Planning chaos: On April 13, the North Yorkshire Council planning committee held its first meeting and approved the application to create a 107,640 sq. ft storage and distribution centre on the caravan site next to Scotch Corner.

There were nine objections to the planning application from Middleton Tyas residents all raising concerns about the impact on the Scotch Corner roundabout which frequently now becomes gridlocked at busy times.

National Highways and the local highway authority had no objections to the plans, and made no reference in their reports on the current congestion on the roundabout.

National Highways based their assessment on sophisticated modelling by consultants that is clearly flawed.

The committee chose to take the recommendations from National Highways, which took no account of the numerous planning applications that will collectively significantly increase traffic levels at the roundabout.

The Designer Village, which could open later this year, will alone attract 12,000 visitors a day, with a new application increasing the size of the outlet even before it has opened.

The A66 upgrade, which has been promised for decades, is expected to start in 2024, but will not be completed until 2029.

Alterations to the roundabout will cause even greater chaos during construction, and it is doubtful they will resolve the growing congestion expected over the coming years.

A major problem with the planning process is the failure to examine the development around Scotch Corner strategically, and the piecemeal approach currently used is not fit for purpose.

NYC said that the storage and distribution units will be good for the local economy and create 300 jobs, but there is virtually full employment around Richmond with many businesses struggling to recruit.

This means recruiting people from Darlington or further afield, which will increase the number of cars using Scotch Corner, and the situation will be more acute when the Designer Village opens which will need 1,000 or more employees.

Meanwhile, unemployment around Teesside is the highest in England, and there are numerous brownfield sites there that are close to the strategic road network.

Whatever happened to levelling up?

So, the planning committee voted to grant the planning application with three of the seven councillors voting yes, whilst four abstained.

If the four abstainers needed more information to make a decision, why not vote for a deferral, and, if against the application, why not vote no.

It seems like a complete cop-out to me.

Steve Hill, Middleton Tyas.

Public nuisance

A MINORITY of people are causing an enormous backlog on the road by their sit down strikes for whatever their views are.

Surely the way to deal with these people is to use a non-toxic and waterproof brightly coloured spray!

They would find that their ruined clothing is much more expensive than a small fine.

This should deter most people from committing such acts.

William Robotham, Richmond.

Water pollution

I HAVE recently sent the open letter below to the chief executive officer of Yorkshire Water with the support of the Richmond Constituency Green Party (RCGP).

We want Yorkshire Water to be the best water company at looking after its rivers and coast not the second worst in England and Wales.

Dear Nicola Shaw, the undersigned members of the public of North Yorkshire are seriously concerned over the lack of care being taken of our rivers and streams. Our concerns include: The increasing cases of sewage spills into our rivers and our coastal waters. Environment Agency data for 2021 shows overflow discharges of untreated sewage occurred 372,533 times. More than £102m was paid by water companies in 2021 as fines linked to sewage spills. Five of the most polluted 20 rivers in England and Wales are in the Yorkshire Water area including the Calder which is the second most polluted.

The lack of investment in safe waste water disposal over the last ten years has resulted in the water companies now being required to spend £56bn to reach an acceptable standard.

The increasingly poor quality of waters in our rivers and the North Sea being a danger to life. There is no river water that is safe to swim in.

If improvements do not occur soon, we expect major restrictions on new builds, increased levels of legal fines and renationalisation of our water supply and disposal.

With three outings to Catterick, Northallerton and Bedale we managed to gain, during six hours, over 400 supporting signatures. The people of North Yorkshire appreciate the importance of our waterways to our health and environment. Some people went out of their way to thank us for pressurising the water company.

Michael E Chaloner, secretary to RCGP, Aiskew, Bedale.

Recycling query

THE Castle Centre/Swallow Hotel is being demolished in Stockton, using a high-reach hydraulic crusher, with the hardcore to be later used for levelling off the site before re-use.

Considering we are supposed to be heavily into recycling I was surprised to see window glass not recovered, and also metal air ducting.

Logic says windows, ducting, piping, cabling etc are all removed before any demolition takes place.

When piping/cabling etc takes place, on the levelled off site, worked would be well advised to wear thick gloves as the hardcore must be mixed with a large amount of glass shards.

I wonder what was written into the demolition specification by Stockton Council?

G B Butler, Stockton.

PM’s smart move

I SPEAK as I find, and as a Labour supporter I congratulate Tory PM Rishi Sunak on his decision to stop building so-called “smart” motorways.

As a young civil engineer in the 1960s, I was proud to help build our motorway network. Thanks to their design, motorways are the safest roads in the UK. It was both stupid and dangerous to seek to increase traffic flows by turning the hard shoulder into a running lane.

Relying on technology to detect stationary vehicles on this new inside lane and take immediate action was bound to fail, as was shown last year by official reports from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Constant failures to detect stopped vehicles in time resulted in many additional deaths, injuries and costs, as was forecast by several prominent engineers when the idea was first introduced by the “save money at all costs” Tories in 2006.

I was able to observe Mr Sunak at close quarters in the months leading up to the 2015 general election when he was first elected as MP for Richmond.

I was Liberal parliamentary candidate there, quitting before the election due to differences with the local Liberal association. I joined Labour in 2018.

During those months I attended many local events with Mr Sunak. As a London “import” Mr Sunak had to prove himself to the locals, which he did very quickly.

In stark contrast to his immediate predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, who both ignored the alarming ORR reports, Mr Sunak has shown he has at least a modicum of common sense, but he continues to impose damaging Tory policies and I still want him out of office, and the sooner the better.

But I will always be grateful to him for banning smart motorways.

Chris Foote-Wood, Barnard Castle.

Ad attack campaign

LABOUR grows more Tory by the day.

Its “attack” ad played into the hands of the Conservative electoral manipulators.

There are a thousand-and-one reasons to slam the Tories, as a seemingly never-ending stream of corrupt and incompetent episodes pass before voters.

But this ill-judged and cynical ad fanned the flames of hate and division.

Not least because earlier, in Wolverhampton, 21 paedophiles had met their fate in court. All were white.

Conservative propaganda, from the mouth of notorious Home Secretary Suella Braverman, continually uses inflammatory language to associate Asian men with child abuse – no evidence. And people arriving on small boats with economic migration – again, no evidence. Persistent dog-whistle politics is intended to win votes – for the Tories!

How Sir Keir Starmer believes reinforcing these ideas will help Labour is beyond most thoughtful people.

University College London’s Dr Ella Cockbain, analysing recent Conservative culture war policies, identified this strain of Tory thinking as a politically useful tactic concerned with demonising the “other”, as a cover for embarrassments and failures.

The Conservatives are not short of either!

So let’s be clear. There is no credible evidence linking particular cultures or ethnicities with child sex grooming. Similarly, there is no factual proof that most UK-bound refugees are economic migrants. Labour’s ad campaign will take British politics even deeper into the sewer.

C Walker, Darlington.

Local elections

THE bumper crop of local council elections could see some interesting results here in Teesside and the North East.

The Conservatives are predicting to make massive gains hoping the bricks in the Red Wall have not yet crumbled.

In most areas the Tories are running full slates of candidates.

But there will be some stiff opposition from the Independents, Liberal Democrats and Labour, in fact from all corners of the political spectrum.

Indeed, local elections are not always as localised as we might expect, with the spotlight firmly on what the current government has (or has not) achieved since they came to power.

It’s no secret the last few years have been an absolute shambles.

We lived through the stuttering Theresa May.

We witnessed Boris Johnson plastering the walls of No 10 in luxury gold wallpaper, then breaching the nationwide lockdown.

We had kamikaze-Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget, that cost the country £30bn, and the agonising Liz Truss days.

Add into the mix the migration fiasco, cost-of-living crisis, rampant inflation, national strikes, and shocking crime rates.

Yes, local elections do allow the voter to have a say about matters within their own community.

But there’s no hiding the fact national issues will play a very important role in how people vote come the May elections.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Cashless society

SO Yarm loses a bank but will get a “cashless pop-up point” – “Barclays to shut branch in Yarm” (D&S Times, Apr 14).

Cash will become less useable as high streets go contactless, said the deputy governor of the Bank of England.

With consumers flocking to online shopping and stores increasingly rejecting bank notes, Jon Cunliffe said that it will become harder to spend physical money.

Therefore, he argued, the Bank should launch an electronic version of sterling, or digital pound, which can underpin future confidence in the financial system.

So all our money transactions - which reveal nearly everything we get up to – will be centrally stored. And likely open to all kinds of authorities – from Inland Revenue, health services (our GPs), the police, politicians, to even possibly commercially-minded hackers.

Never mind the plethora of cameras (with facial recognition) spying on us whether on the pavement or on motorways.

Someone will know what’s going on behind all our closed curtains.

Maybe not someone but an AI computer?

Tim Sinclair, Richmond.