OVER the past few years we have constantly been told by Ryedale District Council (RDC) that service levels will deteriorate in our community due to Central Government restraints.

What then is the justification in RDC spending £2.5 million of our money, taken from our, yes our - not their, New Home Bonus Reserve.

The Department for Communities and Local Government website states that: “Local authorities have flexibility on how to spend the unring-fenced grant, but they expect local councils to consult with communities about how the money will be spent.”

Did I blink and miss something? I don’t remember the community being consulted.

Oh, and just to rub salt into the wound, RDC will spend also £50,000 on Ryedale House “to make the building more suitable for staff”. Why spend £50,000 (again of our money) on a building that will be demolished in two years time? Private enterprise would simply “make do”.

I believe the community demands that their money be spent more wisely on our overstretched services.

Ray King, Norton

Clean up our act

THE amount of litter along our roadsides is absolutely appalling.

We have been picking it up, but don’t get very far before our bags are full. Some of it is very old, but I saw two fresh drinks cans thrown out onto an area I had just done.

I don’t know how we can stop selfish yobs from doing it. I wish I knew why they didn’t care.

But until a miracle happens could I ask that we have a campaign going to get more of the able bodied, caring public out there to help clear up, perhaps before the Tour de Yorkshire comes through our otherwise beautiful countryside?

We can’t expect the council to use their limited resources doing it, there is just so much. Is it down to all of us to do something if we can? I know we shouldn’t have to, but...

Anne Stewart, Helmsley

Time for revisions

NOW that the Scottish Assembly has taken, and revised, the income tax rates for Scotland and the Green Party are machinating to abolish the council tax and replace it with a Land Tax; it must be time for the UK Government to consider a serious revision to the Barnett Formula.

In view of the obvious increases which will accrue from the Scottish Tax revisions, present and future, savings from compensating the formula will allow greater allowances to be paid to Wales and Northern Ireland.

Always assuming, of course, that those countries do not modify their tax systems to give themselves a high degree of tax independence.

While the Remainers will argue that the EU “give” the UK “considerable” grants, this is true, but not the truth. For example, in 2014/15 the UK gave the EU £18.2 billion, the UK received £4.6 billion in public sector grants (with strings attached) and, eventually after the EU accountants did their sums and the Council of Europe approved, we received a rebate (“correction” in the EU) of £4.8 billion.

Thus the EU retained £8.8 billion for their “dispensations”. The forecast budget for 2016/17 was some four per cent greater than this.

D Loxley, Hartoft

Write to our MP

A NEW report by a Parliamentary Select Committee has found serious shortfalls in government support for rural communities.

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act of 2006 established a new agency, Natural England, to conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment.

The Commission for Rural Communities was also created to promote the interests of areas such as Ryedale. This commission was subsequently abolished, to be replaced by a unit within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – which was itself later abolished. We are all the poorer because of these cuts.

The Select Committee finds that most of the NERC Act’s provisions have been abandoned, leading to a neglect by Defra of its duty of care.

The committee recommends “balanced protection and promotion of the natural environment and a reversal of the biodiversity decline. This must be coupled with better recognition of the potential of rural communities and the rural economy, and a greater effort from the Government to ensure that policy changes do not work to the detriment of rural areas”.

As a neglected rural area, Ryedale is now easy prey for fracking companies such as Third Energy and Ineos, which make considerable donations to the Conservative Party.

I urge readers of this letter to write to our Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, to demand restoration of the NERC Act’s provisions and funding, and for a democratic say in the future of the countryside we will pass on to our children.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton