Homes lament

MY wife and I own a house in Muker, which is now classified as a second home, but to us is our family home. We are in our eighties, having been born in Muker, went to school there and were married in the Church in 1960. Our families were both farmers in the area. I was brought up on Kisdon Farm above Muker and my wife, Marina, at Scarr House - opposite the waterfall.

Subsequently, partly because of lack of work and, in my case because of health problems, we both found jobs in the south of England. However, we have spent most of our holidays and, since our retirement 25 years ago, about 20 weeks a year in Muker. Our children and now our grandchildren all love the village and spend as much time there as possible. It is quite likely that one of our children, now in their 50's, will retire there.

Regarding our house and why it is our family home, it was bought by my wife's parents in 1967 when they retired, and we have owned it since Marina's mother died in 1998. We have spent tens of thousands of pounds on the house over the years, all done by local family firms.

Our roots in Upper Swaledale go back many generations. Both our fathers and grandfathers played in Muker band. We are life members and attend most of their concerts. We go to Muker Church where Marina was confirmed and continue to provide the Christmas flowers, a custom started by her grandmother at least 65 years ago. We generally attend Muker Show and fully support the Swaledale Music Festival where our daughter has regularly played.

I now find it incredible and very upsetting that the national park authorities, supported by some members of the local council, have singled out second home owners as the cause of the perceived problems without a jot of defensible evidence and propose trying to force me to sell our family home.

It should be noted that there is a miss-match between salaries and house prices in the country generally. What is an affordable house in the Upper Dale for a young family earning £25,000 to £30,000 a year? It is unlikely to be our house, which would be more likely sell to a retired person, who has had the benefit of previous house price inflation.

Frank Parker, Muker

Police parking

SEVEN weeks ago you reported that Cllr David Blades had told North Yorkshire County Council’s Hambleton area committee that cars parked by police headquarters staff I Northallerton “are not illegally parked” and Inspector David Murray had said the police “would act only within the law in addressing unlawful parking” (D&S Times, Dec 8)

The following week I pointed out that the very photograph accompanying your report showed several cars illegally parked on the footpath in Prospect View and that after dark these cars would be parked the wrong way at night without lights. I said I had often seen them parked illegally both in daylight and in the dark.

What has been done about it? It seems absolutely nothing. I have continued to see cars parked illegally in Prospect View and elsewhere.

Many of your readers have contacted me. They all agreed cars should not obstruct pram-pushers and the elderly blind I quoted. It has also been pointed out that disabled persons in wheel chairs are affected: I was told of one lady whose wheelchair had to be lifted onto the road and back again to avoid a parked car. I have also been reminded that cars require lights if parked within ten metres of a junction.

Something should be done. The law forbids parking on footpaths and parking without lights when facing the wrong way or too close to a junction. The law does not exempt police staff nor does it authorize the police and crime commissioner or senior police officers to ignore repeated illegal parking.

These cars parked illegally by police staff, and perhaps more important actual police vehicles parked illegally, set a bad example. Parking on footpaths is rife in Northallerton.

Does nobody at the new police headquarters read the D&S Times? I would hope somebody does. Those to blame must be aware of these continuing problems but it would seem they do not care. Those responsible for the move to a building with inadequate parking, and thus for these parking problems to the detriment of local residents, not least the vulnerable entitled to use the footpaths unimpeded, should accept responsibility for their crass decision and take action. Culprits should be warned and then prosecuted.

It is clear that what Councillor Blades and Inspector Murray told the committee was misleading. They should give corrected information to the committee. To that end I have sent them copies of this letter.

David Severs (Retired Chief Superintendent), Northallerton

Bitter coffee

I READ the article in last week’s D&S Times (Jan 19) and as a resident of Leyburn feel extremely strongly about a possible Costa coffee shop in Leyburn. I fully agree with Ruth Morris’s comments.

We in Leyburn already have five cafes selling a good variety of coffees, teas, and excellent food We do not need a Costa in our town, plus we also have a variety of public houses that cater for all tastes from ales to good food plus a selection of restaurants.

Should Costa be allowed to make an appearance in our lovely market town it would only cause some of the existing places to close. I would not use Costa coffee in Leyburn. Don’t they have enough outlets in motorway service stations etc. without ruining a good market town? They would surely undercut the costs in our present cafes until some close and then hike their prices to suit themselves.

D Angus, Leyburn

Road safety

YOUR headline story ‘Concerns over new roundabout’ (D&S Times, Jan 12) is one highlighting an ongoing intransigent attitude of Stockton Borough Council towards public road safety. This roundabout situated at the top of a steep incline on Leven Bank A1044 in Yarm is as ludicrous as it sounds.

Approved as part of a planning application for a retirement village at Mount Leven it was later separated as a non-material amendment which resulted in a different construction to the approved drawings. Not only was the roundabout moved, a planned for cycleway was also removed which is now placing cyclists at risk of side swipes. All because it would not fit into the land constraints available to them.

Before approval hundreds of concerned residents objected to the whole planning application but in particular the access on grounds of safety due to its precarious location.

Unfortunately, we the public are at the mercy of unqualified planning committee members in matters of road construction who grant approvals on developments without due consideration as to whether a safe access can be delivered or not and without need for third party land. It is an inadequate planning system requiring a complete overhaul.

Having approved and committed themselves to delivering the access the council have compromised the design and safety in order to avoid claims of unlocking a development from a third party landowner.

The outcome being, as cyclists will testify, is that there is no provision for their safe transit nor for any pedestrians. It therefore beggars belief that SBC claim that they have had two road safety audits, one independent and one by themselves which is tantamount to marking your own homework rubber stamping this fiasco. The gentleman whose land was encroached upon in the original drawing prior to alteration also instructed an independent safety audit which, contrary to SBC's, does appear to raise concerns over safety.

So who is right? As it is apparent a joint independent safety audit with SBC was proposed but declined it only raises further suspicions within the public domain that SBC's preference is to risk people’s lives rather than risk their own reputation. Therefore should the unthinkable ever happen the council should not be surprised to have a corporate manslaughter case served on them.

Christine Mundy, Ingleby Barwick

Pitches plan

EGGLESCLIFFE Area Residents’ Association feel there needs to be clarification regarding the view of councillor’s and the community about Yarm School’s planning application. Yarm School, in a leaflet circulated in December 2017 and, more recently the D&S Times (Jan 19), indicate they have taken into account the views of councillors and residents about their current planning application. To this end, they have reduced the number of playing pitches they are seeking to develop on the north bank of the River Tees from 11 to eight, and still intend building a wooden bridge across the River Tees.

This is, in our view, misleading. Local residents, Yarm Town Council and Egglescliffe and Eaglescliffe Parish Council, have objected to all four planning applications put forward by the school for the above development since 2012.

Additionally, Stockton Borough Council Planning Committee, which is made up of locally-elected councillors, has almost unanimously rejected two of the planning applications that went before them, giving a number of valid and reasonable material considerations for their decision. This, to us, is a clear indication that neither the residents nor the councillors (town, parish or borough) want this development in any way, shape or form.

Stockton Borough Council has within the Tees Valley the Tees Heritage Park, which is one of the most tranquil and beautiful country settings in the North-East. Residents and councillors have a responsibility to protect the Tees Heritage Park from all unnecessary development, housing as well as playing pitches, and we believe the Tees Heritage Park should have a status similar to that of a national park.

We have spoken to many residents and councillors about this, and previous Yarm School development proposals, and can confirm there is no appetite whatsoever for the wooden bridge or the eight playing pitches. Yarm School already have first class sporting facilities, on and off-site, that are available for students to use, so there is no need for the school to intrude into the Tees Heritage Park.

There is a desire to protect the Tees Heritage Park in its current form. This is reflected in the comments made by those who have already objected to this and previous Yarm School planning applications, and we urge other locally affected residents to follow suit.

Shane Sellers, Egglescliffe Area Residents, Association

Free port

I AM delighted our area is united round the concept of a free port for Teesside, and I congratulate Ben Houchen and Simon Clarke for championing the plan.

Without doubt, a free port would uplift, energize and regenerate our sub region. Both the UK and Teesside were built on trade and, given the right circumstances, those days can return.

It should be remembered, however, that a free port can only be achieved as the result of a clean and decisive Brexit.

Those who wish to cling to the Single Market and Customs Union, or even reverse Brexit, are enemies of a free port, because EU dogma, bureaucracy, protectionism and red tape would make such an enterprise impossible.

Brexit is about both political and economic freedoms: freedom to rule ourselves, uninhibited by foreign interference, and freedom to trade to our own advantage.

Without Brexit, Teesside’s long decline will continue. With Brexit and its corollary, a free port, we can lead the whole of the UK into a new and prosperous trading era.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

Limbo Land

THE Prime Minister is satisfying nobody by falling between two stools and will end up being hated by all.

The vociferous Remoaners are unhappy that she is taking the country out of the EU, even if only technically, while more seriously the majority who voted leave are incensed that she is not delivering the Brexit they voted for.

It seems she has now agreed to take more of the migrants that the French foolishly let into their country. Unaccompanied young people and some adults who would make up a family group with previously unaccompanied minors. You couldn`t make it up. And for those confused about the difference between refugees and economic migrants - the former flee to the nearest safe country whilst the latter head for the honey.

The PM is trying to get round M Macron, who is not impressed but has very kindly offered to lend us a mouldy old curtain in five or so years’ time, maybe. This on top of the £30 billion (and counting) Mrs May wants to pay the EU for the two-year extension to our membership we didn`t vote for. A great part of this money could be put into the NHS instead.

Theresa May will make sure the Conservatives do not win the next General Election but who will benefit? Surely there are still enough sane adults left in the country to prevent another Labour Government and the Lib-Dems are even more hated than the other two.

Welcome to Limbo Land. Or is there a person of vision and charisma ready to step up with a brand new Party of the People?

Denis McAllister, Leyburn

What benefit?

WHY are we importing gas when we can produce it here? This question is often asked by those, usually the exploiters, who argue in favour of fracking.

Why indeed? Because the immense expenditure involved in exploiting shale can be better spent by boosting the development of already advanced alternatives.

Domestic fracked gas will add massively to the total of fossil fuels burned, render it impossible to hold global warming to two degrees, retard and discourage the development of alternatives, provide negligible economic benefits, promote a boom-bust scenario, pose unacceptable risks to the health of human, animal and vegetable life, provide the plastics industry with the wherewithal further to pollute our oceans, hasten the deoxygenation of these same oceans, succour the exploiting rich rather than the poor, and provide the wrong example for less ethically minded states.

Our government has said energy security does not require shale. Our climate targets are incompatible with shale development.

Who really stands to benefit from shale?

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave

Icy view

WHEN shopping in Bedale this morning, the pavement and cobbled area on the west side of town were very snowy and icy.

Although some shops had cleared the area outside their premises, I was told that the council will not do anything about this in case they are sued if someone falls.

What sort of pathetic and cockeyed thinking is that?

Sally Craig, Great Fencote