Poor roads

I HAVE just read the report of the Stokesley Council meeting (D&S Times, March 30) and can find no mention of the state of the roads in Stokesley. Surely I cannot be the only resident to see and feel the deterioration of the High Street and other roads in the area?

The “trench” running the length of the High Street is getting wider and the “trench” from the Nat West to the church is getting deeper and wider. As for North Road it should be dug up and resurfaced as the whole of it is a driver’s nightmare and the three speed bumps are disintegrating rapidly. In my opinion it should then be made a one-way road with access from Stanley Grove. The buses use it one way so no problem there.

Station Road is another bone-shaker and needs resurfacing and while I am in full flow, Springfield is also in great need of repair - proper repair not just a few holes filled in with tar and smoothed over.

With the building of over 300 houses within the Stokesley area, traffic problems and the state of the roads are going to get worse.

Local and national councils have a duty to their ratepayers to maintain roads so I look forward to seeing our Stokesley roads at last being repaired. I saw in a national paper last week that councils were repairing potholes at the rate of one every 21 seconds. Not in this area, are they?

Derek Whiting, Stokesley

Raise taxes

YOU report that Carl Les, the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, “is calling for fresh thinking about how care services for the elderly and vulnerable should be funded” (D&S Times, March 30). Here’s an idea: raise taxes to give central and local government sufficient income to provide decent services – not just for the elderly and vulnerable, but education, health care, housing, and everything else that a rich country should be able to provide for its citizens.

Carl Les’s party has been in control of North Yorkshire forever, fighting every election on a promise to keep council tax low. His party has also been in power at Westminster since 2010, and has used the bankers’ crash of 2008 as an excuse for “austerity” – a doctrinaire attack on public services and wages, accompanied by tax cuts for the rich.

How can he be surprised that there is now a crisis in social care funding? When his party’s policy is to starve public services of funds, what did he expect to happen?

It’s probably too late to suggest to Carl Les that he leave the Conservative party – no doubt he is blinded by crocodile tears. But your wider readership might think about this statement of the obvious – if you insist on voting Conservative, in spite of all the evidence about the result of their policies, then don’t have the nerve to complain about collapsing services.

Dave Dalton, Richmond

Pothole problem

STUART Minting's article on potholes (D&S Times, March 30) misses one vital point: what is the point in filling potholes (up to 8,000 per year) if it is not done properly?

Firstly the existing hole should be dug out to provide a flat-based area with vertical or slightly undercut sides. If it is deep then an aggregate layer should be put in, then, when the top layer has been filled, levelled and rolled, the edges should be sealed with bitumen.

Anyone travelling to France or Germany will see that this is how their holes are finished, which prevents water, and subsequent frost such as we have recently experienced, getting into the patch and lifting it straight out again.

The end result is an annual accumulation of damage instead of a slow reduction.

I have mentioned this several times to our local council representative, but nothing gets done. Once I was given the excuse that the bitumen edges would provide a slip hazard, so that was why it was not done!

Of course all this advice is wasted if the surrounding road is in such a poor state that the foundations are uneven and damaged. One example is the road in to Cockerton, from the north, through the shopping area, where the whole road really needs completely re-laying.

Some of our local roads around Heighington are in a worse state than those in Hungary, where we travelled a few years ago.

Talking of Heighington they recently spent a week replacing the whole surface in Hopelands, and Snackgate, which was of course welcome, but the main road into the village is left in an appalling state. Surely this access should have priority?

NJS Ellis, Heighington


TWO items in the D&S Times last week illustrate exactly the observation in my letter in that issue, that North Yorkshire is a “one party state”. The first is the high-handed treatment of local resident, a poet and comedian of national significance and repute; the second is the recognition by Cllr John Blackie that the Conservative Party was practicing “political gerrymandering”, seeking to fix constituency boundaries to cement their power permanently.

Kate Fox is a famous literary figure, a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 programmes, a presenter at the Edinburgh Festival, compere, promoter in schools and in the community of the vital role of literature in education and in our national and local culture. Sowerby residents value her presence, her genuine goodwill, her generosity with her time to good causes, her good humour and civic pride. In withdrawing her contract to host the HDC Community Awards at the last minute the council leader, Mark Robson, and chief executive Justin Ives have abused political power, insulted someone who deserved respect, and set a precedent for excluding any non-Conservative supporting residents, from access to civic roles and benefit. Is it right that people can be hired or sacked, given contracts or not, on the basis of their political views and affiliations?

Kate Fox's crime was to have responded to the D&S Times request for a comment, giving a very short quote critical of HDC's then-policy of imposing full business rates upon the new volunteer-led local libraries. However, it should be noted that Kate Fox once stood against Mark Robson for the Labour Party.

In one-party states this type of score-settling is normal, using public means to settle private grievances. Local government is meant to be a democratic, but it looks more like a local mafia, who are so powerful, they can determine people’s livelihoods.

As in all one-party states, the only real opposition takes place within the courts of power, here within the local Conservative Party. John Blackie, Richmondshire Independent, and the North Yorkshire County Council leader, Carl Les, do a good democratic critical job, but both councils are run on a cabinet basis. Decisions are made outside of the chambers before meetings by the inner clique, and the rest whipped to defer, or risk life in the wilderness.

If you don't go along with this controlling group, you risk political oblivion. Consultations allowed but representations are ignored

Dr John Gibbins, Sowerby, Thirsk

Travel woes

ON an autumnal trip to North Yorkshire we travelled by rail from our home in London, having decided to make our base in Ripon.

This was to be our “Tour de Yorkshire”. The supposedly connecting bus service from York to Ripon was horrendous. Our accommodation in Ripon, however, was thankfully a lovely, cosy and welcoming excellent B&B.

We had planned to take the advertised ride on the Wensleydale railway from Northallerton to Redmire….. Big mistake! After another tedious bus journey from Ripon to Northallerton we found that the remote platform to link the Wensleydale railway at Northallerton was not used so we had to taxi to Leeming Bar to board the Wensleydale train.

As the service was advertised as a “heritage train journey through the Yorkshire Dales”, we anticipated a steam locomotive. We reluctantly boarded a dilapidated smelly old diesel rail carriage with the dirtiest mud-splashed windows imaginable for what we had anticipated to be a journey similar to the wonderful moors run to Whitby.

This trip to Leyburn (not Redmire) was quite simply very disappointing. Following the return journey we now had to get back from Leeming Bar to Ripon, another soul-destroying experience that took over five hours.

The following two days were spent in Wharfedale, Nidderdale and the Harrogate area in a hired car. The kindness of Yorkshire folk and the natural beauty of the area was a joy. Unfortunately, the public transport in most of North Yorkshire lets the tourist down badly as there is no co-ordinated service to many of the advertised attractions.

We had planned to use public transport to enjoy North Yorkshire, this was to be a break from driving the car, unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as we had hoped.

Perhaps “Tour de Yorkshire” could sort the transport problem, because there certainly is one.

Walter Mitford, West Norwood, London

Important rights

IN the final year of EU membership, it is important that the fundamental principles of our British way of governance are regained. Correspondents who promote Remain do not appreciate the over-riding reasons for our decision to leave the European Union.

Firstly, we operate a democratic parliamentary system whose ancient roots lie in the Saxon Moot of elected representatives. While we have had problems with our parliamentary democracy since its inception in 1265, for the past 400 years we elect and un-elect our rulers. All legislation must come through the sovereignty of parliament and any changes, additions or deletions can be made at any time. The EU works on rule by an unelected oligarchy - the EU Commissioners/Presidents - who dictate rules and regulations. The EU Parliament is merely a rubber-stamping chamber that does not adequately control the commissioners. We must have jurisdiction over all aspects of our lives changing our laws, rules and regulations as needed. We also live under the parliamentary principal that everything is permitted unless prohibited by statute, but this contrasts with the continental view where everything is prohibited unless permitted by statute.

Secondly, our laws are governed by our Supreme Court which cannot and must not be over-ruled by any other authority. Our English Common Law includes the fundamental principles of habeaus corpus, presumption of innocence, the right to silence, trial by jury etc. These important rights do not exist in the EU as it operates Roman law which also predominates in the European Court of Justice and is why we must leave its jurisdiction.

Thirdly is our practice and attitude to business and trade. We are an entrepreneurial nation with strong beliefs in mercantile practice and free-trade world-wide as practiced for at least 600 years. The EU is statist, restrictive and protectionist.

These fundamental principles of our way of life, have developed over a thousand years and are now in continual conflict with the EU. We voted to join a Common Market, retaining sovereignty, English common law and mercantile free-trade. During the next twelve months the above principles must be considered non-negotiable.

As Thomas Jefferson so rightly wrote two hundred years ago: “Any country that gives up sovereignty for economic gain will always lose both.” That has turned out to be the case and we are leaving the EU just in time.

MEJ Curzon, Thornton-le-Moor

Identity problem

APRIL 1 was the 50th anniversary of the County Borough of Teesside, which saw the amalgamation of six local boroughs.

Thankfully, East Cleveland, which has always wanted to preserve its Yorkshire roots, kept out.

But worse was soon to come when, after only six years, Teesside was abolished and East Cleveland was lassoed into the new Cleveland County. Not only did we have our identity diluted, but we were completely marginalised by the essentially urban new authority which survived until 1996.

More recently, under Redcar & Cleveland, East Cleveland has had much more say over its own affairs and any deficiencies in services can be put down to government austerity rather than council ineptitude or discrimination.

The creation of the new Tees Valley combined authority, however, worries me because there are certain elements, within the dominant Labour Party, who would like to see it supersede its constituent five boroughs.

If that were to happen, our separate East Cleveland identity would be further jeopardised and we would again be hung out to dry out on a political, financial and cultural clothes line.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

X-ray wait

I WAS sent to the X-ray department at Bishop Auckland Hospital on March 27 by a physiotherapist from Richardson Hospital in Barnard Castle.

I was put into a room to put on back-to-front nightie nut then the radiologist came in and said she could not do an X-ray as I had had one seven weeks previously.

I tried to explain that my knee had got a lot worse, but she still would not do the X-ray.

I just wonder if I had been a TV star, politician or sports star would it have made a difference instead of being a 70-year-old nonentity?

M Norton, Catterick Garrison