Punitive attack

I WRITE concerning the proposed 500 per cent increase in council tax for all second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (D&S Times, Dec 22).

It appears that second home owners are being largely blamed for the gradual disappearance of families and people of working age in the Dales, due to the lack of available housing in our Dales villages.

The relevant councils propose a “smash and grab” tax raid on second home owners, some of whom could be extremely hard-pressed to afford such an extortionate rise. A good number of these homes will have been handed down through family inheritance; this tax rise could see their owners facing a severe erosion of their life savings.

Being a lover of the Yorkshire Dales, and a second home owner myself, I too am sorry to observe the problems outlined by the councils. Many properties in the Dales are priced beyond the reach of the majority of local people, but to blame this on second home owners is unjustified.

Nationally, house prices have increased dramatically with the result that young people throughout the United Kingdom have great difficulty getting on the housing ladder. House prices have risen very highly in our National Parks, but this is primarily due to the popularity of these beautiful areas.

Some second homes may cost a little more, but are their owners to be punished for looking after their properties, so increasing their value, but at the same time preserving the attractive appearance of their villages?

I do sympathise with the view that there may be too many second homes in the Dales, but this retrospective and punitive attack on second home owners is a most unfair way to tackle the problem.

Why not put an immediate stop on all sales to any prospective second home buyers, as well as insisting that existing second homes, when put up for sale, must be sold to people who will live and work in the Dales?

Another idea put to me was one where a limit could be put on second homes – say a set small percentage which would apply to every town or village. This would ensure that second home owners are not entirely banished from the Dales; such an outcome would be a pity, as they do in many cases integrate well with their communities and contribute, in no small measure, to the local economy.

Speaking personally, I would be willing to shoulder some increase in council tax over that paid by the permanent residents, but a 500 per cent rise?!

Jim Wight, Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe

Pitch battle

FOLLOWING recent letters in the D&S Times regarding the Richmond School application for full planning permission to create a new external football pitch and associated features I wish to emphasise that there is no objection from local residents to the development of an artificial pitch for use by the school or community for sporting activities.

My objection is to the total lack of consultation on this proposal and the apparent lack of an options appraisal for a preferred site within the school grounds. I also object specifically to the associated features in the planning application – namely the erection of a 4.5m-high solid wood acoustic barrier around the “Wembley” pitch and the erection of eight 17m-high Floodlights operating until 10pm Monday to Friday and until 8pm Saturday and Sunday.

I can see no reason why a 4.5m acoustic barrier is needed. This proposed barrier will be aesthetically ugly, destroy an open space and is totally out of keeping with the area. There has never been any complaint about noise from a sporting event made by any of the neighbouring residents.

The erection of eight 17m floodlights in a residential area will result in significant environmental light pollution. There is currently no street lighting at this end of Maison Dieu or lighting of any form. This proposal will not only affect the immediate area but the whole of Richmond East.

One may ask why the school feels it needs these associated features. Could it be anything to do with their partnership with Richmond Football Club and the club’s aim to compete in the Northern League where some but not all of these features are required?

So, come on Richmond School - come clean about the reason for this development. By all means develop an all-weather pitch for use by the school and community but without the wall and floodlights.

Comments on this planning application can be sent to Richmondshire District Planning until January 24.

Bruce Hunter, Richmond

Hospital woes

A FEW weeks ago I was unable to attend the meeting about the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton town hall because of the timing of the meeting, 4pm to 6pm. Unless you were within walking distance of the venue it was difficult to attend, few parking places, maximum two hours at a cost.

The majority of the population were at work during that timescale so didn’t have the opportunity to attend. Had the meeting been 6pm to 8pm, all would have had the opportunity to attend with plenty of free parking too.

My main questions to the meeting would have been, why cannot the consultants and their appropriate teams from the James Cook Hospital attend on a rotational basis to the needs of the Friarage Hospital? Surely there are many consultants and anaesthetists at the James Cook Hospital to do this.

The closing down of needed departments at the Friarage Hospital is tragic, when there should be no need for it. Elderly people cannot be expected to travel to Middlesbrough from Northallerton and beyond for simple conditions requiring high dependant or intensive care which can be equally well provided at the Friarage, if the consultants are willing to do so.

What about the good people who live in the Dales? What a trek it is for them.

Finally, dozens of vehicles trundle up to James Cook Hospital on a daily basis. If the needed teams from James Cook Hospital travelled to the Friarage, a few vehicles, the effect on air pollution and the greenhouse effect would be enormously beneficial.

Geoffrey Batterbee, Northallerton

Trade barriers

YOUR correspondent John Coverdale (D&S Times, Jan 5) is nigh-on libellous to label Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis as Quislings and hypocrites. He pejoratively calls them “their lordships”; both were raised to the peerage for their valued public service while representing two different political parties. They also represent almost half of the UK population in the EU Referendum.

In contrast to the misplaced opinions of JL Coverdale and his like-minded Little Islanders, Michael Heseltine and Anthony Adonis are trying to make clear the peril that lies ahead for the UK if we fail to maintain our trading links with the EU. Coverdale and his compatriots are blindly expecting business as usual.

Brexiteers voted for reduced standards of living, inflation, loss of jobs, difficulties in travel for people, goods and services, stranded split families, reduced tax revenue to pay for the NHS, education and defence. All are in prospect unless there is transition over several years.

The better standards of living are principally achieved by trade exchanging time, skills and knowledge for wages or in the exchange of goods and services. Trade depends on the removal of barriers so that we have agreed standards of assured quality, production and employment conditions, protection against unfair practices, ease of transport and communication, agreed ways of solving disputes etc. The UK achieved much of this in the largest single market in the world, the EU.

Together with other investors we set up a farming business in Portugal in 1987 where we found a poverty-stricken population with remote Third World medical services, minimal education, absence of rural electricity and telephones, dangerous roads and abandoned farmland.

Today neighbouring businesses have workforces that enjoy standards of living approaching the UK, and in some respects better. We supply supermarkets with field scale vegetables that cannot be grown in the UK or Northern Europe in winter. They are health promoting and meet the exacting standards of the British Retail Consortium.

All travel by supply chain lorries across national borders without delay. Both the UK and Portugal benefit. Thirty per cent of our trade goes to British multiple retailers and is threatened by the fall of value of the pound and the prospect of queues at the frontier.

The UK has moved up the economic league table since accession in 1972. Our departure may ignite others to protest and changes in the centrist aspirations of France and Brussels, but we will not be at the table to debate and support for change. Our many friends in Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands and other countries will miss us.

Brexiteers! Get ready for next Christmas; it may be your last happy one.

Dr Paul Weightman, Dinsdale

No wisdom

DONALD Trump’s remarks about “s**thole countries” were inappropriate, vulgar and certainly unpresidential. But, they were not racist, as most liberals in the USA and the UK maintain.

Saying something derogatory about someone, on grounds of ethnicity, is racist. But criticising countries, no matter the language used, is not.

If Trump had said “underdeveloped and undemocratic countries” then nobody would have turned a hair.

The President’s own worst enemy is his rashness. On this occasion, there was no wisdom at all in his rude and provocative language, because it gave more ammunition to his ideological enemies on both sides of the pond; people in high places, intent on bringing him down, no matter the cost to democracy.

Both the USA and the UK pay lip service to freedom of speech. But, increasingly, Big Brother is listening to everything we say; ready to pounce if we stray from the script dictated by the, largely unelected, all powerful, politically correct brigade.

In the present climate of intolerance, defenders of freedom must be on their guard.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

Fond memories

IMAGINE my surprise upon reading the D&S Times on January 12 to find an article about my late stepfather, Jim (as we always knew him) Archer-Burton and his painting as Chief Constable being withdrawn from sale by North Yorkshire Police.

My mother Rosemary and Jim first met as children in the small Dorset village of Tarrant Gunville. Many years later when both their respective partners had passed away they were reacquainted in Battle in East Sussex. They were married in February 1991, Jim then aged 77, enjoying almost 10 very happy and sometimes adventurous years together before my mother sadly died.

Jim was delighted to have the chance to return to North Yorkshire, he celebrated his 80th birthday by climbing up Roseberry Topping with me. He had last been up there in 1958 with his children.

I have very fond memories of Jim, he was such an interesting person, full of anecdotes from his life.

It was pleasing to hear that the painting has been withdrawn from sale, perhaps now a fitting place could be found for it in the new police headquarters.

Robin Harmar, Great Ayton

Birthday gift

MY wife and I recently celebrated our 70th and 80th birthdays with a gathering of friends and relations. In lieu of gifts we invited our guests to make donations in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

As a consequence of their generosity a donation totalling £380.00 will be forwarded to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. We wish to thank all who donated.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to Craig Beadling and his catering team at Romanby Golf and Country Club for providing us with a superb lunch.

Danny and Anne Myers, Northallerton

Road policing

WITH reference to the editorial comment “Cost of saving lives” (D&S Times Jan 12).

I applaud your positive stance on the issues surrounding the use of safety cameras and used properly I have no doubt they contribute to road safety.

However there are many other factors which cause or contribute to fatal and serious injury collisions which go undetected by cameras.

Julie Mulligan may well be concerned at the prospect of the safety vans failing to break even but it is the public who are being short changed as dedicated road traffic policing is now a thing of the past.

Timothy Wood, Guisborough

Many thanks

I WOULD like to thank all the extremely kind people who stopped to help when my 84-year-old friend had a very bad fall in Northallerton High Street late afternoon on January 4. They all helped to pick her up and all our bags and take her in to Barkers out of the heavy rain. One lady also kindly helped to phone for my husband.

I would also like to thank the two first aiders from Barkers who looked after her so calmly and caringly and called for an ambulance. Last but not least I should like to thank the paramedics who attended and all the staff at the Friarage Hospital A and E who all cared for my friend and discovered she had dislocated and fractured her right shoulder.

Not a pleasant end to her Christmas vacation in Yorkshire but she was overwhelmed by all the kindness. It shows what a fantastic community we have in Northallerton and why our A and E is so very important to us all.

Kath Milner, Romanby