Road closure

THERE might, as North Yorkshire County Council argues, never be a “good time” to close the key Richmond to Reeth road (B6270) (D&S Times, Jan 20), but surely there would have been better times than November, December and January.

I run an artisan bakery and café in Reeth and from the very start of the road closures in November we saw a significant drop in our takings.

It’s no surprise – the road closures coincided with extremely icy spells, putting off many who understandably didn’t want to navigate a diversion over high fells like Grinton Moor.

Our delivery van was unable to make it over the moor on Saturday, December 17 and had it not been for some amazing local help, our biggest delivery of the week would have gone to waste; something a small business like ours can ill afford.

Nor is it any surprise that weather is wetter during this time of year; one of the reasons given to us for the extensive delays in completing the roadworks, which were meant to last just four to six weeks.

Read more: 'Questions to answer' for Highways over B6270 roadworks in Swaledale

Councillor Keane Duncan seeks to reassure us that the council is doing “all it can to mitigate disruption” but as a business owner and local resident I’ve seen precious little evidence of this.

A traffic light system wasn’t installed initially on Grinton Moor, causing chaos. Roadworks have been started in the vicinity (waterworks at Richmond and the Tank Road near Downholme) that limit diversionary routes even further.

What is worse is that it’s completely unclear from day to day whether the B6270 route is closed or has a traffic light system in place.

The council roadworks map has the road down as closed until January 29, but it was open on Saturday (and unlike the rest of the week we were thankfully very busy!).

I realise that road closures will always be disruptive. But for isolated rural communities, some are much more disruptive than others.

An acknowledgement of this, rather than the same old excuses trotted out by the council, would be very welcome.

As would more forward thinking next time road closures are planned, so that they occur during warmer weather (October or March) and, unless there are really unforeseen circumstances, they are completed on time.

Hannah Parnell, Two Dales Bakery, Reeth.

Save Scorton Lakes

WHILST my family are not residents of Scorton we have lived close to the village for more than 40 years and as keen walkers with our dogs, we visit Scorton Lakes regularly.

We have seen the area develop and mature significantly in recent years not only as a great place to enjoy walking but as an important reserve attracting increasing numbers of a wide variety of flora and fauna.

We have followed the recent publicity surrounding the threat to its future with a proposed holiday/retirement village style development and attended a presentation by Tarmac in Scorton village just before Christmas.

They gave us an insight into the extent of the re-naturalisation and remediation works which they have carried out since 2008 and which includes a statutory period of five years of aftercare, subsequently extended to 25 years.

Tarmac’s presentation was impressive, they have a team of naturalists/ecologists and a former RSPB employee as part of their dedicated team responsible for this sensitive project and have also engaged with a broad section of the local community along the way.

The reserve will mature even further over time attracting more wildlife, which already includes some rare species on red and amber protection lists.

It is a real gem for present and future generations to enjoy the footpaths, bridleways, lakes and wildlife activity.

However, the landowners in partnership with developers have now submitted a potential development scheme to Richmondshire District Council for an Eco Holiday Park and retirement park for 171 luxury three storey properties and 155 retirement apartments with shop, café, sports pitches, and more all with vehicular access.

This is at the Environmental Impact Assessment scoping phase and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have already commented: “The local authority cannot allow key sites like the ones subject to this application to be lost one by one and for the network of habitats provided in local wildlife sites to be carelessly and needlessly destroyed.”

This proposal beggars belief! Take a look at the community action group website where you will find detailed information and video of the lakes together with contact information for anyone who would like to lend their support.

Also, do pay the lakes a visit and see for yourself what is at stake.

J Wallin, East Cowton.

Holiday park

WE are writing to express our outrage at the proposal for a luxury holiday park/resort at Scorton Lakes, as reported on the front page of the D&S Times “Villagers ready to fight major tourism scheme” (Dec 9, 2022),

The natural beauty and tranquillity of Scorton Lakes Nature Reserve is being threatened by the Tancred proposal, to turn this oasis into a holiday park. Tancred's own agents admit that: “The proposed development will result in a reduction of on-site habitats including area’s of grassland, woodland and hedgerows. This development is likely to result in the loss of nesting habitat for certain bird species, foraging and commuting opportunities for many species of bat."

Fifty four per cent of its birds are on the red and amber list as endangered or threatened.

Tancred plans to build 171 two and three storey holiday homes and 151 retirement apartments, a farm shop, spa, gym, games room, bar/cafe, equipment hire store, worker accommodation, play area, trim track and tennis courts.

It would turn the hedgerows into roads and the lakes, used by nesting birds, into a water-sports venue.

This wanton destruction is driven with no thought to the needs of the surrounding villages or the wildlife that currently inhabits the site.

Joseph and Barbara Buck, Scorton.

Pilot’s gallantry

WITH reference to the Pilot Officer William McMullen (D&S Times, Jan 13) it was stated that despite his gallantry in apparently sacrificing his own life to save those in Darlington beneath his plane, he was never given a posthumous gallantry award.

Gallantry medals were never awarded posthumously until recent times. There are two exceptions to this rule, the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry, and Mention in Despatches being the lowest award that could be given posthumously. There were those who had earlier been awarded a gallantry medal but perished before receiving it.

There was a mirror to McMullen's gallantry in the local region through a Halifax of 578 Squadron flown by Pilot Officer Cyril Barton on March 30/31, 1944. This was the night of the ill-fated Nuremberg raid when 95 bombers were lost. Barton's Halifax was attacked and seriously damaged by night fighters en route to the target and then again on returning. He, like McMullen, guided his stricken bomber over the town of Ryhope to finally crash-land in open ground.

For his courage and fortitude, Cyril Barton, who died as a result of the crash, was awarded the Victoria Cross.

A footnote to those two cases of pilots staying at the controls has myriad examples within the annals of the RAF.

Tony Eaton, Northallerton.

Save the ship

THERE can be no doubt that HMS Great Britain was sinking, but our Prime Minister, together with his experienced and honourable Cabinet team, has managed to stop the national ship from going down and, whatever our political views, in the interests of Britain we should acknowledge that and support it.

Rishi Sunak is a well-educated and wealthy man, which proves that he is someone of quality and substance because he does not depend on the paltry income of the average politician.

He is a “conviction" politician who is free to exercise his judgment, and that is what most people would expect of a British Prime Minister.

I am disappointed that, whilst the ship is still taking on water and is in danger of sinking, the mariners are going on strike.

This is likely to produce, ultimately, equality; that is to say, they are all equal in death at the bottom of the sea.

Some trade union leaders are out of touch with reality and could not care less about the state of the nation.

Qualified nurses are not so badly paid that they need to go to a food bank, and, whilst I have some sympathy with ambulance drivers because they truly have a tough job, and, if paramedics, a lot of responsibility, they are not exactly on a minimum wage.

It is the duty of Government, and common sense, to protect its citizens, for the sake of people’s lives and the nation’s safety.

It is not the role of the Opposition to work its way through every member of the Cabinet and question their integrity as this does not produce anything.

It is unfair, malicious and counter-productive. In order to improve Government policy, our system depends on an effective Opposition which puts forward plausible and workable policies, not just bile and derision.

No Government is absolutely perfect, but we all owe our support to a Government which, obviously and honestly, is working in the interests of Britain.

Let’s keep the ship afloat for better times, and not commit the folly of making us all equal in death and poverty. Whatever our political views, we should support the team which has the best chance of giving us a decent standard of living, and the more, the better.

“Steady as she goes” should be our mantra.

Bernard Borman, Leyburn.

Lack of understanding

REGARDING your editorial of January 20 it would appear that Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke suffers from a double "lack of understanding".

Despite his experience as a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and his current membership of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Clarke doesn’t seem to either: a) appreciate the difference between an average and the median in terms of nurse’s pay; or b) does know the difference and deliberately conflates the two for political effect.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Mental health care

WHILST I applaud Councillor Pointon’s care and concern for reporting a distressed member of the public in Bedale Church at Christmas, I am confused and concerned at the perceived expected response from police – “Protests over Police response on Christmas Day” (D&S Times, Jan 20).

From the details outlined the person sounds to have been experiencing mental health issues.

There is no mention of criminal behaviour, damage or threat.

So why are police the preferred agency rather than ambulance?

The police explanation offered is absolutely credible – that officers are not qualified to attend mental health concerns.

Hospitals or mental health facilities are also the "place of safety" recommended for safeguarding reasons.

My understanding is that officers would have to call out an ambulance for mental health anyway.

When police are constantly moaned at for not dealing with criminality, why are they expected to be an extension of social care or medical services?

I fear we are still not moved on from the Covid past of “I want it and want it now” rather than consider the most appropriate persons to deal with a situation.

Care in the community extends to us all and if the correct agencies are not available then that is what needs raising, not complaints about refusal for the wrong people to attend.

Ian Wright, Bedale.

A modest proposal

I AM in two minds about John Riseley’s proposals to reduce the current pressures on the NHS “Outsourcing care” (D&S Times letters, Jan 20).

Is he seriously suggesting that citizens, most of whom will have paid National Insurance contributions through life, be deported abroad (Rwanda!? Timbuktu!?), where medical treatment might be cheaper, or stored in cruise liners, whilst he questions family hospital visits as might an accountant?

Send them somewhere else to keep down the poor rate was the mindset of the Board Of Guardians of many a 19th Century workhouse.

Or is Mr Riseley trying a hoax on us, an extended ironical satire, that long tradition in the English canon back to Jonathan Swift’s 1729 “A Modest Proposal”. To alleviate the poverty of poor parents: cannibalism.

If Mr Riseley’s intent is the latter, I congratulate him on his wit.

If he be serious, I think his proposals contemptible or, to be charitable, just plain silly.

J Fyles, Sowerby.

Scarf plea

POOR Blue, someone thought it would be funny to "borrow" his scarf over the weekend depriving visitors to the sight of these two local landmarks.

Whoever you are, please would you return it as soon as possible, under the cover of darkness if you prefer as that’s when you "borrowed" it.

This is not the first time items have been removed from the garden and it isn’t funny to anyone other than the perpetrator.

Jen Capewell, Richmond.