Community spirit

These days our newspaper headlines can be so depressing, letter to the editors frequently consist of politically motivated complaints and many people bemoaning the state of our country.

In contrast, the small actions of ordinary citizens living in communities throughout the country shine a light through all the gloom.

For example, in the market town of Leyburn a supermarket collects goods for a local foodbank. Customers put their contributions in a strategically placed shopping trolley and it is amazing to see how quickly that trolley is filled.

It is sad to realise how many people now rely on foodbanks, but wonderful to think of the generosity of those throughout the country, who, thinking of others, buy a little extra every week to make sure that there is always a supply for those who need it.

The hundreds of volunteers, who give their time and energy to distribute the food deserve our thanks and we should celebrate the British community spirit, which is still alive and well.

Helen Robson, Harmby, Leyburn.

Design Code

WITH reference to the Local Plan (LP) and the current consultation, which has just ended, by Darlington council regarding the Design Code for Skerningham, which is a new village being talked about for countryside to the north of Darlington.

Skerningham Woodland Action Group, the campaign group for the protection of Skerningham, firmly believe the inspector’s recommendations when the Local Plan was drawn up are not being met by this current Design Code.

We are deeply concerned with the way that the Design Code has been managed and the wording has been changed without consultation with residents.

The inspector said the LP was sound “in principle” and outlined clear modifications that needed to be adhered to, to ensure it remained legally sound, and included Skerningham among his recommendations. As residents objecting to both the LP and now trying to ensure these modifications are being adhered to during consultation, we are constantly reminded by the council that the LP was deemed “sound” by the inspector and was voted in at cabinet.

However, if this LP and the inspector’s words are so set in stone, as Darlington Borough Council and developers like to continually remind us that they are, then why do the council and developers also continue to ignore the very modifications laid out by the inspector to make it sound?

We refer to the fact that he clearly states that the communities’ views should be adhered to during the design process.

He clearly states the build should be done sensitively taking into account the wildlife and green spaces, the woodland and the historic pathways etc.

He clearly states infrastructure should be in place. He clearly states amenities such as schools, doctors etc should be in place. He did not state a road can carve into the woodland.

He did not state a football stadium with fast food outlets is part of the plan. He did not state community views should be ignored.

Yet the latter, among many other failings, is what has been achieved and therefore we do not think the plan is now legally sound.

Skerningham Woodland Action Group, Darlington.


I FULLY support Susan's Chipping's letter about Richmondshire District Council's disastrous decision to approve the development of almost 50 acres of prime agricultural land adjacent to Junction 52 on the A1(M) “Land grab” (D&S letters, Jan 13).

Without repeating the excellent points made in the previous letter about the adverse impact on the local environment, I would add that the claim of an additional 1,250 industrial jobs made by the developers is almost certainly a gross over-estimate, given that the likely occupiers of the site will be warehousing and distribution companies with a typically low employment density.

The previous week's article in the D&S TImes also mentioned that only two local residents spoke against the proposal at the planning committee meeting which decided the application.

I would suggest that this is at least partly due to Richmondshire Council's failure to communicate effectively with the wider public about this development.

As an example, I received an invitation to the application site meeting three days after the meeting took place.

Frank Broughton, Brompton on Swale.

Silly strips

I THINK it’s about time something was done to stop this nonsense with Premier League and Football League teams trying to outdo one another with outrageous strip colours and designs.

When I was involved with football, you were required to submit your club colours (home strip) and your alternative colours (away strip).

You were then only required to play in your “away strip”, if in the opinion of the match official a change of strip was needed.

In most away matches you could play in your “home strip”.

Today, many clubs choose to play away matches in silly coloured strips when there is no need for a change.

Don’t these clubs realise the fans like to see teams playing in their club colours?

These fans never know what colour strip their team will be wearing, when playing away.

The cost of this practice must be huge, surely in these hard times two strips would suffice, instead of numerous strips clubs have now.

The money saved could go to encourage grassroots football or there are plenty of charitable causes who would appreciate some help.

Ian Butler, Morton-on-Swale, Northallerton.

Freeport regulation

FREEPORTS, claim PM Rishi Sunak, will turbo-charge Britain's economic recovery.

In regions like ours, which know well the bitter taste of recession and economic decline, it was Conservative regional mayor Ben Houchen's promises on jobs that got him elected.

The Tories so-called "levelling up" policies found widespread sympathy here. But the word regeneration casts a long shadow.

It is a strategy of creative destruction, shoehorning in deregulation, privatisation and, wherever possible, the systematic dismantling of workers' rights.

Freeports are places where the usual rules don't apply and where the ability of ordinary people to influence events is neutralised.

Mr Sunak's claimed benefits – promoting regeneration and high-quality job creation – an obscure a seedy underbelly.

Companies using freeports can claim a wide range of customs privileges and tax relief.

This creates ideal conditions for all kinds of illicit activity.

Additionally, freeports encourage job relocation rather than creation. A Sussex University report found their main effect was to divert businesses into the port from the surrounding area.

All these things are perfectly well known to Mr Sunak and Mr Houchen.

Freeports appeal to footloose multi-nationals and wealthy individuals who derive obvious benefits from friendly tax regimes.

We should be focusing on wealth building strategies which keep the wealth produced by our communities, in our communities.

Real regeneration comes from the bottom-up, not the top-down.

C Walker, Darlington.

A big thank you

MAY I, through your Letters page, thank all those who attended the Sea Cadet/Poppy Appeal thank you night which took place before Christmas.

We raised a total of £652.11 and thank you to the RAOB (Buffs) Club for the use of the room and for DJ Jake of Cactus Inc for his wonderful entertainment services.

Special thanks go to the lads of the HMS Jupiter Association for all their support and a special thanks to Mick O'Neill, from the Assn, who attended the event and also liaised with Tesco as they donated a huge amount of raffle and tombola prizes.

Prizes were also donated by Cleveland Cable, Alasdair Beveridge Build Directory, The Teesside Charity, The Keys at Yarm and many more – we are truly grateful.

It was near Christmas so I was amazed so many people, turned out on a bitter cold night, so thank you all once again.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the Sea Cadets or the Poppy Appeal, please feel free to contact me at any time on 01642 294349 or 07759 107318.

Liz Chambers, Hon Poppy Appeal Organiser & Vice Chairman TS Erimus Sea Cadets, Ormesby, Middlesbrough.

Outsourcing care

THE NHS problem of bed blocking or delayed discharge is not without proposed solutions.

There are advocates of paying care staff more.

Others would have us issue more visas for people from overseas to come here as care workers.

We hear little, however, of a corresponding answer: that we move the patients overseas and employ those same workers at source.

A couple of considerations keep this idea below the threshold of being thinkable. Those in need of care would be the least willing to budge from under the umbrella of free NHS treatment.

But why should we assume that, in countries where care can be provided more cheaply, medical treatment cannot also be arranged economically?

The supposed financial saving from denial of access to the NHS for British citizens outside this country needs to be questioned.

Another weighty objection is that those in care want easy access for visits from their relatives.

But, if family visits are the principal reason for keeping care here, we ought not to conceal from ourselves the price we pay for this facility.

We should at least be investigating the break-even length of stays abroad and looking at redundant cruise liners as accommodation offering flexibility of location.

John Riseley, Harrogate.

Pit village memories

I DON’T think you ever forget the place where you were born and grew up.

Last week I went to an old friend’s funeral back to the village I left 60 years ago.

It’s completely changed and is now joined up to the nearest town.

I prefer to keep the old pit village in my memory that had a slower pace of life and you knew everybody when you walked down the street.

GO Wright, Sadberge.