I AM wondering if there is any thought to helping our local traders in Malton for the rest of this summer.

My simple thought is to create designated zones in the Market Place where socially-distanced communal seating areas could be created, along the lines of the food festival.

Visitors and locals could then look to purchase takeaway food and drink from the many marvellous outlets available and enjoy the experience of safe eating and distance socialising - European style.

I am sure the traders would be more than happy for areas that are currently parking spaces to be taken up for areas that may well help them rescue this tragic year.

If there were some covered areas and maybe some outside patio style heaters, then the zones could well be utilised throughout the day and into the night.

With many families inevitably looking to stay local this summer, what an opportunity we have of making Malton that post-lockdown destination. Let’s make it happen.

Robin Kellock, Malton

Local shop thanks

I WELCOME the opening of the shops in Malton and Norton town centres - and indeed throughout Ryedale - and hope people will be able to use them without feeling uncomfortable about the inevitable social-distancing precautions.

Over the last few months we’ve heard much about the people who have heroically kept working for the public in the face of the Covid-19 virus.

NHS workers and professionals and others in public service deserve the highest praise and the deepest felt appreciation, but I’ve never quite understood why the only food retailers given an official or media accolade are supermarket workers.

During the lockdown, our local, independent food retail shops have stayed open and have, on their own initiative, provided delivery services to the public - in many cases, a better delivery service than the supermarkets. They too have kept open and accepted the risk of potential infection.

I’m sure I speak for the whole community in thanking them for all their work. I wish all our local independent shops a return to prosperity.

Cllr Paul Andrews, Malton Ward

Damaging move

I AM disappointed at many comments I have seen online regarding the Ofsted report of Lady Lumley’s School, as a result of which the school is being forced to become an academy. It seems that few have any understanding of what this will mean for their children and community.

Becoming an academy will take the school away from the control of the local council. It will become privately controlled, and unaccountable to local authorities. They can set their own school holiday dates, length of the school day, curriculum, and salaries. Though the Conservatives claim this autonomy improves standards, in reality, it enables extortionate salaries to be given to staff in executive management positions within the trust. In 2017, 117 directors of academy trusts were paid a salary of over £150,000. The current starting salary for a teacher is £24,373.

Also, multiple studies have shown that academies are not successful. In fact, according to the Education Policy Institute, multi-academy trusts are “over-represented amongst the lowest performing school groups”.

The Ofsted report does not reflect the school that I know. In fact, the inspectors did not witness any of the supposedly “abusive” behaviour during their visit.

The independent report by an education specialist is overwhelmingly positive - this is available on the school’s website. It seems many people are unquestioningly accepting the claims of the Ofsted report, without understanding the privatisation of schools is a project being actively pushed by the Conservative government.

The school was established by Lady Lumley to benefit the local community; it will now be taken under non-local, bureaucratic management. This will be damaging to both the students, their families and the wider community. So, parents who are gleeful at Ofsted’s (unjust) criticism of the current leadership may well have scored an own goal.

Rosalyn Cousins, Pickering