I AM dismayed that central government wants to blackmail and bully all North Yorkshire authorities and the City of York into merging into huge new unitary authorities.

We are told we won’t get more money until we get a mayor and we won’t get a mayor unless we agree to mergers. This is not something which local people have been calling for: it’s something which top-down central government wishes to impose on us.

We’ve had several reorganisations since the big one in 1974. Not one of them resulted in any reduction in rates or council tax. Instead, the bigger the authority, the greater the cost. Where merger created opportunities for privatisation, any savings from economies of scale were swallowed up in directors’ emoluments and dividends, and resulted in take overs of local services by multinational companies from abroad.

Big authorities result in fewer councillors, which means less democracy and greater politicisation. You have single party control exercised through “executive” committees, which marginalise ordinary members. Independent councillors, who are only interested in serving their community and have no other loyalty, have very little influence. This is not what local government is about

At times frustration with my own authority has led me to believe that merger might improve the administration.

That was before the fracking debacle. What happened then was that a small committee of county councillors – not a single one of them from the district – granted planning permission for a fracking gas well just a few miles down the road from me.

Fortunately, North Yorkshire is not responsible for ordinary planning decisions, but if the smaller authorities merge, this kind of situation is likely to be replicated in every respect.

The minister should be told that the price for a mayor he is asking for is too high, and North Yorkshire can do without one.

Cllr Paul Andrews, Independent ward member for Malton, Ryedale District Council

York isn’t Ryedale

I HAVE been a life-long reader of the Gazette & Herald and have been disappointed with some of its contents recently, particularly in the realm of photos of sports teams.

I read my gazette with its strapline of: “Ryedale from Cover to Cover” and wonder why are the majority of photos shown from the York area. Doesn’t the Gazette realise that York isn’t Ryedale?

I appreciate that with the present lockdown we are limited with local news. Can I suggest that we have photos from our local village sports teams.

Can I also suggest that as there are no agricultural shows this year, that the Gazette & Herald shows some of the past photos of Ryedale, Rosedale, Bilsdale and Farndale shows.

I, as a farmer, enjoyed in the past James Stephenson’s articles. How about bringing him back to the scene?

Paul Dunn, Helmsley

EDITOR’S NOTE: The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to make changes to the content of the Gazette & Herald. The cessation of all sport in March meant we did not have access to live events and, unfortunately, our sports archives are not as comprehensive as we would wish. We will look into running some nostalgia specials on past agricultural shows, however.

Consider others

I WAS appalled to read the experiences of Mr Maw concerning his experience at a local clinic when a member of the staff was abused on a number of occasions. Such behaviour is intolerable. I hope those responsible are regretful, but I very much doubt it.

Last Monday, at Pickering Market, I witnessed just the opposite. An elderly man lost his footing on the kerb/gutter and fell heavily.

While getting to his feet a lady immediately went to his assistance, sat him on a stool, supplied by a stallholder, and rendered first aid to a profusely bleeding nose.

She remained with the man and insisted on escorting him to the nearby car park. After ensuring his safety, she left him in the care of his wife.

The lady was in fact a nurse at Scarborough Hospital and was enjoying her holiday.

I wonder, had the victim been one of the people who had abused the nurse at the clinic, what their reaction would have been?

The bottom line is consider other people you never know when you will need help.

Arthur Strickson, Wrelton