Livestock dangers: I was ten years old when I came to live in the countryside, I, like many of my new friends by the age of 12, was potato picking and helping at haytime and harvest.

We also learned how to hoe root crops, at 13 I was milking cows by hand and mucking out stalls and boxes.

I graduated to disking, harrowing and rolling on a standard Fordson tractor, although I never got to plough.

I was also taught how to handle stock ie pigs, sheep, cows and calves, animals which were sometimes unpredictable especially when with young, never turning your back on them.

Grazing stock, example cows and steers were generally okay, if a bull was present then extra care was wise if you were unfamiliar of his nature.

Most problems arising with field stock are caused by people walking dogs, whether on leads or free, immediately the stock sees a dog, to them it is "let's have fun time", flat out to chase this trespasser.

In reality a right of way through a field of stock should really exclude dogs as it does in hospitals and most shops except for guide dogs.

Surely farmers must have every right to graze stock on their own land, were someone to take the risk of walking with a dog through a field of stock then surely that cannot be deemed the landowner's responsibility if an accident was to occur by stock chasing them?

There is another very serious reason to ban the walking of dogs on farmland and that is biosecurity, many dogs can carry diseases in their faeces. For example one of these is called Neospora. Even when the faeces are cleaned up contamination can be left on the grass and when eaten by cows in calf it not only causes them to miscarry but are permanently damaged for future breeding, leading to total loss of the infected animal.

It goes without saying what with the unpredictable weather and over regulation our farmers are having a tough enough time without having to contend with people placing themselves in situations which can lead to serious injury.

Whilst it is easy to be wise after the event, let's all hope the recent incident concerning farmer Martin Falshaw ("Farmer fined after walker trampled by cows" – D&S Times, Feb 16) will serve as a reminder to others in the future, not to walk dogs in fields occupied by cows, calves and beef stock.

Trevor Mason, Swainby, Northallerton.

History or houses?

THE latest controversy over the planned housing development at Marske-by-Sea by Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes on a site of great potential historic interest has posed the question: history or homes?

But is that a valid question?

There are many new "for profit" housing developments in the area.

Between Marske and Saltburn, Taylor Wimpey has just built a new estate on green belt, and another estate is being built next to it.

Marske and Redcar now almost touch due to new developments over the years (the newest also by Taylor Wimpey).

All the towns in the area have infill developments (the former infant school in Marske and sixth form college in Redcar are both now housing estates, as is Saltburn’s Upleatham Street school).

Added to that are the many additional estates built in east Cleveland, Guisborough and Middlesbrough.

It could be asked, if building "for profit" housing estates was the answer to the housing problem here, then why isn’t it already solved?

Though the simplistic principle of supply and demand is always quoted, the housing market is much more complex.

Market demand for new builds is inflated, not least by government policy (Help to Buy etc.) which helps keep the price up – developers won’t build if there isn’t sufficient profit.

In theory this releases houses at the cheaper end of the market. But the skewed market makes these relatively difficult to sell.

While the government’s strategy seems to be that this will force those property prices down making them more affordable, it doesn’t work well.

In towns like Saltburn many properties, that could otherwise be homes, instead become more profitable Airbnb’s or second/holiday homes.

Hundreds of homes are unavailable because it’s worth more to use them for tourism. Which is good for holidaymakers and the owners, but not good for people wanting to get onto the property ladder.

In the end, the simple choice at Marske isn’t between history or homes: it is whether houses should be built on that site, or elsewhere.

After all, the historic site itself has nowhere else to go. But then profits speak loudly.

Paul Booth, Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Bathing water

REGARDING NJL Gardener’s assertion about river quality, “Swale condition” (D&S Times letters, Feb 9).

It is quite valid to say that release of pollution or sewage into a river will be diluted by the flow. Levels of pollution and bacteria will be high at point of release and lower further away, depending on flow rate and input from tributaries.

Nevertheless, some releases occur at points near recreational facilities, particularly in urban locations, and near bathing areas, exposing users to high levels of pollution and bacteria, particularly at periods of low flow.

Taking an average value of all sampling points as representative does not provide assurance if you or your children are exposed near a release.

Analysis at the well-used riverside by the Falls and Batts in Richmond has indicated high levels of phosphates, nitrates and coliforms, often exceeding safe river and bathing water standards.

Taking localised samples allows for more focused management, ideally to attain bathing water status and assist overall targets of better water quality in the Swale and other rivers for users and wildlife. Volunteer and community analysis such as by the Angling Trust and the Save our Swale campaign can assist with this and provide information not extensively published by the Environment Agency, such as levels of pollution indicators and of coliforms which are of increasing concern.

Hilary Plews, on behalf of Save Our Swale.

Hardly luxurious

I HAPPENED to be reading the D&S letters page and came across the letter from TJ Ryder (D&S Times letters, Feb 9) regarding the “Life of luxury” they feel prisoners lead.

I'm unsure where their information is gathered from, but after listening to an interview with Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, it was evident TJ Ryder's perception of conditions are a fantasy.

Mr Taylor paints a very depressing reality of a crumbling prison estate, with black mould on the walls, sewage coming up through the floor when it rains and people locked up for 23 hours a day.

These observations relate to a jail in Bedford.

In addition, he reports that drug use is endemic, with people who were clean, ending up drug users simply to survive the misery.

Individuals on remand, and mentally ill people who should be in a hospital instead being kept in prison. Education and rehabilitation appear to be non-existent.

I feel sorry for people who work in these conditions, it must be horrendous.

This fallacy certain sections of the population cling to, that treating people poorly to stop them re offending is provable nonsense.

What concerns me is that if this situation continues, we only succeed in turning out people in a worse condition they went in.

Suicide rates have increased, self-harm rates have increased and the reoffending rates are as high as ever.

David Cameron once said it costs more to keep someone in jail than it does to educate them for a year at Eton.

I'm all for having a sensible discussion around how we deal with criminal behaviour, but the nonsense spouted by TJ Ryder is simply ideological claptrap.

A Eyles, Northallerton.

Garden waste cost

I REFER to your article “Garden waste bin licences launched” (D&S Times, Feb 16).

This article states that the new garden waste licence will cost £46.50.

Further into the article is the statement “for most users the fee is a 6.9 per cent rise on last year”.

As my fee for last year was £26.50 and now to be £46.50 – an uplift in excess of 75 per cent – how is this reconcilable to the Council’s claim?

This rise is abhorrent and if effected will discourage myself from recycling green waste.

John Woolley, Richmond.

Rethink needed

A REPORT I read in the national press shows that this country’s Climate Change Committee only looked at a single year of data regarding the number of windy and sunny days before making pronouncements on the extent to which the UK could rely on wind and solar farms to meet net zero.

Well I’m no expert but even I can see that that is hardly reliable scientific evidence.

Does anyone on this committee actually have any relevant qualifications in this field?

As I write this listening to the windows being rattled in their frames by the latest storm, whose name escapes me, a thought struck me.

The eco doom-mongers who tell us that this type of weather is to become the norm, also tell us that wind power will keep us supplied with sufficient energy without fossil fuels.

But surely, when wind speeds hit around 45-50 miles per hour, wind turbines have to be shut down.

So if we get more of this windy weather we will get less energy production.

Bit of a rethink needed perhaps.

Paul Morley, Long Preston.

Top choice

I WONDERED which Fox and Hounds your reviewer had stumbled in on reading the diatribe in Friday's D&S, "Dining in comfort" (D&S Times Eating Out, Feb 16).

Are you short of column inches?

Why the complaint about being directed to a dining room from the bar when that is what you have booked?

Although by the sound of it your reviewer hasn’t quite grasped the complicated art of booking a seat where he wants to sit.

The Fox and Hounds has three dining areas, all comfortable, warm and recently decorated so what's all the rubbish about multiple flat roofed mausoleums?

We eat out regularly and have tried most pubs in the Northallerton area.

For decent food that normal folk seem to like, yes it includes sizzlers, at a reasonable price with friendly bar staff, then the Fox and Hounds tops the list.

Malcolm and Pat Mitchell, East Cowton.

Tax proposal

I THINK it might helpful if the Chancellor cut VAT?

It would probably help the less well off more than others.

It might help to reduce inflation, and it may boost sales for some sectors of the economy.

John Lloyd, Darlington.