Lighting lament

THERE is a new twist on the old joke - how many council workmen does it take to change a lightbulb?

There is a commendable programme to replace old electricity guzzling streetlights with efficient and thrifty LED arrays. This has been done in various parts of Thirsk, just by swapping the lanterns at the top.

In other parts, most notably currently in one of the most historic parts of the town, around the parish church, it is being done by ripping out the traditional cast iron standards, and replacing them with very bare utilitarian steel poles, with a very functional light on the top.

This is resulting in the spoiling of the streetscape - the old lamp standards had a period elegance, and had come to blend in over the years.

In my own part of the town, which is a conservation area, no changes have yet been made, presumably because nobody has sorted out how to change the old sodium lightbulbs for LEDs.

I have changed my own domestic lighting several times over the years, as more economical and eco-friendly bulbs become available. I manage this by unscrewing a bulb, and putting another one in, needing nothing more elaborate than a step-ladder.

I know that changing the bulbs in streetlamps can be done without ripping out whole standards - it has been done in York, where the historic atmosphere is regarded as important enough to be respected.

I have a nagging suspicion that this is not being done elsewhere because of the restrictive nature of the agreements reached with local authority sub-contractors.

Hambleton District Council needs to take a firm hand on this. The cost of replacing lamp posts which have an almost unlimited life, plus re-wiring them leave alone the waste of the "embedded energy" manufacturing the original ones, probably wipes out the financial and energy savings from using LED bulbs.

Why does improving lighting so that we can see better, have to make what we can see better look so ugly!

Chris Purser, Sowerby

Bridge bother

YET again, less than three months after a rebuild, Brough Lane bridge near Tunstall has been totally demolished by a heavy goods vehicle and yet again the driver up - until now - has not been traced.

In an email our parish council chairman has informed the powers that be that this is the sixth time this has happened.

In early July I spoke to a North Yorkshire County Council employee who had been asked to estimate the volumes of materials which would be required to resurface the lane – he was stood at the Tunstall end of the lane.

I suggested that when he reached the bridge he would take note of the appalling untidiness and vandalism committed by drivers who, armed with sharp knives, were cutting blue ropes used to tie back the red and white barriers – on several occasions attempts were made to throw them into Brough beck.

He replied “Ho! Is there a bridge down this lane? – I would not know because I have been sent over from Scarborough.”

Allow me to do some simple maths: in addition to the mileage claim if the guy used his own vehicle to reach the Richmond depot, we the ratepayers are footing the bill.

Additionally this will be the third time that the stonemasons assigned to the job have rebuilt the bridge – one guy travelled daily from Skipton and the other resides in Hawes.

I recall that the rebuild took three weeks to a month but inadequate protection in the form of steel piling and barriers on the approaches to the bridge have never been seriously addressed.

Why is it that Hambleton District Council finally solved the same problem caused by HGVs at Dalton on the approach to their industrial estate and Richmondshire always skimps due to financial restraints and the lack of a will to grab the bull by the horns?

Frustrated and annoyed like everyone in Tunstall.

Ken Walsh, Tunstall

More shops?

I REFER to your article regarding A-boards and fly posters in Northallerton (D&S Times, September 6) in which the mayor, Councillor John Forest, comments: "The problem is it can make the town look scruffy if we have fly posters left, especially on empty buildings and shop windows.”

If I was in his position, I would be concerned about the fact that there are so many empty shops in the High Street and with this in mind, why do the council think there is a need for even more shops on the prison site.

Dave Forster, Sowerby

Fracking traffic

IT might interest your readers to know that North Yorkshire County Council appears remiss both in its transparency concerning alternative routes for fracking-related traffic to the Kirby Misperton site and its addressing the question of the safety of the public.

My communication to NYCC Planning on September 29 requesting confirmation that the alternative route via Newsham Bridge near Great Habton - used recently on the occasion of traffic disruption by protesters - had been approved for safety by planners, has not elicited the courtesy of a response to date.

I have heard that other similar requests for reassurance have been ignored. And yet we are protected by gold standard regulations!

Is this the accountability and protection we are prepared to settle for from our elected representatives?

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave

Monitoring fracking

SINCE his arrival as Ryedale's MP, Kevin Hollinrake’s consistent response to anti-fracking protestors has been that careful monitoring by organisations such as the British Geological Survey will be sufficient to oversee safe operation. But in view of the situation in Lancashire these assurances look increasingly flimsy.

At their fracking site there, the company Cuadrilla took a year to report abnormal underground pressure on a well-head they had sealed off. In response, the government contracted BGS for an independent survey of groundwater quality. This looks like a low-budget sop however, as information is being collected from a mere five locations across the 1,000 square kilometre area.

The fact that BGS is using a rental van with a temporary bit of paper stuck to the side indicates the scale of concern this London-centric Government has for our health in the north.

In the event of environmental pollution, those suing for damages would be disappointed, as Cuadrilla’s dodge has been to set up local companies with negative balance sheets.

This unethical practice is also followed by Third Energy at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, which continues to make huge losses on top of its net current liabilities of £50m.

Is Mr Hollinrake still so confident, or will environmental disaster prompt him to step down from Parliament for a lucrative directorship in one of these dubious companies?

Dr Peter Williams, Malton

Laughing stocks

READING Sarah Walker’s column on the subject of being “committed” to the stocks (D&S Times, September 6) was interesting to me as I spent some time, way back in the 1950s, in Guisborough where there were stocks set in front of the church at the bottom of Redcar Road.

I knew a policeman, stationed in Guisborough, who was working a nightshift and had taken his middlenight break about 2am and had returned to his beat.

It seems a little boredom had set in and he sat on the seat of the stocks and lifted up the metal hasp securing the top bar and put his ankles in the holes then dropped the top bar in place. Unfortunately this caused the metal hasp to swing into place under bottom bar. He then found that, with his feet secured in the holes, he could not reach over to open the hasp!

The time would be about 2.30am so passers-by were few and far between. There was time for contemplation.

Luckily in those days the railways were working and their men worked weird hours so the officer only had to wait until about 3.30am when one came along and, after recovering from a severe bout of laughter, freed the miscreant from custody!

I promise it was not me. It was somebody called Dennis who told me himself - and he took it as a good laugh.

KW Hunter, Leeming Bar

Government failure?

FOLLOWING the Grenfell Tower fire the Government was quick to assure councils that money would be made available to investigate the problem and replace any cladding that was not fire retardant.

Now I read that the government is not going to make money available and councils are going to have to fund this from their existing funds.

I maintain that the use of this cladding is because of the Government’s failure to investigate the cladding after being told by its own Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Committee about seven years ago that there was a problem, the cost of all this is just adding to the price of austerity.

We are told that in the country there is a skills shortage. This applies to our political system as getting MPs to analyse and solve problems is impossible.

The PM had asked for an investigation into council and building management teams but no mention of investigating the government’s involvement.

Every time I see a picture of the burned out wreckage of Grenfell Tower I think that it is not only showing to Britain but to the whole world what Britain and our Government can achieve.

I am astounded that the other political parties - Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens - are completely silent on this issue.

How can we vote for a political party that covers up such incompetence?

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Animal care

BRITAIN has long been regarded as a nation of animal lovers. Our pets are often seen as treasured family members, and many people go to great lengths – and costs – to ensure their companions lead a happy and healthy life. New research suggests that the average dog owner spends over £18,000 on their furry friend during its lifetime.

It is wonderful that the welfare of most pets is well looked after in the UK but, sadly, it’s a very different situation for many working animals in developing countries.

Worldwide, around 200 million working animals, such as horses, donkeys and camels, make it possible for impoverished families to earn a small income by transporting goods and people. They play a vital role, but they often endure hard lives without access to the food, water, shelter and essential veterinary treatment they urgently need.

We are highlighting the struggle they face on a daily basis and asking everyone to give them the recognition and support they so greatly deserve.

Please visit and help us to ensure that working animals overseas receive the same care and compassion as our own much-loved pets here in Britain.

Geoffrey Dennis, Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad