SIR - The doctors at Townhead Surgeries, Settle, are very concerned about the latest proposals for out of hours (OOH) medical cover imposed by the Primary Care Trust (PCT). We feel that the new arrangements, as they stand, are potentially unsafe and will be less convenient for our patients.

The article in the Craven Herald (November 10) North Craven OOH doctor's base switches to Skipton' does nothing to allay our concerns and is inaccurate.

Our practice has worked closely with the PCT over the last three years and partners have been actively involved with discussions about the OOH service.

Latterly, we feel that the OOH service has been cut back too much; however, our concerns have been ignored. The article is correct in stating that there has been discussion with GPs but it fails to point out that the Settle doctors, as well as other colleagues in Craven, were opposed to the new changes. We can report that we have had a further meeting with the PCT on November 14 and we will continue to voice our concerns.

Until November 1, 2006, there were two Primary Care Centres operating in Craven, one based at Castleberg Hospital, Giggleswick, and the other at Skipton General Hospital. From November 1 there will only be one Primary Care Centre (base).

This is not a switch' as stated in the Craven Herald article; it is a further cutback. From that date, for the majority of the weekend, bank holidays and all weekday evenings and nights, these periods will be covered by one GP working out of Skipton General Hospital.

Yes, there will be two doctors working during weekend mornings and bank holiday mornings, but for the majority of the time there will only be one doctor covering a very large geographical area with poor/busy roads. It is this reduction in medical cover that we are very concerned about, in spite of being advised that similar cover arrangements work safely in other parts of North Yorkshire. The reassurance we have been given that Settle patients will still be able to be seen at Castleberg Hospital seems logistically hard for us to comprehend.

Patients registered with the Bentham practice will receive their OOH medical cover from Baycall, which is based in the Lancaster, Morecambe and Kendal area. We are informed that Settle patients with LA postcodes would also receive their OOH medical cover from Baycall.

We have not been given any specific details as to how this might work and we are particularly unhappy about this aspect of the new arrangements. Our meeting with the PCT on November 14 flagged this up as in urgent need of clarification.

We also feel strongly that all these changes to the OOH service are very significant and should have been shared with the public.

The Craven Herald article states the claim that patients will receive "the same high quality responsive out of hours' service". We are not convinced that the new arrangements will be able to deliver such a service.

We do not take the decision to go to the press lightly. We will continue to talk to the PCT about OOH medical cover to ensure that all patients in Craven receive the most effective and safe OOH care. We urge our patients, indeed all patients in Craven, to write to the PCT, address: OOH Manager, North Yorkshire and York PCT, The Hamlet, Hornbeam Park, Harrogate HG2 8RE, if they feel that their OOH care has not been satisfactory.

Dr Eric Ward and partners, Townhead Surgeries, Settle.

Blunt instrument

SIR - Of course the 11-plus system is unfair. It is also wasteful and divisive. However, it has widespread public support in Craven and Ripon, so we are stuck with it.

Dr Passmore's adjudication is doubly flawed.

First, Craven and Ripon are well separated geographically. It is certainly impractical (and probably also impossible) for a pupil unsuccessfully in the 11 plus in Craven to get to Ripon on a daily basis and thus take advantage of the lower pass mark in that area.

Indeed, if Craven and Ripon were more urban environments they would be in different LEAs and there would be no issue to refer to an adjudicator.

Second, whether the pass mark is 204 or 227, or any number in between, the system will still be unfair. The 11-plus is a blunt instrument of selection. There will always be the 11-plus failures who go on to academic success and grammar school pupils who fall by the educational wayside. Tinkering with the pass mark is a waste of time and energy.

North Yorkshire is in an impossible position. If a common pass mark is established for Craven and Ripon there will certainly be an outcry in Ripon, where fewer pupils will qualify for a grammar school place.

What readers might find surprising is that more pupils qualifying in Craven would not be quite so universally applauded as our politicians seem to think. The two Craven secondary modern schools will not want to lose their most able pupils. Indeed, why should they when there is no evidence that they are presently receiving pupils who are misplaced with them and ought to be at a grammar school?

Finally, I would suggest that Councillor English and her colleagues concentrate on those issues for which the District Council is properly responsible rather than jumping on this particular political bandwagon which, frankly, is going nowhere.

Richard C Moorfield, Threshfield, Skipton.

Trust's legacy

SIR - Why do people not get their facts right before writing to newspapers? In the Craven Herald of November 10 there was a letter from David Scholey about the National Trust, regarding hunting.

The same type of rubbish was trawled out in the Sunday Express on November 5. It is not illegal to use hounds to hunt deer. Two hounds can be used to find and flush out deer to where it is safe to shoot them. I understand that this is what will now take place on Trust land.

The hounds are not, and never were, used to bring down the deer.

Some of the sick deer could be carrying and spreading TB. The sooner they are located and culled, the better it is for the rest of the wildlife and the tame.

Another thing that a lot of the "bunny huggers" have forgotten is the fact most of the property owned by the Trust was left to it by hunting, shooting and fishing people.

If they had thought that hunting would ever be banned on that land they would never have left it to the National Trust.

Bernard Robinson, Midland Terrace, Hellifield.

Farewell tribute

SIR - This month Skipton lost its staunchest supporter and defender of the town's traditional character.

Gwynne Walters had, for many years, served the town with complete dedication in preserving its unique historical appearance and fought with vigour against the recent plans for the redevelopment of our town centre through the so-called Renaissance project. For this she deserves our enduring thanks.

The Craven Herald of November 10 saw her final letter. It raised concerns over plans for the development of new offices on an edge of town site off Gargrave Road near Aireville Grange, for Home Loan Management (Skipton Building Society) and Craven District Council.

She has made us aware that this development will impinge on a protected landscape as determined by the Local Plan, a document and policy that was put in place by the planning authority, Craven District Council, some years ago.

More importantly, she alerts us to the fact that building on this green space will affect us all. She called on readers to contact the planning officer at Craven District Council to make their views known. Many of the adverse effects were very well described in Andrew Osborne's letter, which was alongside Gwynne's.

I feel that we owe it to Gwynne to support her, even more so now that she is no longer here to lead the fight.

It is therefore vitally important for the heritage of Skipton, that everyone who cares about the town, should take the time to have a say about this proposed new development.

To rely upon others to do this may not be enough. This is what Gwynne has asked of us. To preserve her memory, it is the very least we can do.

N Allan, Raikes Road, Skipton.

Fees are justified

SIR - I write as chairman of the Skipton Chamber of Trade and Commerce Medieval Festival Committee, in response to the letter from Patricia Mason (Craven Herald November 10) regarding charity stalls at the festival.

The event has been organised by the chamber for the last 12 years, principally for the benefit of local retailers, to give them a financial boost prior to the traditional "dead" months of January and February. Over the years, it has also developed into a successful community event, supported and enjoyed by most people within the town.

The charity stalls have been a feature of the event for many a year now, but they have always been asked to pay a small fee towards the not inconsiderable costs of putting the event on. The two Sundays cost in the region of £20,000 to stage (you may recall that last year's event actually made a financial loss of nearly £2,000, which was subsidised by the chamber). Entertainers, traffic management staff, publicity, artists fees and materials for the popular Lantern Procession, crash barriers, first aid provision - all have to be paid for somehow.

The local charities (and the festival committee makes a point of trying to restrict the event to local charities, as well as local traders) who take on a stall, all benefit from the thousands of people who attend over the two days, a throughput generated by the hard, purely voluntary, work of the relatively small festival committee, who organise and publicise the events.

The fact that the majority of charity stallholders take a stall year after year, would seem to indicate that they feel their relatively small contribution they are asked to make towards the costs of running the events, is more than made up by the financial and social rewards they make by using the events as a fundraising opportunity.

Dave Parker, Chairman, Skipton Medieval Festival Committee 2006

Track's long past

SIR - I have read with interest over the past months comments on the Gorbeck path which have appeared in the Craven Herald. I have smiled at some of them, as some of the writers do not seem to quite know what they are talking about.

So, as you know from my previous correspondence with you, I do believe I am the oldest person alive to tell the true story.

The National Park has got lots of tourists, their knowledge mostly obtained by maps, etc. People who do not know the lay of the land intimately.

During my 25 years' life at Capon Hall I acquired much knowledge from the older ones, road men and old farm workers - all now deceased.

Gorbeck Pasture belonged to Capon Hall Farms and was in Langcliffe Parish. Remember Monks ditch' at Capon Hall which was allowed to be breached, an ancient monastic boundary - Fountains and Sawley abbeys. Some of the parish council did not know it even existed.

I wrote concerning the matter and spoke also to a member of the National Park pointing this out.

The reply was at that particular spot there was no ditch although at each side of the new entrance it could plainly be seen.

The whole place is so altered it is unrecognisable and I have records from the 12 century, there being four shepherds' huts, capona' running sheep on Fountamus Fell.

The track is part of the old drover and packhorse path from Lancaster to York. It came by way of Newby, Clapham, Feizor, Langcliffe (old village), Malham Moor, Kilnsey, Pateley Bridge (via Greenhow) and goods and commodities of all sorts were transported north by mules and donkey back packs; these items were transferred to the River Nidd and sailed to York, and then to the open sea. It is said the Bayeux Tapestry is made of Yorkshire wool because of the rough qualities.

Nowadays there is freedom to roam, yes, why not? Walk and horse ride, enjoy the sweet fresh air, but not to be deafened by dozens of motorbikes and four wheel drive vehicles take the biscuit.

This path has lost a lot of money. I have watched the helicopter going over with road material and it won't be many years, if it is used as suggested, before it is going to cost a lot more money to repair. Mastiles Lane has been a good churned up example.

The first motorised traffic that went that way were the army tanks on exercise from Catterick. It was they who first ploughed the track up, knocking down the gate posts. Motorbikes then adventurously tried the track, mostly getting stuck and bogged down, coming to us at Capon Hall for help and reluctantly to be assisted by my husband, dragged out by shepherding ponies and ropes.

Why not have a system in which the cars' owners leave them at designated spots, then walk and also let other people walk in peace and unpolluted air? It is very mean to expect other folk to breath rancid fumes from their exhausts.

Edith Carr, Northfields Crescent, Settle.


SIR - Your report last week on the future of the Snaygill Centre in Skipton was factually inaccurate, and will undoubtedly have caused consternation and anxiety. I should like to set the record straight.

You say "North Yorkshire County Council intends to close it on December 2 - Carers' Rights Day." This is untrue. There is currently no date set for the transfer of the service at Snaygill.

Work is ongoing with the family carers and people who use the service to plan an alternative. Once an alternative is identified a clear plan for the centre's closure will be put in place.

The county council is committed to providing the very best in care and support services. It is the council's judgement that the Snaygill building is not able to provide the high quality service that people with high support needs and their carers want.

The current building is both old and inadequate. As indicated above we are working closely with family carers and the people currently using the service to identify a temporary alternative to the provision provided by the Snaygill Centre. We can then begin working with family carers and people with a learning disability to ensure that in the future there is a full range of services and support available that can be flexible as circumstances change.

Derek Law Director, Adult and Community Services, County Hall, Northallerton.

Thanks for support

SIR - My predicament has recently been the subject of much correspondence in your newspaper. I would like to express my profound thanks for your interest and the support and help I have received from your readers, many of whom I have yet to meet!

I hope the matter can be resolved with a modicum of common sense. I can only wait and see'.

I would like to point out that the Yorkshire Dales National Park officers made the decision to turn down the planning application for Mire House and subsequently threaten me with eviction, not our elected members of the planning committee to whom this matter was never presented and of which they had no knowledge.

I am sure the YDNP can justify this to the planning committee!

Again, many thanks for your interest and support.

Sue Woodcock, Mire House, Moor Lane, Grassington.

Private beliefs

SIR - In reply to Tracy Wilson's letter (Craven Herald November 10), the last thing Settle voters wanted when they elected the Positive about Settle' councillors was yet another civic dignitary to turn up at ceremonial events and then go home believing they had fulfilled their duty.

Alison Marshall was unwise to state her private beliefs so strongly in a public meeting but she is a new councillor and doubtless will not make that mistake again. After all, she is not the only member of Settle Town Council to have made a remark recently that someone chose to take offence at.

When somebody starts stating the facts' I smell a rat - whose facts exactly? Tracy should stop hiding behind her married name and let readers judge for themselves whether she really is the unbiased observer she purports to be.

Jeanne Carr, Castle Hill, Settle.


SIR - Following the statement by Coun Alison Marshall that she wouldn't be attending the remembrance ceremony in Settle due to the fact she doesn't believe in God, I would like to point out you do not have to be a believer' to stand for two minutes at a cenotaph to show your respect for the fallen.

Barbara Middleton, Commercial Street, Settle.