Pitch problems

YET again, with no community consultation with Richmond East residents, Richmond School has recently submitted a planning application to Richmondshire District Council to develop the "Wembley" football field to accommodate its community partnership with Richmond Town Football Club (D&S Times, Dec 29).

With the timing of the application, and planning process detail, being just before the Xmas period when RDC offices are closed, and members and the wider community are on holiday, a cynic might think the school and RDC are deliberately trying to limit any opportunity to seriously challenge the proposal.

I have no objection for Richmond School in developing its playing fields facilities to better serve its students and the local community. Indeed, a new artificial grass pitch is a welcome addition.

However, the application also proposes a 4.5m-high ball-stop fencing, a 4.5m-high acoustic barrier, a covered seated grandstand, and a new artificial lighting system with several 17m-high lighting masts. It is also proposing car access from Maison Dieu along an existing bridlepath with a new small car park being built.

The proposal from Richmond School management as it stands, is ill-considered and thoughtless. It indicates a complete disregard for residents of Richmond East that borders on contempt.

The proposed development is totally inappropriate. Building 17m-high lighting masts is equivalent to a six to seven storey building. The lighting will dominate the night sky from miles around to the east.

Encouraging car access from Maison Dieu along a bridlepath that intersects with a very well used road pedestrian footpath is not only illegal, but with very poor visibility for cars, it creates a dangerous traffic situation. There is already suitable car parking and access from the main school car parks.

Quite why a 4.5m ball-stop fencing and acoustic barrier on the pitch is required is puzzling, but it will appear aesthetically ugly and totally out of keeping with the area.

So by all means develop the "Wembley" pitch to be an artificial grass pitch, but without the floodlights, the 4.5m barriers and grandstand. The pitch could be used for hockey and five-a-side in daylight hours.

The school tennis courts (which are also already floodlit and hardly ever used by the community), can already be used now for evening five-a-side football when dark. All this would probably require considerably less financial outlay than what is being proposed.

So please Richmond School please withdraw this proposal and think again.

P Leahy, Richmond

Spending control

JUST before Christmas the Government announced that councils will be able to increase council tax by up to six per cent before a local referendum has to be called. Previously the maximum rise permitted was five per cent.

This bit of news may have slipped through unnoticed but in reality it means that councils now have the power to raise council tax by double the rate of inflation without recourse to their electorate.

At a time when wage growth is stagnating and the cost of living is on the rise, how can politicians justify new powers to take even more of people's money?

Council tax has already nearly doubled in the last decade so it is wrong to ask residents to plug the gaps in their finances, especially when we know that council tax already hits the poorest hardest.

Of course there are increasing and well-publicised demands on council finances, especially in the area of social care. But there are also areas where councils are very poor at cost savings.

A quick glance at the Taxpayers Alliance web site will show examples of public sector waste and over-spending. For instance, council tax payers may well want to know why Darlington, Harrogate and Craven councils are paying mileage allowances to their staff which are in excess of HMRC recommendations.

This may only be a relatively small example of unnecessary spending but there will undoubtedly be many more and your readers are encouraged to bring these to public attention.

Councils need to get their spending under control before asking us to pay more tax. The best way to do this is for your readers to lobby their local councillors with their views before decisions are made on next year’s council tax. Contact names and email addresses are readily available on the council’s web sites.

John Warren, Ripon

Brexit ‘Quislings’

BANG on cue after the absurd statement from Lord Heseltine, another Remoaner, Lord Adonis, pops out of the bag to join the ranks of those who seek to ignore the democratic wishes of the UK electorate.

Significantly, their Lordships give support to those whose loyalties lie with multinational interests, and others who wish harm to us. Witness the glee of the EU negotiators hysterically calling for “Britain to be punished”.

The same hypocrites appeared to have no problem in attending the recent memorial services to the millions of British and Allied service men and women who perished in two world wars, and whose sacrifice defended the concept of civilisation. Perhaps the generous expenses lavished on the corrupt EU elite were sufficient to appease their conscience.

The EU works very nicely for Germany, and to a lesser extent, for France who hang unashamedly to Germany’s coat tails. The down side of this cosy arrangement is the terrible plight of the young people who in Spain, Italy. Greece etc, suffer up to 50 per cent unemployment. These young people cannot have their life over again. They are paying the price of a system which has been tried many times, and has always failed.

You will not see the plight of the crumbling EU reported in the news bulletins to any great extent. The media, with few exceptions, prefer to overplay any perceived Brexit problem as “disastrous” whilst making little of the many, and there are plenty, of successes achieved by the UK.

It is not difficult to recognise those who act against the wishes of the electorate, usually for financial reasons, or pique. They are latter day Quislings and should be recognised as such. Thank goodness that we didn’t have these people in 1939.

John L. Coverdale, Ingleby Greenhow

Populist primate

I AM fed up with the wishy-washy liberalism of Archbishop Justin Welby. Typical of a member of our ruling elite, he has recently spoken of populist leaders deceiving their people.

To use the word “populist” is insulting to ordinary people because what the speaker is really saying is: “We, the upper crust, know better than you what’s good for you.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines a populist as “a member or adherent of a political party seeking support mainly from the ordinary people”. Isn’t that exactly what democratic politics is supposed to be about?

In reality, although, our “betters” pay lip-service to democracy, they usually manage to rig things to suit themselves. Because Brexit is an exception, the elite cannot tolerate it. So much so, that Tory grandee and latter-day Teessider, Lord Heseltine, has even resorted to advising people to vote Labour in a desperate attempt to thwart the people’s choice.

Instead of covertly patronising the man and woman in the street with words like “populist”, top people should be working flat-out to give the people what they want. At present, that means an expeditious exit from the EU.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

Bulldozer Boris?

FOLLOWING the Department for Transport publishing a series of fresh reports into the impact of expanding the west London airport runway capacity, including updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan, Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport. initiated a public consultation which finished on December 19.

The Government’s sustainability appraisal expects the plans to have a negative effect on air quality, noise and biodiversity. It also says that the Gatwick second runway scheme would cause less damage than either potential scheme at Heathrow. The plans will have to mitigate against any significant deterioration in air quality or the whole scheme could be thrown into jeopardy.

Although these runways are in the London area the consultation was open to anyone, I would have thought at the very least my MP Mr Sunak would have put something about this in his weekly blog which appears in your paper.

I heard one MP outlining (bragging) how well the government was doing ploughing through Brexit and getting on with Heathrow’s third runway.

Why do politicians lie to the public? MPs are not getting on with Heathrow’s third runway - they are considering it now and will only be voting on it in the summer of 2018.

I expect the third runway at Heathrow will be approved irrespective of the findings in the reports and then I look forward to seeing Boris be a man of his word. He gave great thought and agreed with Brexit - now I expect him to lay down in front of the bulldozers as he promised.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Parking pair

HOW wonderful it was to see that Scrooge was alive and kicking on New Year’s Day, a quiet Bank Holiday Monday in Stokesley, as a pair (not one but two) of Scarborough Borough Council's parking attendants made their way along our High Street ticketing cars during the afternoon on their revenue raising round.

Presumably Scarborough council's salary largesse extended to one attendant to hold the pad of tickets and the other to write it.

Given the lack of activity in the town was such an enforcement really necessary or was it yet another fund-raising measure by that authority?

Indeed, why does Stokesley parking have to be enforced by an authority so geographically remote from the town?

Alwyn Boulby, Stokesley

Rodent repast

THE ever-caring Richmond District Council are, I have been told, inclined to impose sanctions on residents who infringe their demands about waste disposal. It would be interesting to know if residents have a similar opportunity to bring charges against the council.

Today, viewing the waste tip in the Nuns Close car park, I observed paper, cardboard, bottles and plastic items piled heavenward owing to the disposal units having already been filled up well before Christmas. (Our ever-wise Council does not seem to know that, at this time of year, many people are inclined to dispose in extra-large quantities of their waste containers.)

There are some winners however. A lady, dumping bottles, pointed out to me a large rat enjoying a post-festive feast among the papers.

Brian Alderson, Richmond

Muddy path

MR Jamie Mash (D&S Times, Dec 22) complains about no footpath into town from the housing estate behind Barkers furniture store.

I suggest he gets his hiking boots on and does a bit of exploring as a perfectly good footpath already exists, running full length at the back of the estate separated by an ugly wire fence.

It goes behind JT Atkinson’s yard to a substantial concrete footbridge over the railway line to Tannery Lane or bear right past the town allotments and graveyard to All Saints’ Church.

It has recently been cleared of vegetation although it is a bit muddy in parts. This could be put right by employing a few naughty boys on community service with a shovel and barrow apiece and use some of the ground bricks from the prison site to make a good all-weather route into town.

W Calvert, Northallerton

Litter call

THE lay-bys in between the roundabout from the football stadium to Morrison roundabout along the A66 are absolutely disgusting with rubbish etc, and the amount of litter along the A66 is an embarrassment to Darlington.

I do go travelling around and never see the amount of rubbish as in and around Darlington.

The council need to get a grip on this situation instead the only reply we seem to get is cutbacks. My council tax has never been reduced and I do volunteer to help and clean my area.

Stan Wilby, Darlington

Still annoyed

FOLLOWING the publication of my letter regarding your restaurant critic's description of a waitress as being “small, dark and pretty” (D&S Times, Dec 21), I note with disappointment that the same critic has devoted upwards of half of his latest review (D&S Times, Dec 22) to an insincere “apology” that shows a complete lack of understanding that his original comment has no place in this day and age.

In these post-Weinstein times when objectification of both women and men, sexist behaviour, and taking advantage of one's position are so to the forefront of the public gaze, this reflects badly on him and on the newspaper.

Pity those poor waitresses who have not been described as “pretty” in a restaurant review, and who now wonder what is wrong with them that Mr Warne did not favour them with kind words about their physical appearance.

Think of the restaurants who will now be wheeling out the staff they perceive as their most attractive to serve Mr Warne, in the hope that a well-turned ankle and a pretty face may catch his eye, and result in him putting an extra mark onto the restaurant's overall score.

In his latest review, Mr Warne refers to himself as a “boring old sexist fart”. If the cap fits...

Chris Lancaster, Appleton Wiske