Scorton Lakes

For 15 years I have walked at Scorton Lakes. It has been a delight to see the raw quarries progressively transformed by imaginative landscaping, planting, path creation and habitat management.

Tarmac have done a simply brilliant job. No wonder Scorton residents want to protect the site against the Disneyfication described in last week’s D&S (Villagers ready to fight major tourism scheme, North Yorkshire edition, Dec 9).

Tarmac has every right to feel annoyed too; why put so much effort into restorations if they are promptly turned into holiday-home estates?

One of the partners in the scoping request says the development will focus on “wellness”; the other (the Duke of Northumberland’s estates company) claims on its website “to impact the environment positively”.

Most visitors to this wonderful reserve probably feel that these aims have already been met, and that any further changes are purely meant to line the developers’ pockets.

Carl Les, leader-to-be of the new unitary council, says the public’s views will be vital in shaping the future of North Yorkshire.

No doubt the council will be listening to the residents of Scorton, then, and watching the response from Richmondshire’s planners.

Nicholas Reckert, Richmond.

READ MORE: Villagers gear up to fight major Scorton Lakes tourism development


I SEE the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner would like us to pay more towards a service which barely functions as it is (Views are sought on cost of 999 services, D&S Times, Dec 9).

A month ago, I wrote to her complaining about the fact that the 101 phone line does not work, as no-one picks up.

It took one month for her aide to email me (using an email address from a previous, fruitless complaint/response).

Amazingly, I was asked to re-submit my complaint online even though the aide had a perfectly legible and cogent complaint in front of her.

How does one complain if not a computer user, I wonder?

Since I took the time to write about my concerns, the least I think I could have expected was the courtesy of a reply from the commissioner, not instructions from an aide to re-submit online.

I suggest no-one sanctions extra money for a service which in recent years has collapsed into dysfunctionality.

L Marsay, Stokesley.


I HAVE never submitted a letter to a newspaper, and I have never intended to, but I simply have to share something I witnessed in the Central Coffee House, Northallerton, on the morning of Saturday, December 10 – if not only to offer a balance to all the doom and gloom that we currently seem to be submitted to.

A very pleasant and friendly gentleman with obvious communication difficulties entered the coffee shop and informed the young lady at the counter that he had “no money today”, and “could you treat me”.

The young lady immediately offered him something, and engaged in very pleasant conversation with him, telling him not to worry about paying today. Whilst waiting for his food, he found a small plastic bag in his pocket, with some coins in, and immediately tried to see if he had enough money to pay, at which the young lady again told him not to worry, and to sit down while they brought his food over.

Shortly after, another customer, who was there with his wife, went up to the counter and discreetly offered to pay for the gentleman’s food, but was kindly turned down by the young lady. However, the customer insisted, and the young lady had to accept his offer.

What I witnessed really did affect me and made me reflect on my own selfishness in so many aspects of my life. I take my hat off to the staff at the Central Coffee House, to the customer who offered to pay, and to the gentleman in question, who showed great appreciation and humility for the kindness that was shown to him.

Peter Swan, Appleton Wiske.

Our landscapes

“VALUE of our landscape has never been more important,” says Rishi Sunak in his column (D&S Times, Dec 9) – and especially so, it appears, if it is to be sold for retail parks, service stations, designer villages, housing estates, factories and garden centres.

The landscape has a very high value indeed.

It is apparently now comparatively worthless for traditional uses, such as growing food crops or hosting a wide variety of endangered species, such as the curlews currently using some of the sites (presumably they didn’t pay and so are of no value).

Perhaps productive farm land is now to be designated further up in the Dales National Park (I look forward to seeing the gentle Dales breeze whispering through acres of golden wheat above Keld). National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it seems, are now to be the only acceptable and permitted landscapes – landscape zoos.

Then they can really come into their own, as prime income generators.

An annual tax to live in them and visitor passes, as a start.

Yes, it seems as though the value of our landscape has never been more important and indeed it will be used make a fine profit; the old saying knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing describes the situation perfectly.

Susan Chipping, Catterick Garrison.

Road closures

I WRITE with frustration at the latest news regarding road closures in Swaledale, the B6108 is closed this week for three days, the B6270 has been closed since November 7 and will not now reopen until December 22.

This has significantly impacted the number of visitors reaching Reeth and Upper Swaledale and seriously impacted revenues at businesses up and down the dale.

Communication from Richmondshire and North Yorkshire County Council, combined with total lack of timely notification and diversion signage has put small businesses, already suffering from increased costs and reduced income on an even weaker financial footing.

I estimate that our final quarter revenues will be down by 60 per cent in comparison with 2021.

We have Christmas stock that will be unsold, it may not have a sell-by date on it, but nevertheless, it represents costs that we cannot recover for another year.

Unsold stock represents significant loss of earnings across sales in retail and craft spaces, of which we are just one.

Operators of businesses in Reeth have been cut off from potential customers for the whole of the pre-Christmas season in 2022.

The question is, what is the councils’ response, or are they too busy spending ratepayers money on £100,000 pay-offs for chief executives?

I remind all public servants that this is what you are, servants of the public.

Name and address supplied.

Lords proposals

LABOUR leader, Keir Starmer says he wants to turn the House of Lords into a fully elected chamber.

On the face of it, this proposal sounds democratic but, unfortunately, it could lead to the frequent paralysis of the legislative system, as in the USA, where the two elected houses are often controlled by opposing parties.

At present, there are both hereditary and life peers (and even bishops) in the Lords; and, because none are elected by the people, this Upper House is mainly a revising chamber, unwilling directly to take on the elected House of Commons.

If, however, the Lords were all elected, they would have a democratic mandate to do just that; meaning that Keir Starmer’s Labour Commons could be continually frustrated by his new Upper House, controlled by other parties.

In my view, a workable compromise would be to scrap the hereditary peers and bishops, retaining only the life peers; most of whom have valuable life-experience and have far less incentive to consider the effects of their actions on the result of the next General Election.

Cllr Steve Kay (Ind), Moorsholm, east Cleveland.

Elected Lords

LORDS Reform is a niche subject, but this can be achieved.

For legal reasons this must be in the first two years of a Labour government.

That government must be prepared to take the necessary action of creating 200 or 300 peers determined to end the current membership.

It is merely necessary to decide who should be elected to sit instead in the replacement reviewing chamber.

Do not let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of the good.

An elected house of some kind is much better than what we have now.

Cllr Nigel Boddy (Lib Dem), North Road Ward, Darlington.

Coal go-ahead

ON October 25, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proclaimed that his government would have integrity, that trust is earned and that he would earn ours.

On November 7 at COP27 he talked about a global mission for new jobs and clean growth, bequeathing our children a greener planet, and fulfilling the UK’s commitment to reducing emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030.

Then, on December 7, Mr Sunak’s government made the cynically-delayed, post COP27 announcement that it was giving the go-ahead to a new coal mine in Cumbria.

This environmentally-damaging decision is a backward step, criticised by environmentalists, scientists and the chair of the government’s own Climate Change Committee.

Within weeks Mr Sunak has moved from “honouring the promises we made in Glasgow” and “directing public and private finance towards the protection of our planet” to giving the green light to the first coal mine to be opened in the UK for 30 years.

The Prime Minister was right to say that trust is earned.

Unfortunately, he has demonstrated very clearly that he and his government cannot be trusted as far as the climate crisis is concerned.

Margaret Lowndes, Richmond Constituency Green Party.

Adding to the chaos

EVERYDAY traffic is at a standstill along Darlington’s Carmel Road North and South, Woodlands Road, West Auckland Road and Staindrop Road.

There is gridlock from 3pm onwards.

The news that yet another 2,000 houses are proposed in the area around Staindrop/Coniscliffe Road beggars belief.

The lives of those already living here will be made worse in every respect.

It seems we do not count, a captive audience only useful for paying council tax. The previous Labour council did not listen. The current council is not listening. It was ever thus.

One has to be a developer to be heard. No wonder people are angry and depressed, no wonder voters feel hopeless.

Our environment has been trashed and the developers will not stop till there is not one piece of open land left un-plundered.

We will live to regret this. Not the developers, obviously.

Alexandra Bailey, Darlington.

Tory decisions

I AM writing to congratulate Dr John R Gibbins on his detailed and precise letter “Staying positive” (D&S Times, Dec 9).

So often when I respond that major cuts in public services and the introduction of PFI began during Tory governments I hear the reply “but Tony Blair didn’t reverse them”.

I just hope that Keir Starmer can learn from that.

Ian Wilson, Guisborough.

Time capsule

I WAS pleased to read that the mosaic from the former Swainby and Potto School has been preserved and given a new home, as houses are built on the site “Old school mosaic takes pride of place” (D&S Times, Dec 9).

When my sons, Ben and Richard Flint, attended the school in the 1990s, they contributed to the mosaic.

At that time, it was called Whorlton Parochial School and a time capsule was buried in the school’s grounds to mark the Millennium.

I wonder if the developers are aware of this?

If not, they may discover it by accident or bury it more or less for ever.

My sons can’t recall where it was concealed, but if it has not already been discovered it is quite likely that a former member of staff will know the answer.

Paul Flint, Windermere, Cumbria.