Water monitoring: It is encouraging to see the state of our rivers discussed in the public domain as it has been recently in the D&S Times.

Rivers are our lifeblood, sustaining wildlife and ecosystems and in the 21st Century all our rivers should be meeting ecological and chemical standards as determined by the Water Quality Directive: The Swale fails on both counts.

In her letter Moira Metcalfe states she is unable to notice a visible deterioration in water quality, (D&S Times letters, Feb 13).

The fact of the matter is that all may not be as it appears.

For example, Yorkshire Water freely admit they dump sewage into the Swale partly, they claim, as a result of inheriting a large number of combined sewage overflows when the water industry was privatised 35 years ago.

Whilst welcoming improvements to river health Ms Metcalfe quite rightly wants this achieved without any “financial burden on households and businesses”.

Yorkshire Water has other ideas.

Under the 2024 price review, they are proposing to increase water charges by, on average, four per cent plus inflation on each of the next five years in order to begin to address de-combining sewers.

However, as customers of this regional monopoly, we have already paid for our sewage to be disposed of safely for the last 35 years; something Yorkshire Water has failed to do.

It is the Environment Agency which oversees water quality issues, including monitoring, however, extensive budget cuts have significantly constrained their testing programme.

One of the actions of Save Our Swale is to secure Designated Bathing Water Status (DBWS) for a stretch of the river in Richmond.

This is not to encourage people to bathe in the Swale – those people who like to swim in open water already do so.

Achievement of DBWS in Richmond means the Environment Agency must act and test the water quality regularly.

Results are used to hold polluters to account and subsequently improve the health of the river.

Until then, Save Our Swale will continue with its monthly monitoring and analysis of the water quality of the Swale, the results of which indicate our river is regularly failing both safe river and bathing water standards.

Find out more about Save Our Swale’s aims, objectives, activities and events via Facebook: facebook.com/SaveOurSwale and monthly newsletter – to subscribe, email: saveourswale@gmail.com.

Deborah Meara, Save Our Swale.

NHS dentistry

WE’VE all read about the worsening state of NHS dental care in England, and many of us living in the Prime Minister’s own backyard have experienced it for ourselves.

Earlier this month my team contacted all 27 dentists listed on the government’s website in the Richmond and Northallerton constituency.

Not a single one was taking on new adult NHS patients, meaning that people are facing trips of over 60 miles to parts of Durham, Cumbria or even Tyne and Wear to get the NHS dental care they need. First they shut our A&E at Northallerton Friarage Hospital, now they’re forcing us to travel out of the county just to see a dentist.

On top of that, shocking new data has revealed that 134,448 children in the Yorkshire and Humber region have not visited an NHS dentist in the last year.

The British Dental Association have said that the Government’s proposed “recovery plan” is not worth the title and won’t stop the mass exodus of staff leaving NHS dentistry.

The Lib Dems are calling for a credible dental rescue package that includes investing the £400m of unspent funding for NHS dental services this year to boost the number of available appointments, guaranteed access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent care, mobile dental units to visit schools, community centres and care homes, and the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Rural healthcare services here have crumbled, all on Rishi Sunak’s watch. It’s time he let someone else have a go.

Daniel Callaghan, Lib Dem PPC for Richmond and Northallerton (Middleton Tyas).

What leftovers?

WITH reference to Sue Quinn’s article “Learn to love your leftovers” (D&S Times, Feb 21).

Ms Quinn is wide of the mark when she states that “Back in wartime, it was the ‘financially proper’ thing to use up any leftovers”.

It was rationing, not household income, that dictated what went on your plate and I doubt that there were ever any leftovers.

My late mother would often describe her wartime meals as “a cup of cold tea and a walk round the table.”

A far cry from the recipes featured (which incidentally sound delicious).

Timothy Wood, Guisborough.

Care in crisis

ADULT social care is in a desperate state.

It’s failing to provide the quality support millions depend upon to lead fulfilling lives.

Thousands of people in care homes and those living independently aren’t being given the help to which they’re entitled.

Levels of care vary widely from town to town, and even from street to street.

That’s because the government has broken its promise to invest in social care and doesn’t value the workers who deliver it.

Care staff are highly skilled and dedicated, but woefully undervalued.

Right now, with 152,000 vacancies across England, care workers cannot do their jobs properly, leaving countless families struggling.

The best solution is a national care service that drives up standards and pays staff decent wages.

It would assist families trying to navigate the current system. Anyone who has attempted to secure care knows doing so is confusing, complicated and stressful. A national care service would also relieve the overwhelming pressures on hospitals across the area by freeing up beds. Making this change for the better requires political will. That’s why UNISON is calling on all candidates in the North East at the next general election to pledge their support now for a national care service.

The more backing there is for this much-needed reform, the greater the chance of transforming the lives of people in the North East by giving them the care they deserve.

Clare Willaims, UNISON northern regional secretary.

More scrutiny needed

THE article, “Major sporting event expected to bring in £2m” (D&S Times, Feb 23), says North Yorkshire is predicted to benefit from the Long Course Weekend in September this year and for the next two years.

Call that £650,000 a year. That sounds good, but why does it remind me of last year’s national cycling Time Trial Championships at Croft?

On that occasion, public highways were closed because – claimed British Cycling – the event would deliver a potential local benefit of £400,000.

In reply to Freedom of Information requests, the two councils involved, North Yorkshire and Redcar, denied knowledge of or responsibility for that claim.

British Cycling simply failed to answer repeated queries. Was the £400,000 benefit delivered?

Why was public infrastructure closed to the public on the basis of an unsubstantiated claim?

On this occasion, I hope Cllr Bastiman of North Yorkshire Council will be reviewing the expected £2m claim in October. I’m all for large-scale sporting events, but let’s see some accountability.

N Reckert, Richmond.

Wrong tax cuts

BRITAIN is in a real mess. It is so difficult to get effective NHS treatment.

That is before we even get to unaffordable energy bills, high cost of living, doing little to stop climate change, poor standards of social care, declining education and councils going bust.

The government needs to deliver a budget that works for people and breathes life back into Britain. It is appalling to hear of a small group of people getting paid millions of pounds which goes into overseas banks.

Rather than rumoured tax cuts – which tend to benefit the very wealthiest – the Chancellor should make the tax system fairer to invest in this country, our high streets, and our healthcare system.

You would think they have forgotten that many schools have collapsing ceilings.

He could raise tens of billions of pounds by closing unfair tax loopholes, and ensuring that super-rich people and companies pay what is fair.

This way, tax can be used for good, so that everyone benefits. Will the Chancellor do the right thing for once?

Michael E Chaloner, Aiskew.

Reunited gloves

ON Wednesday morning, February 21, at Darlington Sainsbury’s I lost a glove, and was extremely disappointed when arriving home.

I tried unsuccessfully to telephone Sainsbury’s to make enquiries.

However, a friend was good enough to call to ask at Customer Services, and my glove had been found by someone who kindly had the thoughtfulness and time to take to Sainsbury’s Lost and Found.

May I take this opportunity of thanking the kind person, as it made my day?

Maureen Jackson, Darlington.

Active travel spend

NORTH Yorkshire Council (NYC) spend just £2.69 per head, per year on active travel (that’s walking, wheeling, and cycling), as revealed by a new freedom of information request by Whitby Community Network, published on February 16. A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) highlighted the poor funding for active travel across England.

Spend per head of population is £10 per head per year in England (excluding London).

NYC is significantly below the average for England, so it appears they have no commitment to active travel.

The IPPR recommended spend is £35 a head, per year. The IPPR report also revealed that “for every £1 spent on active travel infrastructure, there is an average return on investment of £5.62, compared to just £2.50 for roads”.

A compelling case for investing in providing facilities for walkers and cyclists.

The mayor of the new York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, due to be elected on May 2,

must use their transport powers to increase investment in this vital infrastructure to improve our economy, our health, and the safety of all road users.

Philip Martin, South Kilvington, Thirsk.

Selective recycling

THE other day I drove a couple of miles to my local recycling centre to get rid of a few items.

On entry I was asked what I was getting rid of, to which I replied, some glass bottles, cardboard, a bag of household waste and a microwave oven.

The attendant told me that I could not leave the microwave because it is classed as scrap metal and we are not taking that today.

Only a few months ago I took an old car tyre and was told we cannot take that because we are not licensed to take it.

I do not condone fly tipping, it is wrong – but is there any wonder that some people do it?

What are we paying council tax for (which undoubtedly will rise by the maximum allowed this year)?

Steve Benton, York.