Second homes

THANK-you for the coverage you have given in recent weeks to our joint efforts to retain and attract families and people of working age to live in the Dales.

It was heartening to receive your backing for the most controversial bit of the initiative so far, a proposal to lobby Government for the power increase council tax substantially (by at least five times) on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (D&S Times, Dec 22).

This proposal is now at a critical stage. As you reported, the National Park Authority gave its approval to take this forward just before Christmas. Now it is up to the eight constituent county and district councils in the park to make up their minds.

We want to stress that we have nothing against second home owners. Far from it. They love the Dales and make a contribution to the local economy. The problem is the impact of second home ownership.

There are simply too many second homes in the National Park. That these homes lie empty for most of the time is a terrible waste.

The sharp growth in second home ownership during the past 20 years has pushed up house prices, denied dwellings to permanent residents and left some communities hollowed out.

More than anything, the rapidly shrinking primary school rolls – in places such as Askrigg, West Burton and Bainbridge – has focussed minds.

The moment has come to take action; if this proposal fails, it is unlikely that the negative impacts of second home ownership will be addressed again any time soon.

We would urge your readers to make their views known to their local councillor.

Carl Lis, chairman Yorkshire Dales National Park; Yvonne Peacock, leader Richmondshire District Council; Richard Foster, leader Craven District Council; Giles Archibald, leader South Lakeland District Council.

Hospital future

The D&S Times are to be congratulated for printing last week’s lead article concerning the running down of services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton. In turn it demands a reply from those accountable for the health of residents in North Yorkshire served by the hospital. Perhaps Janet Probert, the “accountable officer” for Whitby, Hambleton and Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group might like to reply through the pages of the paper. It also begs comment from North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee who are responsible for scrutinising the work and outcomes of the NYCC Health and Wellbeing Board of which Ms Probert is a member.

The CCG are accountable to NYCC (in addition to NHS/Secretary of State) and as the scrutiny committee is made up of democratically-elected members, its comment and position as an accountable body along with those of the Health and Wellbeing Board are far more relevant to this argument then the current public consultation exercise. In many respects the consultation simply moves the focus away from those who should be questioning the CCG’s decisions.

Whereas it’s good that the CCG want to keep the public informed of what is essentially a failure of hospital management, the issue of finance and skills at the core of this problem should be debated by those who are in a position to influence the outcome.

It is to be hoped that Ms Probert is prepared to explain the statements reported in the D&STimes and that those she is accountable to at NYCC are prepared to listen to and if necessary question her explanation.

Last September, Hambleton District councillors voted unanimously to urge the CCG against running down the accident and emergency services at the Friarage. Are NYCC councillors prepared to do the same? MP Rishi Sunak appears to be looking for solutions rather than excuses, it is to be hoped that more local politicians (and dare I suggest health service managers) stand beside him.

B Forbes, Thornton le Moor

Morally wrong?

IF you value the role played by the Lambert Memorial Hospital, Thirsk, founded in 1890, then I suggest you go to Google and put in the search enquiry “Lambert Memorial Hospital Thirsk”.

This report states specifically that the hospital was built and endowed by Mrs Lambert to supply medical and surgical aid and medicine for the sick and injured of Thirsk and neighbourhood, then goes on to state quite clearly that the hospital relied heavily on support of the local community and donations from individuals, thus reinforcing the fact that the hospital belonged to Thirsk.

The NHS as represented by the Clinical Commissioning Group management has conveniently “lost” the deeds, which probably contained the words “in perpetuity” when referring to Mrs Lambert’s bequest to the town of Thirsk and its residents.

The most damning condition of all is the restrictive covenant being placed on the sale, preventing the use of the hospital in the future for any form of NHS medical activity.

Not only is the CCG morally wrong, in my opinion they are morally bankrupt. They should remember that greed is one of the seven deadly sins, and should spare a thought for the doctors, nurses and workers who keep us all healthy.

The local authority is against the sale, our MP Kevin Hollinrake has been involved, and any attempt to sell the property has been suspended until further discussions with the CCG can take place. I trust the building can be retained, as gifted to the community.

Michael Bourner, Sowerby

Hospital audacity

I AGREE with Doctor John Garside of Thirsk (D&S Times, Dec 15).

The Lambert Memorial Hospital was built with money from a lady called Mrs Lambert of Sowerby, Thirsk for the people of Thirsk.

I don’t know how the people responsible had the audacity of put it up for sale and prohibit the use of health care.

Mrs Best, Sowerby

NHS crisis

THE scale of the crisis in the NHS is clearly seen when one looks at the large number of ambulances lined up outside Darlington's A and E Department day after day.

Where do the top civil servants in Whitehall think all these ambulances are going to go, if they shut Darlington's A and E?

Please support the petition against the downgrading of Darlington's A and E Department to a mere walk-in centre by following the link below, and posting this link to any facebook page you might have.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington

Bad management

OUR NHS is on its knees due to lack of finance and the Health Secretary can only apologise for the massive amount of operations cancelled - but the country can spend thousands of pounds on firework displays for the New Year.

I would like to bet our MPs do not have to suffer health problems as they are probably on private health schemes.

Yet again the country suffers due to bad management by our Government. If private companies were run like this they would fail immediately. When is this Government going to start running the country properly?

It seems that the theory is "If it’s expensive and not really required we will have it."

C.P.Atkinson, Great Ayton

Ongoing debate

YOUR correspondent J Coverdale (D&S Times, Jan 5) says that Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis are "Quislings" because they question and challenge the way in which the government in negotiating the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

To compare these two statesmen with the military officer who headed the government of Norway during Nazi occupation in World War II and suggest they are traitors who collaborate with enemy forces occupying our country, is nothing short of slanderous. Similarly, to describe these two members of the House of Lords as “hypocrites” because they attend memorial services for the fallen, is grossly offensive.

The EU was created in the last century after two devastating world wars in part to help prevent future conflict on our continent. There is no contradiction between recognising the sacrifice of those who died defending this country and supporting an organisation (the EU) which exists for the mutual benefit of its member states as well as promoting trade and partnership with countries outside Europe.

Contrary to what Mr Coverdale states, no one on the EU side of the negotiating table is "hysterically calling for Britain to be punished" and I note he fails to offer any evidence that anyone has said this. Quite the reverse in fact. The EU negotiators recognise that it is in the interests of both the UK and the remaining 27 EU states to reach an amicable and workable agreement.

Similarly, to suggest the media is overplaying the downsides of leaving the EU is nonsense. When not warning us of an impending ice age, The Daily Express screams anti EU headlines on a weekly basis, as does The Daily Mail and to a lesser extent The Sun. Where are these success stories that Mr Coverdale speaks of?

The very narrow referendum result was not a mandate for any particular approach to leaving the EU. There are several options to choose from and none of these options were mentioned on the ballot paper. For this reason, it is important that there is ongoing debate and that the Government is challenged and called to account and I salute Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis for their integrity in doing just this. The great thing about democracy is that things can change, and people can change their minds

Dr Andrew Newens, Darlington

Police silver

NORTH Yorkshire Police may well be right to sell silver that has been acquired over many years, but why use an auction at Dalry in Ayrshire?

There are several excellent auction houses in North Yorkshire.

Using one of these would support a local business and give local people a chance to view and buy something.

Miles Garnett, South Otterington

Make it clear

IT is widely reported that Theresa May, our Prime Minister, would have liked to persuade Parliament to repeal the ban on fox-hunting made law in 2004. Because of her small majority she is now quoted saying “In this Parliament we will not attempt to repeal the ban”.

I believe that this means that when her majority is significantly increased at the next election she will try to repeal the bill. I do wish she would have made this clear.

About two years ago I wrote to my MP Mr Sunak regarding the Government allowing unaccompanied refugee children to stay in the UK and be educated up to the age of 18 and then being forcibly repatriated to their country of origin for example Afghanistan where they had no family support.

Mr Sunak did not exactly say so but by doing nothing he must think that this repatriation is acceptable - again I do wish he would make his point clearly.

The Rev David Tomlinson from Durham has highlighted the case of a Vietnamese boy who as a street child was smuggled into the UK to work as slave labour in a cannabis farm.

When he was found he was fostered and educated now he has reached the age of 19 the Home Office wants to send the youth back to Vietnam presumably to live on the streets again.

I fully support Rev Tomlinson but wish that our politicians would show a bit of compassion. They should also tell us what will happen to the youth when he is returned to Vietnam.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Hiking boots

IN response to W Calvert (D&S Times, Jan 5) I have indeed put my hiking boots on some time ago and walked along the muddy path next to Mowbray Park, Northallerton, and the small bridge over the Middlesbrough railway line. However, as he notes, there is a six-foot metal fence there which makes it rather difficult to access the path with my wife and young daughter.

He makes an interesting suggestion about the source of labour to improve the path but, having been told by Barratt Homes that the council have plans to make this a hard surfaced and lit path suitable for push chairs and cycles, I have yet to see any progress beyond the vegetation clearance he mentions and the erection of a large wooden fence separate to that which prevents access from De Lacy Road.

The metal fence was put up to prevent access due to the footpath going away from town crossing over the East Coast Main Line, but a search of the Hambleton District Council website suggests a bright yellow sign will make us all safe from high speed trains should we venture that way. Meanwhile we await access and improvement to the promised path connecting us to the town.

Jamie Mash, Northallerton

Football pitch

CREDIT to Richmondshire District Council. It appears they do listen to Richmond residents. Although not widely publicised, RDC has now extended the closing date for comments on the Richmond School football pitch proposal to January 24. Full details of the planning application and public comments or objections can be made on the RDC planning website (ref 17/00878/FULL) or in writing by post to Mercury House.

Just to add, in my original letter (D&S Times, Jan 5) I pointed out there already exists a suitable floodlit, fenced artificial grass pitch that ideally lends itself to being an amphitheatre style stadium.

It is right next to and overlooked by the sports pavilion and is away from all residential housing. It could easily be re-developed to meet Richmond Town Football Club pitch requirements and include the covered spectator grandstand area. Unfortunately, due to the length of my letter, this point was not printed by the newspaper.

In respect of alternatives, I have asked Richmond School, via a Freedom of Indformation request, to explain exactly what other alternatives have been considered, and why explain why the “Wembley” pitch was chosen.

I await a response.

P Leahy, Richmond

Latin lives

SALVE. I refer to the recent letter from Rodney Hall of Richmond (D&S Times, Dec 22) making a plea for Latin because it is no longer being taught in his local school.

May I reassure him that Latin is alive and well in Ripon.

Eight of us U3A Members meet fortnightly and when I read the letter to the group at our first meeting of 2018 all agreed and were especially entertained by the mention of David Beckham’s tattoo.

My niece is a language teacher in Cambridgeshire and tells me that Latin is to be introduced to her school curriculum and I have read of the reintroduction of Latin in various schools throughout the country.

So try not to be too disheartened by the local school.

All is not lost.

Christine Tucker, Baldersby

Excused duty

THE BBC should be congratulated for getting through Christmas this year without showing Zulu.

Major (Retd) R Tyler, Richmond