Customer service: I witnessed an incident this week which serves to explain why our local bank branches are being closed.

I was at the counter in one of the local banks, having difficulties because part of their system was “down”.

At the next position a woman approached and asked to open a current account. Could the teller help?

The reply, paraphrased, was: “Sorry, no. But if you call our contact centre on this telephone number they’ll be able to talk you through it.”

The enquirer left, unsatisfied, not having received what she wanted.

The bank had no certainty of gaining a new customer.

If the local branches aren’t allowed to conduct the most basic services for customers, then the management have already made the decision to close them en masse.

Russell Smith, Northallerton.

Working together

ON February 22, Tony Blair and William Hague were interviewed on the Radio 4 “Today” programme, not separately but together.

The thrust of their piece was that we are entering the second industrial revolution and UK needs to be at the forefront of this.

This is a very valid point but the other aspect that struck me was the instance of two prominent members of opposing political parties speaking in co-operation, not conflict.

From 1995 to 1999 I was a member of Richmondshire District Council.

Though most of us stood under party labels, Liberal Democrat in my case, the council was not then organised on political lines and I sat at the council table interspersed with Conservative and Independent members.

Indeed one of the Independents proposed me as the council’s representative on a national body and I fulfilled that appointment for most of my time on the council.

The criticism of this system was that the council tended to be officer-led but the plus was that councillors generally worked together in an atmosphere of co-operation rather than conflict, though opinions clearly differed on specific issues and we voted accordingly.

My point therefore is that people of different political persuasions do not need to be automatically opposing each other’s ideas and there is a lot to be said for negotiating agreement where possible. Was the interview with Blair and Hague a portent for the future?

Gerald Hodgson, Spennithorne, Leyburn.

Setting the scene

I READ Chris Lloyd’s Eating Out piece about South Gare with growing admiration for the writer, “Extraordinary value” (D&S Times, Feb 24).

In my opinion Chris Lloyd is an exceptional talent, he has a beautiful, almost poetic descriptive style, which in this particular piece perfectly captured this little-explored area of the North East.

I visited a similar area with my husband last year and we recognised everything Chris described, and could almost smell the sea!

This area of our region has so much potential, (an over-used word) but it is in dire need of some TLC.

My fear is that any development or make-over would ride rough-shod over its unique character so well-described by Chris.

S C Harpley, Northallerton.

Ukraine defence

C PATTISON draws on the views of the German psychiatrist Viktor Frankl when calling for the UK to stop supplying arms to Ukraine, ”Stopping the war” (D&S Times letters, Feb 24).

As a recently retired psychiatrist, I take a different stance.

In my 40 years of clinical practice, like Frankl, I too observed the best and worst of human behaviour.

Frankl was correct to say that having a purpose to life is helpful, hence the established association between employment and good mental health.

However, I dispute the implication that many people in this country support Ukraine because it gives them purpose.

They surely do so because they perceive the Ukrainians to be the victim of injustice and aggression.

The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud highlighted the inherent destructive nature within mankind.

Warfare has plagued humanity from prehistory, and has continued over millennia regardless of the prevailing political system, deity or religion of the time.

Sadly it does seem that on this planet at least, aggressive species tend to thrive.

C Pattison advocates neutrality, if not indifference to the plight of Ukraine.

We can agree that killing is never of itself a good thing, but defending one’s homeland is not a dishonourable undertaking.

The RAF pilots defending the UK airspace in 1940 were not engaged in some monstrous undertaking. Similarly helping someone else to defend their homeland is not always a bad thing.

The 18th Century philosopher Edmund Burke once wrote that, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing”.

Recent history bears this out.

The Western democracies adopted a strictly neutral stance during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The fascist and communist dictatorships did not.

Their arms supply ensured a Nationalist victory which condemned Spain to a ruthless dictatorship lasting four decades.

It persuaded Hitler that he could invade Czechoslovakia and Poland with impunity, and persuaded Stalin to seek an alliance with Hitler rather than the West, in the infamous non-aggression pact of 1939 which provided the final spark for world war.

No doubt C Pattison holds strong beliefs. However, wishing human aggression away will not make it vanish, sadly.

As any psychiatrist knows, much of human misery is bound up in false beliefs.

Garth Vincent, Northallerton.

Conflict escalation

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S year-long invasion of Ukraine massively and illegally escalated a conflict that began with the Nato/nationalist coup against elected president Viktor Yanukovich, eight years earlier.

The conflict has cost a third of a million military and about 20,000 civilian casualties.

Some misguidedly seek to justify Putin’s actions by citing Nato’s eastward expansion.

Nevertheless most of the world has not backed the Nato-led economic sanctions.

What the world wants, above all, is peace.

Realism underpins voices like the widely influential Economist magazine when they say some kind of territorial deal is inevitable, otherwise Ukraine will end up fighting to ‘’liberate people who do not want to be liberated’’.

Peace talks require a recognition of two things.

First, neither side can obtain their objectives. Second, that both sides have lost something.

Putin’s attempt to destroy the Ukrainian state and keep it out of Washington’s clutches has failed. On the other hand Crimea and the Donbas are irretrievably lost to Ukraine because, whether Nato likes it or not, these populations would prefer rule by Moscow to nationalist Kyiv.

Parliamentary Britain is sleepwalking towards an escalated conflict, potentially leading to World War Three.

A democratic peace must respect the self-determination of both Ukraine and its minority peoples.

C Walker, Darlington.

Pothole danger

FURTHER to your article “DIY councillor filling in potholes is told to stop,” (D&S Times Cleveland edition, Feb 24).

Councillor Luke Mason had received complaints from residents after potholes caused damage to their cars.

Is there a more serious point here regarding motorcyclists, scooter riders and pedal cyclists? If there is a spillage in a council office, they put out a sign warning people of the trip/slip hazard.

So when there is the possibility that a driver of a two wheeled vehicle could be killed when riding into a pothole, why is this not attended to, at least with similar warnings, which are not too expensive to install?

The lack of attention to potential deaths from these known hazards seems criminal to me.

So why the outcry about damaging cars and no comment, care or action being taken over this more lethal known hazard?

When the A19 Easingwold bypass was built, the authorities refused to put a roundabout at the Northern end. Many people lobbied to have a roundabout included but were fobbed off by the “low likelihood” of an accident and the cost involved in building one. When a person died at the junction it was agreed they should have a roundabout to prevent further deaths. Too late for the person killed!

Do Middlesbrough Council prefer to wait until the inevitable death before taking these the death traps seriously?

What is the minimum they should do to save lives?

Steve Crighton, Yarm.

Isn’t it ironic?

CLLR LUKE MASON is instructed by his local authority to desist from repairing potholes, (D&S Times Cleveland edition, Feb 24).

But his party reduces the funding to the council by such draconian levels that he feels a DIY approach is necessary. Perhaps he would be better employed fighting to improve services provided by the professionals, by fighting to increase funding, not by accepting cuts by his own Tory peers.

The irony is clearly lost on him.

Richard Baker, Middleton One Row.

Bargain bus travel

THE government-funded scheme capping single bus fares at a maximum of £2 each has been extended from March 31 to June 30.

All North Yorkshire bus operators have joined the scheme (and many more elsewhere).

There are some great value fares, notably the 40 mile Sunday DalesBus 856 between Northallerton and Hawes.

At £4 return for 80 miles of scenic travel, might this fare tempt some motorists out of their cars onto the bus for a springtime day out in Wensleydale?

And for some commuters (depending on the length of their journey between home and work) it means six months of cheaper travel instead of three, (meanwhile, travel with a valid England national concessionary travel scheme bus pass is still free).

There may be some timetable changes before June 30 so it’s best to check a bus operator’s own timetables before travelling, to be sure it’s up-to-date.

Ruth Annison, Askrigg, Leyburn.

Kerb appeal

MAY I, through your Letters page, express my gratitude to the two gentlemen who came to my aid on Friday, February 24 in Glebe House Surgery’s car park in Bedale.

At the lower end of the car park facing Firby Road I had inadvertently driven my nearside front wheel over the kerb and onto the steeply sloping gravel on the other side.

It was impossible to reverse as the wheel spun on the gravel, so the two gentlemen, using a tow rope, pulled my car back over the kerb.

Thankfully, no damage was caused, not even a scrape, and I was able to drive away from the scene. My thanks again to the two gentlemen (and a lady who gave moral support).

From comments made to me at the scene (including a member of staff) and also from others who viewed this incident, this is far from the first time that this has happened and drivers have had to call for breakdown assistance. Scrapes and scuff marks on the kerb at this point also testify to this.

At the first opportunity I visited the clinic (Monday, February 27) and spoke to a member of the management team to express my concern at the lack of visibility of this kerb.

I suggested that posts could be erected to ensure that the drop in level is more visible. I was told that this would be passed on to the relevant member of staff.

I do hope that some action is taken to solve this problem which has affected several people.

Jenny Boddy, Bedale.

Starling murmurations

WHEN we came to live in Ripon 45 years ago, long before the wetlands project, we were occasionally treated to murmurations of starlings.

They would whirl around in large formations for some time before settling down in Deep Ghyll, close to where we live, just south of the city centre.

About three years ago we were treated to two spectacular murmurations on consecutive evenings right above our house and the surrounding area.

A huge number of birds whirled around in ever changing groups and patterns.

People in cars slowed right down and people walking by stopped to watch the fantastic display.

Some took photos on their phones. Eventually the starlings flew off towards the River Skell.

Wherever and whenever these displays occur they are a sight to behold.

James Wood, Ripon.