Prison plea

I’M not the kind of person who usually likes to voice my opinions strongly, but after touring the site for the second time this weekend I feel compelled to write to you to express my thoughts and hopes for the future plans of the Northallerton Prison site.

It was great to see so many people young and old listening intently to the enthusiastic guides explaining the excavations, the treadmill and the history and life within the women’s block, and to be able to go into cells was a real bonus. The whole site would make a fantastic museum and needs preserving for future generations to experience.

After 20 years working as a teaching assistant and taking children of all ages on numerous school trips, I know they would love to visit a museum such as this in their own town. To be able to go in to the cells, to touch, smell and hear the sounds as they were over the years would be a great experience and a brilliant history lesson, particularly if there was a re-constructed treadmill to try.

Not only would it be a fantastic learning experience for school children, but also a valuable opportunity to show what prison life was really like through the centuries and what happens when someone breaks the law.

Having lived in Northallerton all of my life, I know it has no real tourist attraction - most of the historic buildings are inaccessible, and turning the prison site into a museum would be something Northallerton could be proud of.

Please don’t waste this opportunity. Don’t just build a small visitor centre - Northallerton needs a big attraction now, with lots of artefacts and exhibits from all the centuries. It needs to be interactive and stimulating and appeal to all generations and abilities.

Northallerton is our county town and we need to show its importance once again. It’s great that Northallerton BID is starting to bring new ideas to the town, and supporting businesses, but it is not just about promoting business in the area, or developing the night life. It’s about building a town with a variety of attractions - attractions which are open, all day and every day, for young and old to enjoy. A town to be proud of and a place that people will want to come back to time and time again.

The decisions made now about the site will go down in Northallerton’s history – do we want a living museum for all to enjoy or just another lot of historic foundations buried underneath characterless buildings and a car park ….now that would be criminal!

Diane Jennings, Romanby

Roads fear

I AM very concerned about the road closures planned for the west end of Richmond. The western end of Quaker’s Lane has been temporarily closed for about five weeks with no discernible advantage, but it is the prospect of future chaos which really troubles me.

As I understand it, the idea for closing Quaker’s Lane came about because women with buggies were having to walk on the road where the pavement is very narrow because of the parked cars. Surely putting double yellow lines alongside the narrowest part of the pavement and insisting that garden hedges do not over hang the pavement would be a cheaper and easier option.

From my observation, many of the cars are not local but are parked by people working elsewhere in the town.

But it is the long-term ramifications which trouble me most. Victoria Road/Reeth Road is the only viable access route to Swaledale. If there were to be an incident near the Cravengate junction -.a tanker spillage, a farm vehicle shedding its load, an articulated lorry jack-knifing - the whole traffic flow would be brought to a standstill. Add to that, the extra traffic which will emerge on to that junction once the Orchard Park development is finally finished, plus the increasing number of huge articulated lorries currently using that road and one can readily foresee chaos.

Richmond is a lovely town which suffers, unfortunately, from not having any major roads which take the traffic away from the town centre. Diversions caused by problems on the A1M result in an almost grid-lock situation on some of the town’s roads. Deliberately closing the only alternative route for most vehicles going up the dale for the sake of 60 yards of yellow-lining seems a little like expensive overkill.

Daphne Clarke, Richmond

A1 anger

SO, after years of disruption and millions of pounds spent, how is my journey from Brompton-on-Swale on the A1 improved? It now takes at least ten minutes longer to get anywhere!

The new link road from Brompton-on-Swale to Scotch Corner is, and will remain, a disaster. Even when the short dual carriageway section is open, the traffic lights at Scotch Corner will ensure a permanent queue as the Barracks Bank traffic from Skeeby and Richmond collide with those on the new link road.

Once again the Tory Governments, both local and national, have proven themselves to be inept. The story of this A1 upgrade is a classic example. The first build scheme was scrapped at a cost of millions of pounds in the first round of austerity, only to be resurrected two years later at an even higher cost. Throughout, the emphasis has been on improving the experience of through traffic at the expense of local residents. Consequently access roads have been closed and local traffic diverted.

The road itself is months overdue, with the A6136 bridge at Catterick Bridge still not open, a year after it was promised. Again local people are at the back of the queue when it comes to planning. And the road itself, when completed, still dips into valleys so that the problem of flooding on the A1 will remain, despite all the dangerous stagnant pools now lining the road.

Just why anyone, watching the ineptitude shown in the planning of this road, or in the Brexit negotiations or the gradual dismantling of the NHS locally (despite the crocodile tears of the usually absent local MP) can still vote for this bunch of clowns called the Conservative Party is beyond me.

Leslie Rowe, Brompton-on-Swale

Police complaints

ON reading your report about police complaints rising 14 per cent year-on-year in North Yorkshire (D&S Times, September 29) some of your readers might have thought the explanation was obvious. The Police and Crime Commissioner is so unpopular, the subject in my experience of universal disapproval hereabouts, even sometimes a laughing stock, that she herself would account for an increase in complaints.

But that cannot be the explanation for, whereas complaints against police officers are rigorously recorded and investigated with external supervision and statistics provided to the media, complaints about the PCC are not so treated. We have no idea how many complaints are made about her but they must be numerous unless, like me, members of the public do not complain because they know it would be a complete and utter waste of time, or to quote the PCC herself that the public do not “feel making a complaint is worthwhile.”

The statistics you provide are in any case woefully inadequate. We need to know the trends and an increase one year is evidence of little. Surely we need the figures for at least five years before concluding whether anything is seriously amiss. Also, if comparisons are to be meaningful, then we need to know not only the same five-year information for the other forces but also their size.

In relying on a single year’s increase to justify her intended actions (yet another power-grab?) the PCC is using the inadequate information like a drunk uses a lamppost – more for support than illumination.

With regard to the report immediately below the item about complaints I can understand the frustration of the Police Federation when workloads have increased and staffing levels have fallen. But to assert they are returning to policing 1980s-style as if this was undesirable was most unfortunate. You described this in your headline as to “regress back to 1980s’”and this was even worse. Some of us would think that a return to the standards, not the workloads, of the 1980s would actually be beneficial.

David Severs, retired Chief Superintendent, Northallerton

Light charging

IT is good to see (D&S Times, September 29) that North Yorkshire County Council’s executive is thinking of fitting street lights with more economical LEDs. Members should go one stage further.

Authorities must make charging provision for electric cars, and North Yorkshire has fallen behind in this respect. But converted LED lamp-posts can do the charging, because their supply cables have excess capacity.

It takes less than 30 minutes to install a charging socket into a lamp-post. The cost of installation is reduced by 90 per cent and there’s no need for an expensive and bulky charger because the payment software is built into the charging cable.

One possible problem is that lamp-posts need to be directly by the road-side, and many aren’t. Even so, those that are should be seen as potential chargers.

Here’s a chance for the county council to meet its environmental obligations at little cost while also cutting the payback time of the new lights even further.

Nicholas Reckert, Richmond

Signing off

WE write to record our thanks to the amazing group of volunteers who have provided a warm welcome and tourist advice to visitors in Leyburn over the past seven years. Leyburn tourist information centre was closed in 2011 and since then volunteers have provided a tourist point at the Dales Haven Guest House.

The project received two Making a Difference in Richmondshire Awards, including Community Group of the Year 2013/14, and has saved the public purse hundreds of thousands of pounds. Tens of thousands of visitors have benefited from the voluntary service.

However, there has been a continuous decline in footfall over the seven-year period, during which time smart phones, tablets and the mobile internet have transformed the way visitors access tourist information. This trend has led to the closure of the project because falling numbers have made it untenable.

The tourist website developed during this time will remain online. It has been a great pleasure working with the tourism volunteers. Their enthusiasm, commitment and love for the town made the project possible. That it lasted seven years is testament to their dedication and the project’s achievement.

Martin Crowson and Alix Warland, Leyburn

Too many

IT is gratifying that Stockton Borough Council have finally realised that too many houses are being built in Eaglescliffe (D&S Times, September 29), but I can’t see that another 170 will make much difference.

This is very much shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted. I don’t see the need for another traffic survey as the present situation is all too obvious.

I suspect that those who have bought houses on Sadler’s View make come to regret it when they are faced with gridlock on getting into Yarm.

Peter Elliott, Eaglescliffe

Cancer call

I READ with great concern a new report by Breast Cancer Now - “Good Enough? Breast Cancer in the UK” - which highlights how much more needs to be done to save the lives of people with breast cancer.

Although more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before, it is still the most common cancer in the UK with over 50,000 women diagnosed with the disease each year. And still every year around 11,500 women die of breast cancer in the UK.

The report uncovered a number of issues that need to be addressed in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. These include the ability to access effective medicines to prevent and treat breast cancer, concerns about having enough specialist cancer doctors and nurses, and unprecedented financial and operational pressures within the NHS. It is critical that progress is made across these areas, particularly as the number of those living with and beyond breast cancer is expected to rise.

That’s why I have emailed my local MP to take action to ensure that Breast Cancer Now can achieve its vision that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live. I would encourage others to join me and email their MP by visiting

Rose Nugent, Darlington