Council questions

CONSERVATIVE MPs have stated in the press that the recent poor performance of Conservative councillors overall in local elections reflects dissatisfaction with local councils themselves rather than a reflection on national issues and a more jaundiced public view of Boris Johnston. Believe what you will.

Although North Yorkshire’s new unitary authority has retained a (much-reduced) overall Conservative majority, the increased mix and number of Greens, Lib Dems, Labour and Independent councillors following the elections suggests there will be some interesting times ahead.

In a letter to the D&S last year I suggested that the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Carl Les was relying too much on a “tub thumping for Yorkshire” approach in an attempt to gather support from the public for the proposed changes to the political landscape.

Under the guise of empowering communities, one of the key aspects of political restructuring was the possibility of parish and town councils shouldering more responsibility. I concluded my letter by suggesting he needed to look internally to officers and councillors rather than continuing to develop further the "Big Society” principles initiated by David Cameron.

Now the public have sent a message and the new authority has had a major shake-up of its constituent councillors who will populate the area committees.

But what can we expect from the officers whose actions are the mechanism through which the council is supposed to work, bringing me to the point of this letter.

I have an issue with the soon to be defunct North Yorkshire County Council which I would hope could be addressed by the new council, and perhaps through the pages of the D&S I could appeal to those new councillors preparing to take up their post.

The issue relates to the disclaimer which accompanies every email reply to every question I have put to the officers of NYCC which says: “Any opinions or statements expressed in this e-mail are those of the individual and not necessarily those of North Yorkshire County Council.”

A question put to an officer or department of NYCC or the new council should require an answer which represents the view of the council without an opt-out clause. Officers are as much a part of NYCC as the councillors and if they cannot be relied on to give the council's view, the system should be changed. Given the growing willingness the council has in encouraging the public and communities to take responsibility and ownership of its own affairs, one would think it should expect its own staff to represent the view of the council. Ownership and responsibility are the key words.

Although some will suggest that the statement is included for legal reasons this strikes at the heart of one of the major problems facing many of our public services who are focused on litigation and political correctness rather than output. I would have taken this up with NYCC legal team myself were it not for the fact I wouldn’t have any confidence in the reply for the same reason I am penning this letter.

B. Forbes, Thornton le Moor.

Station plans

YOUR correspondent from Knayton, Mr Wachsberger, is right to deplore the poor and unsafe access to Thirsk Station, as well as an inferior train service, with fewer trains stopping than at Northallerton (D&S Times letters, April 29). I feel sympathy for residents of villages like Knayton and Borrowby who in addition, are not served by public transport to get to Thirsk.

Even residents of Thirsk have quite a long walk from the town centre to the station at Carlton Miniott.

Living in Northallerton, I can appreciate that disabled passengers might be glad of the two lifts at our station.

I am not so young myself but, given the choice, would prefer to negotiate a ramp and there must be better ways of spending £3m. What do wheelchair users do now, if a lift breaks down? Lifts do that occasionally!

I understood from a friend who moved to Thirsk, that the station platforms were too short for LNER trains to stop there. If that is still the case, I hope Trans-Pennine won't reduce the number of trains serving Thirsk. It is a growing town and deserves better.

Phoebe Newton, Northallerton.

Lawn life

WE love our daffs – why not same affection for the same bright coloured dandies that replaces them as spring matures?

I suppose some will say they grow into ugly, messy puff balls as well as upsetting our sense of order that we try to maintain for when looking out of the window. After all, we cut/trim/shave/wax unruly body hair. Gardeners are just part barbers.

Well, I am for now enjoying the colour disorder amidst the green plain outside my kitchen window and very happy that I can cut back on the cost of food for the birds – also one of my delights to see.

The "dent de lion" (Eng "lion's tooth") supply food to a number of different pollinators including bumblebees, butterflies, hover flies and moths. And all that's food for my garden birds.

We (well farmers) put up with pigs' muck so we can get our bacon (I'm tempted to make political analogy here). Anyway, I reckon it's dawning that survival of life here on planet Earth can be not only a mucky business at times but that every part of it has an equal part to play. Equality for humans, equality for everything that grows? Symbiosis – I believe this is the technical name of how we rely, after all, on everything that lives.

Tim Sinclair, Ovington.

Just dandy

THIS year sees what has to be the loveliest dandelion flowering season on record – certainly in Wensleydale.

The uses of dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, in herbal medicine are so many that, to quote from The Complete Book of Herbs & Spices (Claire Loewenfeld and Philippa Back, 1978): "This troublesome weed is nature's greatest healing aid, and is a medicine chest in itself. The dandelion is a wholesome food plant whose leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, the roots made into coffee and its juice used for a tisane."

The book Dandelion Wine (1957) by the eminent author, Ray Bradbury, was described at that time as his masterpiece. I can recommend it.

Dandelion yellow dye can recreate the colour in the textile dyeing process.

So let 's celebrate this remarkable herb. Get out and help yourself to mother nature's bounty.

Donovan Leaman, Leyburn.

Honest finder

COULD I, through the D&S Times, express my heartfelt thanks to the very kind and honest person that handed my lost purse in please?

I realised I had lost my purse last Thursday when in Dunelm in Darlington but was sure I must have lost it on the bus.

I cancelled all my cards but just as a long shot, I rang Dunelm on Friday and was delighted to find my purse had been handed in – cash, cards and everything intact.

Thank you so much, whoever you are, my faith in human nature restored as well as my purse.

Thanks also to the helpful store staff.

Ann Huckin, East Cowton, Northallerton.

Councillor thanks

THROUGH your newspaper can I thank the 760 people in Catterick Village and Brompton-on-Swale division (Catterick Village, Brompton on Swale, Scorton and the smaller surrounding parishes of Uckerby, Forest, Bolton on Swale, Ellerton and Easby) who voted for me to represent them again on Thursday.

It's been a privilege and pleasure to serve that area for many years. To them, and indeed to all who live in the division whether they voted for me or not, can I repeat my pledge that I will continue to represent them to the best of my ability.

Cllr Carl Les, Bedale.

Big issues

PLEASE may I use your columns to thank everyone in Catterick Village and Brompton on Swale Ward who voted for me at the North Yorkshire election on May 5.

My congratulations go to Carl Les for winning the seat (again).

During the course of the campaign Cllr Les made a number of promises, which I and others who live in this ward, will be keeping him to account. Notably, the big issue that I campaigned on, the dangerous junction between the A6136 and A6055 (Catterick Road) in Brough St Giles, which Cllr Les promised to take action on.

We wait and see if these Tory promises will be kept before the next serious accident at this junction?

Cllr Leslie Rowe, District Councillor for Brompton on Swale & Catterick Ward, Brompton on Swale.

Election appreciation

PLEASE may I thank the people of North Yorkshire.

It is a great privilege and honour to be elected as the North Yorkshire councillor for Morton on Swale and Appleton Wiske.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me.

Any concerns that you, your families and friends may have I will support you locally, and work hard to help make positive differences to your lives.

Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, Morton on Swale and Appleton Wiske Division, North Yorkshire.

Petty people

I AM not a fan of either Sir Keir Starmer or Nicola Sturgeon but I couldn’t give tuppence about Mr Starmer having a beer in his constituency office or Nicola Sturgeon not wearing a mask.

I just think how petty are the people who report or pursue this sort of story when there are much more serious events happening in the world.

To be honest I wasn’t particularly bothered about the parties in 10 Downing Street, but Boris Johnson's government made the law, which he broke so he should resign.

Thomas Ball, Barnard Castle.

Foodbank app

THE cost of living is skyrocketing, and more people than ever now seek emergency food parcels. Pressure is mounting on the 2,000 UK foodbanks, with unprecedented demand.

But imagine a foodbank with 1,000 tins of baked beans but no toilet rolls.

Often food banks are inundated with one item but have very little of another and asking donors for specific items is challenging – the situation has usually changed by the time the message has spread.

To help change this, BanktheFood is a new charity set up to help foodbanks get what they need, exactly when they need it.

Readers can help make a difference by downloading the BanktheFood charity app and following their nearest food bank. The app will then ping their phone a real-time list of urgently needed items when they are at the supermarket, making it easy to add an item or two to their shopping and leave it at the drop-off point when they have finished.

The app is free to download and use, and all foodbanks can register. It’s a simple way to make a huge difference.

Emma Spring, cofounder and volunteer at BanktheFood.

Duke solution

WE used to sing with gusto in Infants' class about “The grand old Duke of York". Later we came to appreciate another statement, that a person is innocent until proved guilty (in court).

As usual, Her Majesty the Queen has a better solution than the councillors of York.

Jim Robinson, Bedale.

Fair deposit

IT’S a shame that so few people got to see Northallerton High Street’s new (and ridiculously expensive) paving before the May fair came and dripped dirty oil onto it.

Mark Rontree, Northallerton.