Sir - Parishioners Against Chelker Turbines (PACT) were delighted that Craven district councillors rejected Yorkshire Water’s application to erect wind turbines at Chelker. We have 338 supporters in parishes surrounding Chelker, coming together to counteract misleading information put out by Yorkshire Water and which created so much local anger.
Even the British Wind Energy Association finally threw in the towel last month and admitted that the environmental benefit of wind power in reducing carbon emissions is actually only half as much as they have been claiming.
Yorkshire Water’s abject failure to undertake a professional Environmental Impact Statement only served to raise local hostility, with English Heritage and the national park authority pointing out numerous “flaws”. Sent back to do it all over again by Craven District Council, the second attempt was described by Capita Lovejoy (Craven District Council’s landscape consultants) as being “appreciably incomplete”.
Dr John Constable, of the Renewable Energy Foundation, described the proximity of the turbines to Chelker families as “exceptional and uniquely brutal”, which led us to wonder why Yorkshire Water failed to do a proper environmental report and why so much “spin”.
Yorkshire Water admitted that these wind turbines would never be built were it not for the “subsidy” swiped discreetly off the bottom of our electricity bills, estimated at £50 per household last year.
Finally, we tracked down the effective owner of Yorkshire Water through seven different holding companies to ask them how these “green” funds might be used to help the environment.
PACT was astonished to learn that the majority owner (47 per cent of the shares) is none other than Citibank, a once-mighty American corporate bank now laid low, with a desperate need for cash (green or otherwise), reliant on bail-out funds from the US Treasury and now, it would appear, looking to “Yorkshire” for extra help.
If the wind vandals of Wharfedale now wish to clean up their sullied reputation, they might start by recognising that local people don’t want their lives wrecked by industrialisation dressed up in green clothing.
PACT thanks all our supporters and particularly those parish chairmen who properly consulted their residents before lodging their official objections.
Peter Rigby, Chairman, PACT, Lenner House, Beamsley
Sir - I share the dismay expressed by correspondents at your reports of financial mismanagement by our council.
Mr Scott-Smith “cannot recall any elected member speaking out” about this, but I remember Coun David Crawford telling our spring 2006 parish meeting that the council could not afford its pensions liability and that it kept expanding the payroll with unnecessary jobs.
Such was the strength of his feeling that he talked for almost an hour! Nevertheless, we were grateful he took the time to report to, and consult us. We felt powerless to help him. You can’t be more open than speaking out at a semi-official public meeting unless you don a sandwich board and parade along the High Street (I expect he’s been tempted!). In these circumstances, it seems unlikely that other senior staff didn’t know about it all.
All this was some time before our drumlin green field was sold off to big business for office blocks in perpetuity (ie lost forever).
The council is now making cuts in public services. There is only one thing that the public finds worse than a dirty public toilet and that is a closed public toilet. When Brighton Council filled their beautiful Victorian toilets with concrete, they lost the respect of all their elderly residents. Craven, take note!
I personally have no objection to the dog poo bags going, as this might just stop those people that fire loaded bags into the verges of our lane (to be preserved for future millennia), to stop doing so.
The council may say further investigation of past finances is a waste of money. This may be true from their point of view, but may not be from residents’ point of view. How can we be sure that there will be no repeat of this overspending if we don’t know how it happened? Might it be better to try to find out the origin of the disease rather than to just try and treat the symptoms? If residents are to be subject to draconian measures, then aren’t they entitled to a full public inquiry? It might just take the sting out of that desperate feeling as we all try to hold on.
Alison Griffin, Bog Lane, Stirton
Post bus support
Sir - I write in support of Rob Foster and many others in Malhamdale who rely on the post bus, in deploring the threatened closure of the service.
In a typical week, year round, the post bus currently carries 12 residents between Malhamdale and Skipton, including Mr Foster, all of whom are elderly and unable to drive themselves. However, they are not alone in using the service.
The bus is used more in the summer months than winter by visitors staying at the YHA in Malham, other visitors and staff from hotels and B&Bs and young people with no means of private transport.
Parents make use of the post bus as a safe and reliable way to send children, unaccompanied, to friends or relatives in Skipton.
I also know of at least one family who use the post bus when travelling abroad to take them to the station, from where they can use public transport to get them to Manchester Airport. This saves getting a taxi to come out from Skipton.
The post bus provides a valuable community service to residents and visitors to the dale. It provides a safe, economical and environmentally friendly supplement to an otherwise inadequate public transport link.
To curtail it, when a vehicle and driver is required anyway to come up to Malham to deliver and collect mail, would cause unnecessary hardship to many people and would result in more private car and taxi journeys.
As usual, the “authorities” concerned take these decisions without consulting the communities affected. If there is a financial problem, why not discuss with a view to making the service sustainable?
Sandy Tod, Chairman, Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council, Friars Garth, Malham
Sir - I refer to last week’s report regarding possible traffic calming on Holme Lane, Sutton.
By way of background, it originated from the South Craven Service Centre Strategy (SCSCS).
This began in May 2007 when local representatives/groups, including the local parish councils and district councillors, were invited to a meeting to identify local highway/pedestrian safety issues that could be achieved through a limited capital budget. This is separate to the highways maintenance budget and cannot be used for repairing potholes etc.
Subsequently, a random survey of approximately 25 per cent of the local population offered an opportunity to identify any other safety issues. Work was then undertaken by North Yorkshire County Council which culminated in a list of proposed schemes. In April 2008, a consultation questionnaire was distributed to all households within the SCSCS area.
The proposals for a continuous footpath from South Craven School’s main entrance, at the side of the school fields, passing the woodturners to Holme Bridge and a 20mph limit throughout the full length were two of the proposals that received strong public support.
A report was presented to Craven Area Committee where officers were tasked with developing and consulting on proposals to gauge public opinion.
Speed checks were undertaken on Holme Lane, but the resultant speeds were too high to introduce a 20mph limit without physical measures on the road. It was also recognised that, due to the narrowness of the road by Holme Close, there was insufficient width to provide a continuous footpath and maintain the existing two-way traffic flow.
Highways officers therefore developed proposals that could provide both the pavement and a form of traffic calming by restricting the carriageway as part of the proposed overall 20mph scheme.
The outcome of the ongoing public consultation will be reported to a Craven Area Committee meeting.
I hope I’ve now clarified the local origin of these proposals, which were based solely on improving pedestrian/child safety and reducing speeds along Holme Lane for the overall benefit of our local residents.
County Coun Philip Barrett, Beanlands Drive, Glusburn
Sir - While I support the Settle hydro scheme, I really feel that April is too soon to start work on it.
The concerns of the fishermen diverted attention away from some other major concerns.
One of these is that the Ribble can be a very powerful river. It needs to be monitored over a long period of time. The plans submitted for the scheme contained photographs of the river “in flood” and anyone who has lived in Settle for a few years would tell the developers that these photographs don’t show the river anywhere near flood conditions.
I really get the feeling that the project has been rushed and think it would be better to wait 12 months to make sure everything is absolutely spot on and ensure the project is the success it could be.
Hugh Knowles, Marshfield Road, Settle
Sad for the fish
Sir - Mike Harding makes a valid point (Herald, February 13) in saying that the proposed Settle hydro project might pose a risk to migrating salmon and sea trout.
It’s sad to think these animals might make huge migratory journeys just to end up thwarted by an artificial barrier, but just as sad to realise that they wind up on the end of an angler’s hook!
Steve Hutton, St Johns Row, Langcliffe
Bus station rap
Sir – I recently suffered the misfortune of having to use Skipton’s new “bus station”.
The term is a misnomer: this flimsy edifice is no more than a bus shelter – it barely qualifies even as the latter. I can confirm every detail mentioned by your correspondent NGM Ralston (Letters, February 6).
As for the £1.2 million cost, does anyone seriously believe that this frail structure had to cost this quite outrageous sum? Can anyone in the know explain what to most people must seem a bizarre, almost incredibly excessive amount?
AD Phillips, Park Green, Silsden
Sir - Re the woman whose parked car slid across the icy car park in Skipton (Herald, February 13). While I do think that Craven Council should have put our taxes to good use and gritted the town’s car parks, I also strongly believe there has to be an element of personal responsibility. Upon arriving at the car park, it would have been perfectly evident that the surface was icy and potentially dangerous. It is unlikely that the surface iced over in the time it took to buy a ticket. I wonder, if the car had slid into and injured a third party that day, whether the blame would have rested with the council for not gritting the car park, or the driver for insisting on parking in an unsuitably hazardous car park.
Sometimes, we cannot be absolved of all responsibility, especially when the great British weather is concerned.
Maj MT Marmot (Retired), Skipton Road, Silsden
Sir – Well done the Herald’s Craven Diary (February 13) re the shops in High Street trying to heat the universe by keeping their doors open during the cold spell.
But what about the thousands of offices etc with lights on? This is why we need more power stations and wind farms etc. If people for and against wind farms etc got together and attacked all this waste, maybe they would get somewhere. Waste management is what we need.
Incidentally, why are no district councillors offering to forfeit their expenses allowance for 12 months? They are the people who have mislaid or misspent our money. Why should council tax payers be the ones to suffer?
Bryan Capstick, Main Road, Hellifield
Use the pool
Sir - Our local Craven Swimming Pool offers some great opportunities for pleasant and healthy exercise and I am concerned how few make use of them.
There are classes for babies, toddlers, grown-ups, sessions for the over-50s, women only, aquafit classes (aerobics in the water), lane swimming and, of course, general swim sessions – everybody is catered for. As much as I enjoy having the pool almost to myself sometimes, I do wish more people would join in the fun.
The pool is warm and clean and the staff very friendly and helpful. And then there is the fitness centre as well.
Monika Butler, Millholme Rise, Embsay
Sand, not salt
Sir – Where is the logic in sending for salt from Spain at a cost to the councils when sand from nearby beaches would be just as good – providing, of course, this was permissible.
Doreen Larsen, Princes Drive, Skipton
Sir – I have had to spend a lot of time during the last year at Airedale Hospital, both as in-patient and out-patient. I would like to report: the medical care was excellent; the food was good, with a choice; the wards were clean; the staff, of all grades, were kind and helpful. Well done, Airedale.
Dorothy Rooke, Long Meadow, Skipton
Setting pay levels
Sir – The new chief officer of the Skipton Building Society, David Cutter, is justified in blowing the trumpet of building societies in general, as against the banks, although they were prevented from going down that road by government regulation.
Mr Cutter could, however, make an even bigger mark at the end of the recession by persuading his board that senior officers and non-executive directors should be paid on a pre-determined scale rather than by an annual decision made by themselves.
The non-executives have their remuneration determined by a comparison with others in similar organisations, though who decides on them is never revealed. In turn, they decide on the bonuses of the executive (salaried) directors – a clear case of “back-scratching” one might think.
So long as the outcomes have been satisfactory for the member-investors, there has been little cause for member revolt on the issue. But this could change and it is up to the members to think long and hard before they automatically put a tick against approval of the remuneration committee.
One thing is certain following the exposure of the boards of the banks – we cannot trust those who have a vested interest in rates of pay to bear in mind the well-being of the organisation itself.
Frank Pedley, Gisburn Road, Hellifield
Sir – I am amazed at what has happened to a former relative’s old workplace at Embsay Tannery. Gone are the old buildings and now it is a new estate, but what a squashed affair.
Couldn’t there have been a few fewer houses and more green spaces as a play area for children?
Can someone please tell me why they have left the dirty old chimney up? I can’t see there is anything nice about it.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with the building work, but the dams are in a filthy state. I remember when there were swans on there.
Norman Woodcock, Scraptoft Lane, Leicester