Swale campaign: The article “Residents hold first meeting in river clean-up campaign” (D&S Times, July 14) included a statement that PM Rishi Sunak had written in support of the Save our Swale (SoS) campaign.

That was welcome news for the residents of Richmond who had gathered to support a campaign to save the River Swale from the levels of pollution it has been experiencing.

Then on August 29, we learned that the same Mr Sunak is to support a change in the law to allow thousands of new river polluting homes to be built in the UK and worry about sewage processing infrastructure to support these homes being in place later.

The developers of these new homes won’t now be required to pay into the Natural England’s nutrient neutrality mitigation scheme as originally proposed they should.

The government committed to protecting our rivers and now it is backtracking on that promise.

Instead of allowing housebuilders to cut corners, Mr Sunak and his government should have made sure we have the right infrastructure in place to handle our sewage so we can build new homes without sacrificing the health of our rivers.

Is this a case of Mr Sunak, saying one thing and doing another?

Sally Anderson, Brompton.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak backs Save Our Swale campaign in Richmond

Mixed messages

I MUST confess to feeling a little confused.

On Tuesday, August 29, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced with some pride that EU regulations relating to water quality and the building of new houses are to be scrapped.

Is this the same Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, who recently sent a letter of support to the Save Our Swale Campaign group?

It’s not me, is it?

Margaret Lowndes, Askrigg, Leyburn.

READ MORE: Raw sewage hit streets in Skipton and Ripon 600 times in five years

Education divide

THE recent GCSE results reveal a worsening North-South divide.

In London, 28 per cent of exams were graded seven to nine, compared with 17 per cent in North East England. A-levels results showed a similar pattern.

Two years ago, the schools recovery tsar, charged with drafting a post-Covid catch-up strategy, delivered his recommendations.

Only nine per cent of these were implemented – the equivalent of £22 per primary school pupil. By contrast, the USA invested £1,600 and the Netherlands £2,500 a head.

Since 2010, British schools have been so poorly funded that we have sunk to 29th place out of 34 in the European table of education spending in relation to GDP.

This puts us behind Greece, Bulgaria and Albania.

This deliberate policy has a disproportionate effect on less advantaged areas of the country, and has hit us hard in the North.

The "levelling-up strategy" of the Boris Johnson era quickly withered away with all his other overblown promises, and the Rishi Sunak government shows no interest in compensating for the regional divide.

Our cleverest children can't find graduate jobs here, so they leave for the South, making the problem worse.

While our competitor countries in Western Europe have coordinated economic, social and educational strategies to support their regions, Tory dogma opposes this.

As a result, the North gets poorer while the South gets richer. This is no way to run a country.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton.

School budgets

DESPITE his penchant for publicity photographs with local school pupils, how are we to interpret the Prime Minister’s commitment to the vast swathe of schools used by the majority of the population in England?

In 2021, as Chancellor, he halved the budget for school repairs when it was an open secret that the backlog of maintenance in state schools was approaching crisis point.

In the last couple of years he’s made generous financial gifts to his alma mater, Winchester College, and a high school in Santa Monica, California.

Presumably, Mr Sunak is able to square this apparent conflict of values.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Library volunteers

THIS letter is to express my thanks to everyone who supports Bedale Community Library.

As I step down from a trusteeship that began in 2017, I also want to say how proud I am of what we have achieved.

It is almost ten years since the first of North Yorkshire’s libraries moved into the management of local volunteers. Although I campaigned against this, my experience is that it has been surprisingly successful.

I have been a trustee from the beginning of Bedale Library’s change of status; it is active, well-used and has a wonderful team of volunteers.

Some have been involved from the beginning, some have moved on, and new people have joined along the way.

That’s good: every organisation needs a combination of newcomers with new ideas and old hands with experience.

The main problem is not recruiting new volunteers, it is encouraging them to believe that they can undertake management roles.

We have a bookkeeper, but we would very much like to recruit a new treasurer, as well as someone skilled in using social media to reach our community and help with marketing and publicity.

Having found new friends through years of enjoyable and rewarding involvement, I invite those reading this letter to become members of our library community.

Volunteers with appropriate skills are welcome to join the management team.

You can find out more by visiting the library or by emailing committee@bedalecommunitylibrary.org.uk.

Susan Perkins, Newton-le-Willows, Bedale.

School maintenance

THE crumbling concrete affecting 100-plus schools, is a direct result of years of Conservative rule.

And the Tories have form for this – it will remind many of similar conditions after ten years of Thatcherism in the 1990s.

There is no excuse for these 11th hour closures as in June the government had a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) warning of the danger.

Local authorities began sounding the alarm in 2018 after a Building Conditions Survey predicted that at least 50 schools risked imminent collapse.

The NAO points the finger at the culprits, identifying ''years of underinvestment''.

According to official House of Commons briefings inflation adjusted capital spending on schools has fallen by 50 per cent since 2009.

Typically, the Lib Dems desperately wash their hands of responsibility but the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government scrapped Labour's school building policy and cancelled already agreed rebuilding plans at 700 schools.

This mess is the Tories fault and is a direct result of their austerity policies and deliberate transfer of UK wealth from the majority to the already wealthy

Keir Starmer's Labour peddle the predictable ''13 years of Tory failure'' refrain but what will they do? Repairing the damaging impact of austerity requires investment but Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves says she will stick to the Tories' spending plans, refusing to raise public spending. This is the real crisis in British politics.

C Walker, Darlington.

Town pleasures

ON a recent visit to Harrogate, it was a pleasure for my husband and I to find unhindered access to the centre where we were able to find Blue Badge parking within a short distance of the shop we were going to.

Wide, spacious, clutter-free pavements, too!

Impressive, free and clean public conveniences – a rare thing these days.

Ruth Clarke, York

Hornet danger

ASIAN hornets have already killed at least six people, we know of, in France.

I had a lucky escape whilst staying in a house near Uckfield in East Sussex.

An Asian hornet flew into the bedroom where I was staying, attracted through an open window, by a bedside light.

These hornets are looking for warmth.

The hornet then came to rest in the night, on my throat.

Had it stung me whilst I slept, the consequences of a sting to a human throat would almost certainly be fatal.

If one gets into your home, do not go to sleep until you have killed it.

They are attracted to any heat source in the autumn, and you are a heat source.

Once you have switched off your bedside lamp, you are the only heat source in the bedroom.

Foreign insects are also sometimes known to arrive in tourist luggage. Be aware.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Help is available

THE news that energy prices will drop from October will be good news for many.

But for your readers who are living with a terminal illness, we know that many will still be worried about how they will pay their bills.

Dying people have been experiencing a cost-of-living crisis long before the energy price cap skyrocketed.

They typically need to keep their houses warmer than average and run vital medical equipment that reduces their pain, keeps them comfortable, and in some instances, alive. My colleagues are constantly supporting people living with a terminal illness, or their families, who are worrying about how to pay their latest gas or electric bill.

In partnership with the UK Gas Distribution Networks – SGN, Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities – we have now recruited two energy support officers, who are waiting on the end of a telephone to provide support and information around energy bills and the cost of living, including information on benefits, supplier-specific support, grants, and energy efficiency updates.

Nobody should spend the end of their life worried about the cost of energy.

If your readers need help, then please ask them to call the Marie Curie Support Line, for free, on 0800 090 2309 and ask to speak to our energy support officers.

Matt Williams, Marie Curie associate director of information and support.

Little White Car

MANY readers from Wensleydale and Swaledale will already know about the Little White Bus, a community service which offers cheap and regular bus transport between Hawes and Leyburn and Keld and Richmond.

But I'm not sure how many people know about the Little White Car, a pilot project that started earlier this year.

It offers reasonably priced transport to people living in Upper Wensleydale who need to visit doctors or hospitals in our region, including the Friarage and James Cook.

Our mum is a resident at Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge – until recently, dad was living there too, but as he now needs 24-hour care, he has moved to a care home in Northallerton.

Both of them have dementia.

Thanks to the Little White Car, we have been able to arrange that mum visits dad once a week.

The people from the Little White Car are very understanding – they collect mum, wait for her while she visits dad, then drive her home.

This means she has been able to keep her independence, see dad regularly, and we don't need to worry about her getting lost.

This is an excellent example of a project that can help people in rural communities, who maybe don't drive, to deal with medical issues and visiting family who have health problems.

It's like a personalised taxi service with a caring face.

Full details can be found on the Little White Bus website littlewhitebus.co.uk

Name supplied, Hawes.

Heat pump noise

IT would seem that the Government may be having second thoughts about the installation of air source heat pumps in every home as they have recently launched a review.

The concern is that heat pumps may be too noisy and should not be fitted in quiet residential areas.

There used to be a little blackbird that would sing his little heart out for us first thing each morning in spring but has remained silent for the past couple of years.

Perhaps the acoustic frequency humming noise emitted from a nearby heat pump could be the reason?

It certainly gets right into our heads – the colder the weather, the louder it gets.

Mary Morton, York.