I WARMLY welcome the moves to encourage cycling in Ryedale, including the support from Malton Town Council and several parish councils in the villages to support a proposed cycle route between Hovingham and Malton, in addition to the Malton to Pickering route.

In the early days of lockdown the quiet roads encouraged many people, including my family, to get out into the countryside on bikes and enjoy the exercise in the beautiful countryside we share.

Now traffic levels have returned to nearer normal levels, and speeds, and with school returning is September it would be great if pupils could have a safe way to get themselves to school, and people of all ages enjoy it, whether for shopping, leisure, or getting to work.

It is a shame the old Hovingham-Malton railway track route is no longer completely intact and is now farmland or housing in places, but a route alongside but separate from the main road does have the advantage of feeling safer after dark for those who feel vulnerable cycling alone at night.

I do hope that all the landowners on the route (Fitzwilliam, Castle Howard and Hovingham estates) and highways will engage with Ryedale Cycle Forum and councils on this project at an early stage, and funds are committed by councils and other fund holders to get this path built as soon as possible.

Ian Conlan, Malton

Swerving the point

IN his response (August 9), Mr Hollinrake has swerved the main point of my previous letter, which was to recommend a locally-managed investment strategy for small businesses and jobs rather than one remotely controlled from London.

Our MP is quite right in saying he has been a “prolific speaker”. However, activity should not be confused with achievement, as saying things in London doesn’t mean doing things in Yorkshire.

A report published this month by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research shows that the UK is the most spatially unbalanced large economy in the developed world.

A decade of austerity halved funding to the regions, leaving them with levels of autonomy the report says fall below Romania and Ukraine.

It compares the centralisation of power in London with the regional balance of Germany, detailing a positive relationship between decentralisation and national economic success.

German control of Covid-19 was achieved by rapid and flexible response at local and regional levels rather than waiting for instructions from Berlin.

Testing in the 400 German districts began three weeks before Public Health England and by February, 10 times as many tests had been conducted.

Here, test-and-trace is only now improving as the government have learned from the failure of their “world-beating” centralised system and are shifting resources to local teams of contract tracers who knock on doors.

Mr Hollinrake seems happy with centralised control from London, as last year he opposed a move to devolve power to the Yorkshire region.

The purpose of my previous letter was to argue for greater local autonomy, an issue on which Mr Hollinrake has yet to come off the fence.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton

Please beware

“BREXIT brings decision making closer to home” was one of the blinkered arguments that secured the referendum result.

“To be more efficient, decision making should be removed from the district level and placed in the hands of a unitary authority” is the outcome now promoted in North Yorkshire, coupled with a removal of local planning prerogatives if the latest white paper on housing and planning is finally enacted.

Cognitive dissonance or a “dead cat” intended to distract us from government’s world-beating floundering through a pandemic, the effects of which it exacerbates almost daily? Or both? Whatever the answer, beware!

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave