Banking on cash: It is great to have the corroboration from Keith Mungham of Nickery Nook in Bedale, for the importance of keeping cash exchanges going (D&S Times letters, May 12).

Bedale folk must be in grief now that the last bank in the town has gone. However, don't give up on your cash transactions.

The post offices are doing a wonderful job linking us with our banks.

Whenever the post office counter is open, you can withdraw cash from your usual bank account using your card, or pay cash in using a card or paying-in slip.

You can check your bank balance, using your card, or deposit a cheque.

These banking services are available for free to customers of more than 20 banks and building societies, including all the high street big names.

Let's do what we can to keep cash circulating.

Sue Holden, Richmond.

PFI costs

WE on Teesside were promised a new PFI hospital at Wynyard to replace the very old North Tees Hospital in Stockton.

Unfortunately, the new hospital plans for Wynyard do not now, and never have, contained an A&E suite.

Labour politicians remain silent on the subject, except for the occasional clumsy wholly inaccurate denial.

Local people have made it clear on numerous occasions they want A&E departments to continue at Darlington and Stockton.

Why won't Whitehall and the Labour Party listen to their concerns?

Since the Tony Blair government, the ridiculous costs of PFI, and how much this is diverting away from front line health care in the NHS has continued to escalate beyond any means to calculate this, whatsoever.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Voter ID

THE Darlington Labour party, among others, did well at the recent local elections.

This also happened across the country.

So how come does Hilary Cashman under the heading “Voter ID concern” (D&S Times letters, May 12) come to the conclusion that those who found themselves without the correct ID and therefore unable to cast their vote meant the Labour party was much disadvantaged?

Hilary says that young people and those who are poor suffered the most. Is Hilary aware that in previous elections when ID was not required young people were not exactly prominent, it was reported, in voting?

As for the poor not being able to vote because of lack of ID, the local councils went out of their way to say that ID would be provided free of charge.

Notice was also given months before the elections that ID would be required.

I believe there are people out there who dislike the government and will make a mountain out of a molehill.

Apparently the voter turnout in the Darlington area was 39.63 per cent – that is an awful lot of people without ID.

Perhaps compulsory voting should be introduced where if they so wish the voter may spoil their vote but at least they would have turned up.

Also postal voting is very much publicised where very little identity is required apart from a date of birth and a signature. Everybody has a date of birth.

Mike Taylor, Darlington.

Solar farms

I HAVE just received a large, coloured brochure advertising a proposed extensive solar panel farm near to Bishopton (presumably as part of a "consultation").

However, I believe that cutting carbon dioxide is folly. Carbon dioxide is plant food.

Also, can I suggest that it would be "greener" and a better use of Government subsidies if the solar panels were mounted on the roof of all of the large factories, warehouses and "fulfilment centres" which have sprung up in our locality in the last ten years, on green-field sites.

There appears to be a penchant for house-building to the north of Darlington (Skerningham, and alongside the A167) again on green field sites.

We need green fields for crops and cattle and for bird life (provided the latter are not chopped up in the nearby wind turbines).

If the green lobby want to make money out of us taxpayers, let them re-site their money-making schemes away from our green and pleasant land.

Alastair P.G. Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Social block

IN the run up to the local council elections I've visited our Darlington MP Peter Gibson's Facebook page promoting the advantages of both a Conservative council and government to the people of Darlington.

I've respectfully questioned Mr Gibson's posts regarding the veracity of both his and the local conservative party's statements up to the election and also the policies of our present government.

I was both shocked and dismayed to discover that I've now been "blocked" from commenting on his Facebook page?

Hopefully this was an administrative error that can be quickly corrected or it raises cause for concern?

I'm aware that the Tory government are introducing legislation to restrict people's rights to protest but does that also mean that we're not allowed to question the member of Parliament who is supposedly elected to represent all of his constituents?

Kevin Mcstravick, Darlington.

Food monopoly

FOOD manufacturing costs are going down but the prices we pay in the shops are going up.

Food inflation reached a 46-year high of 19.2 per cent in March.

There's no dispute the world-wide trade in grain and fertilizer was disrupted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine but in early May, the UN reported that food costs have actually fallen, for 12 months in a row, because of good harvests in Brazil and Russia (UN Food and Agriculture Index).

The control of food sourcing by a small number of giant companies is the key to this apparent paradox.

Four firms control 85 per cent of beef, 70 per cent of pork and 55 per cent of poultry packing.

In fact ten mega-rich companies have a vice-like grip on most of what we buy to eat.

Nestle, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Unilever, Pepsico., Danone, Mars, Associated Foods, Mondelez and Wrigley advertise their products continually in the British media.

These companies define the international food trade and buy up any competitors that threaten their position.

If politicians try to cramp their style, over food safety or dietary issues, they serve up a tasty side-dish of political lobbying.

Because food markets across the world are so interconnected and trade is conducted in dollars it gives the US immense power.

This power is being felt on UK meal tables.

That's why recent moves by China and Brazil to reduce this influence and render the dollar a bit less mighty should be welcomed by all in the UK.

Our food will taste better and cost less, free from the whims of the US.

C Walker, Darlington.

Late fatherhood

THERE'S no doubting Robert De Niro is an absolute movie God. He has starred in many classics of American cinema such a The Godfather Part II (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Raging Bull (1980).

UK girl group Bananarama even sang a song about him in 1983 titled Robert De Niro's waiting (talking Italian).

It reached number three in the British charts.

De Niro is still making movies today, but he also has other activities to keep him busy.

Yes, the 79-year-old Hollywood legend has now joined the old dads' baby club, becoming a father for the seventh time.

And De Niro, already a grandpa of four, shows no sign of slowing down.

You won't see this movie legend being pushed round the park in a wheelchair as he'll be doing all the pushing – baby strollers.

From Godfather to Cotfather you have to give this legend some credit for his energy and sheer staying power.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

Out of touch

ON May 6, the country witnessed just how out of touch the government and the monarchy are regarding the plight of the nation.

We have a third world transport system, energy providers who rip off customers, water companies that pollute our rivers, a failing education system and a health service in critical care.

But not to worry folks, the establishment’s answer to these problems was to host a multi-million pound Disneyland extravaganza in order to create a feel good factor.

It’s time this country got real, not royal.

Name supplied, Darlington.

Call for volunteers

RNID, the charity supporting people who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus is looking for volunteers to support our vital work across the UK.

Volunteers Week (June 1-7) is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the amazing impact our volunteers have.

Last year, they gave more than 7,740 hours of their time to support people in their communities with practical information and support with hearing aids.

This year, we need you to help us reach our goals and ensure that everyone in the UK can benefit from support.

Volunteering for RNID could involve providing information to local organisations and community groups, helping people get the most out of their hearing aids, or giving a friendly welcome to everyone who passes through the door at one of our support sessions.

Many of our volunteers have hearing loss themselves or in their family, and volunteering with us is a great way to meet new people, gain new skills and experience, try something new and help people in your community.

What are you waiting for? For more information, visit or contact us at 0808 808 0123. You can also text us at 07360 268 988.

Jackie White, director at RNID.