Care support

Millions of older people in England are waiting for care. I am calling on the Chancellor the Right Hon Jeremy Hunt to use the Spring Budget to ensure all older people in the North East can get the care and support they need.

The current situation is untenable and unacceptable in any civilised society.

Millions of people are struggling due to a dire lack of basic assistance. They struggle daily with basic human needs such as going to the toilet, eating, getting dressed and washing because they cannot do these things unaided.

There are millions more providing unpaid care, many of them older and in poor health themselves, doing their best to keep their loved ones safe and well at home, but without the back up of an adequate system of formal social care services.

With 2.6m people in England over 50 unable to get care, including half a million of whom are stuck on waiting lists for support or just to have their needs assessed, something needs urgently to be done.

The Spring Budget is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to help the millions of older people, often unheard and feeling ignored, who are waiting for good, reliable care and support to live with dignity.

Many older people have already been waiting a long time for care, and time is not on their side. I hope the Chancellor listens and responds to this plea, which is backed by millions of unheard voices.

Helen Hunter, CEO, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington.

Abuse funding

Last week North Yorkshire Council removed from its revenue budget £450,000 of funding for “domestic abuse work”.

The published report says that a Government grant meant that the existing budget had not been spent in previous years.

The grant in question is a Domestic Abuse Duty Grant. It was introduced in 2021 to help councils meet new a statutory duty.

From October 2021 councils have been obliged, by law, to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children based in refuges and other safe accommodation.

It was intended for the grant to be used as an addition to, rather than instead, of council funding to existing or planned services for victims of domestic abuse.

Various implausible claims were made during the council debate to justify the cut.

One was that the Government grant had been “under spent”.

Another was that a review was underway to find what services are needed. Another that the funding could be put back if required.

The Domestic Abuse Bill was published over four years ago, the Act was passed in June 2021, the new statutory duty came into effect in October 2021.

How can North Yorkshire Council have failed to use that time to plan and provide adequate and effective services for victims of abuse and their children?

Which of the Conservative men leading the council are responsible for it being asleep at the wheel?

The decision to cut £450,000 of funding was made by 48 councillors and opposed by 38.

Your readers will soon be able to check the minutes of the council meeting and see how each councillor voted.

Those who voted to boost the council’s £400m plus of reserves at the expense of abused people and children can and should be held to account.

Anne Seex, Carlton Miniott.

Source of anger

I HAVE no love for Matt Hancock but even less love for the journalist Isabel Oakeshott who breached the ethics of her trade by giving information to the press supplied by her source after she also admits entering into a legal non-disclosure agreement with him.

I hope she was well rewarded by the Telegraph for her treachery because no source in their senses is going to divulge anything controversial to her again.

I also pour shame on the press for printing such treachery despite what they think of Mr Hancock.

Chris Greenwell, Darlington.

Waterways woe

WE are all witnessing a serious decline in the care of our precious water supplies.

Our rivers, streams and coastal waters are generally hazardous to swim in.

The care of our waterways and supplies is in the hands of private water companies and the Government agency OFWAT.

The water companies have generally borrowed millions on their assets rather like some major football clubs/companies.

This money has disappeared without any significant improvement in water treatment and supply. OFWAT has done nothing to stop this questionable use of the financial assets of the water companies.

Yorkshire Water has joined with other water companies in putting greater quantities of sewage into our rivers and streams. They were fined £1.6m in July last year for large sewage spillages.

We must pressure water companies and OFWAT to take care of our water.

If they do not act, they should be renationalised – as they are in such a poor financial state this should not cost much.

There will be an open letter to the CEO of Yorkshire Water to add your name to outside the Tesco Superstore, Richmondshire Walk, Catterick DL9 3EN, from 10am to 1pm this coming Saturday, March 11.

Michael Chaloner, Aiskew, Bedale.

River protection

THIRSK and Malton voters who care about our environment will soon have an important and far reaching decision to make; one which will have a major impact on the UK’s direction of travel in tackling the multiple threats to our environment.

Our representative in parliament recently voted there to block a proposal to place a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage”.

This might be understandable, although not excusable, if Kevin Hollinrake was able to take the parochial view that sewage pollution is not a problem in his constituency.

However that is very far from the case.

Government statistics published by The Rivers Trust show that his Thirsk and Malton constituency is one of the very worst in Yorkshire for dumping of raw sewage in waterways.

In 2021 there were 4,773 overflow incidents in his constituency lasting for a combined duration of 33,353 hours.

That’s an average of 13 spills a day; a virtually continual high-volume flow of raw sewage into the waterways.

Of the 46 constituencies in Yorkshire only two were worse than Thirsk and Malton. Many areas kept pollution levels down to a fraction of those occurring in Thirsk and Malton.

This suggests that where there is a political will, things can be done.

The level of sewage pollution across the country is a scandal in itself but equally scandalous is the government instructing its members of parliament to allow water companies to keep doing it.

When it comes to the General Election people who care about the environment will need to consider this.

Will someone who is unable to stand up to his party bosses to protect the rivers in his own constituency be capable of playing a useful role in combatting the colossal challenges that the environment faces globally?

Will a government that puts the interests of water companies and their overpaid directors ahead of healthy rivers be able to take effective action on the wider issues of global warming, pollution and loss of biodiversity?

Mick Johnston, Ebberston, Ryedale.

Voting system

WE are all victims of our country’s outdated voting system. In our first-past-the-post elections, it’s winner-takes-all, which can condemn all but the big two parties to irrelevance.

However, Conservatives and Labour are as much a victim of this method of electing a parliament. They have to try and maintain a unified front, while attempting to accommodate a wide range of political views. This is difficult to pull off for long and leads to distracting power struggles and incompatible compromises.

Look at Boris Johnson’s reign of bluster, distraction and dishonesty, or Jeremy Corbyn’s corrosive personality cult – not to mention Liz Truss, who blew a hole in the economy in less time than it takes for a lettuce to go off.

Most countries have abandoned this system; the only other European country to cling to using it is authoritarian Belarus.

The Green Party recognises that the most thriving and stable economies around the world elect their MPs (and councillors) via a proportional system. The voters in these countries feel more involved and know their vote is worth more than that of people in the UK. It leads to collaborative working, and compromise, rather than driving debate to ever more extremes.

Perhaps that’s why a survey this week found that UK citizens are so disillusioned with politics. Our broken voting system has so deeply damaged the two big parties, that the majority of people are turned off politics for good.

This is a grave threat to democracy and our society. It’s time for UK politics to grow up and leave this antiquated 19th Century system behind.

Cllr Matthew Snedker, Darlington Green Party coordinator.

Football fairness

GOLDSBOROUGH Football Club’s 14-0 rout of Filey Town Reserves in the Beckett League Division 2 was recorded in great detail in the D&S Times (Mar 3).

No mention incidentally by name of any of their plucky opponents.

It is worth asking, did the Goldsborough players really derive much satisfaction from participating in such a one-sided contest?

Earlier in the season luckless Filey Town Reserves were also on the receiving end of a 17-1 battering by Wombleton Wanderers, a side, like the other league newcomers The Valley, who are much too strong for the opposition in this division, as the following statistics bear out. At the time of writing both sides have only lost once, to each other, The Valley have scored 93 goals in 17 matches (average 5.47), whilst Wombleton Wanderers have scored 67 goals in 11 matches (average 6.09).

For the future of local football, in order to achieve much closer contests, and as far as possible prevent such farcical results from taking place in the future, it is to be fervently hoped that the Beckett League authorities in allocating divisions for clubs next season, particularly newcomers, thoroughly establish the strength of the applicants before deciding which division they should play in, something which in the case of Wombleton Wanderers and The Valley they clearly failed to do for this season.

Charles Allenby, Malton.

PM meetings

NICE to see Rishi making time in his hectic schedule to meet with Stokesley School “Students join PM at Downing Street” (D&S Times, March 3).

What a pity he can’t do likewise with striking NHS workers who he continues to refuse to meet.

David Hunter, Richmond.