Bikes response: I am grateful to your reader Timothy Wood of Guisborough for his contribution to the debate on anti-social behaviour with regards to off-road bikes (D&S Times letters, May 3).

The impact on the community of Darlington from this problem is significant, and one I have long campaigned on whilst being MP for Darlington.

Let me make clear that registration alone is not a silver bullet (D&S Times, April 26), but it is part of a range of measures I have advocated for which will go some way to tackling this issue.

Durham Constabulary’s Operation Endurance, together with the use of the S59 order, has had an appreciable impact on the problem. I wholeheartedly agree with Timothy that the crushing of bikes, instead of the sale by the recovery agent to recoup their costs, is a further step which would assist in the long-term resolution of this problem.

Compulsory registration, immobilisers, trackers, improved rural security and policing (where many vehicles are stolen) are just some of the things that will further help the situation. But the single biggest help to rid our communities of this blight is the regular, consistent and persistent reporting of sightings to the police through 111, or 999 if there is an immediate danger, or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington.

Market success

I HAVE just visited Stockton Market. There were many stalls.

The two-hour free parking in Stockton might have had something to do with the success of this market.

The stalls cost just £25 and the first four weeks are free as an introductory offer. If Darlington is unable to match these trading conditions I see little prospect of Darlington’s market continuing.

I note with interest Taylors the butchers, of Skinnergate, had a mobile shop van on Stockton Market. As I walked back to my car I visited Skinnergate cycles in Stockton, which was once to be found in Skinnergate in Darlington.

Can I ask please what approaches, if any, have been made by Darlington’s economic development officer to stall holders on Stockton Market and to Skinnergate cycles?

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.

Livestock welfare

IN response to Stephen Walker, livestock auctioneer in Leyburn (D&S Times letters, May 3), I do agree with him that conditions of livestock have improved since the 1960s and 1970s. However, this does not mean that all practices are good and benefit the welfare of the animals. Dairy cows do have exercise yards, usually on a hard surface where moisture and muck do not drain; under any circumstances this is a very poor substitute for grazing in a meadow.

The knock-on effect of this is that hay meadows are ploughed up and re-planted with rye grass. Rye grass can be harvested for silage three or four times a season. So, three or four times a season the ground is saturated with liquid slurry. In wet weather slurry runs off the field into the rivers; hence we have polluted rivers with a vast decrease in wildlife. Animal, bird, fish, and insect.

Pigs have their teeth and tails removed as piglets without any analgesia. Farrowing sows are kept in cages and are totally immobile.

Hens kept in cages are unable to stand or stretch their wings and through total frustration peck themselves and adjacent hens to baldness.

There is little room for complacency until cruel practices are banned.

Jacqueline Wells, East Witton.

Changing times

HAVING been born and bred in Manchester during the war, I was extremely lucky to have two uncles who both farmed within a mile of each other near Halifax.

One had a small dairy farm and the other raised poultry. Every school holiday was spent over there. I recall going out on the pony and trap with my uncle as he delivered his milk direct from the churn to the customer. I also helped my aunt make cream and butter.

I have fond memories of helping to find hens’ eggs where they shouldn’t have been and watching day old chicks in the incubator. I also remember plucking birds for customers – especially at Christmas time. I have to agree with Stephen Walker (D&S Times letters, May 3) that things have changed since our childhoods.

The pendulum has definitely swung from “extensive” to “intensive” farming during the intervening years. I am well aware that hay meadows can no longer feed the livestock numbers now raised in the Dales, yet we still need biodiversity for our pollinators and it is not created by endless fields of silage – however much better it is as a food source for dairy cattle.

Stephen used the words “in an ideal world”. Given concern about the harm we are doing to our planet I think he would agree that the world now is far from “ideal”. I share his concern about the state of farming today.

Not only do farmers have to work with the atrocious weather we are getting, causing flooded fields and waterlogged soil which can’t be cultivated or used as pasture, but also a government that seems unable to sort out the enormous post-Brexit challenge faced by agriculturalists of all types today.

What has really sparked this change to intensive farming is an ever-expanding population wanting more and more cheap food.

Maybe farming when I was young wasn’t perfect but what it has morphed into is far from ideal. We are filling our bellies at the expense of the animals providing that food. To re-iterate what Anne Stewart said in her original letter (D&S Times letters, Apr 19) “we can pay the proper price for food” but until we do, more and more pressure will be put on farm animals to live an unnatural life in order to produce it.

Sheila Simms, Leyburn.

Paying a proper price

AS a farmer I feel I must comment on Ann Stewart’s letter (D&S Times letters, Apr 19).

Do people care about animal welfare? Ann states that large numbers of dairy cows, laying hens, broiler chickens and pigs are permanently housed in appalling, cramped conditions. This is not so, these animals are comfortable and thrive.

What would it be like if these animals were given free range? I think with these past months of wet weather, we would have to teach them to swim.

Ann states there are 12,344,195 animals in North Yorkshire living in appalling conditions. Where does she get these figures from?

Ann also states that we should be paying a proper price for our food. I would agree with her. The days of cheap food are over, and the general public are realising this.

My advice to Ann would be to be thankful for the food she has to eat and that we as farmers do care about the welfare of our animals.

At the moment, the likes of Ann Stewart need to be concerned more about the mental welfare of the farmer.

What with rules, regulations and these past few months of wet weather, there are many depressed and disillusioned farmers.

Stop biting the hand that feeds you. Can I close by one of my favourite quotations? A good thing to remember and a better thing to do is to join the construction gang and not the wrecking crew.

Paul Dunn, Helmsley.

May Fair impact

AS I sit in the window seat of a popular coffee shop on Northallerton High Street on the Tuesday morning after the May Fair, I look out at the tyre marks and mud left on the path outside and listen to people complaining of the state of it. I’m also wondering how long it will be before people complain on social media about the “mess” left behind, how it shouldn’t be allowed, blah blah blah.

I’m sure it will be cleaned up by the council soon when they replace the benches and trees, and hopefully the fair company contributed to the cost?

Name and address supplied.

Mayoral election

WITH the outcome of the recent mayoral election now decided, I would like to offer my congratulations to David Skaith, the first ever Mayor of York and North Yorkshire.

This is a huge opportunity for our region, from the smallest villages to the largest towns and cities, and I am looking forward to working with David to make York and North Yorkshire a better place for all our residents by delivering on housing, transport, jobs and the environment.

There can only be one winner, but it has been an honour to take part in a contest where all candidates ran positive campaigns presenting their different visions for York and North Yorkshire. It was hard work and a humbling experience but one I would not have missed.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, and everyone who gave me and my campaign team a warm welcome on the doorstep. Every Green vote sends a message to the big parties that climate, the environment, and building a fairer, greener society matters to many of us.

Cllr Kevin Foster, Richmond Constituency Green Party.

Return start date

N a recent tour of Albania, Stan Wilby praised a Deposit Return Scheme operating there to encourage recycling and hence reduce litter, leading to a greener environment (D&S Times letters, Apr 26).

Stan asks why can’t the UK do this. The good news is that a DRS scheme will launch in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from October 1, 2025. If you buy a drink in a plastic bottle or aluminium can with the re-turn logo you will pay a small deposit in addition to the price of the drink.

When you return your empty, undamaged drink container to any participating retail outlet you get your deposit back in full. Ireland began their scheme on February 1, 2024.

Michael Brown, Stokesley.