Royal Fail

SO Royal Mail will be raising postage costs yet again.

I can remember when we received two postal deliveries a day. One early in the morning before going to work, then the "second" post around lunch time.

Now, we receive two to three deliveries a week and they can come at any time of the day, usually late afternoon.

I can remember when paying for First Class post meant a letter was delivered the next day. Now, I don't think there is any difference to First or Second Class post.

Due to an ongoing illness I receive correspondence from a hospital consultant with the envelope clearly marked Hospital Priority Mail and this takes up to ten days.

I can remember when a letter that came through the letter box was for you, now we and a number of neighbours receive mail which is not for us which we have to re-direct even though the envelope is clearly labelled.

A couple of weeks ago at 8am on a Monday morning our street was invaded by six large works vehicles, a dozen men in high-vis clothing, diggers, drills, earth-movers and other equipment who proceeded to block off roadway, pavements and driveways.

No one in the street knew anything about this. It turns out it was to lay new faster broadband.

We were subjected to two days of massive inconvenience, noise and mess.

A week after the work was completed we received a letter delivered by Royal Mail through our letterboxes.

It was a communication from the contractors who carried out the work advising this work was to commence on that date and provided a lot of advice regarding the forthcoming disturbance which if received in time would have avoided a lot of frustration and bad tempers.

I don't know how this organisation retains its Royal Charter, perhaps it is something the government may consider in the future.

Denis Trought, Aiskew, Bedale.

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Bill increase

NOW we have it. Council tax bills have dropped through our letter boxes and North Yorkshire Council are asking Hambleton residents to pay an extra 6.7 per cent for their services compared with the 4.99 per cent average across the county, that is a third more.

All those promises of the merger of county and district councils saving money are just so much hot air for Hambleton residents. Are we going to get better services for this extra money?

Will we be saved the cuts that will surely be made in other districts? Very unlikely.

Moreover, the reserves that have enabled Hambleton to maintain the lowest council tax in North Yorkshire while still investing in capital projects, they will be used across the county.

And will we have better representation than before? Of course not.

Thirty five councillors representing Hambleton will be replaced by 13. That is little more than a third of the original number, all of them needing to keep au fait with a wider number of services if they are to look after their electorate properly.

They should certainly be aware that there are still a number of older residents who are not well versed in IT and find the county website, like modern banking, confusing.

That is undoubtedly discriminatory. A very sad day.

Susan Latter, Scruton.

Tax rises

A 7.5 PER CENT increase in council tax courtesy of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) – absolutely scandalous!

Included within that increase is yet another hike in the amount paid to the Police and Crime Commissioner, this time five per cent. For what – invisible policing?

And a 2.5 per cent precept for "harmonisation" of the local district councils!

Was it never considered by NYCC to "harmonise down" as opposed to "harmonising up"? Obviously not.

I'm sure NYCC will very quickly sort out the pothole issues in my cul-de-sac. I won't hold my breath though.

Neil Harrison, Stokesley.

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Rail collision

IF I may just briefly add to Chris Lloyd's poignant "Looking Back" piece on the Manor House collision of November 2, 1892 (D&S Times Mar 17).

The official report into the accident, produced by Major F.A. Marindin on behalf of the Board of Trade, dated December 9, 1892, as well as criticising the luckless signalman, James Holmes, the Otterington station master, Thomas Kirby, and the district inspector at York, Thomas Pick, he also considered there to be contributory negligence by two other individuals.

The driver of the goods train, Joseph Barnes, should have sounded the engine's whistle as soon as the train had been brought to a stand at the Manor House Up Home signal at danger rather than remaining stationary without reminding the signalman of its presence, contrary to the rules.

Henry Eden, the Otterington signalman, whose signal box was a mere one mile 30 chains north of Manor House, should have queried with Holmes why he hadn't received the "Train out of Section" bell signal from him for the goods train given such a short block section, and knowing Holmes' unhappy family situation, until a period of 13 minutes had elapsed before Holmes awoke from his slumbers and erroneously gave Eden the fatal bell signal.

If either one of Barnes and Eden had been more alert this dreadful accident would most likely have not occurred.

Charles Allenby, Malton.

Missed opportunity

I WELCOME many of the measures outlined in the Spring Budget last week, principally the decision to extend energy bill support to June.

When the triple lock kicks in this April, this support will be of enormous help, but I am concerned about how some older people will manage financially as they simply can't tighten their belts any further.

It’s also good news that the cost of energy bought via a pre-payment meter is coming into line with what everyone else pays.

This will benefit about 600,000 older households and we hope is just the first step in the fundamental reform of the pre-payment regime.

However, I believe Chancellor Jeremy Hunt missed an opportunity to tackle the dire state of social care and free up the lives of millions of carers who would otherwise love to get back into the workplace.

Social care needed a big investment for the future, but the Chancellor didn't deliver it.

The end result is that there is no relief in sight for older and disabled people who require care, and their families and carers, who are having to put up with services under extreme duress – if they can get any help at all.

Every year many thousands of women and men of working age have to ditch their jobs to care for loved ones, in the absence of a good, reliable and affordable care service being available.

Unless and until the Government acts on social care the numbers of people in their 50s and 60s leaving the workforce to care are certain to grow.

With 2.6 million 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.

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

Back to work budget

THE 1980s TV drama Boys from the Blackstuff saw long term unemployed Yossa Hughes (played by Bernard Hill) constantly shouting "giz a job".

Now Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has answered his prayers.

His recent back-to-work budget sees one of the biggest shake ups in the welfare state with the aim to get millions of people back into the workplace.

To encourage more women into jobs, there's extra free under five's childcare for every parent, apparently a carrot and stick approach.

Fair do's to the Tories, they got the carrot and stick quote bang on. It's a donkey-speed rollout that will take two and a half years to reach its destination.

There's also a scheme to get the sick and disabled into jobs. The ''universal support'' scheme is filled with plenty of flannel and stars all the usual job gurus, advisers, hangers-on, desk jockeys, and suits in boots.

Yes there's plenty of jobs on offer ... jobs for the boys.

And finally who said apprenticeships were just reserved for teens? The over 50s get one all to themselves.

The Government's aim is to fill jobs shortages in sectors such as construction which are crying out for more workers.

They dub it "returnship". I dub it "back to work to break your back".

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Simpler life

THE Chancellor has delivered his Budget and warns us all to expect a challenging year, while the OBR forecasts a drop in the standard of living.

Huge swathes of the population are already affected by rising costs, so is there any good news?

We can be glad that much of the winter has been warmer than usual, so it has been easier to cope with reduced, or even no heating, but how do we cope with rising food bills?

For the past 50 years a number of people have deliberately chosen to live simply and have joined the Lifestyle Movement with its motto “live simply that others may simply live”.

The movement’s magazine, “Living Green”, published just three times a year, is full of good advice on ways to live on a reduced income and its website is

By adopting a simple lifestyle we can not only learn how to spend less, but we can also help in the fight against climate change, have a healthier diet and by choosing to walk or cycle instead of travelling by car we can improve our fitness.

Instead of blaming the government for all our woes, we can be positive by doing something for ourselves to improve our quality of life.

Those of us who are old enough to remember wartime rationing and the slogan “dig for victory” know that there is always an answer to most of life’s problems if only we just look for it.

Helen Robson, Harmby, Leyburn.

Navy meeting

THE Darlington Branch of the Royal Naval Association will now be holding its monthly meeting on the second Tuesday of the month, commencing on April 11 at The Old English Gentleman on Bondgate at 7.30pm in the upstairs room.

All serving and ex serviceman of the Royal Navy are welcome.

For further information contact John Brant on 07751 181934.

John Brant, Darlington.

Metropolitan Police

BARONESS Louise Casey reports on the Metropolitan Police, finding the force is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic and exposed a slew of troubling incidents.

Is she the right person to trash the police in this way? Yes, on issues such as homelessness, child abuse and social integration, but with no law enforcement experience?

As in all organisations, human nature being what it is, there are varying degrees of rottenness. While not excusing extreme behaviour, front-line policing is a rough trade which should not be tied up in knots by political correctness.

It is down to leadership to enforce the parameters, but the Baroness has damned the whole service with a pen stroke over a few bad apples.

David Boyes, Leyburn.

Election question

IF Cllr Mark Robson is so against the new council structure in North Yorkshire ('New structure will hit Hambleton residents, D&S Times, Mar 17), why did he put himself up for election to the new unitary authority?

A question, I'm sure, the good people of Sowerby must have had in mind on polling day.

Ian McNair, Borrowby.