What crisis?

EVERY time I turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper these days, all I see are reports about the "cost of living crisis".

I am not saying that the increased cost of living is not a major issue right now but I would argue about whether it deserves to be being called a "crisis" – especially in view of the really terrible things happening in the world.

The war in Ukraine comes to mind most obviously.

Before anyone thinks I must be wealthy, insensitive and can easily afford to pay the increases in bills for almost everything, I would like to explain that my wife and I are retired and we live on our modest state pension.

Also, I have a very small private pension too but it is much, much smaller than my state pension. We have no substantial savings.

Like everyone else, we have noticed the increase in prices and know we have to tighten our belts for the next year or so. It is something we have done before when times were hard (I remember the inflation of the 1970s) but we got through it.

This year we will probably take just a week’s holiday rather than two.

We might not go out for a pub meal so often and we will be careful when we do our weekly supermarket shop.

We might, as a politician suggested last week and was universally criticised for saying so, swap the premium brands we have tended to buy for the store’s own-label products.

This does not amount to a "crisis" in my view. Difficult, yes, but not impossible as some seem to suggest. Despite our very limited means we will not making the choice between heating our home or eating (we might wear an extra jumper next winter and turn the thermostat down a bit).

It is frustrating to hear some people (and not just opposition politicians) says that it is the Government’s responsibility to make the problem go away.

Of course it has responsibility for protecting the most vulnerable, which I think it is doing, but it can’t protect everyone’s living standards when it is clear the inflation we are suffering is caused by things (the war in Ukraine, the global aftermath of the pandemic) the Government cannot easily control.

We all have to play our part in getting through this – and stop the endless whingeing.

Geoff Cousins, Catterick Garrison.

Left to nature


The local authority have left a swathe of grass at the front in Middleton One Row to God and providence.

The result is that for the first time in a decade as I walked the dog I was surrounded by a mob of stunning demoiselles and a host of other freewheeling flying insects.

Food for thought and food for birds.

Credit where it is due, nice one Darlington council.

Richard Baker, Middleton One Row.

Plastics commitment

THIS quote from a recent meeting of North Yorkshire County |Council jumped out at me at the scale of the ambition regarding climate change, and my heart skipped when reading: "Amid opposition cheers Cllr (Greg) White then committed to banning single use plastics within the authority" (D&S Times, May 20).

I look forward to hearing more about this and other plans to assist the public in being able to help with phasing out single use plastics and plans to move towards a carbon neutral authority. A worthy, though challenging aim.

Gwen Clark, Gayle.

Local events

AS a relative newcomer to Darlington, I do not understand why Darlington has such a short list of activities and usually no events, in your paper, in comparison to other towns and villages in the region.

I know there is a lot going on here with some terrific events and clubs. Is there too much emphasis on social media?

Could we have more posters and notice boards for those who don’t scan web sites regularly – especially us older folk.

Am I looking in the wrong places?

So many great events and so many people who don’t hear about them until they’re over.

Susan Chapman, Darlington.

Welcome reception

I JUST had to put pen to paper in praise of the two lovely ladies on the reception desk at County Hall, Northallerton.

I’d had occasion to call last week to renew my blue badge and even as I arrived having made I up those tricky steps, one lady immediately came out from behind the desk and guided me to a chair.

I explained my reason for being here and she said apart from having my photo taken at the desk she would come and help me where I sat.

There was a constant flow of people – some for blue badges or bus passes, everyone being offered a chair, as well as others needing directions to other rooms in the building for meetings, all done with a smile.

As I left another blue badge man said, well what a nice start to the day, not everyone has such nice helpful receptionists.

Well done ladies – and thank you.

Betty Woodhams, Sowerby.

Productive land

A FEW weeks ago, I witnessed a group of up to ten highways planners in high-vis coats at the extremely dangerous T junction of the A6055 and the A6136 linking either Colburn or junction 52 of the A1(M).

Originally drawings existed for a roundabout at this junction but in order to save money amendments were made, replacing it with a T junction.

I have now heard from a knowledgeable farming friend that plans are being submitted by Amazon which will take up all of the agricultural land (currently growing oil seed rape) on one’s right whilst heading for Brough St. Giles.

It is obvious that upon exiting the proposed site another traffic hazard may well be created.

Knowing the workings of North Yorkshire County Council, I suspect that Amazon will approach Highways and suggest that if planning permission is granted, they will no doubt add an entry onto the roundabout and bend NYCC’s ear.

No doubt suggesting that if planning permission is granted, they will finance the creation of a third exit-entry leg on the reconstructed junction.

On page 71 of the D&S Times dated May 13, 2022 the headline proclaimed that the war in Ukraine has resulted in oil seed rape prices rocketing.

May I suggest that due consideration should be given to prohibit the destruction of agricultural land be it for housing or commercial development – reducing our reliance on imported food products.

Ken Walsh, Tunstall, Richmond.

Northern Ireland

WHAT part of the word democracy do the so called Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) not understand?

The DUP was the only party in the recent election in Northern Ireland to be opposed to the Protocol which means that the majority of those who voted were, by some margin, in favour of the Protocol. So what right do the DUP think they have to disrupt the forming of the Devolved Government in Northern Ireland, and, more importantly, why is the British Government so prepared to tarnish its deserved reputation for upholding treaties in order to placate the DUP, who, based on their performance in the last two elections, are rapidly losing the support of the electorate?

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.


THE more I read of our current political leaders, the more I am reminded of William Golding's book, Lord Of The Flies.

Any prime minister, any leader, faced with staff carelessly breaking rules in the very building where the leader lives and works, would have resigned in shame.

Even if uninvolved in any law breaking, that leader should resign. This leader was involved, and yet, there he is.

Alas, I fear the current incumbent is utterly shameless, as are his acolytes in their sycophantic support of him. Shame on them.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Help for the lonely

THE upcoming bank holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a wonderful opportunity to get together with friends, neighbours and loved ones, and relive happy memories.

But at The Silver Line Helpline we know that, for many older people, the celebrations and street parties taking place in cities, towns and villages across the North East will simply exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation that were already a struggle before the pandemic, but have been made worse by the restrictions and distress and damage Covid caused.

With the end of Covid restrictions, many people are quite rightly desperate to return to pre-pandemic life, but The Silver Line Helpline hears from many older people who feel more isolated and lonely than ever, with recent ONS statistics showing that one in six people aged 70-plus have reported feeling lonely.

So it might be a lovely way to celebrate by inviting an older member of the family or neighbour to a street party, or for a Jubilee lunch or cup of tea?

We also know that one in five older people still feel uncomfortable about leaving their home due to coronavirus, so if you have a relative, friend or neighbour who doesn’t feel like going out right now, then a phone call to see how they’re doing and have a chat can make the world of difference.

The Silver Line Helpline is also available 24/7, offering information and friendship to older people. I really recommend it, because I know the phone conversations, the exchange of memories, and the friendly chats can make a huge difference to the older people who call us.

We are free, confidential, and open all day and every night on 0800 4 70 80 90.

So if you know of an older person who you think could benefit from The Silver Line’s Helpline, please do share the number with them. That way we can make sure nobody feels alone.

To find out more about the vital work of The Silver Line Helpline please visit: www.thesilverline.org.uk.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of The Silver Line Helpline.

Gone to pot

WHATEVER is happening to snooker? I enjoyed it much more when no spectators were allowed.

At the recent world championships, we had referees prancing around like robots with faces like granite, rudely rebuking spectators for the slightest noise, the latest infringement being someone taking the wrapping paper off a sweet.

I reckon some spectators were deliberately coughing so they can watch it at home later and hear themselves.

Players were taking an age in deciding what shot to play, surely there should be a time limit?

Commentators dissected each shot and frame in minute detail and told us everything bar the players’ inside leg measurements.

Are the world championships an all male bastion? It certainly seems so and I’m surprised no one has commented on this before.

Perhaps it would be advantageous to all if the game was played in a soundproof glass dome.

Name supplied, County Durham.

Parliamentary charade

I HAD the misfortune to be stuck in front of the TV when the Queen’s Speech was being read in the House of Lords by the heir to the throne.

He seemed to be as bored as I was.

It looked like an act from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta without the humour.

Isn’t it about time we moved on from all this meaningless play acting of hitting a door with a lump of wood and got down to issues that beset the real world.

Edwin Pickering, Darlington.

On the brink

WORLD War Three is inevitable with our current political class.

Our politicians are of two kinds, the pugilists and the puppies.

The pugilists want to fight whatever the cost and the puppies although they may think differently, they are too morally scared to offer the obvious alternatives.

We continually fuel and incite the conflict in Ukraine with the risk that it may go out of control.

The stakes are going ever higher but we still take the gamble. If the gamble pays off we may have won the lottery but if it does not, it may be catastrophic.

We are the potential losers, our politicians are being given too big a matter to decide on our behalf. Demand a second opinion, someone do something, Ukraine has not gone away, it is worse.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Good Samaritans

LAST Saturday, my wife and I visited Barnard Castle.

Unfortunately my wife suffered a fall, and two nice gentlemen helped her up, waiting to see if she was okay, we all went for a cuppa and had a nice chat.

It turned out be they were brothers.

I was most grateful for their help. I didn't get their names, but a big thanks is in order.

It shows there is some decent people left. I hope they read this. Their help was most appreciated.

John Brant, Darlington.