Lack of logic

I AM in my mid 70s and for health reasons I am currently unable to drive. Having congratulated ourselves on choosing to buy a house within easy access of a bus route for when such a scenario should arise, I am now very disillusioned.

I accept that our hourly 73 bus service between Northallerton and Bedale is unlikely to revert to its pre-Covid half hourly service and frequent roadworks inevitably upset the timetable. What I cannot accept, without a satisfactory explanation, is that the operators of the 16.50, 53 bus from Northallerton to Leeming village refuse to transport passengers other than those alighting in Leeming village.

For some reason it would appear that they would prefer to leave passengers, often elderly, waiting at a cold wet bus stop for the later 17.05, 73 service which, in my accepted limited experience, has been on average 20 minutes late.

To add to this lack of logic, on the day that I was refused travel, the 53 bus was transporting just two passengers. When the 73 eventually arrived at The Buck Inn some passengers were forced to stand for their journey. It is not surprising the 17.05 service is so full when the next bus doesn't depart until 18.35. Spreading some of the passenger load on to the earlier 53 bus would therefore seem sensible?

I don't imagine I will be alone in looking forward to receiving that satisfactory explanation from a representative of Hodgsons Buses but more especially a lifting of these apparent illogical restrictions.

Pamela Moffat, Morton on Swale.

Let's Talk

I WAS extremely disappointed to read an article on the Let’s Talk public engagement campaign ahead of the launch of a new council in North Yorkshire (D&S Times North Yorkshire edition, Dec 2).

The article and the editorial comment claimed that the information gathered through the countywide conversation with the public would not help make an informed decision on policies and the budget for the new North Yorkshire Council that will launch on April 1 next year, which could not be further from the truth.

North Yorkshire County Council and the county’s seven district and borough authorities have embarked on the largest ever engagement exercise of its kind to be held in North Yorkshire, gathering the views and opinions of thousands of members of the public. Supported by more than 200 face-to-face pop-up events, this conversation is reaching communities we have not previously engaged with.

So far, we have received more than 5,700 responses from people living in communities across North Yorkshire, and many residents have given us valuable insights into what makes their communities so special – and what could be done to improve the places where they live and work.

The whole point of the Let’s Talk campaign, which can be found at online, is to gather the views of the residents and businesses to ensure the new council remains the most locally-focused in the country while covering the largest geographical area of any authority in England.

Let’s Talk is also seeking people’s views on the financial priorities of the new council, which is especially important given the inflationary pressures and the cost of living crisis faced by the country as a whole.

In addition, we are seeking the public’s opinions on the long-awaited proposed devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire, which has the potential to transform the region, bringing new jobs, better education and training, improved transport links and additional affordable housing.

We value the views of every one of the county’s 600,000-plus residents, and Let’s Talk is providing us with an invaluable opportunity to gather opinions and listen. Everyone’s feedback will be vital in helping shape what is such an important – and exciting – moment in North Yorkshire’s local democracy.

Cllr Carl Les, leader, North Yorkshire County Council.

Council challenge

I ATTENDED the "public questions and statements" part of the North Yorkshire County Council Executive meeting on November 29, as referred to in the article by Stuart Minting (D&S Times North Yorkshire edition, Dec 2), to raise the issue of the confusing, poor quality and inadequate Let’s Talk consultation process currently underway.

The online and paper survey forms include the question "what should the new council prioritise over the next three years?" and invites respondents to place 11 phrases in rank order. The phrases appear to be an almost random selection ranging across "jobs and skills", "climate change" and "town centres".

There is no information about what the new council might do in relation to any of these 11 phrases or what costs might be involved. "Value for money" is a no-cost issue and, surely, important to everyone but it is to be "ranked" against "education and childcare" that accounts for almost £600m of county council spending.

I was surprised that the reply was read out to me by an official rather than one of the elected Councillors. The reply said these phrases are themes and that different responses from different areas would enable the new council to work with different communities on the issues of greatest importance to them.

It is bizarre to contemplate that two residents both with poor health but living in different parts of the county could end up with different levels of priority simply because of how their neighbours ranked these themes in their survey responses.

It was also said that this was an initial step, but what and when will we know what the other steps of consultation are?

This survey – as it is clearly named on the website – is being done in the name of the governing Executive councillors of North Yorkshire. I believe that people should not ask others to do something that they would not (or could not) do themselves. On that basis, I challenged all the councillors on the Executive to address and publish their responses to that part of the survey.

I have emailed each one individually to repeat that challenge. The purpose is to ask them to engage in the process as they have asked residents to do. Either it is a valid and valuable way to gain people’s views – in which case their views as prominent, civic leaders are of public interest, or it is a meaningless gesture – in which case there is no point in them or anyone else responding. Their actions in responding to this challenge will speak louder than any words.

Helen Tomlinson, Sowerby.

Combined authority

YORK and North Yorkshire is being offered a Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA). This will add further bureaucracy at great extra cost to the community.

MCA’s may be appropriate in densely populated areas with several local authorities (eg West Yorkshire), where services like housing and transport must be coordinated over a wide area, and there is a need for someone to be in overall control to balance the competing interests of the different authorities.

In North Yorkshire the situation is different. Whereas West Yorkshire has a population of 2.2m, North Yorkshire and York has about 666,000 spread over a much larger area.

Furthermore under the new structure of local government, the new North Yorkshire Council should be able to carry out the functions of the mayor. If the powers of the new council prove inadequate, then the Government should increase them.

As regards expenses, the MCA would have to pay the mayor a substantial salary. The mayor of West Yorkshire receives more than £100,000. In addition the mayor needs supporting staff and for this West Yorkshire advertised five posts averaging £52,000 each. On top of this is the cost of the mayoral election itself. In Manchester the cost of setting up the MCA were £5m, with running costs of £2m pa.

In North Yorkshire the cost should be less, but this gives some idea of what is involved.

It would be a disaster if the savings made on the reorganisation of local government were lost in adding another tier to the existing system.

Those opposed to the MCA have until December 16 to make comments to the council on

Hugh Wrigley, Easingwold.

Trust membership

FIRST of all through this column, I would like to thank all the members of South Tees NHS Hospital Trust (STH) for their support in the recent governor elections giving me a mandate of 73 per cent of votes cast and allowing me a final term of office representing Hambleton/Richmondshire to continue work to increase the range of services offered at the Friarage in Northallerton and to improve safe care and the patient experience across the whole of the STH area.

Secondly, however, and most importantly, this letter urges readers to become members of STH in order that their experiences and their voices can inform this work. The role of member is free to anyone resident in the area and carries some benefits, not least of which is having a channel to express concerns or to comment on the running of our local hospitals and health services. STH offers members the opportunity to contribute to the discussion about how our local hospitals are developed now and in the future. It offers you a chance to stay informed about what is happening in our hospitals and we encourage members to have an active role in shaping services and standards for the future. Membership applications can be made at

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with existing governors and newly elected governor Sophie Walker to learn from your experiences and to represent your views at the council of governors.

Janet Crampton, Scruton.

Long lost dialects

DIALECT is an interesting subject as portrayed in the feature about the exhibition celebrating the rich dialect of the dales (D&S Times, Nov 25). I have, in recent years, felt that regional dialect is disappearing or becoming milder. My North Devon grandparents certainly used a far more exaggerated accent than any heard around those parts today.

My Scottish-born mother lived for a short while in Ripon before she passed away. The Saturday's Yorkshire Post (sorry, a competitor!) magazine section had a regular article featuring "Yorkshire words". She often commented on how many she could remember from her early farming background childhood. An interesting crossover probably inherited from the days of drovers.

Sandy Delf, Skelton-on-Ure.

Staying positive

YOUR correspondent Neil Tunningley (D&S Times letters, Oct 21) proposed that I contribute some positive proposals about what the government should be doing now. My suggestions are compatible with almost every handbook on management and government ever written.

We should start by identify the pressing problems. The problems I identify is long term relative economic decline, and associated social and political decline, evidenced by flatlining growth in GDP, incomes and wages, declining public services, failures in public services, environmental degradation evidenced by global warming, floods, sewage spills, security failures across the board from our pervious borders to internet fraud, market and financial failures in investment evidenced by our very low levels of productivity. The government should get a grip and develop a long- term economic plan.

Having identified the real problems we need to work out what causes them and what can be done to solve them. The major causes of our relative failures are that our wealth owners under-invest in GB and focus on short term, not long term, profits. The answer is a more proactive role for the Bank of England, Treasury and regional forums in promoting long term investment in Great Britain.

The next proposal is that the government have a vision and a plan, an idea of the sort of county we can have. Are we to focus on building our manufacturing or services; a financial or a knowledge economy; one aiming at output or environmental sustainability. I propose we focus on a green economic revolution, a knowledge economy and a public service revival around a real regional levelling up.

Finally, the government should start governing. Since 1979 Britain has engaged in a massive experiment with our lives, taking government and the state out, instead of governing. Neo-liberalism or Thatcherism as we know it, deemed everything public bad and private good. The results of the experiment are now in front of you – collapse of both public and private sectors, society and individuals impoverished, the British state in chaos and the market economy on life support. The remedy is to embrace the philosophy of a mixed economy, in which the state acts to assist the markets to thrive while ensuring the proceeds of growth are shared fairly by the regions, all citizens and public services. The British state should use its powers and money for the common wealth, not exclusively for the private wealth.

Rebuilding trading relations with our neighbours would help as well. End of sermon.

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby.