I AM writing in connection with the consultation Incommunities is currently undertaking in connection with the future of Southfield House sheltered housing scheme at Mount Pleasant in Addingham.
I am not a resident but my reason for writing is that my mother lived at Southfield House until her death last October aged 97, so I have some knowledge of the community who live there.
Harry Whittle, a senior manager from Incommunities, called a residents’ meeting a couple of weeks ago and, without any prior warning, presented them with some shocking news. Incommunities claims the existing 26 flats and bedsits are not economically viable and that it (Incommunities) has three choices.
First, it could add a further 20 dwellings to the existing scheme, which, in theory would make them viable, but the basic fabric of the existing building is poor, and therefore this would not be cost-effective. Second, it could demolish the existing building, (presumably) temporarily re-house the tenants, rebuild a larger development and then move the tenants back in when the new building is completed. However, Mr Whittle went on to say Incommunities doesn’t have the finance to develop either of these two options.
The third option, which he chose not to mention until questioned by one of the tenants, is to demolish the building and disperse the residents to other Incommunities properties. Presumably, it would then sell off the land to a developer and Southfield House, a social housing scheme, would be replaced by private housing.
Because my mother lived there, I know a number of the residents. Most are elderly and have health issues and, as you can imagine, this news is causing them an enormous amount of stress. Many live there because they have local links or are close to family and friends, who can assist with day-to-day living. Some are housebound, others are only able to go out if taken by family members. So, the social life at Southfield House is of great importance to them.
There is a lovely community there and they have regular social get-togethers and lunches in the lounge, all organised by the residents themselves. Two years ago, they decided the gardens surrounding Southfield House were very neglected and untidy and, so, set up a small gardening group to try and make them better. With little or no funds, they held table-top sales to raise money and, through their own efforts, have transformed the gardens, so much so the group won an Incommunities Star Award last year in recognition of ‘brightening up their neighbourhood and other peoples lives’.
Some of those involved have mobility issues but have done their bit, even if all they could manage was some plant watering or tea making. They are a very happy group of people and I’m saddened to think they could be dispersed to anywhere in Bradford district, away from each other and their families and friends.
As we all know, the amount of sheltered social housing in Addingham and its immediate vicinity is virtually non-existent. There are some private sheltered developments in Ilkley, which are affordable but have long waiting lists (I know because I researched them extensively when I was looking for a place for my mother). The rest are all privately owned and managed and expensive, and I would imagine completely out of the reach to Southfield House residents. So, presumably they would have to be re-housed in social housing, not necessarily sheltered, and much further afield, which would be devastating for them. Some, I suspect, would have no option but to enter residential care.
My mother spent three very happy years at Southfield House. Without it, she would almost certainly have had to enter residential care herself, at great cost to the public purse and great anguish for her. As it was, she was able to live out her life happily in her own home and surrounded by a lovely community of friends, with her family on the doorstep.
Call me cynical, but for me, this is yet another example of Bradford MDC once again ignoring the wishes of the residents of Wharfedale, from whom, I believe, they receive the highest percentage of council tax in Bradford district.
Low Mill, Addingham

AFTER five months of trying, I finally had two one-to-one meetings with representatives from Craven District Council (CDC) – both in the same week – as I joined a group of residents meeting with representatives from Henry Boot.
Progress? In part, only. Henry Boot’s two representatives met with eight local residents to discuss our concerns in relation to Carleton Road and the Wyvern Park development. The meeting was constructive and only time and action will show whether it was anything more than that. Henry Boot will sub-contract the site development, which means there are greater challenges ahead, I expect.
As for CDC, after months of writing and making requests for support, I was told by one of its representatives that the issues with Carleton Road are the responsibility of the Highways, who told me two months ago when they visited that they couldn’t act without CDC! It then transpired that in reality, this is a matter for North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and not CDC or the Highways directly!
To make matters worse, I have raised the issue of Section 106 money with CDC on several occasions. This is money the developer can pay, upon request, to CDC and the Highways to support changes required to the local infrastructure due to the impact of the new development. Now, considering the local community has been requesting CDC and the Highways work with us to solve the current and future issues associated with Carleton Road for some considerable time, I was shocked to find out the Section 106 request was submitted on March 10, without any of the requested consultation with residents.
The majority of the issues we raised with Henry Boot, which they witnessed first hand, and those raised with the Highways, have not been covered in the Section 106. In short, a golden opportunity appears to have been missed through the absence of simple consultation and working together.
The Highways, who apparently deem Carleton Road as ‘adequate’, have now offered consultation, even though I spent several hours with them highlighting the problems earlier this year, and I know several other residents have done the same.
All very disappointing, although I now view this as the start as we now know who we are dealing with (I think) and there is much to be done to deliver safety to Carleton Road and for the conservation area to be preserved.
Please email me at tim@timforman.com for further information.

LAST July I moved to Cononley from Scotland with my wife and young son.
My wife was from the area originally and we often holidayed here.
A major factor in the move was the school in the village. We moved from a relatively small village in Scotland (large in comparison to Cononley), where the class sizes were large, with at least 30 kids per class. This meant my son, who has been placed on the Autism Spectrum, was often left behind, which caused my entire family a great deal of stress and aggravation.
In Cononley, he is in a class closer to 15. This provides my son with the support he needs, which has improved his learning, his friendships and, most importantly, his happiness.
The Conservative government’s plan to turn all schools into academies could potentially destroy all this. We all realise the importance of smaller class size. By removing parents from the decision-making process in local schools and privatising them, there is a high likelihood the first schools to be targeted will be small schools, like the ones in Cononley, Bradley, Kildwick and Lothersdale.
Rather than these schools being examples of what education could be in the UK, they will be deemed ‘inefficient’, as there is a higher cost per child. This, in turn, could mean the selling-off of the land and infrastructure already present to create a larger school, where all of these children will attend, often having to travel there by bus.
The potential impact this could have on areas like ours is far-reaching and has been introduced without the consideration of parents by a government that is turning our own children into a commodity.
Aireview, Cononley

HISTORIC England is reported in your article – Wind of change hits a wall of opposition (Craven Herald, March 24) – to be strongly opposed to the application to site two wind turbines, 36m high, to power a farm near Addingham on the grounds they “will be visible” from the grounds of Bolton Abbey.
As an aspiring amateur artist and photographer, I frequently visit these ‘multiple heritage assets’. The idea the awesome majesty of the Priory ruins, with its strong vertical lines, could be compromised by the blade tips of a couple of turbines 3.5km away is absurd.
I thought Historic England was about preserving our heritage assets. Apparently, I was wrong. The home page of its website contains the statement “We can help you unlock the economic potential of an historic site in your area with our new Heritage Action Zones scheme”.
I’ve no objection to owners of these “assets” using them to augment their income, but one of the primary causes of the highly-visible deterioration of old buildings is the effect of acid rain. In recent years, climate change has grabbed the headlines, but those in my age group will remember the furore about acid rain in the 60s.
While coal-fired power stations introduced scrubbers to clean up their emissions, pollution from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat homes and run transport has increased. The full effects of acid rain are well known and include acidification of soils and watercourses, affecting crops and wildlife.
It appears Historic England has its priorities wrong.
Now, more than ever, individuals and communities urgently need to make the transition to clean, renewable energy. With minimal visual and no environmental impact, small-scale local schemes like this can help protect rural businesses and communities against inevitable electricity price rises.
The applicant for the Addingham turbines is right on target to use his elevated site to achieve his twin objectives to power his family farm and underpin his dairy business in a highly competitive market. In doing so, he will be contributing indirectly to the preservation of historic assets and the environment in which they stand.
To refuse this appeal would simply add to the error of judgement in refusing the previous Chelker turbines application.

YOUR correspondents who criticise Alan Perrow, Patricia Mason and others about the refugee response – (Craven Herald letters, March 17) – have all missed the point of the debate.
There would be very few people who didn’t have sympathy or humanity for genuine refugees and, of course, we would all like to help them. But none of the supporters of bringing refugees here give any practical suggestions of how they are to be housed, financially supported or how our already-overstretched NHS and schools are to cope.
On a practical basis, perhaps they’d like to consider my aunt, aged 91. She grew up in abject poverty in Burnley, was out at work at 13 in the mills, continued working part-time until she was 72, bringing up three children along the way without any child benefit or, indeed, claims for any other handouts, even if they’d been available. The fruits of her labour were the small terraced house she and her late husband were fortunate enough to buy on rental purchase.
Now, with increased problems of mobility, she is having to move from her beloved home to a care home because cuts to local services mean she cannot be looked after properly in her own home, where she would prefer to be. She doesn’t have much money but her ownership of the house means it is now having to be sold to pay for her care.
Isn’t she a ‘refugee’ of sorts? Forced out of her home into a ‘foreign’ setting through no fault of her own, given little choice about her future, in spite of having paid into a system that now takes her assets from her. How do your correspondents explain to her that the country and traditions she loves and which she has passed onto her children, a country that saw her father die in defence of it, now thinks so little of her that foreigners (and let’s not forget there are many economic migrants among them) take priority?
Yes, let’s welcome refugees, but only after our own vulnerable people have been looked after.
Westmoreland Street, Skipton

FOR some time it has been apparent that the highest echelons of the mainstream political parties and the national media are living cloistered and cocooned lives that are totally detached from the experiences of ordinary mortals.
This was brought home to me the other week when a report in a ‘quality’ broadsheet featured a comment from someone at a financial services institute, who was quoted as saying that young people need to be saving £800 every month towards their pension in order to generate a retirement income of £30,000 per annum.
I have to confess that the comment made me stop reading with a jolt.
Given the low-wage economy now engulfing large swathes of the populace, the very idea that a young person could place a sum of money of this magnitude away on a regular basis for their retirement is beyond preposterous.
Here in the sticks, some take home an income of little more than £800 a month.
Yet, the story is telling for what it reveals about our divided nation.
The gap between members of a privileged, protected and self-serving metropolitan elite, many of whom dominate the national media, and ordinary folk in the provinces, is now reaching epic proportions.
Where between Belgravia and the Bahamas do the elites ever meet ordinary people?
While one must always retain hope for the future, the views emanating from the national commentariat make me exceedingly fearful of the direction in which the country is headed.
Castle Road, Colne

WITH birdsong and brighter mornings bringing a certain joie de vivre, we’d like to invite any readers, who may be looking for others to get out and about with, to get in touch.
We’ve a variety of local events and activities planned for the season, such as fish and chips bingo, carpet bowling, quiz nights or enjoying an evening of live music. Many are free or charged to simply cover costs.
As a local friendship group, we’ve helped many people take the small steps they are looking for to get some spring back into their social life by trying something new in good company. We know how many events in life can result in us putting our social lives on hold or (even unconsciously) letting it take a back seat, such as having friends or family move away, a divorce or sadly losing someone close.
Our events are perfect for anyone who’s looking to pop some more activities in their diary. If you’re coming along on your own, or nervous about meeting new people, you can be sure of a warm welcome.
If you’d like to receive a list of our planned events, just drop us a line on 01756 798022 or email me at geraldine.thompson@oddfellows.co.uk.
District secretary, Skipton Oddfellows,
Three Links Club, Rectory Lane, Skipton

UP UNTIL very recently, one may have been forgiven for thinking that Euroscepticism was a uniquely British movement but, of course, it has suited the Lib/Lab/Con political establishment and influential opinion formers in the media to portray it as such.
So, it may now come as a surprise to many that long-established and more recent Eurosceptic groups right across Europe are growing fast as its people wake up to the failures and ambitions of the European project.
The EU is increasingly unpopular in France, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Greece and elsewhere, and it is possible these nations, too, will be demanding their own referenda on membership, particularly if the Germans, Dutch or ourselves vote to ‘leave’.
Voters are beginning to view the EU as an undemocratic and expensive ‘talking shop’ that is useless in the face of real challenges, like the immigration crisis and the failure of the Euro currency.
Those who are still advocating ‘in’ should be thinking very carefully about ‘in what?’. The way things are going in Brussels, An ‘in’ vote could very easily land us in ‘it’ up to our necks as the EU project goes from crisis to crisis.
Wainmans Close, Cowling

IT WAS sad to read of the demise of the Saturday bus service between Skipton and Harrogate after Saturday – Dales passengers hit by rural service axe (Craven Herald, March 24).
What a way to celebrate Easter!
Perhaps we can call upon our Member of Parliament, Julian Smith, on this issue. After all, he promised in his election manifesto (and I quote verbatim) “From buses to broadband, I’ll continue to lead efforts so communities are connected”.
Please, we want that leadership now.

IF the gentleman driving the dark blue BMW and parked in Skipton Town Hall car park at 1pm on March 2 reads this, then I hope he is ashamed of his behaviour.
He opened his car door, blatantly tossed out his empty McDonald’s cup and straw and then, having reversed over them, hastily drove off.
Incidentally, The nearest litter bin, which I put his rubbish in, was a mere 50 yards away. So why?