Fair welcome

FOR the second year in succession, you have published comments from Alwyn Boulby complaining of the annual fair in Stokesley, “Street fair” (D&S Times letters, Sept 16).

I would point out that the fair comes only one week in the year.

It is a very long-established tradition like the Nottingham Goose Fair, Hull Fair, Yarm Fair and even the Hoppings at Newcastle.

People who have lived all their lives in Stokesley look forward to this annual event combined with the agricultural show.

Many of the town’s traders (butchers, greengrocers hairdressers etc) take the opportunity of closing their doors for a full week’s holiday.

Excited children save their pocket money each year to enjoy the many rides on offer.

The town is left in an immaculate state under the Showmen’s supervision whilst people living on West Green and College Square look forward to renewing friendships with the same travelling showmen’s families who have visited the town every September for many years.

John Tillotson, Stokesley.

Fund opportunity

A NEW round of funding has been announced by the Churchill Fellowship (CF), the first such funding since before the global lockdown.

This year there are 12 themes, including climate change, rural communities, tech for all and education in schools.

Applications must be submitted via the CF website by 5pm on Tuesday, November 22.

“This life-changing opportunity is open to all UK residents aged 18 or above, regardless of background, qualifications or age,” says Julia Weston, chief executive of the Churchill Fellowship, “We are looking for people with the passion and potential to make a real difference to their community or professional sector – and we assess on future possibilities, not past achievements. We will fund successful applicants (about 150 each year) to spend up to two months learning from the innovators in their chosen field anywhere in the world, in person or online, and then help them to share their ideas and inspire change across the UK.”

The online option is new – in whole or in conjunction with travel abroad – and was developed through a successful pilot during the pandemic.

As a previous beneficiary of the scheme in 1994. I can testify to the accuracy of Julia Weston’s description that a Churchill Fellowship is a life changing opportunity.

In 1995 I travelled in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands for two months, to bring back ideas relevant to the (then) future re-opening of the rural Wensleydale Railway, for economic, social and environmental reasons.

Passenger trains returned to Leyburn in 2003 and to Redmire in 2004 – but there is still work to do to re-instate the full 40 mile route back to Garsdale – it’s a work in progress!

Now climate change and carbon reduction targets, allied with sharply rising fuel prices and policies to reduce air pollution, make some of this year’s themes for CF applicants especially meaningful. Perhaps you, or someone you know – would be interested in applying for a Churchill Fellowship?

The full list of themes for current applications includes the four listed above plus arts and communities; palliative and end of life care; caring for our natural environment; children and young people with experience of care; resilient economies and communities; suicide prevention, intervention and postvention; physical activity for healthier lives; and an open theme.

More information and application FAQs are given on the website www.churchillfellowship.org

Ruth Annison, Askrigg.

Fleeing Russians

AS Vladimir Putin seeks to mobilise his reserves it may be time to reconsider our policy on refugees from the Ukraine war.

There is a case for letting in Ukrainians who are too young or too old to contribute to the war effort at home, along with enough carers to look after them.

Beyond that, our combined objectives of helping Ukraine defend itself and saving the lives of its citizens may be better served by giving asylum to Russians who would otherwise be sent to fight there.

Their earnings would need to be limited to their spending here so that they cannot repatriate funds.

John Riseley, Harrogate.

Extending the gap

THE ever-popular BBC TV series Frozen Planet is about to tackle its chilliest moment yet – the ice cold heart of the Conservative government.

The Tories believe the gap between rich and poor is still not wide enough, so have done their very best to rectify the situation.

They have announced a list of major tax cuts for the wealthy, making pretty damn sure their wallets remain sufficiently stuffed to survive the cost-of-living crisis.

Scrapping the limit on bankers’ bonuses and a juicy cut in the top rate of income tax (from 45 per cent to 40 per cent) is what we have come to expect from the Tory hierarchy who are becoming more like Robbing Hood than Robin Hood.

Levelling up was buried under the mountains of truffles and champagne corks discarded by the elite.

There were more celebratory cocktails supped than James Bond.

Now the government have conned people into believing the trickle-down effect is the best economic medicine one can take.

The Chancellor didn’t even try to hide the fact that the Tories are the party for the wealthy. They relished in it. Let’s not forget this is the same government who had to be dragged screaming to reverse the cut to feed hungry children during the school holidays.

The same party that pays carers a paltry £69.70 allowance for 35-hours’ work.

And the same party who are set to unleash controversial measures to strip benefits from working Universal Credit claimants unless they take ‘’active steps to seek more or better paid work’’.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Policy failure

CHANCELLOR Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget is about a massive transfer of wealth from the majority to the rich. The penny tax cut gimmick, along with repressive laws to shackle workers, frame an economic policy that has already proved a failure.

This new wealth won’t be invested in our economy’s productive resources.

Instead, it’ll go on property speculation or offshore.

This extremist project has already been given the thumbs down where you’d expect it to be welcomed – the world’s money markets.

Bible of capitalism, the Financial Times, has even forecast a possible sterling crisis. Liz Truss has won the internal fight within the Tory party. Neo-liberalism versus State intervention. The latter produced regional characters like attention-seeker Ben Houchen. Nationally, it spewed out Boris Johnson.

Levelling-up and an ‘’end to austerity’’ were the Tories’ counter to Jeremy Corbyn Labour’s hugely popular 2017 manifesto. The residue of this popular feeling has re-emerged in widespread public support for the strike-wave animating the UK.

Pathetic Labour leader Keir Starmer’s war on his own members and Mr Kwarteng’s anti-working class rants about ‘’militants’’ show how out-of-touch the Westminster elite are.

Labour should be leading the people into battle, but will it? Silly question!

C Walker, Darlington.

Lost knowledge

SOME of the reaction from the press to King Charles talking about his mother reminded me of the reaction to Lucian Freud’s painting of the Queen.

In a photograph of him painting, she is sitting with normal “public” face, but like his famous ancestor, Freud saw more than most of us.

I think he painted a powerful, world travelled, experienced lady with so much character he maybe found it too much.

As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. A sentiment lost on, of all people, a librarian serving me.

Also looking at this picture of the Queen reminded me of the saying “when an elder dies we lose an encyclopaedia”.

So true because they can put the meat on those bare bones of official records.

But what an encyclopaedia the royals – and we – have lost.

C Davison, Billingham.

Best of British

THE funeral of HM The Queen was Britain at its best.

No other country would have pulled that off with such pomp.

The Royal Navy lads and lasses, the pall bearers and all the other members of the Armed Forces were just magnificent, precision perfect with the world looking on.

I heard all sorts of comments, mainly good, I hope there is a few awards given out in the near future. Well deserved.

John Brant, Darlington.

Wage justification

I WATCHED the tirade of Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, a passionate cry on behalf of the fire fighters’ wages, talking about them joining the food bank, desperately trying to make ends meet in the coming winter.

Not knowing a fire fighter’s salary I Googled it and came up with Fire Brigades Union figures.

For a leading firefighter the salary is £32,244 a year, which is the equivalent to £620 a week (not a wage to have to go to a food bank you would have thought).

So why is Andy so desperate to give them a increase I wondered, so I Googled Andy’s wage.

For mayor of Greater Manchester, the salary is £110,000 a year, which is the equivalent of £2,115 a week.

If you’re earning this amount a week the firefighter wage must seem in context extremely poor.

It isn’t, it’s your wage that can’t be justified, Andy, you receive more per day than a pensioner receives per week.

Norman Kellett, Co Durham.

Extreme views

AT the 2019 General Election, one of the reasons for Labour’s defeat was that the UK electorate rejected the left-wing extremism of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, who then controlled the party, and, in my view rightly, doubted their fitness to govern.

Unfortunately, the electorate did not seem to realise that the Conservative Party had also been taken over by its own right-wing extremists.

As a result, we were subjected to Boris Johnson’s government, with its lies, incompetence, and intolerance of any opposition to its views, whether from the law, Parliament, or the people.

Now, with Liz Truss, the right-wing extremists are even more firmly in control, and continue to pursue policies which clearly lack the support of the majority of the British people.

Hopefully voters will have learnt from this experience, and in future avoid supporting any political party which preaches extremism, whether of the Left or the Right.

Fortunately, the Labour Party has come to its senses, and under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, is offering a sensible moderate alternative to Conservative extremism (as do several other parties).

The big problem is the mess that our country will probably be in when the right-wing extremists are finally thrown out of office.

Alan Jordan, Middridge.

Bankers bonuses

THOSE of you who are bankers, and desperate to buy a fur coat, you are in luck. If you feel the need (why be kind when you can be cruel) to eat foie gras, your wish is granted. If you think your enormous bonus should be bigger, your boat is has just come in. The rest of us, just weep.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Bridge name

DESPITE its troubled history may I, through your newspaper, propose that the North Northallerton Bridge be named in honour of our late Queen.

Robert Carter, Brompton, Northallerton.