ON November 15, we held our quarterly Ryedale Area Committee meeting where various authorities, including police, fire and rescue and Highways England discuss local Ryedale issues.

It turned out to be a very sad day for democracy when the meeting had to be closed due to the anti-fracking lobby who had turned out to ask a question, but had knowingly not submitted it within the required five-day time frame.

This may at first seem rather pedantic, but the chairman refused their question citing that there were five public questions already tabled on top of a very long and extended agenda and that she had already turned down three other late questions, equally important to those who had submitted them.

The anti-fracking contingency, claiming that it was their democratic right to speak, interrupted the meeting to such an extent that it had to be postponed.

So let’s have a look at this ad-hoc form of democracy: whatever your views on fracking, I think that we can all agree that it is everyone’s right to speak in a given public speaking slot.

However, this needs to be managed as it’s only a small part of the overall agenda where many other important reports have to be scrutinised.

This is not an issue about fracking but about being equitable to everyone. The churlish behaviour of the anti-fracking lobby prevented the hearing of those who had followed the accepted protocol in submitting their questions.

Given that one of the questions accepted by the chairman was supporting the anti-fracking view, the protesters appeared to have scored a massive own goal and so you cannot help drawing the conclusion that the interruption was not so much about being denied a speaking slot, as preventing the true democratic process.

Janet Sanderson, Thornton-le-Dale

Time to wake up

WAKE up Ryedale. I, like the majority of Ryedale residents, have been asleep over the last few years.

Our eyes and ears have been blind and deaf to the excellent information and the pleas of the long standing local anti-fracking community.

I was vaguely aware of fracking and generally it seemed a poor idea on many levels. I knew of the rig at Kirby Misperton, but it had never before impinged on my life that I was aware of.

However, I recently woke up and looked more deeply into what has been and is happening, and is about to happen, and I would urge all Ryedale residents to do the same. It is truly appalling and frightening.

As a now retired health professional of this area, I still care deeply for the health and well being of the people and the beautiful land. There are many serious reasons why fracking should not happen, not the least of which is the very real threat of pollution of our water supply, our air and our land.

There is a huge amount of authoritative, well researched evidence about the serious detrimental effects of fracking on health and the environment.

The protesters are not a small band of extremists. They include local doctors, nurses, engineers, clergy, chemists, business people, teachers and many others from our community. I know there has been some disruption to life in villages near the site at Kirby Misperton with police road blocks and some protesters, but this is a small price to pay to prevent what is about to happen.

Wake up Ryedale people, before it is too late. When the aquifers are contaminated and the land is quaking and spoilt, it cannot be undone easily – if at all.

Dr Martha Duddington, Cropton

Thanks for help

LAST Wednesday, November 15, we were travelling down to Malton from Newcastle on a mercy mission to see my wife’s dad who was near to death at Rivermead Care Home in Norton.

It was a gorgeous autumnal day and so instead of our usual Sutton Bank route we chose to go round by Cotswold. Halfway between Coulton and Hovingham, with heavy oncoming traffic, we couldn’t avoid a large rock on our side of the road. We had an immediate blown tyre.

What to do? No mobile reception and jammed on a tight uphill bend in the middle of the woods.

Enter a cast of Samaritans. Mr Lawrence in his white van took my wife to Hovingham Coffee Shop, and in the next hour, while I waited for the RAC, eight separate people, no less, stopped to help me - including two minibuses and a motorbike.

Our thanks to the lady owner of the coffee shop for allowing my wife to use her phone, the young local worker from Zimbabwe who took a photo of the rock just in case I needed it for insurance purposes, but especially Abby the shepherdess, who not only took my wife all the way to Rivermead, but also came back to me with a flask of tea.

People of Ryedale – take a bow.

Steve and Jan Evans, Gosforth, Newcastle