From the coalface: Having read Rodney Wildsmith’s letter “No answer” (D&S Times letters, June 7) regarding his issues with North Yorkshire Council and in particular the waiting times to get through to Customer Services, I feel that this deserves a response.

My wife works from home as a customer advisor for North Yorkshire Council and whilst you would think that the amalgamation with the district councils would mean quicker response times this is not necessarily the case.

Both sets of call handlers, those from NYC and those from former district councils have had to re-train to learn each other’s roles and responsibilities.

The staff turnover is quite high and it is a very demanding role covering a wide range of issues and subjects.

From the moment my wife logs into the system, her phone is ringing.

Once the call has finished she then needs to log the details and pass it to the appropriate department.

It can be quite stressful dealing with a death registration taking details from a bereaved spouse one minute to logging a wedding notice the next.

She does get comfort breaks and a lunch break but then it is back to hitting the ground running and taking the calls in the queue.

There is indeed a “high volume of calls” and occasionally, patience is required to get through.

But when the call is answered, it is always done so with professionalism and politeness.

As for the staff sitting around drinking coffee, chance would be a fine thing!

“Manners and politeness cost nothing” as my dearly departed Nanna used to tell me.

Customer advisors are there to help and will do so given the chance. Their job is varied and some customers can be extremely rude.

The advisors fully justify their salary which we all pay for as taxpayers (my wife included).

Perhaps if Mr Wildsmith has access to the internet, he will find the answer to his query on the council’s “Find it online” website.

As for the query itself, lithium batteries can be disposed of at any North Yorkshire Council waste management site.

David A Atkinson, Romanby, Northallerton.


RODNEY WILDSMITH’S letter about the inaccessibility of the new North Yorkshire Council “No answer” (D&S Times letter, June 7) brought to mind a scene from Yes Minister when a new hospital in London was having problems and Sir Humphrey’s response was “Well if it wasn’t for the patients it would be running just fine”.

Ever since the county council introduced a centralised call centre about 15 years ago it has been increasingly difficult to get through on the phone.

A 15/20 minute wait now seems about the norm.

I remember when I worked at County Hall before the call centre, you just phoned the person or department that you wanted and the phone would be answered promptly. Indeed we had targets for phones to be answered in something like five rings.

Letters also had to be answered in something like five days – and these targets were checked up on.

I recently sent two letters to the council and it took them a month for me to get a half-hearted response.

There is now not even a letter box in any of the County Hall buildings.

As Sir Humphrey said, things run much better without the public getting in the way.

I recently tried to call Trading Standards to report some dodgy seller only to be told that I couldn’t speak to anybody in Trading Standards any more, I had to call the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and make an appointment to see one of their advisors as Trading Standards no longer dealt with the public.

It is so true that before the local government re-organisation, when you called Hambleton District Council you had no problem getting through – and getting dealt with quickly.

We have yet to see the efficiency savings of this re-organisation in terms of finance (and probably never will) but as for getting a better service, well the public certainly aren’t, but maybe the staffs’ working lives are better, many of whom are no doubt still working from home.

Stuart Pudney, Northallerton.

Junction closure

CLOSING the busy Haynes Arms A19 junction is obviously a ridiculous idea, due to the disruption this would cause to the many people who regularly need to use it “Hopes to improve A-road after crashes” (D&S Times, May 31).

It may, however, be time to look at building a bridge, so that traffic heading south will not need to cross four lanes of traffic.

This short section of road has two more junctions, to Thimbleby and Over Silton and these could be linked to the new crossing, allowing many gaps in the central reservation to be closed.

It would be an expensive project but is exactly the kind of thing that money saved from scrapping the rest of HS2 should be used for.

The numerous accidents there over the years are tragic for all those involved and the major improvement in safety that a bridge would bring, would be very welcome.

Andrew Chapman, Kirby Sigston.

Extra payment

I HAVE just caught up with the D&S Times of May 24 and was amused by Denis Trought’s letter regarding the 25p per week increase of his pension as he approaches 80 “Laughable increase” (D&S Times letters, May 24).

When this increase was introduced 25p was five shillings, which was the cost of a bag of coal.

The idea behind this was that people over 80 did not move about much anymore so got colder quicker and, therefore, needed more fuel to keep warm.

I used to work for the Department of Social Security (as it was several decades ago) which is why I know.

Fiona White, Kirkby Fleetham.

Fuel price variations

I UNDERSTAND that the government are to look into the price of fuel in the UK as we are allegedly the most expensive in Europe.

Well they will not have to look too far in this area, on a recent visit to Whitby we saw an Esso garage selling unleaded at £136.9 and a Shell garage at £138.9 yet in Great Ayton and Guisborough Esso unleaded is £149.9 and £147.9 respectively.

Let’s hope after the election that something is done to stop these rip off price differences.

C P Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Voting considerations

AS the General Election approaches, it is important to consider very carefully who to vote for.

Generally, the majority of people do not like change, but this is not the case when the subject is political choice.

Most of the electorate will be supportive of one or more of the statements made by a political party but be opposed to others.

Overall, this will indicate to a voter that each party has good and bad plans.

The vast number of political statements, supporting or not supporting a statement, tend to cause confusion.

For example, should the country be one of the world’s policemen, or should we quietly take a back seat and not be involved in global disputes, should we be supporting Ukraine or keeping out of it, should Defence spending be increased or decreased, should we encourage immigration or prevent illegal immigration by preventing entry into UK territorial waters, should we remain a member of NATO or leave Europe to deal with its own affairs now the Continent is mainly in the EU?

Should we remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council or withdraw and only look after our country, should the State provide breakfasts for children or leave that to parents to provide, should the State finance child care, should the State pay Family Allowance or should families only have children when they can afford them?

Should taxation increase, decrease, or stay the same, should the business rate rules be changed, should the triple lock on pensions continue, should Inheritance Tax be abolished or the threshold increased to several million, should NHS funding be increased or should extra monies come from introducing/increasing charges?

Is it possible to increase dental appointments by thousands, should GP appointments revert to pre-Covid methods, how does the NHS deal with the UK population rising by ten million since 2010, are we aiming for net-zero too quickly, should we only take action against climate change if there is no cost to households, should we continue to allow more cars on our roads or should numbers be reduced?

Thus, as there are so many more policies, it is difficult to decide how to vote.

Some will vote for a particular party even if the candidate was a wooden post in a field with the party name on it. Others will vote to have a change. Others will continue to vote for the party they have always voted for.

It is important to consider if the grass is really greener in the next field or not. Often it is not.

At the end of the day, due to all the confusing statements made, it is up to the voter to decide which party will benefit their family the most.

Angela Williams, Stokesley.

What about farming?

AN indication as to how much importance politicians aspiring to form the next government place in one of the nation’s vital industries – agriculture – is the fact that, to date, there has been minimal emphasis during the election campaign on how to support, develop, maintain this necessary ingredient of national life.

Could it be because 99 per cent of politicians possess zero knowledge and interest in farming?

Peter Rickaby, Selby.

Equine deposits

DARE I ask why it is acceptable for horse muck to be left on the road?

Okay, I know that horses are vegetarians and their poo is probably organic and non-toxic, and if I was Albert Steptoe I’d put it on my compost.

But it’s really not pleasant to have a pile of it outside your front door or at the end of your drive.

I really dislike it getting on my car tyres, and I absolutely hate getting it on my bike tyres. I don’t even want to think about it on the children’s shoes!

Could horse riders not carry a small shovel and put it into the hedgerow?

Name and address supplied.