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Questions and Answers

Q. What will you do to encourage and enable Active Travel (walking, wheeling and cycling) in our area? Active Travel has benefits for the environment and road safety.   Philip Martin, Thirsk Area Cycle Campaign


A. Helen Tomlinson (Labour) 

"My vision for Sowerby & Topcliffe would be to have a transport plan that puts people, not cars, at the heart of it.

Living in a rural area we have an inbuilt car dependency but it doesn't need to be so. More walking and cycling would be healthier for us  and for the planet and enabling this in our community would lead to a reduced need for cars, less congestion and so less accidents. The health impact is for everyone because of the improved air quality as well as the benefits of exercise. This was, in fact, one of the benefits to nature and humans during lockdown! 

How to bring this about is a more difficult question as I believe there would have to be a radical change in our road style and planning. Improving and maintaining the cycle way to the railway station and all schools, however, would be a start.  

Even before standing as Candidate for Councillor of Sowerby and Topcliffe I have listened to people talking about the cycle and walkways in the whole of the Thirsk area.  There are some parts where the footpaths are inadequate, or,  on Gravel Hole Lane for example, non-existent. The new park has a great cycle track and meandering walkways, but it is difficult to get there without  walking on a grass verge ..." Read more here

A. John Hall (Yorkshire Party)

"The City of York has an Active Travel Programme, and that would be a good place for me to see how they handled this issue. Thirsk is a small rural town, not a busy city, a different challenge. I am sure the people behind the York will offer sound advice. My first port of call would be to discuss it with you and your supporters to hear your ideas and recommendations."

A. John Law (Green Party)

"I would lobby hard for far more priority to be given to pedestrians, wheelers and cyclists throughout our area, and indeed throughout North Yorkshire. North Yorkshire can be a leader and pioneer in provision for modern transport systems for walkers, wheelers and cyclists, not a slow and often reluctant uptaker of new approaches. I would look to countries like Holland and Denmark for inspiration and adopt the kind of modern infrastructure planning seen there, both in the urban parts of our county and in rural areas, too. The Sustrans network is good in many ways but we need to go much further to make a real difference to giving walkers, wheelers and cyclists genuine priority in our towns, villages and rural areas.

See the following links for INSPIRATION!,%2C%20and%20secure%2C%20new%20cyclists.




Q. What are your thoughts on the new planning application by Calvert's to build several industrial/warehousing units on the next two fields up from the petrol station/lorry park given that the area is designated in the current local plan as a 'local green space' and and 'green infrastructure corridor' close to Cod Beck? Stop press: see report on this planning application in Hambleton Today.

A. Dave Elders (Conservative)

"This is a significant local issue. You will note that in my contribution to your election special I say that there is a difficult balancing act between protecting the area and promoting business opportunities to provide employment opportunities and services for our residents. If I am elected your membership can be assured that I will weigh up all the facts, both for and against the application, and I would need to be convinced that landscaping and drainage proposals are more than adequate and in keeping with the area."

A. John Law (Green Party)

"One word: NO! This is the wrong development definitely in the wrong location.

1. Use existing brown field sites for the type of land use. 2. Thin end of an ugly wedge. 3. Increased risk of pollution of the Cod Beck from run off from all the hard surfaces. 4. No realistic ecological mitigation (0/10 for effort on this). 5. No demand for the development evidenced. 6. Ruins a highly valued area of green space close to Thirsk and Sowerby. A significant issue for Sowerby residents during current by-election canvassing. 7. Land is likely to be designated for protection via NYCs Local Nature Recovery Strategy which is being put together right now Need I go on? It’s a big fat NO from me for so many reasons."


Added 24 Nov: "I am pleased to report that I have had a constructive conversation with Mr Calvert about this proposal and he has agreed to meet with me in the weeks after the by-election next Thursday. I believe there is an opportunity to fully protect this site through the new Local Nature Recovery Strategy process currently underway at North Yorkshire Council. But we should work with developers like Mr Calvert to help direct such important local business led developments to the right locations within Thirsk and Sowerby."

A. Helen Tomlinson (Labour)

"This area is on the Local Plan as a Green Corridor and I believe that this must be honoured as such.  There has been  overwhelming public opposition to building on this area and as a long standing member of The Friends of Cod Beck and the Flatts group I have taken  an active part in that, attending all the Town Hall meetings and discussions. At the most recent Developer's drop in consultation on 31st August 2023 I was there to view the plan, ask questions, listen to views  and oppose building. At the time the proposed 'dog walking park' with car park was a ridiculous idea when locals use this area already to walk their dogs and for their own leisure and mindfulness, as well as wanting to preserve the wildlife there; there was no need to encourage more car dependency. Although this has been altered on the plan  there is no getting away from the fact that the application is asking to build on the  Green Corridor. The Local Plan designating this area as a Green Corridor was democratically agreed, and  I am disappointed that this has not been recognised by Mr. Calvert. The Lorry Park application was not dealt with in  a proper manner, the Lorry Park drain still not having actually being approved, and it continues to pollute. I hope that this new application will be dealt with correctly. I am not against bringing business and jobs to our area but there are already designated commercial sites for this on the Gateway Development."

A. Dan Sladden (Lib Dem)

"I'm opposed to any additional development between York Road and Cod Beck. The Flatts and the beck are too important to us as a community to risk any further environmental damage. Ultimately I want to see the existing conservation area extended to York Road but in the meantime, if elected, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure our green spaces are protected and preserved."

A. John Hall (Yorkshire Party)

"A plan to place warehouse units on a greenfield site in North Yorkshire has been opposed by local residents with good reason.

This is not acceptable and the residents' nearby concerns are valid. I understand  a decision on the planning application is yet to be made by North Yorkshire Council. I strongly appose this development."

A. Stew Exotic (Official Monster Raving Loony Party)

"The Calvert's issue is I do not believe that it would be of any benefit to the local people and whilst I have not had chance to see it in person yet, i would be against it for the reason above it needs to benefit locals."


Q. What would candidates do, if elected, to help the farming community in our area now that the basic payments and other farm subsidies have been effectively stopped? (Annette R, Sowerby)

A. John Law (Green Party) 

"I worked at DEFRA on the very early stages  of the design or the new Environmental Land Management Schemes. I currently work at the Forestry Commission as the Nature Based Solutions Adviser and help farmers and land managers access substantial funding grants for tree planting and woodland creation. If elected, I will work to create a Farmers Forum in our area, ideally located in the heart of the farming community within the Sowerby and Topcliffe Division. The idea of this Forum will be to bring farmers and land managers together with farming advisers and experts from DEFRA, Natural England, The Forestry Commission and The Environment Agency to help farmers and land managers navigate the new Environmental Land Management Schemes: The Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship +, and the Landscape Recovery Scheme. The Forum will be focused on helping farmers and land managers fully engage with and utilise these schemes to maximise the funding support that is available to them. The Forum will also explore a wide range of other grant schemes open to the farming community in North Yorkshire such as the Woodland Planning Grant and the England Woodland Creation Offer to name just two. I will aim to link up with leading farm advisers in the area to offer initial pro-bono advice on all funding options available to our hard working farmers across the division."

A. Dave Elders (Conservative)

"This is a major debate all on its own. What do we want from our farmers? Are we prepared to pay for it? Do we object to large farming operations (some class as factory farming) aiming to produce economies of scale but having an impact on the environment? If solar farms generate more income should they be supported and food imported. Which is best for the environment?

Should subsidies be directed solely at environmental activities? Should they be prioritised before food production? Can they be balanced? I am aware that some years ago New Zealand abolished subsidies and there was initial pain, but now things are balanced, is that what we want here? Is it workable?

Having said all that I’m not a farmer, but recognising that a significant number of the residents are it is important to get a true picture of the situation, which is what I will do if elected."

A. Helen Tomlinson (Labour)

"In the first instance I would direct anyone needing it to this North Yorkshire Council run fund.

I would also advocate for individual business owners on issues specific to them and work with NFU to champion farmers' concerns. 

This, I admit, is not a specialist area for me but I have been to local farmers markets asking questions and listening to opinions. I have more work to do here to connect with the farming community in our area. I would, of course, have my NY Labour Team to advise and help direct any concerns. I would certainly lobby for the Council to extend its Buy Local initiative to  help farmers." 

A. Stew Exotic (Official Monster Raving Loony Party)

"I would try look at funds that may be kicking about and usable but i would assume that there are no ways to do this so i would look at ways to boost farm sales. I would urge the Government and Councils to proactively promote "Buy British" Retailers also have a massive part to play in this. Abolish all packing that implies food is British when it isn't. It should be punishable by hefty fines if retailers claim a product is British when it is only packaged here. Food packaging should state which farm the food came from. Support local independent shops such as butchers. Make sure MPs are aware of the publics concerns regarding the welfare of livestock."

A. Dan Sladden (Lib Dems)

"I know many people are worried about the future of farming in North Yorkshire.

The Liberal Democrats have recently published a Policy Paper on Food and Farming which is accessible here. Our national strategy is to deliver a fair Farm Payments System that:

  • Delivers for our natural environment, by rapidly implementing Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) by 2027

  • Delivers a fair deal for farmers, by increasing the ELMs budget by £1bn immediately

  • Removes the 5 hectare eligibility criteria for access to ELMs payments on day one, so that all farm sizes are eligible for payments

  • Expands the range of other public benefits, including improving access and flood prevention

I want to see a fair deal for our hardworking farmers and for our environment with an effective and just approach to farm payments. On the way, I want to help our farming community to protect and enhance their income streams by seeking to diversify, by looking at natural farming and lobbying NYC to embrace more sustainable practices, by facilitating access to localised marketplaces, by signposting training and education and by advocating for the community’s best interests at the local and national level."

A. John Hall (Yorkshire Party)

"The Yorkshire Party will champion a Yorkshire brand for all farming produce and promote the distribution of agricultural subsidies to encourage a positive linkage between Yorkshire and the very best in healthy food. We will promote Yorkshire-grown food and encourage diversification on farms to encourage sustainable tourism and local employment. Let us celebrate the high standards of Yorkshire farmers and have a Yorkshire brand to give our farmers the recognition they deserve. We also support farm-to-plate, local products in local shops to be managed in a sustainable way."

Pollarded willow, Thirsk

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