Muddy verge: This is a view of the verge outside my house. The verge is the responsibility of North Yorkshire Council, our new unitary authority.

They are adept at saving money, that is why they were so successful in their bid to take on the job.

I have informed them several times over several years, initially under their previous name of North Yorkshire County Council, about the state of the verge but true to their colours they have done nothing. I wonder where their saving will stop, if it ever does.

If Richmond, where I live, is the flagship constituency of the UK (being that of our prime minister), then the more obscure parts must be dire indeed.

For a long time we have been told that the UK wants to be the world leader in such and such a field and in truth the UK is very good at making nuclear submarines, tanks, bombs, missiles and fighter aircraft which threaten and kill around the world.

But few people would have thought we were also the best in the much more modest field of neglect.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Club closure

NORTHALLERTON PROBUS CLUB was formed in 1970, the setting up of the club having been organised by members of Northallerton Rotary Club.

It was to be a meeting of professional and businessmen who had retired, and to be of a purely social nature.

The proposal to form such a club was well supported and with a membership of 22, the first meeting was held on Tuesday, April 28, 1970, at The Victoria Grill Cafe, Northallerton, under the chairmanship (this designation was changed to president in March 1978) of Mr A Bennifer, assisted by secretary/treasurer Mr J E Keenleyside.

The club has continued to deliver its aim, with a short enforced break due to the Covid-19 lockdown, to the present day.

Since the Covid-19 lockdown however, membership numbers have declined, the club has been unable to attract new members and the cost of room hire and guest speakers has increased.

At the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, it was agreed that due to the reduction in the number of members, fortnightly meetings were not financially sustainable and meetings would be reduced to one per month from February to November.

Since resuming meetings after Covid, the members have enjoyed some excellent informative and entertaining talks on subjects such as “The Other Legless Pilot”, “Living and Working in Antarctica”, “A Notorious Teesside Murder”, “Atoms, Fission and Confusion” and “The Music of Jerome Kern”.

At an extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, attended by 14 members, it was decided to wind-up the club at the end of 2023, due to dwindling membership numbers, an inability to attract new members and the increasing costs of room hire and guest speakers.

I have had the honour and privilege of being president of the club since 2018 and would like to offer my sincere thanks to the committee and members for their support during my tenure, particularly in the difficult years during and since Covid-19.

The “swansong” of the club was a Christmas lunch which was enjoyed by 30 members and guests at the Golden Lion Hotel, Northallerton, on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.

Danny Myers, president, Northallerton Probus Club.

Reviews for all

I DON’T agree that a recent review of the world’s largest fast food chain was hopeless reporting “Fast food review” (D&S letters, Dec 1).

To be fair the reviewers regularly visit the whole genre of eating out venues from fine dining to takeaways and everything in between including cafes, pubs and restaurants – so why not McDonald’s?

Libby Harding, Leeming, Northallerton.

Speaking out

DYING children across the world. I may be old and unable to do much but I am of a generation that was taught: “To say nothing is to be complicit…”

Governments that do nothing because they have sold the weapons that kill are complicit in the murder of innocents. Especially when the warmongers break international laws with impunity.. knowing once it’s done it is done.

Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden are not shouting stop because history has bound them in the guilt of past wars and horrors. They are complicit and accountable.

It is by doing nothing that they are equally as responsible as are the leaders of other countries who send their soldiers and weapons to war.

I am speaking out, killing of babies and therefore genocide is being done in my (and your names) without my/ your consent.

I see it. You see it. I call for it to be stopped. That is all I can do but at least it is doing something.

Barbara Gardner, Bainbridge.

Stance on Gaza

I HAVE read the letter from Brian Tyldesley and would support what he has said, “War in Gaza” (D&S Times letters, Dec 8).

I am surprised that there has not been more correspondence on this dreadful war over the past two months.

Readers of the D&S Times currently have a unique opportunity to put their views to the Prime Minister, whatever they are.

No one can deny that what has been done by both sides in this conflict has been absolutely horrendous.

The underlying cause of this conflict has been there for decades with no real determination to solve it and it has erupted in an unthinkable way.

I am pleased that the Americans are to some small extent rowing back from their rigid shoulder to shoulder stance and putting some pressure on the Israelis.

However I have not heard the slightest deviation from our Prime Minister or the leader of the opposition of any alteration to their “back you whatever you do” stance which I find completely wrong.

Fighting and destruction and killing of thousands of civilians will never completely destroy Hamas. Last night (Sunday) there was a picture of a completely distressed boy with the body bags of his parents and young sister.

His experience could mean that he will become a future Hamas fighter.

If this continues what are the chances of this current situation spreading into the West Bank where there is already increased tension and violence by both sides.

Come on Mr Prime Minister, in spite of all the many other problems you have right now, please take a slightly less rigid approach and at least support the Americans in what they might be trying to do.

David Law, Melmerby.

Rwanda policy

RISHI SUNAK’S reputation for political nous and economic prudence is shattered.

Leaving aside the epidemiological blunders associated with his Eat Out to Help Out initiative, recent analysis has shown there was no economic benefit arising from the £849m spent on this scheme; and that Mr Sunak, then Chancellor, subsequently decided to compound his lack of fiduciary responsibility by also writing off millions in fraudulent claims.

This trend continues. As PM Mr Sunak is directly responsible for the fiscal fiasco and spiralling costs of another ill-conceived policy aimed at deporting migrants. In the last week the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee inform us that the cost of this scheme has risen from £146m to £290m with additional legal fees to date of £1.5m.

The PM and his ministers are coy as to the full costs of their Rwandan programme and have consistently failed to reveal the actual cost of deporting any migrant should this ever happen. Government sources themselves project these costs at £169,000 per individual. Add “set up” costs of £20m and the further “operational” and “transformational” costs of £270m for “infrastructure” in Rwanda and the overall bill to the taxpayer tops £500m.

It doesn’t stop there however.

The flights of ministers and other “officials” to Rwanda amount to at least £35m (a first class return to Kigali is £8,000).

A true costing would also involve the salaries of dozens of civil servants responsible for administering this scheme in the UK.

All these ancillary costs are before any “opportunity” costs are factored in. Half a billion pounds could effectively contribute and make a difference to a host of other projects.

In short, the financing of the Rwanda scheme is opaque and figures have to be prised out of the government despite Mr Sunak’s promise of “transparency” on taking office.

Whether one agrees with deporting migrants or not, even a cursory glance at the Rwanda issue indicates an economics of the madhouse.

It certainly doesn’t support No 10’s (that is the PM’s) claim that the programme is value for money.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Mindless vandals

VOLUNTEERS organised by our local councillors planted 22 substantial trees in Stanhope Park Darlington last week.

Over the weekend three of the trees have been snapped off by a mindless act of vandalism.

It must be very disheartening for all concerned who carried out all the good work in the park over the recent months.

I would like to offer my thanks and gratitude for their effort put in on behalf of our community.

W Mckenna, Darlington.

Christmas origins

ECENT decisions at the Bowes Museum pose the question about the true meaning of Christmas.

Perhaps not the most fashionable view in secular Britain but still the belief of many – I’ll try to answer the question on their behalf.

Presents, food and drink, parties (and hopefully) harmonious family get-togethers are the joyful wrappings around the most important and significant event in human history.

Christmas, as the title implies, celebrates the birth of Christ, who, as people of faith believe, was the “son of God” sent into the human domain as a “saving” agent.

In simple terms, the Lord God saw that the human train he had designed over time, had gone off the rails, gone into a siding and hit the buffers, even though it had the freedom to go wherever it wanted provided it stayed on the rail network (commandments).

Christ was sent to “re-track” the unfortunate train and point it in the right direction without taking away its freedom to choose to ignore the signals.

Of course, the train is driven by a human being.

Christ was born and left us with a simple journey plan – “love God and prove it by respecting your fellow human beings”.

This is the real meaning of Christmas.

But freedom of choice remains, and often that’s a problem!

Michael Baldasera, Darlington.

Cheery songs

IF the rather dreary DM Deamer from York was a Christian he would find that he has plenty to sing about and be cheerful, despite his analysis of several festive pop songs “Christmas songs” (D&S Times letters, Dec 8).

RM Wildsmith, Great Ayton.