Water quality: I HAVE to agree with NJL Gardener about the state of the River Swale and the misleading story about the River Swale on the previous week's front page, “Swale condition” (D&S letters, Feb 9).

The River Swale is not by any measure one of the worst rivers for pollution.

I speak as someone who walks by the river almost every day for almost 30 years and while I am not taking samples for detailed laboratory analysis on my walks, I think I would notice a marked deterioration in the water quality.

If anything I would say the water in the Swale has improved over the years.

I very much support the aims of the Save our Swale group.

Who wouldn't, because we would always want improvements if they can be achieved without placing an intolerable financial burden on households and business?

But I do wonder about the group's quest to achieve bathing water status for the Swale.

Should we really be encouraging people to bathe in the Swale which, if I recall correctly, is considered the fastest rising river in England when it rains heavily?

I consider myself a good swimmer but from a safety perspective but I wouldn't dream of taking to the river, even on the calmest, hottest days of summer. Especially when we have a beautiful, well-run, swimming pool in the town which needs people to use it to have a sustainable future.

Moira Metcalfe, Richmond.

Show inflation

HAVE Stokesley Show made a big mistake with the price rises for 2024?

I recently received my renewal letter from Stokesley Show regarding membership for 2024.

Last year my husband and I paid £35 for a joint membership, this year the letter states membership has risen to £28 each.

How can they justify the cost going from £35 to £56?

I, like many others I have spoken to, will not be paying this price.

I dread to think what the gate charge on the day will be.

Do they expect anyone to pay this inflated price?

A rise in line with inflation would be acceptable but this rise is ridiculous.

I fear for the future of the show if they continue with these rises.

Like many others I have emailed for comment but no response has been received.

Whilst I understand costs have risen for all businesses I hope the show will look again at this decision or I fear the show will have a low turnout this year.

Maureen Marshall, Tame Bridge, Stokesley.

Green action

MICHAEL WALKER'S letter “Trees destruction” (D&S Times, Feb 9) claimed the Green Party had done nothing to fight the Blackwell development in Darlington. Rubbish!

Mr Walker, who stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative candidate in May 2023, is either ignorant of the facts or deliberately misrepresenting the work that Green Party members have been doing since 2018 to protect Blackwell.

Darlington Green Party members have been supporting the community to fight the Blackwell development since it was first proposed, in contrast with the two ward councillors.

Green Party councillors, members and the then Deputy Leader of the Green Party, Amelia Womack, have joined protesters in opposing the plans.

Only Green councillors have actively campaigned against the Local Plan that put Blackwell at risk. Activities include coordinating a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a planning consultant, organising public meetings, coordinating submissions to the Local Plan and appearing over several days at the public examination.

Green councillors are also the only party to vote consistently against the plan. This is all a matter of public record.

Once again, Green councillors on the planning committee voted against the application to build houses at Blackwell, while both Labour and Conservatives were happy to raise their hand to give approval.

Green Party councillors will continue to work hard all year round, listening to and resolving their constituents’ concerns.

Matthew Snedker, group leader, Darlington Green Party.

Crisps a sad loss

FOR older people, the loss of Smiths Crisps is indeed a loss of the best tasting crisps ever invented.

The modern selection is considerable and numerous, but lacks the plane tasting older variety.

Maybe profit is the dominating factor – there can be no other reason.

Please bring back Smiths Crisps – an increase in price can be accepted.

William Robotham, Barton.

Undeserved award

I WRITE in response to the article regarding Darlington Indoor Market being crowned the UK's Best Small Indoor Market, “National accolade for indoor market” (D&S Times, Feb 9)

To say I was shocked is an understatement!

The scene I was met with last week in the market was a barren, bleak hall, with three market stalls, absolutely no one else in the eating area, nothing open at all and lots of cones and yellow safety signs strewn around.

It’s an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to the people of this town.

The article stated that “judges praised the market for its positive impact on the high street”! What positive impact?

I have never met or spoken to a single person in Darlington that would agree with that.

Who were the judges? Were they from Darlington? I think not, whoever was on that panel has no clue whatsoever about this town.

The councillors involved in the revamp of the market should hang their heads in shame instead of patting themselves on the back.

If they listened to the people of this town instead of embarrassing us they might get somewhere.

As for Darlington being a thriving, vibrant and successful town – where?

Yes there are lots of new housing estates and shopping complexes on the outskirts, but the town centre is absolutely abysmal, utterly disgraceful.

I used to be proud to say I was born and bred here but not anymore. Shame on all involved.

M Robertson Lodge, Hurworth.

Donate a coat

THE Age UK shop in Bedale is calling on locals to Donate a Coat as part of the charity’s Spread the Warmth campaign.

The charity is encouraging people to donate any coats they no longer wear, along with other unwanted warm clothing, to their local Age UK shop to help raise much-needed funds to support older people.

Spread the Warmth aims to raise awareness of the challenges older people are facing during the colder months and rally support.

Funds raised from the campaign will help ensure Age UK can continue to provide crucial services, such as its free national Advice Line, Telephone Friendship Service and The Silver Line Helpline, to those who are vulnerable and struggling this winter.

These services can be a lifeline to so many – not only can cold temperatures seriously affect older people’s health, but the darker days can make it harder to get out and about and stay connected, leaving many feeling isolated and lonely.

Eye-watering energy bills and the ever-increasing cost of living also mean that many older households are struggling to afford the essentials, and getting by on a low fixed income is incredibly challenging and stressful.

People can make their donations worth an extra 25 per cent for the charity by signing up to Gift Aid. Simply filling out a basic form when dropping off donations means Age UK will receive an extra 25p from the government for every £1 that is raised from donated goods, and it won’t cost you a penny!

Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges facing older people this winter, and the many ways the public can offer their support.

As well as the Donate a Coat appeal, there are many ways people can get involved and help to Spread the Warmth, visit ageuk.org.uk/warmth for more details.

Margaret Bell, manager Age UK shop, Bedale.

Green recycling cost

GOING for a drive in the country or for a walk in quiet rural spots, you are more likely to observe piles of dumped rubbish than wild flowers.

We have not made a success of our waste collection and recycling schemes when there are so many restrictions, rules and charges at council sites.

This is one reason I am concerned about plans to charge £40 for the green bin collections by Redcar and Cleveland Council.

Although we have had no formal announcement, there have been reports of proposals and, as the green bin collections will be resuming in March, it is getting a bit late for a change of heart.

Many people with large gardens may have space for compost heaps, so the green bin collection is perhaps more useful for owners of smaller gardens.

However, this charge will certainly discourage some people from recycling green waste from their household waste.

Contamination of waste is one of the main problems in the complex process of recycling, so this proposal will make it even more difficult to sort out plastic and glass if it gets covered in grass clippings.

We are all aware that the government has cut funding to our local councils for years.

They are all struggling to fund services that most of us once considered to be essential. However, this is a move that might prove to be counterproductive and will lead to more fly-tipping and recycling contamination.

It is not too late for a change of heart by our councillors.

Terence Fleming, Guisborough.

Theft from us all

I REFER to your recent article about the charity collection tin recently stolen from Keld in Swaledale "Charity donation tin stolen from centre” (D&S Times, Feb 9).

I would like to point out that the charity targeted by the thieves was the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which, your readers may be aware, relies on public donations to operate its essential service in urban locations as well as more remote areas.

That thieves would stoop so low as to steal from an organisation that may one day save their own lives or those of their family or friends shows just how stupid and selfish they are.

One can only hope that nobody close to them, such as their grandmother or child, will need the air ambulance in an emergency.

Since a theft from the air ambulance is a theft from the emergency services we all rely on, I ask you to publish the picture of the suspects again and urge any of your readers who recognise the men to report it to the police.

Chris Giles, Keld.

Overrun crackdown

WHEN utility company roadworks overrun, it’s motorists who pay the price with congestion, detours and longer journeys.

This is why I’ve announced a plan to crack down on works by utility companies overrunning.

We are consulting on plans to toughen fines for utility companies if they overrun and increase the penalties for operating without a licence.

Proposals include using money the utility companies pay councils to “block off” the streets, and putting it into resurfacing and improving local roads.

The result?

We could generate £100m extra each year to resurface roads and tackle potholes left behind by utility companies, while helping tackle congestion, cutting down journey times and make driving a bit easier.

This is part of the first series of measures delivered from the Government’s Plan for Drivers, a 30-point plan to support freedom to use your cars, curb unnecessary enforcement and back drivers.

This is just the latest boost for your readers who rely on our roads, who will also see the biggest ever funding increase of £8.3bn to resurface local roads in England – improving the everyday journeys that so many people rely on.

Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Roads and Local Transport.

Road tax

I DON’T know of any car driver I talk to that does not complain about potholes in the roads.

I have just renewed my car road tax and it has gone up since last year.

As someone said the last place car tax is spent on is the roads.

GO Wright, Sadberge.