CAN Cllr Richard Welch, Alan Perrow and Patricia Mason really be so lacking in any kind of compassion or sympathy for their fellow human beings (‘Councillor questions intake of migrants’, Craven Herald, March 3, and ‘Council should look after those here first’ and ‘Common sense is spoken on migrants’, Letters, March 10)? Or are you just too comfortable in your safe European homes?
We are not talking about migrants here, we are talking about refugees. People who like us once had homes, jobs, businesses and family, which have been ripped apart by war and who had to make the stark choice between making a dangerous and costly journey or face certain death.
We are only taking about five people a year here in Craven. How can that possibly have more than a minimal impact on housing? And all the letters mention ex-servicemen, but quite frankly the tone of the letters is an insult to the work of hard-working organisations like the Royal British Legion who do so much to help look after the welfare and interests of the armed forces.
I find it astounding that Cllr Welch suddenly takes an interest in the homeless when the Conservative Party, of which he is a member, has done so much to create more homeless people in this country and show little support for ex-servicemen.
We are historically a welcoming country here in the UK and we always have been. The numbers of Syrian refugees are very small and we, here in Craven, are welcoming folk. Cllr Welch, Mr Perrow and Mrs Mason, I am ashamed and disgusted by you saying otherwise. Were you in the same situation as these desperate adults and children, I’m sure you would want the same compassion shown to yourselves.
Brook Street, Skipton

I HAVE been disappointed to read in the past two editions of the Craven Herald letters or interviews criticising Craven’s decision to accept up to 25 Syrian refugees (hardly a massive number) as part of the Government’s commitment to rehouse around 20,000 such refugees over the next five years.
Last week we heard the view on the letters page (‘Common sense is spoken on migrants) that we should consider the Government’s aid contribution as sufficient assistance and that we should look to help people on the council’s waiting list, or the homeless, rather than refugees. But why does it have to be one or the other?
The crisis in the provision of affordable rented housing in the UK could be solved by changing our housing policies; for example, by investing in new council and housing association housing. Don’t blame refugees for the lack of government action to tackle the problem.
All commentators seem to agree that we are facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Eleven million Syrian people are estimated to be homeless, having fled for their lives.
Is our response really going to be that we are “full up” and that Syrian refugees are not welcome in Craven? Not in my name.

ALAN Perrow and Patricia Mason deserve praise for their balanced letters (Craven Herald, March 10) emphasising that immigrants should not be allowed to jump queues ahead of British citizens when accessing public services.
Cllr Richard Welch also clearly understands basic justice and deserves our support.
Early in 2015, I wrote a letter to our eminent politicians at Westminster on exactly the same subject. The two-page generalised reply from government was most disappointing and discouraging — no agreement with my request for justice; my issue regarding queue jumping was not even addressed.
No reasonable person can criticise the UK’s extremely generous charitable responses to all world problems. But, throughout our congested country (in every major city plus towns such as Luton, Slough, Peterborough, Northampton, Kettering, Boston, etc) our own people are being denied what should be their birthright (such as a roof over one’s head, reasonable priority access to local education, prompt access to healthcare).
There are so many towns where immigrant populations in local schools can be more than 90 per cent, forcing many British children to find room where (or too often if) they can. Yet large numbers of immigrant children, because of language problems, don’t even have the capacity to benefit from the high standard of education that schools can supply. All this makes no sense, still less is it just. Do our politicians really care?
Mr A J Smith was surely justified in his letter (Craven Herald, March 3) to call our own representative to account and I look forward with interest to his response.

IN response to the letters from Mr Perrow and Ms Mason (‘Council should look after those here first’ and ‘Common sense is spoken on migrants’, Letters, March 10), last weekend some of the 200 members of Craven Refugee Support Network hosted 30 refugees from Bradford for a holiday weekend, including a mayor’s reception at Skipton Town Hall, a ceilidh, and a welcome to services and meals provided at St Andrew’s, Holy Trinity, Trinity Methodist and Skipton Quakers, so actually many people in Craven have already demonstrated a welcome for refugees.
And everyone, hosts and visitors, thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, so much so that they want to do it again.
Mr Perrow suggests a conflict with the needs of ex-servicemen. Many of the refugees in Britain have fled Iraq and Afghanistan and so like many ex-servicemen are also victims of our government’s misadventures in those conflicts. For Syrian refugees, what they tell us they most want is an end to the five years of civil war in their country.
If our and other countries had spent more effort working on peace negotiations rather than doing very little so as to avoid involvement in another Iraq or Afghanistan, then we would not now need to welcome Syrian refugees to Craven. But if they are in the UK many of us would want to welcome them.
Craven Refugee Support Network

ON the weekend of March 4-6 a group of asylum seekers and refugees were invited to stay with families in Skipton. We were from Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, The Gambia, Iran and Kuwait. We had a wonderful time, visiting the castle, the museum and gallery, the Quaker Friends Meeting House and the big church. Everybody in Skipton was very friendly and welcoming. We were so glad to be with you. Thank you very much all you kind people in Skipton.
MAHMOUD, Syria (Kurdish); DAWOOD, Iraq (Kurdish); ABIR, Syria; NEMA, Syria; ROMAN, Iran (Kurdish); ABDUL RAHIM, Sudan; ABDELRAZIG, Sudan; ESAM, Sudan; BABEKER, Sudan; AMER, Syria; ADAM, Sudan

ALAN Perrow and Patricia Mason (Letters, Craven Herald, March 10) show, at best, the churlish side of public opinion when it comes to refugees.
We can safely dismiss the views of Mr Perrow as we already have ratepayers’ representatives and they are called councillors.
If Ms Mason accurately reports the views of Councillor Welch it is equally safe to say he will not be getting my vote at the next election.
They have all ignored the fact that the UK is the fifth wealthiest nation on the face of the Earth. The idea that we cannot look after the local interests of Craven residents and businesses, the homeless, ex-service men, build new homes, create new school places, properly fund the NHS and do our bit for pan- European response to the refugee crisis is risible.
I would hope that if someone was barrel bombing, gassing, machine gunning, starving and otherwise committing atrocities against my children that another country would honour its legal, never mind its moral, obligations to refugees and take us in.
In an ever smaller world this is on our doorstep, and when our neighbour’s house is on fire it is in our interests to help put it out even if, like Mr Perrow, Ms Mason and Cllr Welch, we have a had an empathy bypass.
Long Preston

MR Perrow and I largely agree on the issue of settling Syrian refugees in Craven (‘Council should look after those here first’, Letters, March 10). Where I take great issue with him is over the criticism he makes of Craven Council in deciding to allow 25 rather than 20 such refugees.
I would refer him to Edmund Burke’s Speech to the Electors of Bristol who had maintained that their MP should be simply a mouthpiece of their desires and views. Burke argued brilliantly against this: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
Craven Council have been elected on the basis of their judgement. To aver that a decision taken by them has to be resolved by recourse to some kind of direct appeal to the voters, a referendum if you will, is to deny the whole purpose of electing a council.
No matter how unpleasant or controversial or wrong some voters see council decisions, they are made by those in office using their ability to consider and to decide.
If voters feel that the judgement of councillors is at fault, the solution lies squarely in their hands come election time. Until then you make do with those you voted to office.
Keighley Road, Cowling

I WAS most interested to read the letters from Mr Perrow and Ms Mason (‘Council should look after those here first’ and ‘Common sense is spoken on migrants’, Letters, March 10) and feel that some clarification needs to be made. Our taxes do not go to the Government for international causes only (actually 0.7 per cent of our GDP is so used) but also for hospitals, schools, roads, etc.
I must confess I was unaware of the hundreds of ex-servicemen sleeping rough in Craven; if Mr Perrow, who strongly emphasises the local nature of his concern, could advise me where these are I guarantee that I can arrange accommodation for some, at least, of them.
Ms Mason has, sadly, been misinformed in thinking that refugees will be housed in council property. In fact, they will be in the private sector so the issue of buying their houses will not arise, nor will anyone be pushed aside. At some point in the future, however, they may wish to purchase property, as they will be working, earning and contributing tax to our economy.
She is absolutely right, however, in raising the issue of the tragic rise in rough sleepers, but that lies at the door of the Government, not the refugees or Craven District Council.
Last weekend a number of asylum seekers and refugees were hosted in Skipton by families who were more than happy to welcome them, as were the churches who provided meals and the Mayor of Skipton who laid on a civic reception. No food was provided at ratepayers’ expense, so that is one less worry for your correspondents.

YET another diatribe from Alan Perrow (‘Council should look after those here first’, Letters, March 10), someone who by all accounts has cost the ratepayers of Craven a fair amount of money with all his Freedom of Information requests to local councils across the area.
Don’t get me wrong, Craven District Council is often its own worst enemy, but that comes from the fact that to err is human, Mr Perrow. We humans are very capable of getting things wrong because, face it, the council is run and staffed by the very same species.
It must be very hard to keep making the right decisions all the time, Mr Perrow.
Marshfield Road, Settle

OUR Government is taking over £12 billion per year out of our elderly and health budget to give in overseas aid.
Recently in the Craven Herald, North Yorkshire County Council said the future of elderly housing schemes in Craven was being put at risk by funding reduction from government in various forms (‘Care plans may be hit by housing benefit cut’, Craven Herald, February 25).
For a country which is paying hundreds of millions of pounds in interest payments weekly on our national debt, the only way forward is to cut the aid and invest in our elderly housing and health care provision, which are continuing to decline.
The elderly have worked all their lives and saved for their retirement, only to find the interest on their savings is negligible and cheap money is going into very low interest charges on mortgages, cars, etc which is building huge personal debt.
We have a Government which is failing in its duty to the elderly who have earned a right over their working lives to expect fair treatment in their later years.
Cllr Richard Welch has been brave enough to raise the new situation we find ourselves in. We are to have 25 refugees coming into Craven to be housed. If we stay in Europe we will no longer have any border protection and unlimited numbers of economic migrants will pour into our country.
This will put our education and health services, which at present are failing us, into meltdown. Charity begins at home.

AFTER attending several funerals at Burnley, Accrington and Skipton crematoriums over the last 12 months, I hope that Craven District Council has plans to create new facilities that will meet the demands of the 21st century for there is no doubt that the current ones have fallen behind the times.
Editor’s note: Craven District Council has just agreed a large-scale crematorium upgrade

BETWEEN Sunday, June 19, and Friday, June 24, I will be leading a group from the North of England to visit Germany and Poland to commemorate the end of World War Two, 71 years ago.
We will fly with Flybe direct to Berlin. We will visit Berlin, Potsdam (where Churchill, Truman and Stalin signed the Potsdam Agreement), Stalag Luft III of The Great Escape fame (camp and museum), Dresden, Colditz Castle, Weimar and Buchenwald.
We still have a few places left. Anyone interested can phone me on 01368 866826, 07710 270840 or by email, or write to me at 5 Fellside Terrace, Knock, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, CA16 6DH.

THE most striking feature of recent reporting by the media in the lead-up to the Budget was the absence of any real grasp of the true state of our national predicament.
For better or worse a Conservative Government was elected with a pledge to not increase income tax, national insurance or VAT.
The Conservative Party was wrong to gives such a commitment, but as usual political expediency trumped the national interest.
These three sources of revenue provide the bulk of government income and the Chancellor of the Exchequer must now resort to stealth taxes in order to raise money.
Stealth taxes are politically and socially corrosive. They pitch one group of vested interests against another, and further undermine the standing of politicians in the eyes of the electorate.
Since the start of ‘The Great Recession’ much attention has been focused on the budget deficit, almost to the total exclusion of any consideration of the trade deficit.
Both deficits should be matters of serious concern when they persist and appear to be structural rather than cyclical.
The trade deficit is being funded by selling assets to foreigners.
Bit by bit the nation is being sold from under our feet.
The process is slow and gradual, but in time the cumulative impact will impoverish the country as increasing amounts of revenue, interest payments and dividend income leave our shores.
In metaphorical terms we are selling cows in order to buy milk.
Of course, the flow of this money is not seen nor immediately apparent and thus the story is largely ignored by the British press.
I fear that this is another glaring example of the gross failings of national journalism to sound the alarm.
In time we will reach a tipping point when the reality of the situation becomes obvious to all; and by then it will be too late.
Castle Road, Colne