Risk from trees: For years, residents in Aiskew whose homes back on to a bridle path, have complained to the council regarding a number of trees which are a danger to life and property.

The council's response has been to put a preservation order on the trees to prevent residents taking action to protect their properties.

This order was renewed twice then they had a permanent preservation placed on them.

The other side of the bridle path is the boundary of the new Taylor Wimpey Beaumont Gate housing development.

The builders have made the trees even more dangerous by excavating levels right to the base of trees thus weakening their structure. They have even pushed some smaller trees into the bridle path as they obviously were in the path of their fencing line.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The tree that has fallen into the garden of new build house in Aiskew Photo: Dennis Trought

With the effect of the latest storms the pictures show the latest tree to fall, into the garden of a new house and without doubt if anyone had been in the garden they would have been killed.

The residents have had enough of this situation and from living in fear every time we have high winds.

Dennis Trought, Aiskew, Bedale.

Asylum seekers

I HAVE recently chaired discussions in two local organisations, the Harrogate Branch of the United Nation Association and the Current Affairs Discussion Group of Leyburn U3A, on the subject of refugees and asylum seekers.

In both cases the unanimous view of all the participants was that asylum seekers should be allowed to work.

There are several reasons for taking this view.

1. We are told that supporting asylum seekers cost the nation £3.7bn in 2022 and costs of this order are no doubt continuing. If asylum seekers were allowed to work they could become largely self-supporting.

2. Being in a room with minimal financial support and nothing to do must be very damaging to the mental health of these people.

3. Our system for determining the applications for refugee status is taking ever longer with a backlog of 140,000 applications. Decisions are supposed to be made within six months but seldom are and some have been waiting years.

4. There are a number of areas of the UK economy crying out for workers. Hospitality, care and agriculture are three of them. Asylum seekers could fulfil many of these roles and many of them must have skills that could benefit the UK economy.

5. The government's reported statistics of decided applications include a high proportion of "withdrawn" applications. In reality, it is likely that many "withdrawals" are people just drifting into the black economy where they are likely to be exploited, and being lost track of.

The current situation is damaging to asylum seekers and damaging to the nation.

It is a classic "lose-lose" situation.

Gerald Hodgson, Spennithorne, Leyburn.

Ceasefire petition

I HAVE sent photos of a petition signed in little more than an hour at a stall in Durham on December 16 by passers-by horrified at the continuing attacks on, deaths of and serious injuries to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and at the worsening conditions there (lack of drinking water, food, medical supplies, power, shelter) to my MP, Rishi Sunak.

It points out that known deaths now amount to more than 20,000, equal to the populations of Northallerton and Richmond combined, and that the figure will rise substantially when the Palestinians are able to retrieve bodies from the rubble of what were once homes, schools, hospitals, health clinics, places of worship and other buildings.

I have asked him to prove to the Palestinians, to the people of the country of which he is Prime Minister and to his constituents, whom he was elected to represent, that his heart isn’t totally made of stone by doing all in his power to bring an end to this genocide, treating it as the war crime that it undoubtedly is and demanding a ceasefire now.

Patricia Fairey, Bedale.

School memories

AS a former pupil of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Darlington (1957-62) Chris Lloyd's article, in last week’s edition, concerning "Dickie" Bird struck a chord, “Dickie Bird in full flight” (D&S Times, Dec 29).

In my day headmaster Doc Hare ruled a tight ship with a just firmness.

Percy Moss introduced me and other "shellers" to Mr Percy Vere.

Gym master and utility player Len Griffiths' patience, and alternative ways of enabling pupils to see the light, coached me through the mysteries of maths at O-level.

Biology master "Bug" Allen famously raised an alligator from an incubator to a domestic bath before being rehomed and "Ozzy" Osbourne's acerbic, Malcolm Muggeridge delivery cut the unruly down to size.

And then there was "Dickie" Bird in charge of art. He must have been in his late 50s/early 60s then as I recall a much older-looking Dickie than that shown in his self-portrait.

A warm hearted, gentle gentleman, full of quiet encouragement, always with time to listen.

Having a mother who drew maps on silk underwear as part of her Second World War effort, I must have had an atom of an artistic gene somewhere.

Dickie found it and although it remained dormant until flourishing following retirement the magician had done his stuff.

As a callow youth I had then no awareness of the talent I was privileged to be enlightened by and which would bring so much pleasure in later years. Thank you Dickie.

Tony Salmon, Faceby.

Dog ownership

THERE doesn't seem to be a day go by without a dog story in the media.

On one hand we have horror stories about attacks, sometimes leading to death.

On the other, we are told of the health and well-being advantages of dog ownership.

The UK has a dog problem and the government seems scared to try to solve it.

PDSA's existence is solely for the wellbeing of pets. Read their PAW report for 2022 and their findings are worrying.

Did you know that the dog population in the last five years has grown from 8.9 million to 11 million? In 2022, 640,000 were imported.

Many were imported after cosmetic mutilation (PDSA's words not mine) because it is banned in the UK. There is a similar situation with cats.

Did you know that in the two-year period from summer 2021 there were 25,000 reported dog attacks (ITN FOI request).

According to the British Medical Journal, hospital attendances of injuries related to dogs rose from 4,699 in 2007 to 8,819 in 2021-2022.

Surely it is about time a national government addressed dog ownership, breeding and importation.

May I state my position regarding dogs. I was brought up in a family that always had a dog.

When I left I said that I would never own a dog because I knew the expense and responsibility of caring properly for one.

Ian Wilson, Guisborough.

Fluoride concerns

DR KAMINI SHAH refers to water fluoridation as “magic”, in the article "Health officials make case for fluoride" (D&S Times, Dec 22).

Could she reveal scientifically how it works to reduce tooth decay, and how she might assure us other organs besides teeth might not be affected?

In 1997 a PhD dissertation submitted by Jennifer Anne Luke to the University of Surrey revealed fluoride is deposited in our pineal gland, often equivalent to levels in severely fluorosed bone.

She also found fluoride accelerated sexual maturation in female gerbils, and increased their body weight.

Her study mentions another from 1956 that showed human females who consumed fluoridated water began first menstruation on average five months earlier than those drinking plain water.

This was (and is) medication without consent.

A 2012 study by two Japanese University Schools of Dentistry (by Mitsuo Kakei, et al.) found attempts at enamel remineralisation using a fluoride gel on human teeth “… caused only crystal damage and no restoration events …”, and fluoride treatments “… are inconsistent with the purpose of public health.”

They gave rats fluoridated water, but their tooth enamel did not improve.

Fluoride may damage teeth, revealed by persistently high tooth decay in extensively fluoridated Republic of Ireland. At age 12, their decay incidence is some 25 per cent higher than England’s, which is mostly un-fluoridated.

It is an abject failure, confirmed by this finding: An examination of Public Health England (PHE) data for the North East (including Stockton), reveals that over a five-year period ending in 2020, average hospital tooth extractions due to caries in the age-range six to ten years in a fluoridated conurbation were more than double that of a neighbouring un-fluoridated area, who were also (paradoxically) significantly more deprived, indicated by their Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index. The populations were about 717,000 and 905,000 (all ages), respectively.

PHE is the former employer of Dr Shah.

Who wants to be “levelled up” to the number of childhood tooth extractions carried out in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside and Gateshead, all fluoridated since 1968?

Dr Shah speaks of the “magic” of fluoridation. Like the Netherlands, we should ban it.

For information on how to defend your family from fluoride contamination and harms, and respond to the upcoming public consultation, please go to North East Water Fluoridation Concerns at newfc.org.uk

Michael Watson, Darlington.

Disabled parking

HAVING not been into Northallerton to shop for some time, recently I drove in wondering firstly whether there were any disabled parking bays to be had.

I pulled up actually in a taxi rank and encountered a charming, helpful traffic warden.

I could not believe what he told me.

Apparently in Northallerton with a Blue badge you are allowed to park in any of the designated parking spaces in the town! But not in Thirsk.

Even as a write this letter, I am starting to make enquiries, why?

And how long has the said parking arrangement in Northallerton been operating – so many of my Blue badge friends did not know.

Betty Woodhams, Thirsk.

Dubious honours

THE acceptance and recent publication of Liz Truss’s resignation hours list is another example of the Prime Minister’s lack of political nous.

Here was a wonderful opportunity for Rishi Sunak to demonstrate his much quoted values and to signal a clear moral position.

Blocking the honours list would have been popular across the political spectrum and gained him a much needed, positive gloss to a declining reputation.

Failure to act and his abject hiding behind "convention" speaks volumes.

Leaving aside Mr Sunak’s moral vacuity there are negative practical consequences to this failure to act.

Three more individuals of uncertain credibility will now join an already bloated House of Lords and the honours system itself is further undermined in terms of public esteem and recognised merit. Does the PM have no close political advisors who can tell him directly "the optics don’t look good Rishi"?

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Works re-assurance

IN reply to Stan Wilby's comments on Stressholme Sewage Works upgrades, “Water works worry” (D&S Times letters, Dec 29).

I can personally assure him I worked on a substantial new development in 1972-73 by Tarmac Construction. Pat Carr was the general foreman, while operating my own JCB I got to know Pat well, he was a hard taskmaster, who I had the utmost respect for, few could match his tenacity and fairness.

I well understand this was some 50 years ago but I know from past experience having worked with Tarmac Construction on similar projects at Easingwold and Pickering, upgrades were always in the long term pipeline (excuse the pun) and normally something the general public would seldom hear about.

I would be very surprised if any extra volume has not been taken into account in this case, unfortunately it is not unknown for some builders to pipe surface water into foul drains thus creating immeasurable extra capacity at the treatment works.

Trevor Mason, Swainby, Northallerton.