Town flooding: Northallerton high street flooded several years ago from the Town Hall roundabout nearly as far as the church, causing water damage to many properties.

Likewise Brompton village had flooding causing terrible problems to the adjacent houses. Both these waterways were dredged and success – no flooding since.

Recently Morton-on-Swale bridge on the A684 has had several closures due to flooding, this has caused much inconvenience and distress, people and cars even had to be rescued by the fire service, others had to do long detours.

I understand on good authority that the bridge is almost overgrown with reeds, bushes, vegetation and general sludge.

This stretch of the Swale is in dire need of dredging.

The nearest detour to reach Northallerton is Langton Bridge which is narrow and only one line of traffic can pass at a time.

This causes a lot of frustration as traffic is approaching from both sides.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Flooding in Northallerton in 2000

This annoyance could be solved simply by installing traffic lights, if this is too much to ask, what about temporary ones such as those used for road works, when necessary and Morton Bridge is closed, which we hope is not too regular.

Anne Smirthwaite, Thornton-le-Moor, Northallerton.

Fantasy plans

BEN HOUCHEN is no stranger to the world of wishful thinking, but his latest proposals to spend £1bn "saved" following the cancellation of phase two of HS2 take his fantasies to new levels.

Firstly, his claim that HS2 would have brought no benefits to our region, is nothing short of a lie.

The eastern leg of HS2 was planned to link into the East Coast Mainline just south of York.

Together with upgrades north of York, this would have knocked almost an hour off journeys from Darlington to for example Nottingham/Derby or Birmingham, as well as to London.

However, it is Ben Houchen’s spending plans which take incredulity to a new level.

He proposes to spend 57.4 per cent of the £1bn, originally intended for public transport improvements, on road schemes.

Far from relieving congestion, more roads will simply increase the use of private cars.

I can only conclude Ben Houchen is a closet climate change denier.

Ben Houchen’s public transport spending plans also include several flights of fancy.

He intends to spend £20m for a new station to serve Teesside Airport which would, even if it were relocated, require some kind of shuttle link to take rail passengers to the airport terminal.

Mr Houchen should be mindful of the recently opened link between Luton airport and the town's (existing) railway station, which cost no less than £300m.

The cost for each passenger taking a 2.1km one way trip on this new link is £4.90!

Many airport passengers at Teesside already baulk at paying £2.50 to be dropped off by car, so I can't see them flocking to a similar style link here.

Perhaps the greatest illusion Ben Houchen is attempting to pull off is his proposal to spend £20m on autonomous trams in several town centres.

I suspect Mr Houchen has been Googling the proposed Coventry very light rail system which is at an early stage of development and as yet remains untried and uncosted. Hardly the basis for his current spending plans.

Apart from spending a modest amount of money on addressing the backlog in highway maintenance, potholes are bad news for all road users, the vast bulk of £1bn in spending needs to focus on tried and tested means of reducing dependency on private cars.

Improved public transport is a vital part of this, but so are initiatives to make cycling safer and encourage walking.

The letters page does not allow enough space to fully counter Ben Houchen’s ill-thought out plans, but one thing is clear, he needs to think again.

Andrew Newens, Darlington.

Mayoral race

THIS year will see the local authorities of North Yorkshire and York combine into a mayoral authority, with the publicly-elected mayor becoming the most senior figure in regional government.

The mayor will have significant powers to progress the region's economic, social and environmental agendas so it is important that they can demonstrate the necessary qualities required to manage stability and growth in these areas.

The Conservative Party nomination for the role of mayor is Councillor Keane Duncan, North Yorkshire Council’s (NYC) executive member for highways and transportation.

He must therefore acknowledge ultimate responsibility for these two aspects of NYC services

When members of the public are therefore asked to vote for their choice of mayor it would therefore be well to remember the track record of Cllr Duncan, the condition of the roads and decline in public transport services in North Yorkshire.

Cllr Duncan has just embarked on a self-promotional tour of North Yorkshire in a specially sprayed blue vehicle.

Whilst recognising it’s good he gets to know the people he wants to vote for him, I suspect the greatest benefit will be that he experiences first-hand the condition of the roads.

I would also suggest that taking a leaf out of Boris Johnson’s guide to self-promotion (as the nation experienced with his big red bus gimmick) can backfire if the message you send out is purely aspirational and ultimately you can’t deliver.

As Mr Johnson himself experienced, when the publicity stunts have ended and promises remain unfulfilled, the public will remember.

B Forbes, Thornton-le-Moor, Northallerton.

Data questions

RISHI SUNAK has now been rebuked three times by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) for the misuse of statistical data; once last month, once in November 2023 and again in April 2023.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Chote, chair of UKSA, said people may have been "'misled" by Mr Sunak's claims and language.

Sir Robert also rebuked Mr Sunak for his practice of presenting statistics "without context" and deliberately preventing scrutiny before publication.

As one would expect Sir Robert used diplomatic language to admonish the PM and suggested that his actions "undermine trust in government".

One can but agree with Sir Robert, in my part of the constituency this kind of behaviour is called telling "porkies".

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

We need to talk

EVERYWHERE I look I see people going about their everyday activities gawping into a rectangular object which splurts out a load of garbage informing them about what so and so is doing.

And then there are the pop up adverts trying to sell stuff based on what you have been browsing previously.

Increasingly people are being sucked into spending so much time browsing stuff that is totally irrelevant and non-productive.

There are even adverts or articles which drag on for so long that people are prepared to watch the inane rubbish to see the end.

The intelligence of the human race is in my opinion declining to the extent that people cannot do mental arithmetic, think for themselves and believe everything the data tells them.

A classic example of this is when people follow Sat Nav and end up somewhere unintended eg being stuck down a single track country road with nowhere to turn round.

While I am not against technology, I have always thought it should be used for productive practical purposes, such as using Microsoft Office applications to enhance/improve the process of form filling, producing scientific data and reports/presentations.

It is surprising how many people these days do not know or appreciate the power of this ordinary software package to this current day since computers became part of our lives.

Instead of improving our lives, the advent of social media has degraded the quality of life to the extent that people do not know how to verbally communicate anymore, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter etc have monopolised human interaction to the extent that these people are controlled by them and they, religiously in many cases, believe everything that comes up.

People need to ask/challenge themselves by querying what have they achieved today, they should also set themselves tasks to break away from the scourge of social media by thinking about how much time they are spending surfing and browsing with no productive results.

The inability of people to communicate has also led to the unproductive environment that exists today in the workplace, team work no longer exists and we end up with individuals in a team not contributing toward the overall aims of a team due to “mini empires” within the workplace where everyone has their own agenda.

While I am spending time typing this, I am being productive by highlighting the above issues and expressing my opinion that social media is the root of some of the evil in the world and is contributing to the decline of the intelligence of the human race.

Colin Telfer, Darlington.

Dentist woe

THE situation in the missing of dental appointments isn't improving.

I visited my dentist's surgery on January 24 for my regular six-monthly check-up.

While in the waiting area, I read from their notices that during the month of December over 12 hours had been lost in patients not attending their appointments and a further 12 hours lost through late cancellations.

Therefore I calculate that overall, allowing 20 minutes per appointment, that is a loss of around 72 throughout the month. For the practice an expensive loss.

I bet if they were private patients they would be attending.

This is also at a time when it is reported many people cannot get to see a dentist.

On December 11 I had cause to contact my practice in Duke Street, Darlington, to have an unexpected repair done only to be told that January 11 was the earliest I could be seen as they were still a dentist down.

I therefore asked to be placed on a cancellation list and would attend with only 30 minutes notice if I wasn't too far away.

I was contacted the following Thursday (December 14) offering me a cancellation appointment which I gladly accepted, but the practice actually gave me 90 minutes notice. The team at that practice are brilliant.

So let’s not blame the government entirely – the public do not help the situation.

Another NHS success for myself involves Carmel Surgery and the Cockerton pharmacy in West Auckland Road.

I handed my prescription in on Wednesday morning receiving a text message the next day from the chemist advising it was ready to be collected.

Mike Taylor, Darlington.