Footpath signs

WE would like to ask landowners why some fail to highlight rights of way across their land?

Of course, the obvious reason is to discourage people from using them, but as a regular walker I’ve got to say it is only more likely to cause us to linger on your land, trying to find our route, and then having to climb over gates or fences where the right of way is blocked by vehicles, equipment, or vegetation, or where stiles (if any) are poorly maintained.

The most rude person this week was a woman at Great Fencote, who having blocked the right of way through her farm with a locked gate and not signposted an alternative route, had the audacity to come to her door and shout at us as we consulted our map.

“It’s around the back of there, not in front of the house,” she shouted. When we suggested she put some waymarkers up, she said: “That is what you have your map for."

Well, the map took us in front of her house, but if she had simply put, even handmade signs up to reroute us around the farm buildings we would have happily done so.

The alternative was easy to use, clean, and clear of vegetation, unlike so many alternative routes, and not a problem.

I would like to think that most of us walkers are considerate to the landowners whose land is crossed by footpaths.

I know there are exceptions to this, but everyone I know just wants to enjoy the outdoors and cause the minimum of inconvenience to others.

We are conscious when we approach homes that it is someone’s personal space and don’t want to have to spend more time than we need to, we consult our map as we approach to understand our exit routes from the yard/drive/garden.

Maintenance of signs and stiles must be a minimum of effort and as the right of way crosses your land you have a duty to do so, but please also do it to make the countryside a welcoming place for everyone.

Julie and Sally Leonard, Marton, Middlesbrough.

Render removal

WHEN the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris in 1877, it was in response to the over-enthusiastic restoration of ancient churches, giving the society the nickname of "anti-scrape".

The reinstatement of the shelter coat to the church tower at Askrigg (D&S Times, Oct 14) would surely meet with Morris's approval.

In pursuit of so-called "historical authenticity", old coatings of lime render have often been removed from rubble walled and timber framed buildings in the mistaken belief that the building would be restored to its original appearance.

Unfortunately, the removal of such shelter coats has often allowed rainwater and penetrating damp to become established, leading to heavy repointing in dense impermeable cement mortars, causing lasting damage to the building fabric.

The removal of historic renders can also greatly change the appearance of the street scene; some years ago in Well Village Hall, some early photographs were on view, showing the main village street with almost every building rendered and whitewashed.

Today, following the 20th Century craze for the removal of early plaster coatings, almost every building has lost its render, thus greatly changing the appearance of the street, to my mind a regrettable change.

Tony Robinson, Romanby, Northallerton.

Unwelcome progress

IF all the political horrors of the last few days, months or even years are getting you down, then I do not want to add to your woes. However, I have to get this moan off my chest.

It is not the tomato soup Van Gogh incident or the waste of milk in the aisles of Waitrose that has upset me the most.

Nor is it that every garden centre has had Christmas on display since the beginning of October.

My complaint is the spread of self-service tills in our shops.

In the past, I have tried the dreadful things. They would flash angry messages at me until an ever-patient assistant came to the rescue. So, I have avoided them assiduously.

Newspaper reports tell of the millions of pounds lost every year in stolen items at these tills, as reported in The Times: "Many customers who would not see themselves as thieves are happy to 'cheat' computerised tills, say criminologists. Such deceits account for losses of £500 million a year."

I am sure most people are honest, but that is a lot of money to lose.

Yet the march of progress goes on. Imagine my horror, when a whole new suite of self-service tills were installed in my local supermarket.

I love the interaction between myself and the assistant on the check-out.

Chatting as my goods are conveyed towards the till, I do not feel stressed.

We talk about the weather, my garden, holidays or that nice man on Strictly.

Over time, they get to know you. They spot the bashed tin that you picked up and remind you to use your coupons and points card.

For some living on their own, it can be their only interaction with another person in the week.

In my experience, the shop assistants are most kind and helpful towards the elderly and vulnerable. I'm heading towards that category, so I appreciate the kindness.

It is the jobs that I worry about. Many shop assistants work part-time to fit around children at school or care for relatives.

We have to have jobs for people and replacing humans with machines does not seem a sensible economic idea to me no matter how sophisticated the new technology becomes.

I will continue to queue at the human check-out and if a robot turns up to service my gas boiler next week, I will be very cross.

Terence Fleming, Guisborough.

Snare cruelty

I REFER to the Countryman's Daughter column on the fox's skull (D&S Times, Oct 14).

The owner of the skull found the mummified carcass in a running snare.

Running snares must be the cruellest of deaths for any wild animal.

A wire so fine they cut into the skin of the fox, if left as this one was a slow painful death ensues, possibly of starvation or thirst, or as the animal struggles perhaps bleeding to death.

Where foxes multiply to such an extent they become a nuisance, culling is required perhaps.

A bullet can despatch them quickly.

A running snare, particularly one where the hunter is lazy and does not inspect his traps regularly, is the worst option of all.

Given its history, I cannot see the fascination of this macabre memento.

Richard Baker, Middleton One Row.

Ideas please

ONCE again we have a rambling sermon from Dr John R Gibbons complaining about the “fantasy economics” of the Government (D&S Times letters, Oct 14)

Like so many commentators of his ilk he is full of negativity but as usual never puts forward any positive ideas on how he would tackle the problems facing the country.

It is easy and cheap to criticise but much more difficult to come up with solutions.

I would like to hear his ideas, if any.

Neil Tunningley, Newby Wiske.

Borrowing costs

I SUSPECT the planned extra borrowing to cover now abandoned tax cuts was no more than the straw breaking global confidence in the UK as a debtor.

We were already heading for that debacle with the mega borrowing for furlough, to pay the Covid unemployed 80 per cent of their salary rather than the normal job seekers' allowance, and that needed to fund the price cap – or rather subsidy – on energy.

Keir Starmer can rightly claim he would never have dreamed of taking less in tax. But he egged on the government to those larger extravagances and, given the chance, would have outdone them in this.

We see the parties bidding, through public borrowing, for the allegiance of voters who have all too willingly embraced the ethos that any financial difficulty of theirs is to be borne by the tax payer and preferably the future tax payer.

He tells us that Zach and Rebecca are sick to the back teeth at losing their mortgage offer. They are among the luckiest couples in the country. Had the crisis come later they would have found themselves among those facing unaffordable interest rates and negative equity, and Sir Keir’s fingerprints will be all over this.

John Riseley, Harrogate.

Lame ducks

LIZ TRUSS was arguably never a legitimate Prime Minister, as she lacked an electoral mandate for her radical new policies. Now, with her keystone economic policy abandoned, after inflicting grave damage on our country, she is effectively yet another lame duck. This is exactly what our country doesn’t need in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and for this the Tories are entirely to blame, and must pay the price.

Nevertheless, I do recognise that the Conservative Party represents a legitimate point of view and is a vital part of UK politics. However, there is no doubt that this once great party is now badly split, and in a complete mess, and needs a period of time in opposition to decide exactly what it stands for in the 21st Century.

Thus, I believe that as soon as practical a general election must be held. However, unlike Boris Johnson’s last “do nothing government”, this time we need a “caretaker” government with an acting Prime Minister with the power to do whatever is necessary in the interim to cope with the current crisis.

Consequently, Liz Truss should resign both as leader of the Conservative Party, and as Prime Minister. Two lame Tory ducks in a year is enough!

Alan Jordan, Middridge.

Backing Nigel

I HATE to say this but we need a general election even though Labour will win with Keir Starmer (that leaf that goes in whatever direction the wind blows), as leader.

The Conservative government at the moment is a shambles, and Liz Truss has lost all credibility.

They need time out, to establish credibility again, elect a new leader and re-establish their true values.

I consider the best leader by far for any party would be Nigel Farage.

If you listen to him on GB News, he has by far the best insight into how to solves our economics, immigration, energy problems, to name but a few.

Thomas Ball, Barnard Castle.

Public sector cut backs

IT would appear we are heading for another period of austerity with cutbacks to essential services. Why not start with the government itself?

Do we need 650 MPs all on a minimum of £85,000 plus expenses. We have 750 members of the House of Lords, only China has a larger sitting chamber.

Add to this the pen pushers, advisors, and private secretaries – the mind boggles at the cost.

Surely the money could be better used paying a proper wage to our essential workers such as our nurses and carers who know what it is to do a proper day's work

Peter Curtis, Darlington.

Still rings true

"THOSE whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad".

An old quote from long ago, but never more true than today.

We can forgive our politicians much, except stupidity. What we see each day seems to be a new level of what we might call madness. It is probably just stupidity, and unforgivable.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Restaurant review

IN response to Malcolm Warne’s review of the Northallerton Inn (D&S Times, Oct 14), I have not dined there yet but my family stayed there recently and were very complimentary about all the facilities offered.

May I ask why Mr Warne dined in that particular area as there are several seating areas away from the delightful front door.

It is also a shame that he made no mention of the vast car park at the rear which is a plus point in the centre of the busy Northallerton High Street.

Gloria Rawle, East Cowton.