Impending chaos

THE article covering the proposal to build a Rolls Royce Advanced Manufacturing Facility at Scotch Corner in last week’s D&S presents a completely insular and biased view from both the developer and North Yorkshire County Council, “Study finds new factory could create 300 jobs” (D&S Times, Dec 16).

Currently, there are ten planning applications awaiting decision on developments at Scotch Corner which, if approved, could destroy the largely agricultural/rural environment there.

At busy times, Scotch Corner roundabout becomes grid-locked causing major traffic delays.

The Designer Outlet Village (DOV)/garden centre, is largely welcomed by local residents, but the plans to create four fast food drive thru restaurants, another petrol station, a warehouse facility with 37 units, an amenity centre, expansion of the DOV by 50 per cent, a film and TV unit, and an upgrade to the Moto Services/Barton Truckstop plus the A66 upgrade will create traffic chaos, increased noise, and pollution affecting local residents as well as travellers.

The article stated that Rolls Royce was currently examining six possible sites, but, if another site were selected, the developer would revert to another application in train to build a 92,000 sqm (Amazon?) warehouse and distribution facility that would have 130 HGV docking bays and, clearly, operate 24/7 causing major noise, pollution, and traffic congestion.

The A66 upgrade planners estimate that the improvements will increase traffic volumes between Scotch Corner and Penrith by up to 35 per cent, and the enhancements to Scotch Corner roundabout proposed will never cope with the overall traffic flows that all these applications generate – the phase one DOV alone is expected to generate a four million footfall annually.

To address this potential over development, I believe a public inquiry is essential so that they are reviewed holistically rather than the current piecemeal approach, and for local residents concerns to be fully addressed.

This could also include the examination of the plan to build a Motorway Service Area at J52 on the A1 at Catterick, and the impact that would have on most of the Scotch Corner applications and the existing MOTO services.

Finally, it is worth reflecting on the sad news about the closure of Tom & Nellie’s restaurant in Bedale due to the inability to recruit staff (D&S Times, Dec 16).

The Phase one DOV will have, for example, 27 cafes and restaurants which together with the shops will need 1,000 employees – where will they come from?

Steve Hill, Middleton Tyas.

Mayor proposals

THE proposal for a mayor for York and North Yorkshire has a superficial appeal, but where is the evidence that it will improve governance and the quality of life of the region’s residents?

The region would gain £540m over 30 years ie £18m per year, 35 per cent of which on capital, 65 per cent on revenue.

The population of York and North Yorkshire is about 838,000 so the extra annual spending per person is £21.50!

The 2021/22 combined capital plans for North Yorkshire and York total about £220m which is approximately 35 times greater than the “extra” funding.

Their combined annual revenue budget (£544m) is about 46 times the “extra” funding.

Is another layer of local government, with such little funding, worthwhile?

The split of responsibilities between the mayor and the councils is not defined. The Local Enterprise Partnership states that the national government is to “introduce a reformed accountability framework for all devolved institutions in England,” but this has not happened.

A mayor would concentrate power in an undemocratic way and be susceptible to the opinions of the few with her/his ear.

Local government funding has, in real terms, halved since 2010.

Critical services like social care are in crisis causing preventable suffering and distress. York and North Yorkshire have a projected shortfall of £33m for 2022/23 – twice the “extra” funding.

The increase in inflation, from an assumed two per cent to ten per cent per annum, may require an additional £45m per annum yet funding is expected to be reduced.

Apparently, London’s Kensington & Chelsea receive about £600 extra per person per annum than York ie, 30 times the “extra” funding.

Mark Harrison, Swainby.

Furnace memories

REGARDING the article “Skyline changed forever as blast furnace demolished” (D&S Times, Nov 25).

On a blue sky and sunny day in August, I visited South Gare, Redcar to see the lighthouse and to see the last remaining blast furnace, looking all alone.

It brought back lovely memories for me, as in the 1960s I was one of two girls working in Clay Lane offices of number one, two and three blast furnaces working for Mr A T Ledgard, Mr Arthur Embleton and Mr Ossie Franks, managers of the above.

The office was situated quite near to the furnace and it was lovely to see the red/orange iron ore being tipped into ladles to be shipped on its further journey to the rolling mills to be made into steel with Dorman Long stamped on it to be sent all over the world. Sydney Harbour bridge in Australia has this stamped on it.

Clay Lane was a hive of industry and we all thought it would be there forever, unfortunately it was not to be.

God bless the men of steel and the blast furnaces, all gone and sadly missed.

I could not watch the last blast furnace being demolished.

Thankfully I have my memories to see them all standing up proud long ago, as it should be.

Betty McDonald, Northallerton.

Second homes luxury

THERE is an acute housing shortage and various governments have tried to solve it and are still trying.

However, there are over a million second homes which could be brought onto the market.

This could be done by taxation – increasing the council tax, as some councils are already doing, or imposing capital gains tax or doubling water rates.

These measures would go a long way to solving the housing crisis.

It is expected that builders might be laid off if demand decreased, but perhaps fewer new-build houses would result in a higher standard of building.

It must be a win, win situation.

William Robotham, Barton, Richmond.

Fair deal for nurses

LAST Saturday we conducted a street survey of the public in Pickering and Thornton Dale. Of those who spoke to us not one supported the government's position on nurses’ pay, not one thought it was right to spend £9bn a year on agency and bank staff and every single one thought the government should negotiate and come up with a fair deal.

In refusing to deal fairly with NHS nurses, the government appears to have a death wish.

It’s as though having given up on winning the next general election as a result of their multiple past failures they no longer care about making further blunders.

Their claim that they are being "reasonable" is patently untrue and is not believed.

Their claim that they have no choice but to implement the Pay Review Board’s recommendations is false and is not believed.

Their claim that the Pay Review Board is independent is belied by the fact that the board members are appointed by the government and that its terms of reference are dictated by the government, including that the board should "consider the financial circumstances of the government" – ie its budget.

This may explain why the government is confronting nurses but is inexcusable. It is our NHS not theirs.

It is the public who cannot afford to pay for private health care who will suffer if the NHS descends into chaos under this government’s stewardship.

Our street survey also showed that the overwhelming majority of Ryedale people do not believe the NHS is safe in the hands of this government.

The only constructive way forward is for the government to shelve the Pay Board’s recommendations and re-enter negotiations with everything on the table.

It is to be hoped that Thirsk and Malton Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake will put his weight behind the growing clamour for this to happen.

Mick Johnston, Chair of Thirsk and Malton Labour Party.

Tree decorations

WE all are encouraging everyone to plant more trees.

With Christmas coming, councils are putting decorations on our roads and lampposts, why can’t councils decorate trees that are already growing near a lamppost (to get power from them to light up the tree) instead of cutting them down elsewhere.

It would save on trees being felled, then throwing them away maybe a couple of weeks later which is just a waste.

Villages always have one growing, maybe on the green in the centre, they also could be lit up.

Mrs S Frank, Castlevington, Yarm.

Council pay-offs

IN view of the furore raised when Hambleton Council proposed a grotesque sum of money (£770,000) to be shared between four departing officers, many other councillors and the public were horrified.

If these payments have to be paid can I suggest two ways to try and save some of this money.

Firstly, none of this money is paid out until the officers reach the pensionable age of 65, this will allow the council to keep incurring some interest on this large sum of money.

Secondly a large proportion of this should be held back, in case any of the officers take on paid consulting works, advisory works or full time work. All the monies earned could then be deducted from the balance in hand.

They can’t have it both ways.

Derek R Lawton, West Rounton, Northallerton.

Channel hopping

IN these stringent times all sections of the population seem to be affected, but a simple tightening of the belt is not an option for some of us.

There is a large section of society who are single pensioners with only the state pension to rely upon.

For them it is, we are told, a case of “heat or eat”.

One solution for their unenviable position would be for them to do some simple “crowd funding”, amongst relatives and friends and raise enough money for a ferry ticket to France.

Once there they could make for the beaches and return to the promised land across the English Channel, in a rubber dinghy.

They would, in all probability be apprehended mid-Channel by the border force, who would wrap them in a thermal blanket and bring them safely to our shores.

Upon arrival they would have a brief interrogation then be taken to a comfortable and warm hotel, given three hot meals a day and, believe it or not – spending money.

It would be really heart-warming to see these people, largely good citizens who have paid all their taxes and brought up families, enjoying some of the British taxpayers' largesse.

Max Hardcastle, Harmby, Leyburn.

True Christmas

I AM saddened as I shop around the towns. The lights, the decorations, the Christmas trees, are all lovely, but where is the display of the true meaning of the season? The Nativity?

There is no Christmas without the birth of a baby born in a stable over 2,000 years ago.

I hope councils will in the future think about that.

Mrs P Stewart, Stockton.

World Cup final

GARY LINEKER and his crew were keen to label the prolonged struggle between Argentina and France on Sunday as the best World Cup final ever.

Yes, it was exciting, but not as dramatic or conclusive as England’s titanic struggle with West Germany in 1966. I say this for three reasons:

1. France never overcame Argentina’s initial advantage, whilst England levelled with Germany, went ahead, suffered a further setback, and then came out victors by two clear goals.

2. Both finals saw hat-tricks: by Geoff Hurst in 1966 and Kylian Mbappé in 2022. But, whilst Hurst gloriously scored all three in open play, two of the Frenchman’s were from the spot.

3. Most important: whilst the Qatar final had to be settled via a penalty shoot-out (never a satisfactory resolution), England defeated Germany decisively in extra time.

Steve Kay, deputy leader, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council.