THE small amount of refugees the UK has promised to accept has a number of readers whipping themselves into a chauvinist lather.
Compared to Germany’s one million refugees, the UK has (only) agreed to take in 20,000 by 2020. The age-old argument against accepting people fleeing wars – wars our government and allies have had a large part in creating (and arming) – is that there is no room, no money, and shouldn’t we, the natives, come first?
Is this how we would want to be treated? We, the natives of a country that have emigrated all over the world and become wealthy from the conquests of empire. Talk about economic migrants!
Eric Shuttleworth – Don’t forget our own (Craven Herald, March 31) – is rightly angry at the situation of his aged aunt and cuts to local services.
However, the fallout from the government’s austerity policies and our wherewithal to host refugees are not mutually exclusive. His aunt is not a refugee but a victim of economic policies that target the public realm and welfare state – a social system, including free healthcare and education, that his aunt has rightly benefited from for the past 70 years.
It is possible to decry the privatisation of our public services and the growing scarcity, and also to offer help to those who have lost everything. There is enough money and housing in the UK. The problem is distribution. Money is found for wars/Trident and bailing out banks but not for the elderly, the disabled, libraries or the steel industry.
Compare the trickle of refugees to Britain with the flood of money into London banks – a third of all international deposits and investments flow through Britain and its satellites. This is only possible because the government’s priority is servicing the extremely wealthy. Let’s oppose the flow of capital that only further enriches the one per cent rather than oppose war refugees.
I WAS interested to read the letter from Mr Shuttleworth in regard to welcoming refugees only after all of our own have been looked after – Don’t forget our own (Craven Herald, March 31).
Ignoring the fact that such a time will never come, as each day more people move into the vulnerable category, there are other arguments.
One could point out that during two major conflicts, citizens from Africa, Asia and elsewhere who could – as they were not directly under threat – have quite easily said, in the immortal words of Compo, “Chuff ‘em”, we need to look after our own first, but who chose to offer their service and risk their lives, not for their own sake but for ours.
Or the reminder could be given that if refugees gain residential status, they will pay far more in taxes than they will receive in benefits; that many refugees are of graduate status and will, therefore, contribute to filling many gaps in our society, including, in some cases, caring for those in a similar situation to Mr Shuttleworth’s aunt, who is, indeed, a victim of some of the failings of our society.
However, none of that is to the point. The real reason we ought to care is far more basic: all of us are part of the same human race, living in what has been referred to as a global village. For that reason – simply because it is right – we ought to offer shelter and hope to those of our global family who have suffered.
Not all will agree, of course, but as a Christian I find that the love of Jesus towards me leaves me with no choice.
“Look after our own”? Of course, but the Scripture that guides me tells me all people are our own.
COUNCILLOR ALAN HICKMAN
YOUR editorial of March 31 is apt, to the point and much appreciated – Time to play fair in sport (Craven Herald, March 31).
“It has taken long enough, but it’s good to see both sexes are on an equal footing in sport”.
However, it is regrettably over-optimistic. Photographs in the sports section of the same edition of the Craven Herald depict active 34 sportsmen, but not a single sportswoman. Similar statistics can be gleaned from most of your recent issues.
This is less than equitable. Craven has some excellent sportswomen and women’s teams, and even more young women and girls who might become good sportswomen if they were better encouraged. Pictures in the local newspaper are an important source of encouragement, so come on Craven Herald and do your part.
Would it be too much to ask that a third of all sports reporting be devoted to women’s achievements? Even a 10th would be a vast improvement.
* Sports editor’s note: It is regrettable that women’s sports teams and those involving girls seldom submit reports or pictures. Fell running and swimming are the two exceptions. There is no way of adjusting the balance unless supplied to us in the first place.
WE ARE very pleased to learn that an application seeking planning permission for a housing development on the Becks Mill site in Silsden is to be presented to Bradford Council before the end of April – 140 new homes planned for industrial site (Craven Herald, March 31).
Last year we organised a ‘Say No to Tesco’ campaign which resulted in Bradford Council refusing planning permission for a supermarket on this site. On our petition, which was signed by more than 800 people in just three weeks, we asked that the land be used instead for housing.
We are glad to see in your report that Cllrs Mallinson and Naylor both agree this site is one of the most suitable in Silsden to meet the town’s target of 1,200 new homes in the next few years.
Of course, there are issues with regard to pressure on the existing infrastructure, which will have to be resolved.
With due attention being given to these legitimate concerns, we hope the people of Silsden will support these plans.
Please go along to the consultation meeting in Silsden Town Hall between 3.30pm and 7.30pm today and have your say.
WENDY NEVILLE, ANNA YOUNG, VAL CARROLL
HAVING read the recent report in your columns on the new Conservative candidate for Cowling – Outgoing Tory may fight his party’s new candidate for the seat (Craven Herald, March 24) – it set alarm bells ringing over the Skipton and Ripon Conservatives branch’s failure to select a local candidate from the parish or at least from within Craven district.
Their approach, instead, very much undermines this basic principle of local democracy by ‘parachuting in’ a Bradford councillor.
Your readers may recall that in last year’s Craven District Council elections, this Conservative branch selected the same Bradford councillor as its ‘local’ candidate for Glusburn ward. This Conservative branch must have a very wide interpretation of the word ‘local’, and for whatever reasons, also have a strong desire to find him a seat somewhere on Craven District Council.
This is despite him already having more than 13,000 electors to represent in Addingham, Silsden, Steeton and Eastburn at Bradford Council.
During and after the local elections in Glusburn last year, I was asked by many voters where this ‘local’ Conservative candidate actually lived, as there was no information on the election leaflet. Perhaps the Cowling voters will be informed, or maybe not.
As an experienced councillor, I would like to emphasise the importance and benefits of having local candidates, who live within the district ward they would like to represent. These are the candidates who know the local issues and the residents’ concerns and are, therefore, best placed to concentrate their efforts on representing the local electorate at Craven.
COUNCILLOR PHILIP BARRETT
Independent councillor, Glusburn ward
AS enthusiastic supporters of solar energy, many people might expect that Craven Greens would always back any proposal to build a solar farm.
Not so. It makes little sense to take perfectly good agricultural land out of production and replace it with solar panels.
There are quite enough roofs and there is quite enough derelict and degraded land to enable us to exploit this power source without damaging the environment. There is also massively more to be achieved by investing in energy conservation, such as better insulation so that we radically reduce demand, than there is by building solar panel sites in inappropriate locations.
So, it was with some disappointment that I read in the Craven Herald last week that a part of Bentham’s agricultural land will be given over to solar panels, despite the proposal having been turned down by the local council – Inspector approves solar panel farm plans (March 31).
This is yet another example of a remote national planning body, created by the Conservative Government, overriding local decision making. It is the result of the recent introduction of a planning system that favours developers over local people’s wishes. It is not the result of sensible moves to modernise our economy by moving over to sustainable forms of energy generation and storage whilst investing in reduced use.
I trust none of your readers will confuse the two.
Main Street, Cononley
NORTH Yorkshire Highways has advised that although they have responsibility for our roads, the funding request made through the Section 106 in relation to Wyvern Park was formed from the transport assessment that was written for the Sainsbury’s proposal.
This means that no account has been taken of representation made to them during several months by very concerned residents.
They have not carried out their own assessment of a road they deem as "adequate", even though serious safety concerns have been raised, and instead have relied on an out-of-date report that contains huge errors, has serious omissions and reaches the unbelievable conclusion that everything will be resolved by adjusting the traffic lights at the top of Carleton Road and those at the top of Craven Street!
Carleton Road cannot cope with current traffic volumes and it certainly cannot cope with the predicted minimum 1,000 additional journeys a day to be created by Wyvern Park, whatever adjustments are made to the traffic lights.
There is nowhere for pedestrians to cross even though they have to do so to reach homes on adjoining roads, including The Close.
The safety of pedestrians is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.
North Yorkshire Highways, North Yorkshire Council, Craven District Council and Henry Boot need to work with the local community, who want to work with them to find a solution.
I HAVE just received my card giving details of date and times of the voting for our Police and Crime Commissioner.
To find out the names of the candidates, I am told either to go online or make a phone call.
At least I do not have to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act!
Marton Close, Gargrave