Road safety

I COMMEND any proposals for making roads safer for all to use, but the promotion that 20mph is safer I feel is not totally true.

There are those vehicles that consistently ignore the current speed limits, so a reduction to 20mph will make no difference whatsoever to these drivers. But it will penalise those that currently obey the law.

How many times have you driven up behind the “40mph driver”, never does more and never does less, too fast to overtake but not quite fast enough, and infuriatingly as you reduce your speed to 30mph for the speed signs you watch them speed away into the distance only catch them up again when you’ve left the 30 limit, still at 40mph and oblivious to the roads and traffic around them.

As a pedestrian I find it harder to judge a vehicle moving towards me at slower speed, it’s much more tempting to just “nip across” rather than wait until it’s passed.

And at 20mph how many times do I see the drivers rubbernecking at the shops etc as they obviously think they don’t need as much concentration.

I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be for children to cross.

Keep the limits at 30mph but police it fiercely to ensure those that take no notice of speed limit reductions are punished.

Our roads will be safer for everyone without penalising the current law abiders by forcing a snail’s pace.

Joanna Fern, Leyburn.

Sitting tight

GIVEN last week's revelations about green cards, non dom status, illegal party attendance and the exploitation of tax regimes favourable to the super rich, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be seriously considering his position.

Individuals with a firmer moral compass than Rishi Sunak would have resigned by now.

Regrettably, Mr Sunak has chosen (like his leader) to sit tight and hope the current furore will pass.

Whilst there can be contested and opposing views about fiscal policy and national economics (as the debate about the Chancellor's recent Spring Statement illustrates) there can be little room for manoeuvre on moral values, truth, honesty, transparency and integrity.

Rishi Sunak has fallen down badly in respect to these aspects of public life. His personal and political authority as a constituency MP has declined to a point where it will be difficult to retrieve.

No doubt Mr Sunak will remain in office as the Ministerial Code seems to be a blunt instrument to call senior politicians to account.

More significantly, there is little individual voters can do to effect change other than make their views known. Anger and outrage alone achieves nothing.

The upcoming local elections, do however, present an opportunity to send a clear message from the "little people" to those in power about the acceptability of their behaviour.

R C Pennington, Stokesley.

Sunak support

WHEN reading the letter from Mr Hodgson of the Richmond Liberal Democrats “Coverage share” (D&S Times letters, Apr 15), the immortal phrase of Mandy Rice-Davies came to mind: "Well, he would say that wouldn't he?".

Rishi Sunak's column in your newspaper has always been mainly factual rather than political, informing his constituents what he is doing as their MP and providing publicity for the many, often relatively unknown, organisations, causes and individuals in the local area.

It is impressive that he has continued with the column despite the pressures of high office and his expert handling of the economy during the pandemic. Long may it continue.

No doubt the local Liberal Democrats will keep us informed of what they think through their regular and lengthy contributions to this newspaper's letters page. Long may that continue too along with the even-handed, fair approach that your newspaper has always taken to political matters.

Returning to the famous lines of Ms Rice-Davies, they were uttered during a real political scandal. This is not the same thing.

Our MP has done nothing wrong in my view. By all accounts of what happened on that day, his breach of the lockdown regulations was purely technical and pretty marginal at that.

As an honourable man, he has apologised. We should accept that and also acknowledge the tremendous work he did keeping many of us, our families and businesses afloat financially during the height of the pandemic.

He is a very good local MP – and we couldn't have had a better Chancellor during the last two years.

Peter Gordon, West End, Hutton Rudby.

Party crimes

YOUR readers, I am sure, will respond like most citizens in the country at the revelations that another 50 (totalling 80 so far) fixed penalty charges have been served on Downing Street staff and residents, with emotions ranging from disbelief to fury.

Never in our nation's illustrious history has the whole apparatus of government from Prime Minister down to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, been proved to have broken the law.

But that's only the start, they have broken the constitutional rule that Members of Parliament must not mislead (lie) to the House of Commons and indeed, the Queen.

Conservative allies of the Prime Minister have assured us that no parties took place and are now proven to have unreliable judgement.

Meanwhile we have final proof of the previous suspicion that, "there is one rule for them and another for us". The revelations about legal tax arrangements for ministers, which would never be accessible to the rest of us, supports this.

Rules on partying, close proximity and travelling have been proven to be breached by ministers and Dominic Cummings and even the Prime Minister's Cabinet Secretary, ethics advisor and wife, with apparent impunity.

We also now know that multi-billions of pounds of Covid procurement money variously: cannot be accounted for, has been wasted on unusable items, or has gone into Conservative Party donor related hands.

While pretending to be radical agents of the people against liberal elites, we can now evidence elite agency of self-aggrandisement, self-enrichment with added impunity and incorrigibility, against the people.

Voters in North Yorkshire, please judge this government for its actions not its brazen propaganda. Never before in our history would ministers not resign for such personal and public failings.

There is a reason for this, a near complete failure of empathy for the rules and for others, a near complete lack of shame, arising from the belief that Conservatives can enjoy all of the benefits of power but do not have to be accountable and bear the responsibilities for failures.

"One rule for them and one for us" will be imprinted on chapters in history books looking back on the shambles of a government. For heaven's sake just go!

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby, Thirsk.

Rwanda policy

I WONDER if Tory MPs and local Tory sympathisers have yet had enough?

It seems as if this party's government has abandoned all pretence of an ethical basis to policies. In this respect, how is Boris Johnson's rule any different from the regimes we all abhor or have abhorred, those of Bolsonaro, of Trump, of Orban, of Duterte, of Xi Jinping, of Lukashenko, of Vucic, of Putin and others?

Is civilised government now condemned to extinction? Is democracy dead?

This party has in the past, with notable exceptions, stood up for what is right in a principled manner. This has led in the past to a certain respect for the United Kingdom amongst the nations.

It seems, does it not, that those days are over?

Priti Patel's war against people smugglers is understandable, even commendable, until one realises that this is at the expense of the refugees as well as of our erstwhile European partners and friends.

Where do the desperate, distressed, dispossessed and distraught victims of persecution, still naively believing that these are isles of sanctuary, turn to satisfy our government of their predicament before they arrive?

Most will have no alternative but to remain in Europe and at the expense of Europe now that our country, but not, praise God, our people, has turned its back on them, threatening them with removal to Rwanda.

Amnesty's overview of Rwanda's human rights record 2021 does show improvement, but not all is well: "The authorities took measures to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and to promote the right to health. Ten girls and women were pardoned for abortion-related offences. Violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy continued, alongside enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force. People suspected of genocide were prosecuted and convicted."

Ms Patel's vile policy of hostility to immigrants, excluding those, of course, recipient of golden visas only recently deprived of Conservative favour, here attains its target – removal of "the other" who will be obliged to seek permanent refuge in a country of her choice and regardless of the consequences for these deported. How many young men will be forcibly conscripted into the Rwanda military, one wonders.

The impotence of our government vis-à-vis criminal people smugglers should not be visited upon the innocent. The automatic criminalisation of those who arrive in our country without the required documentation must stop.

Conservative politicians owe it to themselves, to their constituents and to humanity at large to fight with all their power against such evil policies.

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, York.

Illegal immigration

I WOULDN’T do what the government are doing, but I understand from the gutter press, the PM has challenged the critics of his madcap Rwanda scheme, with the question, "well what would you do instead?"

To engage in this debate is akin to mud wrestling but here goes.

The idea might be improved marginally, if the PM didn't involve Rwanda, but remembered we have 16 dependencies around the globe, six in the Atlantic, three off the coast of Africa.

I don't believe the government are serious about immigration anyway.

Is it true they actually don't keep complete records of who leaves the UK, and therefore don't know entirely who is here and who isn't here at any given time?

The limited 100 places in the Rwandan assessment centre seem to be budgeted on the basis, those sent there will abscond upon arrival. Otherwise, won't they be full up on the first day?

What would there be to stop these unfortunate people trying to be smuggled back into the UK, in a dangerous game of cat and mouse?

I understand from press reports, the Rwanda scheme will be costing the UK taxpayer four times as much per person.

Cllr Nigel Boddy (Lib Dem), North Road Ward, Darlington.

Asylum seekers

TWO years ago I was privileged to visit a primary school in Greece which catered for pupils from the nearby refugee camp.

It was both an uplifting and depressing experience. It hosted pupils from families fleeing war and persecution mainly from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

What was uplifting was listening to the pupils’ hopes, dreams and aspirations, with ambitions to become teachers, doctors or other professionals, and they clearly had the ability.

One ten year old spoke four languages fluently due to the journey he had made.

Why did they want to come to the UK?

They spoke excellent English and, thanks to the soft power of organisations such as the BBC World Service and the British Council, believed us to be an open, tolerant and welcoming society; a land of opportunity.

These were young people with so much to give. Why is it depressing?

Despite their optimism, trapped in a refugee camp, they would not have the opportunity to achieve their academic potential, but they also have no hope of coming to the UK.

There are no safe routes for asylum seekers coming from their countries, as our Government has taken the decision not to process applications in Europe.

If they tried to come across the Channel, they would now be sent on a one way ticket to Rwanda. These were genuine asylum seekers, not economic migrants.

There is no economic or humanitarian rationale for this policy, which is clearly designed to appeal to a right-wing press and a base of xenophobes. How did we ever get to this point?

Cllr Paul Harrison (Lib Dem), Richmond West, Richmond.