Bridge to nowhere

IT looks as if the link road over the East Coast Main Line between Stone Cross and Darlington Road has been completed for some time, as the attached photograph shows.

When will it be opened to give the motorists and pedestrians of Northallerton some relief?

Ian Smithson, Northallerton.

A-board danger

I WAS interested to read about Yarm’s action on A-boards and have believed for a long time they should be outlawed “Plea for action on high street A-boards” (D&S Times, Jul 22).

Many years ago my husband was driving me home from a hospital appointment in Darlington. It was a breezy day and as we drove along a gust of wind lifted a very heavy A-board and hurled it at me on the passenger side.

My husband swerved across into the oncoming traffic lane and the A-board took out the whole passenger side of our car, but saved me from death or serious injury.

There then ensued a fight between our insurance company and the person responsible for the board for the substantial cost of repairs.

Anyone putting out A-boards should understand their responsibility and liabilities to the public.

It’s time all councils were reviewing the situation and banning them.

K Harris, Barnard Castle.

Fact finding

AMONGST the clamour and partiality of the current Tory Party leadership contest it’s difficult to distinguish between facts and myths.

A smattering of authentic encomia flourish alongside bad faith and widespread dissembling. As always "truth" is viewed through ideological telescopes or launched from media platforms with clear political agenda.

Little in this environment is conducive to promoting a much-needed, informed and considered public debate.

At this time such a debate is essential as we fast approach a position where a third PM in six years is anointed by a handful (0.2 per cent) of predominantly older, male, white and well-off voters living mainly in southern England.

It is they who will determine an outcome of enormous significance for the UK as a whole. The unpalatable fact is that the overwhelming majority of voters are merely spectators to this increasingly ugly and democratically corrupting process.

Fortunately, there is a mechanism available to cut through the self-serving drivel generated during the debate and hence to consider candidates’ actions as opposed to their rhetoric.

The little-known website is a factual record of MPs' individual voting behaviour in the House of Commons.

As such it provides evidence about how an MP has voted across a spectrum of policies since first entering Parliament.

Don’t expect coherence or consistency. The data reflects an individual’s interests, values and commitments historically, but it can also act as a reliable indicator of their future behaviour.

In general the public is unaware or uninterested in the fine details of their elected representatives political lives, but scrutiny of the data base provides a comprehensive picture of an MP’s affiliations, ideology and mental architecture through time and across policy areas.

At this juncture it provides one of the best tools for evaluating and comparing the present leadership candidates.

Of course, the availability of relevant information guarantees nothing and the vast majority of us will have to watch others make decisions (very often with little objective evidence).

A good friend tells me, like many aspects of our political system, nothing can be done about this democratic deficit.

True, but we don’t have to be hoodwinked into who these characters are, how they voted in practice and the fantasist narratives used to explain their present persona. Caveat emptor.

R C Pennington, Stokesley.

Treasury location

WE write as Darlington businesspeople to express thanks to Rishi Sunak, following the announcement of the location for the new Treasury campus on the old car park on Brunswick Street.

The site has been derelict for many years and is visible to any visitor, creating a bad impression.

Now that the site will be redeveloped, becoming the location of numerous well-paid public servants, it will add to the economic vitality of Darlington and put us back on the map as a place decisions are made that affect our national economy.

The announcement of the new economic campus has already influenced asset values in the town, with increased demand for quality offices, in turn delivering good investment returns for owners. In the housing market, property values are strong and rental demand high; people want to live in Darlington because the town is on the up.

"Levelling up" is already happening here. It is partly because of the work of Mayor Ben Houchen, good council leadership and the personal interest demonstrated by the former Chancellor and leadership contender Rishi Sunak.

The news is full of negativity, but this is something tangible, positive and important. We are pleased our town is at the heart of it.

Graham Robb, Recognition PR, Elizabeth Armstrong, Latimer Hinks, Ben Quaintrell, My Property Box, Nick Tompkins, Modus, Matthew Wharton, Wharton Construction.

Christian nation

THE political parties may not “do God”, but Britain does.

Our head of state, at her coronation made certain promises, on oath, speaking on behalf of the whole nation and in particular her government, to maintain the laws of God, and the settlement of the Church of England, and the true profession of the Gospel.

A legal document which she duly signed thus made Britain officially, legally, and constitutionally a Christian nation, obliged by Act of Parliament to carry out those promises.

And since our Queen rules through her government ministers, it is up to them to keep these promises and to be seen to be keeping them.

Throughout the last 70 years of her reign, successive governments have been active in breaking those promises, disappointing, disillusioning and alienating all those who long for good government and justice in our land.

The only way forward is to repent and to start doing what was promised.

But before we point the finger, are we not all guilty?

Judith Bull, Guisborough.

Good riddance

MISSION largely accomplished according to the outgoing Prime Minister.

Just what mission he had in mind I’m not quite sure.

As far as I can see we have received little or no benefit from our half-baked Brexit deal and the Irish problem has not been resolved.

In fact, I would suggest the main reason for our having the second worst economy in Europe has been greatly influenced by Brexit.

With the latest figures on Covid over three million it would be hasty to claim any credit for winning this particular battle.

Inflation is at its highest for 40 years and yet Mr Johnson persists in boasting about his achievements.

We should not be surprised by the outcome of his tenure as in previous occupations his ineptness was frequently exposed. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Edwin Pickering, Darlington.

Leadership race

The Tories are facing an election, so naturally we hear sound bites on immigration.

We can be sure, however, that even if it is “controlled and legal” under them it will still be large scale and demographically transformational. Their key supporters get off on cheaper labour and pushing up property prices.

Not, of course, that the other parties offer any alternative. For Labour, migrants are potential Labour voters.

The Lib Dems lean further the same way out of their own blend of woolly-mindedness, virtue signalling and terror of being labelled racist. To make an independent Scotland credible, the SNP would welcome settlers of every nation except the English.

It puts one in sympathy with the at-the-time scandalous Dinky toy election van slogan “Don’t vote, it only encourages them”. Even Russell Brand telling me not to can hardly bring me to vote again.

And yet, when we cease to care which of them wins, we become empowered to punish those who inflict this stunted choice upon us. The current crop of MPs has the power to give us reform in time for the next general election.

The present system delivers rough justice to candidates. We can vote to ensure that the reform-blockers feel its roughest edge.

The uncertainty of re-election in such a climate must be made to outweigh that feared from allowing granularity of choice.

John Riseley, Harrogate.

Will he be back?

BORIS Johnson made his farewell speech to a packed House of Commons.

Few PMs have been hounded out of office in quite the same manner as he has.

His time as PM finished with more twists and turns than the Isle of Man TT.

True to form Boris went out in style – action man with a line lifted straight from the Terminator movie franchise.

''Hasta la vista, baby'', which translates ''see you later''.

This was an apparent reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger's cinematic catchphrase, also famous for the line, ''I'll be back''.

But will Boris be back? Maybe only in a re-run of goofy political clips.

Meanwhile we are down to a field of two in the race to be the next terrible Prime Minister.

But just who will take the crown – the Iron Lady or the Iron Laddie?

Liz Truss, who models herself on Margaret Thatcher, proves without a shadow of a doubt robots can take over mankind.

Then there's Rishi Sunak, the man who actually did “terminate” Boris.

From Terminator to determinator – as Chancellor he hiked taxes to record busting levels while his family avoided paying their fair share.

Some may say ''come back Boris all is forgiven''.

Boris the man even admits the work he has achieved for the country meant ''mission largely accomplished – for now'', leading to the speculation, if properly reprogrammed, he could make a return in the near future.

To borrow a line from the first Terminator movie: "The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Food waste

A FEW questions regarding the surplus food shop in James Cook Hospital “New eco shop opens at hospital” (D&S Times, Jul 15).

How can surplus food be a landfill candidate?

If it’s still edible, then under no circumstances should it be destroyed.

There is a crucial difference between the “sell by” date – purely for the stores purpose – and “use by” date. Even the latter ought to be flexible.

To simply bin, say bacon, due to date, is wasteful. Open and check – if it smells okay then get it in the pan!

Can the foodbanks legally supply anything past the “use by” date on the product?

I’m thinking here about complaints concerning mouldy bread and past it fruit and veg.

GB Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Nature’s warnings

THE basic fact of life that seems to have escaped notice is that unlike solids, liquids and gases, our flora and fauna have taken control of their future to some extent.

Even simple life tries to ensure their future continues in their young by leaving them in an environment that will give them a sustainable future.

We are now in danger of not being able to do this.

Despite nature giving us serious warnings, too many of us not only want to continue as before but even want to do more of that which is taking us to the brink.

As a gardener, I’ve noticed droughts increasing, this one has lasted about three or four months.

Yet, I see no acknowledgement of this or actions to solve it.

We really need to change land and sea abuse globally.

Maybe William Cowper’s poem from the 1800s is even more relevant now:

When nations are to perish in their sins

It’s at the top the leprosy begins

While leaders doze and sleep upon the brink

Others poison what the flock must drink.

C Davison, Billingham.