Green waste costs: I write in response to the letter by J D Myers, who complained about a reduction in their green waste collection from 12 months to nine months for the same charge “Licence cost” (D&S Times letters, Mar 8).

The price was changed as a result in the merger of the previous district councils to one unified county council to regulate the cost across the county as different districts had different prices.

You are fortunate that the price of your licence has decreased (albeit by a small amount) for Northallerton – we were lucky in Richmond that our previous licence cost was £26.50, but due to the merger it has now increased to £46.50, a whopping 75 per cent increase!

I can also confirm that our collection schedule has only ever been for the period between the beginning of March until the end of November, never for the full 12 months of the year – who wants fill the bin in the depths of winter anyway?

Name supplied, Richmond.

Pothole damage

I RECENTLY hit a pothole on the busy main A61 road approaching Ripon from Harrogate causing a front broken suspension spring.

Although drivable I was advised by a garage that it was too dangerous to drive and they fortunately undertook an immediate repair which cost £115.

This negligence by North Yorkshire Council to maintain its roads is not isolated.

A short stretch of road between Brompton and the A684 Rishi Sunak’s door step is riddled with potholes.

John Watson, Darlington.

Budget gamble

RISHI SUNAK’S reputation for economic management and fiscal prudence is in tatters.

His complicity in signing off the Budget flies in the face of advice from top economists and represents another example of the hubris he demonstrated during the Covid period.

After 14 years of Conservative economic management the UK is in a perilous situation financially. Undeterred, Mr Sunak and his chancellor now gamble with short term tax cuts to appease his hard-right MPs and to ameliorate the prospects of his ailing party as it approaches a general election.

Reputable sources at home and abroad inform us that Britain suffers from weak economic growth, a lack of investment in infrastructure, low productivity, an under qualified workforce, huge regional differences, a creaking system of local administration and a deficiency in high level management skills.

We see these shortfalls demonstrated every day in our own communities.

Against this backdrop it seems all Mr Sunak can offer are stunts aimed primarily at sabotaging future growth, increasing economic instability and perpetuating a decade-long stagnation in living standards.

His assertion that “the economy is on the right track” is palpably not true.

Jeremy Hunt’s assertion that “debt is falling” is also untrue. The country deserves better than this.

Indeed, if Rishi Sunak was subjected to an Ofsted inspection he’d be immediately placed in special measures.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Boring Budget

WELL, the dust has settled on another Tory budget.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dust decided to run to the hills, even dead skin cells would want to distance themselves from that atrocious budget. It was empty, lacked vision, didn’t speak to our concerns and once again left the hard-working Brit wondering where their tax goes.

Oh, and it was just boring.

This is what our country needs:

  • Lift the income tax start point to £20,000 per year.
  • Scrap VAT on energy bills. Lower fuel duty by 20p per litre. Scrap environmental levies.
  • Abolish IR35 rules to support the self-employed.
  • Lift the VAT threshold to £120,000.
  • Reform the tax system. Major simplification is needed. At over 21,000 pages, the UK’s tax code is a burden. Hong Kong’s tax code is under 500 pages. If any party has these policies, they’ll get my vote.

The Conservatives needed to be daring and show the people they have their back, they failed.

Michael Walker, Darlington.

Electric doubts

I FEEL that the move to electric cars is being rushed far too quickly.

Over the past year I’ve read of a number of really scary incidents, often receiving little publicity, no doubt in order to keep the public on side.

Just recently a man driving a Jaguar I-PACE on the M62 said he suddenly found his brakes not responding and instead the car decided to get to 90mph.

Calling 999, he had to be boxed in by eight police cars and only came to a stop when his miles ran out.

Absolutely terrifying, and what if he’d been on slower roads in a built up area?

An almost identical incident happened with a Chinese-built MG just a few months ago.

Then there was the ship carrying 2,000 vehicles which caught fire and sank in the North Sea with crew rescued but sadly two died.

All suspected to have been caused by a lithium battery in one of the electric cars catching fire. A major incident with little publicity.

Looking to an all-electric future, I’m sure that pedestrian and cyclist injuries will increase due to the quietness of these vehicles.

Despite the bombardment of TV adverts for electric cars, I for one will be resisting for as long as possible.

G Carr, Aycliffe Village.

Editor’s note: Following the M62 incident on March 6, a 31-year-old man from Bolton has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and causing a public nuisance.

Failed North

IN 2019, “levelling-up” was the government’s flagship election promise.

Yet almost five years later, not even 20 per cent of levelling-up projects to improve towns across England have been completed.

This is disgraceful. Instead, the deprivation divide is widening.

The regional economic forecast published this month by accountants Ernst Young shows that regions such as Yorkshire and the North East have suffered sharper falls in economic activity and will have to wait in line behind London and the South East in any future economic recovery.

The UK is the only major OECD country where the employment rate has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level.

This economic downturn, exacerbated by Brexit, has disproportionately hit regions such as our own. As a result, the Gini coefficient of income inequality for the UK is the highest in Western Europe.

The London-centric neglect of the North and the lack of a national recovery plan has resulted in loss of voters’ trust in government and the violence and unrest about which Rishi Sunak claims to be concerned.

This is despite the fact he was instrumental in allowing such a hostile environment to develop.

The report “State of the North 2024” from the Institute for Public Policy Research argues for the rebuilding of voters’ trust in four ways.

First is the need for stronger local and regional democracy. Second is equalising the tax rate on incomes from shareholding with that of working people’s wages. Third is the restoration of local authority funding – slashed in half since 2010. The final recommendation is to join up climate investment plans and economic development funding within an overarching green growth strategy.

This would provide the necessary stability for private investment through long-term regional commitments.

But instead of a joined-up plan for the country, Westminster warring factions have seized the agenda.

The recent budget has shown a doubling-down on cuts and austerity that will most hit the disadvantaged in favour of more tax giveaways for the wealthy. Roll on the General Election – but the incoming government is going to have a job on its hands.

Peter Williams, Malton.

Maverick candidate

THE election of George Galloway in Rochdale sent shockwaves through the political landscape. But we’re warned not to see it as in indication of how the General Election will turn out.

By-elections have a more local focus and, with a maverick candidate and an “outrage” issue, it’s to be expected that people will turn away from the main big parties.

Voters treat a General Election differently – it’s about who governs the country, so people focus on returning an MP to parliament whose party they support.

Could a regional mayoral election be seen more along the lines of a by-election?

Here in the Tees Valley we have two “outrage issues”.

The mass deaths of marine creatures along our coastlines are still unexplained, with many people simply not believing the conclusion of the official “investigation”.

Alongside this is the official “investigation” into Ben Houchen’s Tees Valley Combined Authority – which found no evidence of corruption.

Were they actually looking for it, one wonders?

The investigators, though, were damning in a catalogue of criticisms of the way the authority is run. Many people do not believe and do not trust the current mayor, or the political system that allows him to operate apparently without adequate scrutiny by the five Tees Valley local councils.

Unless of course, they – both Tory and Labour – were all unperturbed by his machinations.

Could Sally Bunce, the Green Party candidate, be the maverick we’ve been waiting for?

I urge readers to look her up online and decide for themselves.

Rachael Reid, Darlington.

Supporting farmers

I’M proud of our farmers here in North Yorkshire, and it’s time this Government stopped pretending to be on their side.

What farmers need most is to be rescued from years of Conservative neglect and failed rural policies which have left our countryside in dire need of help.

Our farmers are key allies in the fight against climate change, preventing flooding and maintaining our breathtaking landscape. All the while producing high quality food for our tables.

But their ability to do this has been severely threatened by the Conservatives’ botched transition from the Basic Payment Scheme to the new approach of public money for public goods, which has resulted in farmers being forced to leave an industry they’ve worked in all their lives.

Too many farmers have seen their incomes slashed while faced with increases in energy bills, fertilisers and feed stock.

This Government’s failed deal with Europe is also severely damaging farmers’ ability to export to their main markets in the EU, while new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand will undermine animal welfare and environmental protection, undercutting responsible British farmers.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have a credible rescue plan for British agriculture.

We would increase the farming budget by £1bn a year to support nature-friendly farming and bring down food prices, introduce a proper visa and seasonal worker system to allow our farmers to access the workforce they need, and prevent undercutting by ensuring all imports meet UK environmental, climate and animal welfare standards.

We would renegotiate the Australia and New Zealand agreements to ensure this.

To quote our next-door MP Tim Farron’s speech to farmers at the NFU conference, the Lib Dems have got your back.

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

Waiting for peace

A PEACE deal in Gaza could have been achieved long ago and if Hamas returned the hostages they captured on October 7 from Israel back to their homeland.

It’s now been five months! What on earth is keeping them?

Bethany-Megan Robinson, Darlington.

Horrors continue

TERRIBLE horrors are still happening in Gaza despite our attention drifting elsewhere. We are not human to allow this but we have.

Our government could have prevented it, we could have prevented it, but we like to think we are different to the people who are starved and slaughtered.

But strip away all the meaningless stuff that surrounds us, the people who are being killed, herded, robbed of all the comforts of life, robbed of even dignity, if you dare to look, we are less not more.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Tidy up required

IT was great to hear that Darlington Borough Council have secured another £20m fund (D&S Times County Durham edition, Mar 8).

Would they consider spending a few pounds on clearing the major roads/highways in and around Darlington of litter especially around Lingfield Point – it’s disgusting the amount of litter and redundant roadwork signs laying in the verges.

Stan Wilby, Darlington.