Sir, - Reading the D&S last week I was amazed. What do other residents think about councillors that decide they know best when it comes to the question of regional government?

Hambleton District Council has decided that support for a referendum is weak in this area - and how have they decided this? They have conducted a survey - discovered that the majority are in favour - then decided to discount the results because people don't really understand what they were voting for!

At the council meeting last week, it was again up to Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors to speak up for democracy.

This decision is another example of arrogance from a council that is so out of touch with the real concerns of the community and so obsessed with low council tax, that it refuses to spend its reserves on relieving flooding and has to resort to charging for rat-catchers. Have they forgotten that the council tax is our money and should be spent on our priorities?

Peter Simpson, the council's chief executive, is quoted (D&S, Feb 28) as saying: "If you ask people if they want a referendum on anything they will say yes, because they like the idea of that kind of involvement." Can someone tell me what is wrong with giving people an opportunity to influence what happens in their lives?

Conservative councillors argue that residents don't have enough information to understand the issues involved, yet it is they who seem determined to confuse us. Support a referendum - give people a choice.


On behalf of Hambleton Labour Party, Local Government Committee


Sir, - It disappointed me to read your report of Hambleton District Council's cabinet meeting on February 25 (D&S, Feb 28).

Hambleton's cabinet rejected the results of a survey about the referendum on regional government, despite a majority of the public being in favour of the referendum. The decision left a nasty taste in my mouth.

Hambleton's rejection was, it seems, based on the grounds of low turnout and public ignorance and if you ask the people if they want a referendum on anything they will say "Yes", because they like that kind of involvement. What an indictment of elected members' arrogant attitude towards public participation and opinion.

Based on figures and statistics I wonder if members would respond in the same manner to your own election results. Perhaps I could remind them.

Votes % of votes Turnout

Len Groves 1,182 24.3 47.16

Susan Latter 494 81.0 42.26

June Imeson 1,063 21.8 47.16

Arthur Barker Elected uncontested

I would suggest that, based on the above statistics and the councillors' own criteria, they should in all conscience surrender their seats.

I am sure that it would have been a far greater gesture of true democracy had they followed their colleagues' suggestion that a referendum is held and that the electorate is supplied with with details and facts, thus enabling them to make an informed decision on such an important matter. Or, would that pose an even greater threat to these councillors' hold on power - shame on you!

Their colleagues obviously have greater confidence and trust in the will of the people. It is precisely this attitude which creates the apathy and low turnout at elections.


North End,


Is this democracy?

Sir, - With the consultation exercise regarding regional government now completed, it looks almost certain that the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, will forge ahead with a referendum on a North-East regional assembly.

John Prescott's blatant disregard for the democratic process has been an affront to our democracy, making clear more than a week before the soundings exercise was complete that it was his intention to hold a referendum regardless of the results.

John Prescott and home rule supporters fail to realise that people are not interested in this issue. The regional assembly debate is failing to engage with people in the region People across the North East are aware that the costly, cumbersome and incoherent plans put forward by the Labour Government will not benefit the region, The assembly will not meet the needs of North-East people in providing new schools, hospitals and transportation, A regional assembly will lead to increased levels of interference and meddling in people's lives.

I maintain it would be more beneficial to the North-East to retain our existing structures of local government, increase their powers and responsibilities, rather than imposing another tier of government. The people of the North-East do not want more politicians and more government, they want improved services and improved representation. To achieve that we do not need a regional assembly.


North-East Conservative MEP,


Rewriting history

Sir, - Harry Mead is right to call for our beloved Yorkshire to be put back on the map (D&S, Feb 21). The bureaucrats cannot kill off our great country with its Viking history. Indeed the old kingdom ruled from York pre-dates Scotland in foundation.

Even in 1974, the decision to have new local government boundaries did not abolish the traditional, ceremonial and cultural identity of Yorkshire. No one remembers James Cook as a Tees Valley person or William Wibberforce as a Humbersider.

They were both great Yorkshiremen, one from the North Riding, the other from the East.

Yorkshire is made up of three Ridings and the City of York. On Yorkshire Day (Aug 1) we can celebrate our true heritage of over 1,000 years. I deplore the attempts of today's bureaucrats and politicians, like John Prescott and June Imeson, who are trying to re-write history for political purposes. Yorkshire forever! God save the Queen.


Yorkshire Ridings Society,



Artful Minister

Sir, - The hunting community were sceptical of Alun Michael's assertion that he would judge hunting with dogs on the grounds of "principle informed by evidence", but were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, trusting a Minister of the Crown to be above deceit.

However he has proved to be very disingenuous (ie. artful, hypocritical, insincere) in his dealings during the Parliamentary committee hearing which will provoke the anger of those who practise all country sports.

It is clear to those who have read the transcripts of the committee hearings that Mr Michael had every intention of banning all form of hunting with dogs from the start. It goes to show that power can be bought (£1m donation to the Labour Party from animal rights organisations) and that power corrupts, even in this so-called first world country.


Regional Chairman, Countryside