Closure fears: I write following a completely positive experience with one of the ticket office operators at Darlington railway station's ticket office.

The professionalism, friendliness and help ensured that my son and I were able to enjoy a wonderful day to go and see my oldest son graduate from York University.

I needed as flexible a ticket as possible as unfortunately my wife is recovering from cancer surgery and the staff could not have helped me any more than they did.

This experience is not a one off, there have been many times and many journeys for my family and I where Darlington ticket office staff have really helped us work out the best times, best routes and best prices, and this type of service is indeed priceless.

I understand that part of the £100m-plus revamp of the station (which I would totally agree is needed) includes the idea to close the ticket office down and any staff that remain will walk the platforms with an iPad (or similar) assisting passengers.

This is not only an oxymoron as the passengers will already have bought their tickets but it is completely counterintuitive.

What is the point of a £100m-plus revamp if the ultimate cost is that certain passengers will be penalised, find it difficult to travel on trains and ultimately may decide to travel by other means.

My father worked for the railways for the major part of his working life but I know without the personal and personable help available at the ticket office he will find it impossible to travel (he does not own a computer or smartphone) and therefore will not bother.

I am 57 and feel I am reasonably technically savvy but there have been times where personal assistance has been invaluable and saves time and energy.

Darlington and the Tees Valley is at the centre of a continued regeneration and has positive recent and upcoming events such as the Treasury moving to the town and the upcoming bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington railway looming in 2025 (which, hopefully, will bring in droves of railway enthusiasts from all over the world) – what a shame it would be if these type of events were thwarted by the lack of available help at the newly revamped station.

How ironic would it be if the railway celebration was penalised by the false economy of closing the Darlington ticket office!

George Stephenson was an innovator and genius who clearly grasped the benefits of using the latest technology but I am sure he was far sighted enough to realise that technology is not the answer to everything – we still need personal assistance at some point in our lives – no matter who we may be.

I would ask that there is serious reconsideration to closing the ticket office at Darlington station. There are scores of elderly and vulnerable passengers who need the personal touch to ensure they get the best experience from travelling by rail.

Not only that there are even more passengers who will struggle to book the correct tickets (if at all) via online services and ultimately this will lead to an even greater drop off in passenger numbers (which of course has been decimated since Covid).

What is the point of a £100m-plus revamp of a station if no one uses it?

Mike Tweddle, Stapleton.

Station concerns

I WAS impressed by PM Black's letter "Staff, not machines” (D&S Times letters, July 21).

Good on David and Bank Top ticket office at the time.

So I am now appalled and concerned to learn that there are current plans to close ticket offices in the North East.

How on earth will people manage?

Not everyone uses or owns/trusts computers and the internet. What about the jobs losses it will cause?

Someone reported how toilets and waiting rooms would be closed.

Whoever is responsible for these closures can't live in the real world filled with people and their needs.

Bethany-Megan Robinson, Darlington.

School contribution

I LIVE in one of the housing estates near what will be the new Oakbridge Church of England Primary School at Northallerton.

Readers of your article "Ground-breaking for new school" (D&S Times, July 21) might have been interested in facts about the project, to balance the publicity for Rishi Sunak (who played no part in the arrangements for providing the school).

The 2.43 hectare site was sold by Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Mulberry Homes to the county council for a nominal sum way below the real market value of the land, and the site was transferred fully serviced with road and pedestrian access, water, electricity, gas, telecoms and drainage.

These were large costs that have subsidised the school project.

In addition the builders have directly paid the county council £950,000 towards provision of education. These funds have been provided as part of the price we as house buyers paid for our homes.

It would have been polite if whoever organised the publicity for the event had invited more of the people and organisations who actually helped to provide the school and to acknowledge the contribution they have made.

SP Williamson, Brompton.

Friary Hospital

I SHOULD have put money on Rishi Sunak turning up to the re-opening of the Friary Hospital in Richmond for a social media photo opportunity.

Our much-loved community hospital – which has 18 beds focused on rehabilitation and palliative care – had been closed for repairs for 11 long months, with patients forced to take up vital beds at Northallerton.

The work was only expected to last three months and there’s yet to be a full explanation as to why things took so long. Mr Sunak has stood by for almost a year and done nothing to help minimise the delays.

Patients in this constituency deserve better. They deserve an MP who’s sorting out issues like this when it counts, not turning up to take selfies and claim the credit.

That’s why I’ll be taking on Rishi Sunak as the Lib Dem candidate at the next election.

Daniel Callaghan, Middleton Tyas.

Alternative cinema

I WAS sorry to read that Anne Burden and her family have been deprived of their cinema outings by the closure of the Empire complex at Catterick Garrison, part of a national chain.

However, in Richmond we have an excellent alternative in the cinema at The Station which has two 100 seat auditoriums and a third smaller one.

They too have Dolby sound, and get all the new releases, so they are currently showing films such as Barbie, Mission Impossible and Oppenheimer.

In addition to that there is a great café/bar right next to the cinemas and an artisan bakery, microbrewery and ice cream shop, all under the same roof.

As I see that Anne lives in Reeth, she would also have a shorter journey to Richmond (half a mile closer that Catterick Garrison).

If she has not already been to The Station, I would encourage Anne to make a visit. I am sure she will not be disappointed.

John Young, Gilling West.

Choice for electorate

THE voters of Selby and Ainsty have just shown that it is possible to end the Conservative domination of North Yorkshire.

In the coming general election the voters of Thirsk and Malton could also choose someone other than a Tory to represent them in parliament.

Voters might feel liberated by the knowledge that it is no longer inevitable that the Member of Parliament for Thirsk and Malton will be a Tory.

Our current Tory MP has done little for the people he should be representing.

He has neglected the problems created by lack of affordable housing, neglected the appalling and costly public transport, neglected the paucity of decent careers for our young people, neglected the issue of child poverty, neglected the environmental damage inflicted by Yorkshire Water.

He has even neglected the interests of farmers. It is high time for change and we now know change is possible.

The lesson of Selby and Ainsty is that if the voters who want change unite behind one anti-Tory candidate they will be able to end the Tory monopoly of their representation.

I would never call on other parties to stand down to achieve this.

That would be profoundly anti-democratic, depriving voters of the freedom to make their own decision on who represents them.

It is a fact though that in the last two general elections the Labour candidate in Thirsk and Malton was the most serious challenger to the Tory, coming second on each occasion and getting many thousand more votes than any other challenger.

Perhaps those who would dearly love an end to Tory rule in Thirsk and Malton will bear this in mind when they cast their votes next year.

Mick Johnston, chair of Thirsk and Malton Labour Party.

Abstaining voters

WHEN Keir Mather took to the rostrum on Friday morning as the new Labour MP for Selby and Ainsty, he made a great speech.

It was a brave and courageous speech.

He is a fine young man and he will probably be an MP in the long-term future.

The likelihood is that will be in nearby York not in his hometown of Selby.

The cruel reality is his victory was based on 3,000 people who'd voted Lib Dem previously voting for him instead and 18,000 people who 'd voted Tory previously staying at home.

About 2,000 Tories drifted off to the Yorkshire Party and the Greens.

If Claire Holmes retains the Tory nomination, despite her defeat on Thursday, she is likely to be the MP for Selby at the next general election.

There was no sign of Tories switching to Labour as was claimed repeatedly by Labour pundits through the night on various TV channels.

Mather's candidacy caused a mass abstention by former Tory voters. The numbers are clear.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Climate argument

I APOLOGISE to Dr Klinsman that I find it necessary to respond to the Climate Action Stokesley and Villages letter “World temperature” (D&S Times, July 21).

Unfortunately, that august body is wrong in deciding that I am a climate denier.

It is just that I cannot understand how CO2 is being blamed for a rise in temperatures when, historically, the rise in CO2 concentration has followed the rise in temperature (with a lag of circa 800 years).

The effect is being blamed as the cause.

Alastair P G Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Tourists not welcome?

I CALLED at The Dolphin Centre in Darlington this week to discover we no longer have a Tourist Information Centre locally and the nearest one is in Durham.

What a state of affairs. No place to discover what entertainment is on, no place to get advice on restaurants, cinemas, theatres, etc.

Nowhere to help with booking a hotel or bed and breakfasts or local public transport.

And nowhere to give advice on our local 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and its museum.

I think this is a disgraceful situation for a town of 100,000 people and a world attracting event in two years’ time.

I have written to our MP, Peter Gibson and hope he can rectify this position.

Malcolm Dunstone, Darlington.

Summer repeats

HAVE you ever counted the number of TV show repeats there are, just for one week?

From 6am on Saturday to midnight on Friday this week there were 640 repeats of quiz shows, gardening programmes, Flog It, Escape to the Country, Would I Lie to You, plus Going Round Houses just to name a few. 640!

Derek Whiting, Stokesley.