation. However, these people are refugees who have been driven from their own country, many in just the clothes they managed to grasp on their way out of the door. I’m sure they would be very grateful of any sort of half decent accommodation. After all, the Grammar School has male and female toilets, showers, and heating (at least it did when I attended).

I have no doubt the general population of Northallerton and the surrounding district would rally round and provide whatever help is required to provide decent, if temporary accommodation for these refugees. After all, there are two Army camps and an RAF station in close proximity who would be able to provide the logistical back-up, if required.

John Prest, Northallerton.

Poland and Ukraine

I HAD the good fortune to visit Poland in 2004 with a European group to celebrate their entry into the EU.

Many people we met talked of their optimism at joining the EU as part of their hard road from the dark days of suffering at the hands of Hitler, and later the Soviet Union.

Sadly they now find themselves on the front line of another bitter war and are having to find homes for millions of Ukrainian refugees.

There are strong suggestions that Moscow supported the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.

It would be in Vladimir Putin’s interest to see a fracturing of the European family and may even have contributed to his being emboldened to carry out the murderous invasion of Ukraine.

It is ironic therefore that in comments at the weekend, Boris Johnson should compare Brexit to the valiant Ukrainian resistance of the Russian invasion.

I imagine Ukraine and Poland would have preferred to see us remain in a strong EU, which they are pleased to be part of (in the case of Poland), or would like to join (in the case of Ukraine).

Andy Welford, Scaling, Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

War profits

SOMEBODY is being duped, Ukraine or us or both. People are being killed, both Ukrainians and Russians. Both sides are losing.

We have heard the claim that Vladimir Putin is mad and wants to resurrect the failed Soviet Union. In accepting that, we pay for the arms to give to Ukraine and bolster NATO.

But somebody is winning. BAE and Raytheon UK have seen big jumps in their share price at a time when most British companies have seen falls.

BAE and Raytheon UK and their investors are not like the rest of us, they do not want to see an end to war, that is their business, they make things that kill. They make money when other people suffer.

Arms companies have PR departments that increase their business, they employ lobbyists that influence decision makers and they probably use propaganda to influence us.

When Ukraine and Russia have suffered enough they will make peace, but that will not bring people back to life. The Ukrainians have lost, the Russians have lost, we have lost – the arms companies alone have won.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Lost empires

IF a member of the public was having his home smashed up and his head hammered against a wall by a thug shouting “I want you to be my friend” I think everyone would think that there was something seriously wrong – but that is exactly what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

Politicians across the west and NATO have failed us for years. We must stop using Russian oil and gas because the revenue Russia gets is funding the war.

Unfortunately, this will hurt us but it has to be done, then we (Europe) have to develop a secure energy policy which must include green energy and nuclear power along with a small amount of oil and gas, bearing in mind global warming.

One hundred years ago Britain had an empire where the sun did not set, we were proud of it but those days have gone, those countries now are independent, most have joined the Commonwealth where some decisions are made that we do not agree with – that is life.

Russia too had an empire that has disintegrated and Vladimir Putin cannot come to terms with that, so he is reinstating it by brute force.

Let’s have some leadership.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Post-16 education

LAST Friday (Mar 18) a four-page advert paid for with public money was used to cover the D&S Times. This is a highly objectionable way to pay for Conservative election material with less than seven weeks before the May 5 local elections.

Hopefully it will not help the Conservative candidates as it should remind the electors of promises made but not achieved.

There is an important service that is very limited in North Yorkshire that was not mentioned.

Post-16 education in North Yorkshire is so difficult to use.

Young people at 16 are faced with; staying at secondary school, moving on to a further education college, going to a sixth form college or starting an apprenticeship.

Many cannot take up their preferred option because the largest county in England, by area, only has one dedicated sixth form college (in Scarborough), four further education colleges (at Harrogate, Skipton, Selby and Scarborough) and apprenticeships are rarely available.

Travel costs to these colleges generally falls on the student’s family.

In the Bedale area many students take a course at a Darlington college, others go to Middlesbrough or York, so travel costs are high.

There are 32 secondary schools in North Yorkshire providing limited sixth forms that will be generally academic courses. Only four of these secondary schools (by 2019 figures) are producing above average performance on A levels.

The old Northallerton Grammar School site is available for education development for a post-16 centre.

I have a petition to sign and present to the new North Yorkshire Council if I am elected.

Throughout April I will be out electioneering which includes being outside Bedale Post Office with the petition to sign from 9.30am to 10.30am on Tuesdays (market day). I hope to see you there.

Michael Chaloner, Green Party candidate for Aiskew & Leeming on May 5.

Tree destruction

WHILST travelling to Stockton from Yarm via Darlington Back Lane, on the edge of Hartburn in Stockton, I was taken aback by the land on the right-hand side of the road having all its roadside boundary hedges and trees removed. The land on which they grew is currently being developed by housebuilders Taylor Wimpey.

How has Stockton Council allowed this?

Could it be the council are rubbing their hands together thinking how much council tax they are to receive from the future house owners?

We as farmers are told not to remove hedges and trees unless it is absolutely necessary – in fact we are encouraged to plant more for the environment. How is this right?

S Frank, Castlelevington, Yarm.

Smart problems

WITH the rising energy costs we, like many, want to keep an even closer eye on our usage.

When we moved over to a Smart meter we were given an In Home Display device which could show current, daily and cumulative usage – ideal one would have thought, especially for now.

Ours has stopped working, indeed the Smart meter too no longer sends readings for our usage (despite there having been no change whatsoever to the meter, location or coverage).

On contacting our energy supplier EON, we were told they will not provide a replacement display, and as for the missed readings, it’s "not their problem" so we should send them in.

So, We now have to be the meter reader if we are to avoid their extortionate estimated bills, we can no longer see our current usage as they promised and of course we will be paying at least twice as much for the privilege.

Lisa Bramfitt, Darlington.

Pension Credit

WE have recently seen an increase in the number of people making a claim for Pension Credit. However, as the cost of living increases, there are still hundreds of thousands of pensioners who might be eligible who are not – including readers of this paper. They are missing out on this extra support, which could be worth over £3,300 a year.

I strongly urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible to make a claim – by calling the DWP Pension Credit Freephone claim line on 0800 99 1234, by post or online. Organisations such as Age UK, Christians Against Poverty or your local Citizens Advice Bureau, can also help you to claim.

So, please, if you have a relative, or are caring for someone, help them make a claim. Even a small amount of Pension Credit can open the door to other support including a free TV licence, help with council tax, housing benefit, NHS dental treatment and the Warm Home Discount. This is worth hundreds or even thousands of pounds. And we don’t want your mum or dad, or any loved one, to miss out.

If you’re in any doubt whatsoever, please do take just a few minutes today to check your eligibility. I want everyone to receive the support they are entitled to – and the application process couldn’t be more straightforward.

Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, Department for Work and Pensions.

Walking routes

DAVID Fewster's letter “One to ponder” (D&S Times, Mar 18) brought back memories of the fortnightly walks I completed for the newspaper between 2001 and 2019.

He might like to know that they are gradually being put on the website www.nydwalks.com.

Some 80 walks are now available with another 200 to 300 to come.

David Swabey, Great Ayton.