Footpath dismay: It is with dismay that I read that North Yorkshire Council (NYC) are to end the partial funding of footpath maintenance in our two national parks (D&S Times, March 29).

The council has the responsibility for the upkeep of public rights of way, and one only has to walk those paths outside of the national parks to realise what a poor state many of them are in. The amount given to the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been £45,000, a mere flea bite in comparison with other council outgoings, but one which can help to make a difference between paths being well maintained and a slow decline to a similar state as those paths outside of the parks.

In the Yorkshire Dales every mile of path is surveyed and assessed every year by teams of volunteers. I am one of those involved and have been doing so for 40 years. Our surveys are backed up by full time rangers and other volunteers who help to maintain the paths, stiles, footbridges, waymarking etc to a high standard, the many tourists who come to walk in the dales being complimentary about the footpaths and bridleways in our area.

Compare North Yorkshire's niggardly approach to that of the far smaller Westmorland and Furness authority who are making their contribution, with the result that paths in that part of the national park [the Westmorland Dales] will continue to benefit from better maintenance. As for the majority of the dales area, there can only be a gradual decline in path upkeep with money and effort being concentrated on the paths with the most usage.

I understand that the North York Moors National Park has already passed responsibility back to NYC, so one can expect a more rapid decline in path maintenance there.

Gordon Hatton, Topcliffe.

Young litter bug

I HAVE just returned from Cockerton shops in Darlington and find myself quite shaken after a conversation with a boy aged about ten went like this.

He dropped an empty can in the walkway between the car park and the Co-Op just in front of me and I said: “Don’t you think you should put that in the bin.”

He looked at the bin, about two metres away and picked up the tin.

I turned to go and then glanced back. The tin was back on the ground.

“Go on pick it up," I said. "What if everyone dropped their rubbish." He picked it up then looked to his mate, a few years older.

“She told me to put it in the bin,” he said. “She can’t tell you what to do,” said his friend.

I pity teachers.

Susan Chapman, Darlington.

Council houses

NORTH YORKSHIRE COUNCIL'S "ambition" to build 500 council houses in five years is pathetic. Some ambition.

I grew up in a large village in Shropshire, where the small rural district council between 1953 and 1963 managed to build over 100 houses in this one village alone! This was at a time when the country as a whole, was far poorer than now and when we were still recovering from the war.

We could build council houses then, but not now, it seems. No one seems willing or able to build, maintain and manage a stock of houses for rent for those lacking finance and unable to buy. Instead, these people are driven into the hands of private landlords who grow fat on housing benefit payments.

In a remark of either astonishing candour or downright cynicism , a Tory MP was once overheard saying: "Why should we build council houses? After all, these people are hardly likely to vote for us."

Tony Robinson, Northallerton.

Loyalty schemes

I HAVE always had the understanding that it was illegal to advertise the same product with two prices, so how are supermarkets getting away with the so-called loyalty card schemes?

And now we hear that they are forcing customers onto apps on mobile phones to gain the so-called discounts. This is very unfair as not all people use smart phones. I feel this is discrimination against those people, and especially the elderly.

C.P. Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Lighting up blue

APRIL 11 is World Parkinson’s Day and Parkinson’s groups in the area will be “making it blue” around that day; lighting up buildings, having fundraising events and explaining to people what having the condition is like for those of us with it, and for our families, friends and work colleagues.

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition on the planet, now affecting at least ten million people worldwide.

One in every 350 adults in the UK is living with Parkinson’s. Everyone’s Parkinson’s is different. Not everyone gets the tremor that most people associate Parkinson’s with. Research has identified over 40 different symptoms including mental health issues, memory problems, slowness of movement, pain and difficulties with sleep.

As we get older the symptoms get worse and more difficult to live with. Parkinson’s is a condition that keeps taking away.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, and we call on the Government to increase their funding towards research. In 2021/22 the spending on research was £6.7m but it cost £728m to care for those of us who have the condition. At the moment we are reliant on treatments that were first presented in the 1960s.

You can support us by coming to the events in your area, learning about the condition and signing the “Parky’s Charter” online which, if we get enough signatures, will hopefully mean that Parliament debates the issue and we begin to change attitudes towards Parkinson’s and find a cure.

John Rising, lead volunteer, Parkinson's Cafe, Northallerton.

Opinion poll

A RECENT opinion poll by Censuswide suggests that only 19 per cent of people in the Tees Valley are likely to vote for Ben Houchen in the forthcoming mayoral election on May 2. Opinion polls are often unreliable, but the figure is a long way down from the 73 per cent support the Conservative got last time. Why the fall?

Mr Houchen has staked his reputation on flagship projects which have become mired in controversy. Teesworks, created by the South Tees Development Corporation and chaired by Mr Houchen, has become a cash cow for private developers.

Ninety per cent of shares in the company were given to local businessmen without any tender process and it has absorbed an estimated half a billion of taxpayers’ money. The official report into the project raised concerns over “transparency and oversight” and made 28 recommendations to improve governance.

Another flagship project, Teesside Airport, is still losing over £2m a year, despite all the publicity given to it by Mr Houchen.

Meanwhile, our bus and train services in the Tees Valley languish, as confirmed in a recent report on the appalling standard of service provided by Arriva.

Does Labour offer a better alternative? Their candidate, Chris McEwan, talks of “helping people to get well-paid jobs at every stage of their lives” and creating “a joined-up transport system”. Are these ambitions realistic, given the Labour Party’s commitment to tight finance, without significant tax increases?

What is needed is a clearer and more ambitious vision at both local and national levels and a mayor who acts with transparency and integrity.

Bill Stuart, Darlington.

Depressing news

THE news today reported on the death of ten-month-old Finley Boden on Christmas Day 2020. He had been looked after by the authorities until the safeguarding services returned him to his parents. Then a few weeks later he was discovered dead with 130 injuries.

His parents have now been put on trial, found guilty of murder and are both serving “life”. I have to ask if those on the safeguarding services should now be held accountable.

Next on the news was the report on the granting of the Clapham attacker Abdul Ezedi asylum after not one, not two, but three attempts and that was because he had converted to Christianity. Unbelievable. Ezedi was found dead in the Thames. I think that the asylum process requires a review, and the system, as well as those responsible here, should again be held accountable.

Finally on the news they mentioned the state of the sewage industry, not just in London but all over the country. Locally it has recently been mentioned about the state of the water in Windermere and a few weeks ago in the Darlington and Stockton Times, pollution in the River Swale was reported.

Surely we should have experienced, qualified people advising on the way forward. We should not be relying on people like those heading Thames Water.

On the day in question I must report that there was no mention of the Post Office Horizon scandal, thank heavens for small mercies.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham.

Post Office scandal

WE now hear that the Post Office knew that their defence was indefensible in court in 2017 as they we aware that the Horizon system was faulty.

Surely now is the time to call those who are responsible for this appalling mass case of injustice to so many falsely accused post masters and mistresses, to justice?

The officers in charge of the Post Office at that time should be charged with fraud for using the money taken from the unfortunate falsely accused, to boost their profits, and they should also have to return all bonuses earned. Then they should be charged for perjury for lying to the courts of inquiry and the law courts.

Drag them all out into the limelight and from behind their pulpits, and shame them as they shamed the poor innocents whose lives they ruined and, in some cases, were responsible for losing. This has gone on for far too long and needs to be finalised before any more of these grossly wronged people are no longer with us.

Robin Rutherford, Darlington.

Fundraising event

ON Friday, April 19, Middlesbrough Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets are holding a fundraising event to launch our project for a new unit as we have outgrown our present unit and are looking towards the River Tees for a final resting place!

Joseph Lee Jackson, the UK’s number one Freddie Mercury tribute act, is kindly performing a selection of Queen and Freddie Mercury classics at the Dormans Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough, prior to performing with Queen’s number one tribute act, Mercury, who are playing at the Little Theatre on Saturday, April 20.

Tickets for the Dormans Club are £5 and are available from the Sea Cadet Unit in Albert Park Monday and Thursday evenings, 6.30pm to 9.15pm.

Tickets on the door on the night will be £7.50.

Tickets also available from Liz Chambers on 07759 107318, Ian (Bud) Williams on 07800 546621, Tracey Williams on 07910 879616, or Michelle Bell on 07963 330014.

Liz Chambers, vice chairman TS Erimus Unit 241, Middlesbrough Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets.