Sir, - Have you noticed when travelling south of Darlington and the road crosses a river you are informed of the river name?

Drive down the A1, just this side of Catterick, and there's the sign... River Swale. Further on, near Ripon, and there's the sign...River Ure.

Travelling north beyond the town and it's the same story with all the rivers having names, Wear, Brownless, Coquet etc.

In fact, it seems to be that wherever you wander in this country, local authorities proudly erect signs naming every stream and river in the area.

However, there is an area where the names of waterways remain a mystery. An area where streams and rivers flow to their sea bound destination completely ignored and anonymous. The area? Darlington and district of course!

In case people are not aware, due to there being no signs, the two main rivers we have are the Tees and the Skerne.

The Tees, in my opinion, is the most spectacular and varied river in England; tumbling down Cauldron Snout, powering over High Force and widening and deepening and meandering towards the barrage and beyond into the North Sea.

Then there's the Skerne, God bless it. A "town river" that's been abused and mistreated for far too long...but it'll get there! (One day, salmon shall spawn beneath Stone Bridge and heron shall roost on Marks and Spencer's)

But these two rivers and the many becks and streams in our area are not "openly" named. They should be given identity. They are an integral part of our environment. On ancient courses they run and no doubt will do so long after mankind's demise.

Recognition is deserved. So, that on crossing the bridges at Winston, Croft and Blackwell there'll be the sign...the River Tees.

And on the A66 ring road, Haughton and Great Burdon there'll be the sign...the River Skerne.

And at the Willow Bridge there'll be the sign...Clow Beck. (Now where on Earth is that?)


Westbourne Grove,


Info overload

Sir, - After spending two hours studying the Spring 2001 Harrogate District News and answering the questionnaires, I was horrified to find that the North Yorkshire County Council "Best Value" publication invites me to do likewise.

I do believe that both authorities give taxpayers value for money and I have confidence in our elected councillors to see that such a state continues. But to quote the county council: "We have to publish a Best Value Performance Plan which sets out what our priorities are in delivering services, etc, etc". The result is such a mass of words and figures that one must ask "Is this good communication?", or even more pertinently, "is it necessary?".

The Harrogate publication is equally formidable, but much better constructed (sorry, county council!).

As we all know, central government consists not of achieving, but of creating more work for others, on whom criticism will automatically fall.

Thus an absurd question in the county council report is "What could police do to improve its response to the public?". Everybody knows that most failings in the police service stem from the government's total failure to honour its 1997 election promises and to fund the police accordingly.

By saturating police, teachers, farmers, doctors, local authorities, small businesses and others with ever more directives and regulations, it blinds us all to the causes of present shortcomings and the electorate is cynically manipulated as never before.

The county council report ends with three questionnaires on respectively fire, police and the structure and operational modes of the county council itself. The fire and police sections are straightforward and sensible but how many people, who are not involved in local politics, can answer the third section intelligently when the report gives no guidance on the merits or demerits of the possible choices?

It is pitiful that, when so many basic services have to be cut, considerable sums of money must (at government order) be spent in this way.


Wellington Mews,


Regional power

Sir, - Mr Callanan MEP need not unduly worry over the democratic outcome of the regional assemblies issue (D&S letters, Mar 30). The Labour Party prides itself on letting the people speak, including those Conservative voters "on the doorsteps" Mr Callanan has met with.

The merits of devolved power to the English regions would almost certainly be decided by the electorate in a referendum.

Olly Andrla

Press officer

Vale of York Labour Party (North Branch)