Regional divide: It is sad news that Empire cinemas are in administration (D&S Times, July 14).

But they are keeping the ones in the south open for now, thank God…an element of sarcasm in my voice you say?

Hell yes.

They didn’t hang about closing Catterick Garrison Empire, one day we were watching Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the next “Es ist kaput Herr Jones….”

Now, you might say “So what? They have best get over it”.

And I will say this..

For cinephiles such as me and my family this is a big blow to our lifestyle and enjoyment.

We love going to the cinema even though we can watch films at home on our projector.

You can’t beat the shared experience of going to sit in a darkened cinema auditorium with Dolby sound to see films, we even saw Coldplay in concert there a couple of months ago, for cheap compared to the cost of a concert ticket.

Our now adult kids have a love of film and cinema and we chat about what’s new, our favourites, it’s a big thing to us.

And it’s not just us – there are thousands of British Army employees and their families who are based in Catterick Garrison who used the cinema for their work, rest and play.

Soldiers on leave need to decompress, what better way than go see a film? Or time off with the kids, go to the cinema to watch a great animation or adventure with them. Barbie is out soon but not for the families in the Garrison.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in Catterick Garrison Empire and shared a film with a bunch of Army newcomers out on a team bonding jolly to the flicks, or Nepali newcomers to Gurkha regiments which I guess were developing their English language skills by enjoying a new release at Empire.

It is a community gathering place. We might not all talk to each other at the cinema but we share the experience. This is now lost. Cinema is suffering post-Covid, but it’s not just that which is bothering me.

“The sites that remain open (for now) are Birmingham, Clydebank, High Wycombe, Ipswich, Sutton, Bath and Cheltenham.”

And not Catterick Garrison.

Anne Barden, Reeth.

Water infrastructure

I AM writing in response to the front-page article “Meeting called to force river clean up” (D&S Times, July 7).

Yorkshire Water in trying to respond to the challenge of raw sewage being dumped in the River Swale responded that “re-plumbing the whole of Yorkshire is not a quick fix”.

No-one would suggest otherwise but why are they even talking about quick fixes? They've had 30 years to overhaul our outdated sewage infrastructure!

What have they been doing all this time?

They go on to say that this “re-plumbing” will be " disruptive and costly to customers".

I would argue that having untreated sewage in our rivers is equally disruptive and costly (in terms of human, animal and eco systems' health) and there is no way that customers will bear the cost of removing sewage from our rivers because we've been paying for our sewage to be properly treated for years, or at least, we thought we were.

Not good enough Yorkshire Water. Do better than this.

Celine Barry, Richmond.

Save Our Swale

THE Richmondshire branch of the Labour Party expresses our wholehearted support for the campaign to clean up our local river – the Swale – and make it fit for leisure and sport, such as swimming and angling, but also to protect and support wildlife and biodiversity.

At a recent public meeting held on July 12 in Richmond Town Hall, we heard from several expert speakers about how the water quality of the Swale and its tributaries are being affected by sewage, pollutants and agricultural waste that are frequently discharged into the river.

We also heard the sorry tale of water privatisation, which led to the transfer of publicly owned water supply and sewage disposal in 1989 to private companies with a promise that this would lead to greater investment in the network.

It is regrettable that it appears that this, combined with weak and ineffective regulation, has led to a lack of investment in our water supply and sewage system; in turn resulting in poor and potentially unsafe water quality.

At a national scale this requires urgent and tough action, which only a Labour government will bring about.

But locally, this campaign to improve the health of the Swale and secure bathing water status for the stretch of the river within Richmond is an important step forward and one the whole town can support – as evidenced by the great attendance and interest shown at the public meeting on July 12.

Brian Benson, on behalf of Richmondshire Branch Labour Party.

Leadership call

DESPITE his oft repeated words about integrity and accountability, Rishi Sunak, yet again, avoided a personally damaging Commons moment; this time as the House considered the report emanating from the Privileges Committee.

The report heavily criticised seven senior Tory MPs, three Tory peers and a serving minister.

Here was an opportunity for the PM to signal active support for a clear set of values as opposed to espoused abstract nouns.

Instead, his Government (and he himself) ducked out of a formal vote and approved the report on the nod.

A spokesperson for No 10 provided a face-saving explanation. As a constituent of Mr Sunak I’d willingly forgo the explanation for a personal display of moral fibre on his part and demonstration of the kind of leadership one might expect from a man of his position.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

World temperature

WE write in support of the very eloquent letters from Frank Broughton and Dr Kinsman (D&S Times letters, June 30).

Unfortunately, although probably predictably, Alastair Welsh has responded saying he is not a climate denier but is humble enough to "realise that human-kind cannot alter climate by playing about with fossil fuels".

This statement makes it very clear that Alastair is most certainly a climate change denier.

Alastair goes on to assert that the predictions made by scientists have failed to come true. This is a completely false statement.

Scientific predictions said that the planet would warm if we continue to pump greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and that is exactly what is happening.

Global temperature forecasts made by Exxon, yes the oil company, scientists in the 1970s mirror almost exactly the actual global temperatures we are seeing now. Geoffrey Supran, Harvard lead author and research fellow, states: “What we found is that between 1977 and 2003, excellent scientists within Exxon modelled and predicted global warming with, frankly, shocking skill and accuracy only for the company to then spend the next couple of decades denying that very climate science.”

Alastair’s disrespect for climate scientists is palpable when he suggests that our money is flowing to scientists and the establishment.

Given the record-breaking profits from oil companies it very clear where are our money is going and it is not to the climate scientists.

But perhaps Alastair is unaware of the global temperature records. In the UK, the Met Office shows that the ten hottest years have been since 2002.

The hottest year on record was 2022.

Globally, the hottest ten years have all been since 2010 and the hottest 20 have all happened since 1998.

Perhaps Alastair hasn’t seen the record breaking fires that continue to burn in Canada and the consequent shocking air pollution across North America.

It is not yet fire season and the fires are burning so fiercely because of the high temperatures and drought conditions in the boreal forests.

Many of these fires have started as a result of lightning, not arson or human accident.

If we don’t achieve net zero emissions then global temperatures will increase, sea level rises will accelerate, extreme weather events and wildfires will become more common.

In short, we should expect a much harsher world.

Bridget Holmstrom, on behalf of Climate Action Stokesley and Villages.

Russian oligarchs

REGARDING Ben Wallace's remarks about Ukraine, right up to the point the tanks started to roll down the highway to Kyiv – at the beginning of Putin's third invasion of Ukraine's territory, Conservative Party members were prepared to accept hospitality and donations from Russian oligarchs.

The vulgar ostentatious wealth of the oligarchs in London has dazzled the Conservative Party.

They saw nothing wrong strategically in the UK becoming dependent on Russian gas.

The peerage for Evgeny Lebedev was a massive error of judgement.

Allowing Lebedev to buy UK newspapers was too. It ill becomes any Tory to lecture President Zelensky of Ukraine.

In no way have international sanctions here in the UK been applied in a meaningful sense against Russian oligarchs.

This has left the authorities in the USA both puzzled and annoyed, as their efforts to impose international sanctions are being ignored largely in London.

The massive amount of money laundering of dirty Russian money taking place in London shames everyone in the UK.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Staff, not machines

SEVERAL years ago, an elderly friend was visiting me when she fell and broke a rib.

I had to take her back by train, to Aberdeen, as she was incapacitated.

She had a first-class rail ticket which meant I had to buy the same.

A very kind and helpful man, David, in the ticket office at Bank Top station in Darlington phoned York station and explained that I was travelling as a carer to my friend.

The £100 I had paid for my return journey was duly refunded.

Whenever I travel by train, I book in advance going to the station and always receive really helpful service from the ticket office staff.

I have been three times in the past few weeks, the last time I had to use the machine which I did not like – being 82 years old – and much preferring to speak to someone.

The staff at Darlington station are brilliant – they should not be replaced by machines.

A machine could not do what David did for me!

PM Black, Darlington.