SUPERINTENDENT Alisdair Day, of North Yorkshire Police, was recently reported saying “our responsibility is to carry out our duties impartially. We have a duty to make sure that people who want to assemble and protest do so safely, balanced against a duty to ensure that businesses can go about their lawful commercial activity”.

Setting aside the fact he describes the commercial activity as lawful, but fails to mention that to protest is equally lawful, we may question whether the presence of some 50 police officers and the imposition of stringent constraints on the protesters’ activities are really impartial.

Article 11 of the Human Rights act enshrines the right to protest peacefully and the Government’s own guidelines recognise that legitimate protest may include inconvenience and nuisance to others.

The police do indeed have a duty to uphold that right and to defend protesters no less than others. Events at Kirby Misperton look quite different to this.

Reading reports and watching video footage of activities outside the KM8 site, there is a clear disconnect between protesters and police. This should not be.

Among the founding principles of our policing system is the requirement, “to maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”. Instead of this, we are witnessing an increasingly corrosive culture of “us versus them”.

If it appears that our police are being used to facilitate a controversial fracking agenda, while hampering or discrediting legitimate protest, then there will need to be urgent action to protect democracy and the traditions of policing by consent.

Barry Gillespie, Malton

Speak up council

WE now have two protest camps trying to stop Third Energy go about its lawful business at the KM8 wells site at Kirby Misperton. Note: Peaceful protesters do not get arrested.

Local villagers have suffered untold disruption, they are unable to live a normal life coping with road closures, noisy protesters, an essential police presence and the media frenzy.

The local business community is now being affected with pop-up protests targeting supply chain companies to Third Energy.

One of the benefits of the shale gas industry will be its interaction and contracts with local businesses which creates jobs and tax revenue. What do the protesters offer?

Why are our local councillors not doing anything to defend the rights of all their ward residents and local business community? Why does Ryedale District Council appear to ignore the obvious, the protesters took a field, built a shanty town, and are disrupting and destroying the environment all without permission?

The gas company has to abide by many different planning regulations, yet why are protesters treated differently?

Some councillors seem to support the protesters’ rights above their local residents’ rights. Cllr Di Keal frequents and supports the camps, Cllr Paul Andrews publicly stated recently that “he has done my best to ensure the camp remains where it is” (rather than it be removed). The added twist is that Cllr Tim Thornton’s son, Eddie, is the leader and one of the locals living at the camp.

When will the council and councillors support the people who do not support the protest camps?

Lorraine Allanson, Allerston

Views over profit

ON September 15, the sight of 24 police marching in to remove a few young people in order to let a security van in and out of the KM8 site made a memorable image. Do we want the police to be used in this way, supposedly in our name?

With the delivery trucks already rolling in, it’s more than time we asked ourselves some difficult questions. Do we actually want to have thousands of fracking wells across the North of England, with associated pipelines and other installations? Do we want constant noise, polluted air and the risk of contaminating our water supply? Do we want an unnecessary industry which will only add to global warming? There is no social licence for fracking.

In a democratic society, the views of the public should take precedence over corporate profit.

Christopher Pickles, Gilling East

Come and visit us

AFTER standing at the gates of a potential fracking site at Kirby Misperton, I realise we now live in a police state. Democracy is dead. What our soldiers fought and gave their lives for has gone.

To find a policeman in Helmsley is like discovering a pot of gold, but they are present at KM8 in huge numbers to facilitate a dirty industry that will destroy our countryside and way of life, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Their vehicles block the roads both to Kirby Misperton and Habton.

I never thought I would witness scenes like this in Ryedale. Local people should visit the site to see first hand what is happening. Perhaps our MP Kevin Hollinrake who has supported and pushed for this industry should visit the site and see how his constituents are being treated.

June Smith, Helmsley