Funds inequality: I read in these pages that electoral reform campaigners have expressed dismay after North Yorkshire Council opposition parties rejected an appeal to field one candidate between them in a by-election for a traditional Conservative stronghold.

It is not as straightforward as it seems.

I am a candidate for the Sowerby and Topcliffe by-election, held on Thursday, November 30, representing the Yorkshire Party.

The first-past-the-post system is a problem, particularly for the independents and regional parties. This system favours the Conservative and Labour parties.

These two London-based parties rule from London to the detriment of the outer regions of England, especially the North.

Labour and the Tories dominate the news and the media.

When elections occur, there is a unique opportunity to showcase the policies of the regional parties with a chance of being elected.

Whoever wins this election will have difficulty achieving much due to the funding cuts to local authorities.

This is why the Yorkshire Party demands fair funding and the powers handed down from Westminster to an elected body led by local people who understand the problems of their region.

Funding presently favours London and the South East of England. This inequality must be addressed, or very little will charge regardless of who wins the seat.

The average person living in places such as Sowerby and Topcliffe, typical Yorkshire folk, will continue to have a second class lifestyle in a county that is one of the poorest in Europe.

This regional election allows the electorate of Sowerby and Topcliffe to vote for a regional party wishing to send a message to the government that we have been overlooked for far too long. Voting for national parties will not do that.

John Hall, Yorkshire Party Candidate, Follifoot, Harrogate.

Tactical distaste

IT is not often that it can be said that I support the Conservative leadership on North Yorkshire Council but I feel that on this occasion it is right to do so.

I’m amazed at the criticism that has appeared in the recent edition of this newspaper about the number of candidates who put up for election at yesterday’s by-election for the Sowerby and Topcliffe division.

In fact I find the very suggestion of engaging in tactical voting somewhat distasteful.

I myself could complain about losing my council seat in the North Yorkshire Council (NYC) elections last year on the basis that Labour put up a candidate who probably took my existing majority in a ward that they were unlikely to be able to win.

I have no qualms about Labour or anyone else putting up a candidate against me and am pleased to see that the successful Conservative candidate has been extremely active in the community since his election, which is very much appreciated. I am sure the Labour candidate if he had been successful would have progressed likewise. If I were, for example, a Labour or Liberal Democrat voter, I would feel somewhat cheated if perhaps the Green Party had done a deal so that only they contested a seat against the Conservatives.

I would be unlikely in the circumstances to vote for the Greens and my opportunity to cast a vote for a political party I supported would have been taken away from me unfairly in my view.

One correspondent even asks why the Single Transferable Vote system was not applied for in this NYC by-election.

There is no Parliamentary legislation permitting this to be done in England and there never has been. Why should that have been an issue to have been considered when North Yorkshire Council was being formed? Surely to maintain the national line would be appropriate until there is a change in legislation.

The current North Yorkshire Council has an opposition of 42 councillors and it is not the first time that there has been no overall control as that situation existed from 1993 to 2001.

I have been involved in local government for 55 years with county, district, town and parish authorities and can truly say that overall the councillors I have met (which will probably be around 2,000) have by and large been extremely committed to representing their constituents regardless of the political party they stood for in an election.

Paul Atkin, Northallerton.

Trust in politics

WE were shocked but, sadly, not surprised that the Liberal Democrats have been circulating incorrect statements during the current local by-election.

Continually suggesting Labour has never had a councillor in Thirsk, is both insulting to those past Labour councillors who have represented the area and the electorate.

In a time when trust in politicians is at a low ebb, it is vital for all parties to address any false claims that could mislead the electorate as soon as possible.

Jan Marshall represented the Thirsk area as Labour councillor for 16 years on Hambleton Council, four years on the county council and many years as a town councillor.

Ms Marshall was not the only Labour councillor in the Thirsk and Malton constituency. Gary Hobbs was a Labour councillor on Ryedale District Council for 12 years.

Although Ryedale was Conservative controlled, it elected Gary as its chairman and appointed him to chair the important Standards Committee.

In reporting his sad and untimely death, your sister paper, the Gazette & Herald quoted the then Conservative chairman of Ryedale Council saying: “I had a great deal of respect for Gary. The political divide never came between us... He was a very community-minded person.”

By failing to check the facts the Liberal Democrats have shown disrespect to the public as well as to the former Labour councillors.

David Wells, Chair, Thirsk & Malton CLP, Jill Wells, Vice Chair, Thirsk & Malton CLP.

Stand with pride

AS a candidate in the Sowerby and Topcliffe by-election I have for the first time witnessed undemocratic tactics from the Greens and Liberal Democrats with their alliance to choose and split what areas they stand in and ask the other parties to not oppose a seat.

To be made out to be ruining an election for myself and the other parties because we stood is shameful.

In democracy you have a choice and we other parties are giving people more choice not a forced choice.

If you don’t like Conservatives or the Green Party you have no one to vote for.

At the end of the day the best candidate wins.

Some of us are using this as a confidence boost and with me I struggle going out and chatting and this is a great way for me to gain valuable experience.

Also we push to try get people out to vote no matter what and bring a little fun along the way.

Elections will die out if there is no choice and it is just Conservatives versus Lib Dems or Conservative versus Green tactically placed so people have no alternative but to vote for one or the other.

Why two of the smaller political parties want to do a deal and work together but expect us to stand aside is beyond me; can they not win seats against opposition?

Yes we may split the vote but people will be happy that they were able to vote for the person or party they love.

As in a horse race all six candidates have a chance of winning. If you win the people you win the vote.

Democracy will always win and I urge anyone who is asked to stand down at any election in the future for tactical reasons to just ignore the approach and stand with pride in yourself.

Stew Exotic (aka Stewart Barber), official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate for Sowerby and Topcliffe.

Closure threat

I WISH to bring to the attention of people who live in and near Ryedale the possibility of the closure of the Pickering branch of Barclays bank next year. I find this an appalling, short sighted prospect for so many people like myself.

I am recently widowed and in my 80s. Although I am computer literate I refuse to bank online for many reasons.

In the past I have had my computer hacked. Where I live we have loss of power at times. But the most serious issue is the loss of personal contact.

In my case, as someone who is recently widowed, the staff in the Pickering branch have been so helpful to me in dealing with my joint account.

It would have been impossible to have done all this online or indeed on the phone.

Whilst I was in my bank another customer had travelled to Pickering from Malton to deposit a large sum of cash from his business. There will be many more people like him.

The Pickering branch of Barclays is the last one to be open in this vast area.

I urge everyone to contact Barclays and to say no to the closure of our bank. We really do need it. Contact your MP and anyone on the council. We must not give up on this.

Name supplied, Newton on Rawcliffe.

Fundraising Dash

WE lost my dad to cancer in 2015, just 18 months after we’d lost my mum to the same illness.

Dad was cared for by the excellent Sue Ryder nurses in his last days and we wanted to give something back to say thank you for helping us through one of the most difficult times in our lives. That’s how the charity’s December Daily Dash was born. The Sue Ryder December Daily Dash asks fundraisers to run, jog or walk every day of the month to raise vital funds for the charity.

We wanted the challenge to be all about choice and accessibility – so you can do the Dash wherever, however and at any pace that you’d like.

Initially, it was just us joined by 11 friends – now there is a community of over 2,000 people that take part in the challenge to raise money for Sue Ryder’s palliative and bereavement support. It doesn’t matter how you take it on, with friends, with family or on your own.

Do it for yourself, do it to support a loved one, or do it in memory of a loved one.

Not only will running, jogging or walking everyday help to raise money for Sue Ryder, which supports people through the most difficult times of their lives, whether that’s a terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, but it’s a fun way to take time out for you.

We have created a wonderful community that motivate each other to keep going through the grey, rainy days.

You can sign up to the December Daily Dash by visiting

On behalf of us and Sue Ryder, thank you.

Jackie and Mark Smith, founders of the December Daily Dash and Sue Ryder fundraisers.

Youth crime

WITH reference to the article “Police reveal alarming youth crime statistics” (D&S Times Cleveland edition, Nov 24.) Superintendent John Wrintmore should be congratulated for his honesty in revealing the types and scale of youth criminality across Cleveland without resorting to a list of buzz words.

Crime has always been with us and the best we can hope for is that we can keep levels manageable.

Early intervention should begin when a child is born and should be the role of parents and wider family, I appreciate that some families may require more support than others, but this should be the exception rather than the norm.

The same principal applies during a child’s school years with parents taking an interest in the journey their children take.

Thankfully most parents have the right idea and guide their offspring to maturity.

For those that don’t then that is when Superintendent Wrintmore, his colleagues and all the other agencies must step in and exercise the controls that keep society on an even keel.

Timothy Wood, Guisborough.

Fast food review

WHAT a shame the Eating Out article in a recent edition was a review of McDonald’s “A not-so-happy meal” (D&S Nov 17).

You could have used the opportunity to visit an actual restaurant in Northallerton, or anywhere! Rather than going to the world’s largest fast food chain.

Hopeless reporting.

Hannah Dawson, Northallerton.