I AM amazed by the behaviour of our so-called ‘public’ services.
In the draft Craven Local Plan, currently under consultation, there are three glaring errors.
Firstly, Craven District Council has not put its own piece of land behind Victoria Hall in Settle into the plan. This is ideally situated in the centre of town and is a brownfield site.
Similarly, North Yorkshire Highways has not put in its site by Kings Mill, which has been waste ground for many years. This is also a brownfield site that I would think has excellent potential for development.
Lastly, and most critically, Airedale NHS Trust has put the whole site of Castleberg Hospital in for possible development. This is a vital resource for the North Craven area and we have fought hard to keep it open.
So, two pieces of publicly-owned waste ground are not put into the plan and one of the most needed public services in the area is allocated for possible housing.
Can any of the elected representatives on these bodies please explain their actions?
Tems Side, Giggleswick
DO WE need politicians?
Our prime minister tells us he has negotiated a deal with the European Union to take back some powers and have more control of our borders.
He has also told us on many occasions he would reduce immigration to tens of thousands. At the last count, it was nearer 300,000 last year.
How can we believe our prime minister when he says Europe is good for us and if we come out we will lose control of immigration. What control?
Our chancellor of the exchequer has told us many times he would balance the books by increasing exports and cutting public spending to pay for the NHS, education, social services and the gold-plated, index-linked pensions of public sector employees.
Every budget he predicts this, fails and borrows more billions from money lenders. Our debt repayments are reaching the point he will have to devalue the pound to pay off our debt. He is accruing debt faster than the last Labour government, which should have been impossible. Now he has the cheek to tell us if we come out of the European Union we will have a debt crisis by 2030.
Within three months of his autumn budget, he had got it wrong and made a new budget. He is continually getting it wrong. If he cannot predict three months in advance, how can he possibly predict a debt crisis 14 years into the future? How can we believe him?
Lastly, two weeks ago, just before the election for a new police crime commissioner, a post held by a Conservative, our member of Parliament tells us of a drop in crime of nearly a third since 2010 and in North Yorkshire crime has fallen by 13 per cent. In fact, in Craven, where we live, burglaries have risen 69.3 per cent, in Sutton by 75 per cent and Aire Valley with Lothersdale by 150 per cent. These figures are taken from the police force’s last financial year.
Politicians use statistics to confuse the public, if not to mislead them, to achieve their own ends. I suppose it would help if they had done basic mathematics at school.
Park Drive, Sutton
I FEEL I need to write to you regarding the motorcycle maniacs that are still using the B6479 between the Helwith Bridge turn-off and The Golden Lion in Horton and the stretch between Selside and Stonehouse as a racetrack at the weekends.
I work for a parcel company on Saturdays and sometimes Sunday, and it’s just getting serious now with the speeds these guys are riding at.
We need to do something on this stretch of road – speed cameras, speed bumps. I will even offer my services to stand there with a speed gun to capture these mindless motorcyclists.
I am not having a go at all of them, just a select few who think they are competing in the Isle of Man TT race.
So, please someone, or somebody, take some action now.
IN the past 12 months I have been taken aback by the absurdity of the glowing statements about the economy emanating from members of the government and leading policy-makers, and astonished, if not dismayed, by reports in national newspapers of surveys showing high levels of confidence among consumers.
The two factors are, of course, inter-connected; but I have to confess that I was unable to share the unalloyed joy and rapture of the national commentariat as they proclaimed the arrival of economic ‘recovery’.
I continue to believe the recovery has been built on six strands: inward migration, PPI compensation, access to pension capital, equity withdrawal through re-mortgaging, increasing levels of public and private sector debt and recalibration of GDP to incorporate activities not included previously in the calculation.
PPI compensation is fading, access to pension capital is now at a steady and much lower level and the one-off ‘boost’ from re-calibrating GDP is over.
This leaves inward migration and debt as the key drivers of economic expansion.
One should never be fooled by appearances.
Beneath the surface of buoyant house prices and booming car sales lays greater financialisation of the economy, with ever more ingenious attempts at expanding credit, such as 40-year mortgages and personal contract and leasing plans.
Sadly, our position has other features that are troubling, to say the least.
Recent history is demonstrating that countries with a chronic trade deficit, addicted to borrowing and consumption and a ‘greying’ population, will struggle to produce sustainable growth at a meaningful rate.
The United Kingdom fits the pattern perfectly.
Moreover, stagnant labour productivity and a reluctance of companies to invest suggests that living standards will not be rising by much any day soon.
We appear to have moved into an era where we are unable to generate economic growth at anything remotely approaching a rate that can support the country’s current political-economic model.
This is the ‘new normal’ and really quite alarming.
The ongoing re-definition of the ‘social contract’ provides testament that policy-makers believe deep-down the ‘new normal’ may be here to stay.
Castle Road, Colne
IN the next few days, Liz Truss – the Environment Minister – could decide to lift the ban on bee-killing pesticides.
Lifting the ban would spell disaster for our bees.
The lobbyists for the big pesticide companies are doing all they can to persuade Liz Truss to lift the ban. Two applications have already been made.
Bees are having a hard time as it is, with a serious decline in numbers. Further decline could spell disaster for agriculture and horticulture that rely on bees to pollinate their crops. This is not only dangerous for bees and food production, but people’s livelihoods.
Liz Truss must be persuaded by our local MPs not to lift the ban.
We all can help our bees by planting bee-friendly seeds and flowers this summer and, in so doing, do our bit for nature. Our gardens would not be the same without the buzz of bees.
NORTH Yorkshire Highways has confirmed there are funds available to make Carleton Road safer, which is good news.
Henry Boot stated in a recent email “an impact on Carleton Road has been identified and a sum of £167,000 has been provided to address this” and “the responsibility for devising and implementing a traffic calming scheme for Carleton Road now lies with NYCC, using the money provided by Henry Boot Developments”.
The one issue I have with this is that the money has been allocated elsewhere by Craven District Council and North Yorkshire Council, which means there could be a problem.
Back to the good news, North Yorkshire Highways has confirmed in writing it has funds available.
The challenge we have is making a road safer that will soon carry a minimum of 1,000 extra car journeys per day and a road that has an average of one heavy goods vehicle (HGV) having to stop and turnaround every day due to the low bridge.
The BWB traffic consultancy report for Wyvern Park conveniently missed the 1,000 extra car journeys per day in its 400-plus pages of erroneous waffle, and the highways’ answer to the HGV problem is that there isn’t an answer as it is all caused by sat nav.
The former is shocking as it was not challenged by CDC and the latter unacceptable as cars and property are regularly damaged by HGVs, which would not turn down Carleton Road if the signs were clear.
Now, let us add another 24 houses in Carleton to the 225 in phase one of Wyvern Park and 39 in Burnside and send all the traffic along Carleton Road and see what happens. If you are BWB, North Yorkshire Highways, CDC or NYCC, it will all be alright as the traffic lights will be adjusted at the top of Carleton Road and Craven Street. If you live in this beautiful conservation area, the consequences do not bear thinking about.
It is time that all parties started working together. We all accept the need for more houses but we cannot accept ill-thought-out plans that provide a safety risk and damage the existing community.
ANYONE who cares about the future of our communities would be well advised to go onto Craven District Council’s website and look at the draft local development plan that is now out for consultation.
It contains a very accurate analysis of what homes are needed to meet the needs of local people.
There is a severe shortage of one-bedroom properties for starter homes or retirement homes and no significant shortage of three and four-bedroom executive homes.
Then the plan goes on to contradict itself by identifying massive areas of land for potential development, which exceed what would be needed to build the numbers required.
For example, my own village of Cononley is scheduled to require three homes a year for 25 years. Nineteen homes have already been approved. Proposals are at advanced stages of development for a further 87 homes in the mill area. Yet despite having enough supply for 35 years, a further three sites are identified as potentially appropriate for development.
In Embsay, many of the areas identified are areas only recently fiercely fought off by local people. In Skipton, land is identified that would extend the massive development off the Carleton Road to stretch the whole way along the bypass road behind the industrial estate.
These huge areas of land are only necessary because the plan does not insist that individual developers meet the need for one-bedroom properties but instead leaves them free to eat up large areas of land on building more three and four-bedroom properties.
In these circumstances, people of all political persuasions are justified in arguing the case for restraint.
There is a national and a local need for more housing, and our young people do need the opportunity to get on the housing ladder, but very few of them are going to be able to do so at the prices that will be charged for the hundreds of large executive homes that the plan is in danger of permitting.
The Local Plan needs to be massively tougher, and that will only happen if local people comment and challenge the proposals in great numbers.
Main Street, Cononley
I WAS interested in the letter from Tracey Stewart – Blood donations (Craven Herald, April 28) – as it supports my impression that blood donations are not in fact valued as highly as the service’s publicity would have us believe.
My last donation was at Skipton Town Hall in August 2015. The subsequent session in December was cancelled for health and safety reasons, with the advice to make another appointment online as soon as possible.
Attempting this the next day, all sessions within a sensible distance for the following three months were fully booked, so I attended without appointment at the next Skipton session in March.
Waiting more than an hour (my choice), my donation was then declined as it was the seventh day after minor surgery for the removal of a small cyst, and guidelines apparently advised “no donation within seven days of surgery” (though the consultant who carried out the five-minute procedure had said there would be no problem).
Fair enough, “better safe than sorry”, as the attending nurse said. The advice? Make another appointment as soon as possible. When is the next available appointment in or near Skipton? August.
Thus, assuming the August visit is successful, it will be a full year between donations. The appointments system discourages random attendance, but unless a time is pre-booked at the previous session, it seems impossible to ‘get back on board’. Staff on the day also indicated that Skipton sessions had been reduced from “12-beds to nine-beds”, which must increase the pressure on spaces – presumably a cost-saving measure as I saw no evidence of reduced attendance.
I raised these issues by email through the National Blood website, and received an acknowledgement with the promise of a fuller reply addressing my specific concerns “if a complaint, within five to ten days, otherwise within 20 working days”. That was on March 20 and I still await a response.
“Do something amazing” urges the publicity. Well, some of us would if we could.
Hillcrest, East Marton
I WAS very shocked to read that blood donor sessions in Settle are ending this month – Anger as axe falls on blood donor sessions (Craven Herald, May 5).
I have been a regular donor at St John’s Hall since moving here in 2014 and, ironically, gave my 25th donation at the last session.
I was given a card by the team and was sent an enamel badge; a nice way to mark the occasion, but I would have been happy to save the NHS the cost, as they are now too hard-up to come at all.
It is an insult for Dean Neill (NHS Blood and Transplant, Northern Region) to say that it takes too much time to get here when donors are now faced with a long journey to donate.
The Settle session was always busy, but very efficiently managed. It was supported by people of all ages and, doubtless, a significant number of these donors will not find the time to donate in future.
However, from Mr Neill’s other comments, that does not seem to matter, as the region has too much blood anyway. He implies that unless there is a patient needing it, blood will be ‘wasted’. I have always understood that donations were used in other ways, too.
After reading this report, I may need some persuading to travel by bus into Skipton to donate and then hang around for a bus home, when it would seem that it may be a wasted effort. Perhaps someone else from the NHS can explain why I should continue to be a donor.
THE footbridge over the canal from Skipton’s Horseclose Estate has wanted cleaning for years.
Although this has been requested many times, nothing has ever been done.
Councillor Andy Solloway was informed three weeks ago and, result, it was cleaned up. Thanks, Andy.
I WOULD like to humbly thank the voters of Skipton South for re-electing me as their Craven District councillor in the elections.
As I said on my election literature, I will use my energy, enthusiasm and experience, coupled with being caring, compassionate and committed, to do my best to independently represent all the residents of the ward on Craven District.
I would also like to acknowledge my Labour opponent for the hard work he too put into his campaign because, between us, we increased the turnout of voters South Ward.
I think this is largely due to the positive, clean, active and decent campaigns we both conducted, unlike in those other areas of the country.
COUNCILLOR ANDY SOLLOWAY
MAY I take the opportunity to contact the electors of Barden Fell Ward at last Thursday’s district council election, to personally and sincerely thank all the voters and, in particularly, those who so strongly supported my candidature.
It was heartening that Barden Fell had the highest voter turnout across Craven. At least democracy is alive and well in Barden Fell.
I recognise the needs and aspirations of the residents and businesses of the Barden Fell ward are both disparate and challenging. They will have my full attention.
COUNCILLOR DAVID PIGHILLS
Barden Fell ward
Club Nook Farm, Barden
MAY I take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for me in the recent local election for Grassington ward.
I would like to congratulate Richard Foster on retaining the seat. May I also thank the staff at the polling stations and at the count the following day for all their hard work.
Labour Party candidate
Hammerton Drive, Hellifield
I WOULD like to thank all those in the Skipton East ward who voted for me in Thursday’s Craven District Council elections.