No other option: We are due to vote for the new York and North Yorkshire mayor on May 2.

As I would rather not have a mayor and bearing in mind we have survived this long without one should the ballot paper not have the option of “None of the above" to record my preference accordingly?

Surely if the overwhelming response from the electorate was indeed not in favour of a mayor then we will have saved an awful lot of money and effort and carry on as before.

David Winton, Great Ayton.

Electoral engagement

AS a candidate for the new role of York and North Yorkshire mayor, I have lost count of the number of times people have said that they are unaware of the election, and didn’t really know who was standing or why.

This is a huge concern for local democracy.

The reality in elections is that the richest party is likely to get the lion’s share of the coverage. There are 800,000 people in the area covered by this election – significantly larger than any MP’s constituency.

There are many households who will not receive anything directly from me and that is a real regret.

I can't afford to reach out to everyone in the region, and those that haven't heard from me might well be assuming that I could but just can't be bothered.

This doesn't reflect well on politics generally.

At the same time, there is inconsistency and negativity surrounding politics. Some town councils have allowed me to set up a stall on market days to enable constituents to visit me and let me know their thoughts, and I applaud them for this.

This does not indicate bias, it is simply enabling political discourse that all parties could take part in if they so choose.

Other town councils have refused to take a booking from me for a stall citing the need to avoid politics altogether – but at the same time might not have challenged activity where a candidate has used their land to promote their campaign without permission.

I really take issue on this – why would you shut down engagement?

When dissatisfaction with politics is already high, with politicians seen to be remote and turnout in elections falling, surely it should be an obligation on the council to support the political process?

At £10 for a site at a market stall, every politician could afford to be present and engage with residents – this is what they need to see.

As it is, those that can afford glossy leaflets and lavish videos might be the only ones that get seen.

Extraordinary pledges also secure headlines, despite them being entirely impossible to realise in the way the hype suggests.

I truly hope that on May 2, people vote for a candidate based on their merits and strengths, not just the one who was able to shout loudest during the campaign.

I'm committed to making every vote count and rebuilding public confidence in the political process.

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, Lib Dem candidate for York and North Yorkshire mayor, Masham.

Mayoral elections

NEXT week some of us will go to the polling station to cast our vote to elect the person for the new post of North Yorkshire mayor.

I for one and may not be alone in thinking that I seem to have very little information about the candidates on which to base my vote.

In the past at our local parish council meetings we were repeatedly told by our county councillor that the problems with the state of our roads were due to the contractor doing substandard work and nothing could be done until the contract ended and the work taken back in house and improvements made.

This has not happened, for example, at the beginning of January, some so called “repairs” were done on the lane near Middleton Quernhow.

The required road signs were put in place (about ten) and left in situ after the work was done, turned over by someone at the end of the January and left on the road verge and eventually collected at the end of February.

The bags of sand used to stabilise them were still there last week.

Small things perhaps but an indication of the inefficiency of the department.

And the man who has been in charge of the Highways department? The Conservative candidate Keane Duncan.

It would appear that he has failed to improve the department so how will he be able to do what will be a much harder job?

Whoever is elected will probably only receive a minority vote in a relatively low poll.

One final thought, would it not be better if the three candidates with the most votes worked together to try to sort out our many problems?

Working together might also work better nationally as well, it couldn't be worse than what we have at present.

David Law, Melmerby.

Intensive farming

I READ with interest the letter from Anne Stewart last Friday on animal welfare, having recently seen intensive farming at first hand (D&S letters, Apr 19).

We seem to have reached a point where it is becoming acceptable to rear cows, hens, chickens etc in large numbers in artificial conditions in order to supply the public with cheap food.

We completely ignore their normal outdoor lifestyles, natural group behaviour and interaction, in the interests of mass production.

We are in fact turning intensively reared dairy cows and caged hens into mere machines (for milk and eggs) and chickens into very short lived birds which are fattened so quickly that they have problems walking, because their immature legs can't support their increased body weight.

Our hay meadows have been exchanged for field after field devoted to silage production to feed them. There is no biodiversity in rye grass.

Bees and butterflies and insects are disappearing rapidly. This will have long term repercussions for both agriculture and horticulture.

We recently lost a small local abattoir, leaving animals to travel well over 100 miles to the nearest slaughterhouse.

The irony of this situation is that we regard ourselves as animal lovers and see absolutely nothing wrong with these food production methods.

When challenged the common response is that these animals know no other way of living and can't miss what they don't know, so must be content.

Really? I don't believe that.

Sheila Simms, Leyburn.

Shuttle bus

PAUL CHATTWOOD'S letter rightly draws attention to the improved shuttle bus services running seven days a week this summer between Garsdale Station and the Hawes area “On the Dales bus” (D&S letters, Apr 19).

Garsdale Station is on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle railway line and is a popular starting and/or finishing point for walkers, including some guided walks organised by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle.

The Garsdale Station shuttle bus timetable is the outcome of collaboration and joint planning between the Little White Bus and DalesBus.

On summer Sundays in 2024, the shuttle bus journey from Garsdale is extended through to Bainbridge, Askrigg, Carperby, Castle Bolton (village green) and Redmire, enabling rail passengers from the Settle-Carlisle to make a three hour visit to explore the castle (admission fee).

Ruth Annison, Askrigg, Leyburn.

Back to work

WITH reference to the recent rise in numbers of people unavailable for work now reaching more than ten million nationwide, a high percentage of whom are now conveniently suffering with mental health issues and applying to be signed on to sickness benefits by doctors whose hands are tied, possibly through liability.

It would be fairly easy to sort the wheat from the chaff by a change in the law ie anyone who suddenly claims to have mental health issues should have their driving licence temporarily suspended, coupled with a similar ban on alcohol to allow time for monitoring, this would surely reduce road accidents and fatalities together with public disturbances caused through intoxication.

Naivety knows no bounds when it comes to judgement, surely taking these steps would have an immediate effect in resolving the current debacle, therefore bringing common sense back into play, thus helping those who are genuinely suffering receive the treatment they desperately need and deserve.

Trevor Mason, Swainby, Northallerton.

Sick note showdown

THE Prime Minister said that the fit note is not being used to its full potential, with fit notes usually just the "not fit" for work option, rather than the "may be fit for work" section.

Research shows that over one third of fit notes are issued for five weeks or longer, by which time around one in five will never return to work.

We need health professionals trained in occupational health to support better use of these fit notes.

Employees also need good support from managers, and occupational health, if there is a health issue.

Workers who have a manager who supports their health enjoy better mental health and are more productive.

The PM also talked about the need for support and freedom to disclose for people who have medically diagnosed mental health issues.

The Society of Occupational Medicine would agree that for many, work is part of that support. Good work is good for you.

Only half of UK employees have access to occupational health and there is a need for universal access to occupational health to ensure that workers with health difficulties can remain at or return to work.

Dr Lanre Ogunyemi, president, Society of Occupational Medicine, London.

Marathon result

THANK YOU to everyone who helped and supported us on Sunday for our own virtual marathon, kindly hosted by Sainsburys Darlington.

We had several enthusiastic runners who gave up their time and energy to take turns to cover the virtual course on treadmills.

The response from the public was amazing as always, and we raised £711.38.

This will go directly to Darlington Samaritans to help run our centre in Woodland Road, who answer about 500 calls a month.

Also thanks to Darlington Council who agreed to turn the town hall clock face green, in honour of Samaritans nationally being the charity of the year for the TCS London Marathon.

Lillian Howell, fundraiser for Darlington Samaritans.

Plastic returns

WE are touring Albania and we are very surprised how well things in general are over here.

They even have plastic bottles return refunds in operation where the deposit is put on the purchase price and people get a refund on disposing them almost anywhere.

Why can’t the UK do this? Also this can be applied to most disposables items. So much for a greener Britain.

Stan Wilby, Darlington.

Good old days

I WAS talking to some friends the other night about the good old days.

There was not the crime about there is today and somebody said they never locked their doors day or night, and the kids could play outside and be safe. It makes you wonder where it’s going to end.

GO Wright, Sadberge.

Grateful thanks

THANK you to all who joined us for our Spring Concert on Friday, April 19 and gave so generously in support of the Eye Appeal at the Friarage Hospital.

It was a joyous evening of music and word, including young guest instrumentalists, raising £730 for the appeal.

The choir is very grateful to all who helped to make it such a positive experience.

Diana Hartley, musical director, East Witton Male Voice Choir.