SIR - More than 130 souls braved the wind and the rain to attend the Town Hall on Monday night for a two hour debate about the pros and cons of the new proposed council offices and HML building opposite the auction mart on Gargrave Road.

The meeting was attended by a planning officer from Craven District Council, who performed an excellent job but could only comment on the decision making process.

But where oh where was the chief executive of Craven District Council Gill Dixon, or council leader Carl Lis, or economics officer Jonathan Kerr? Was there something more interesting or more important on that Monday night that warranted their presence elsewhere?

Our "caring, sharing" council is forever at great pains to inform us, via the means of expensive glossy brochures posted through our letterboxes at regular intervals and at great expense to the ratepayer that they value public consultation highly and are keen to take residents' comments and suggestions on board.

Their non-attendance shows up the utter hypocrisy of the fancy brochures and heartfelt comments for what they are: utterly meaningless.

The overriding consensus of opinion in the town hall that night was that, whilst no-one disputes the right of HML to look for additional office space, the suggested greenfield site was completely inappropriate from a traffic and environmental point of view and that the many brownfield sites suitable for such a building dotted in and around the Craven area should be investigated further before yet more precious greenbelt land is lost in Skipton.

With regards to the council, either the rebuilding of the offices at the current site in Granville Street, or at the bus station as suggested by Brian Verity (no relation) in this newspaper not so long ago, should be looked at again.

We had a show of hands at the end of the meeting and, just to enlighten you Messrs Dixon, Lis and Kerr, the result was: for the development on the proposed site: nil, against 130.

Are you listening now?

Mark Verity, Raikes Road, Skipton.


SIR - Monday saw a packed meeting at Skipton Town Hall despite the appalling weather.

One hundred and sixty chairs were put out, but this proved insufficient, and another score or so had to be added, the discussion centring around the proposed Gargrave Road Development for HML (a subsidiary of Skipton Building Society) and Craven District Council's new offices.

The reason for the meeting was that greater dialogue might be obtained between the public, the council, and HML, for as one taxpayer stated: "The councillors tell us they can't talk to us about the subject, so what are we supposed to do about our concerns?"

Regrettably both HML and the council found themselves unable or unwilling to supply anyone to speak in favour of this development, or indeed to speak at all.

The council received many invitations, and it is disappointing that this council taxpayer funded body felt unable to engage with the public.

We are also saddened by the refusal of six of the ten councillors (Camacho, Hart, Heseltine, Hurtley, Jacquin and Lis) to state how they voted on the proposal to accept Gargrave Road as the preferred site for new council offices, this being against the wishes of the electorate.

This proposal was passed by that committee, under the chairmanship of council leader Lis, who has stated that "the council must be open, transparent, and accountable."

Fine sentiments, but it would be even better to see these sentiments as actions.

Alan Perrow Craven Ratepayers' Action Group Bannister Walk, Cowling.

Crass response

SIR - I request the right of reply to the piece you published last Friday about my planning application at Park Wood Close, Skipton.

The town council has made an objection that my application is un-neighbourly and that I should fit obscured glazing.

The town council is totally ill-informed in making this suggestion for the following reasons: Both my neighbours had opportunity to inspect my plans: Neither objected; both neighbours have huge extensions to their properties to which I didn't object; in comparison my proposed conservatory is tiny; neither neighbour will be able to see my conservatory when it is completed due to a high hedge on one side and a garage block on the other.

The only way you would be able to view my conservatory would be from the air.

Obviously Skipton Town Council hasn't done its job properly; ie neither researched my proposals thoroughly nor inspected the site. This only serves to reinforce my prejudice against interfering, busy-body councillors. Their response is crass and unprofessional.

John Green Park Wood Close, Skipton.

Muddy mess

SIR - Yesterday whilst walking on the canal towpath from Gargrave to East Marton with friends, we came across a gated section in between Bank Newton and East Marton.

In this particular section we were ankle deep in mud and the culprits were cattle that had been walking up and down this section for goodness knows how long.

From farming myself, I know that it is very important to keep walls and fences in good repair; afraid not in this instance.

Come on farmers follow your stock and keep them where they belong, in the field and not on the towpath.

Mrs Lynnda Smith, Silsden.

Equal access

SIR - In response to Mr Moorefield's letter of November 24, I think that the 11-plus exam is fair.

The unfairness arises in the system, as I understand it, because prospective pupils from outside the Skipton area can be accepted by the grammar schools with a lower pass mark than local prospective pupils.

Surely all prospective pupils to Skipton grammar schools should be assessed by the same standard regardless of where they live?

Presumably Craven district pupils are the first entrants, followed by pupils from outside the Craven district area of the same standard.

If there are still vacant places then presumably those vacancies are filled with pupils with a slightly lower pass mark but again giving equal chances to Craven area and non-Craven area applicants.

Hence, the infamous pass mark of 227 should fluctuate year by year depending on the quality of the year's applicants, regardless of where they live.

GW Parker, Mill Lane, Bradley.

No animals please

SIR - With the Christmas season fast approaching, aid agencies are once again pressing the public to give money so that farmed animals can be donated to impoverished communities in the "developing" world.

But such schemes, however well-intentioned, serve only to increase poverty because farming animals is a wasteful, environmentally destructive and expensive way of producing food.

All farmed animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, shelter from extremes of weather and veterinary care. Such resources are in critically short supply in much of Africa.

There are many ways in which such communities can be helped. These range from providing appropriate technology to supplying drought-resistant, sustainable crops.

Last Christmas, Animal Aid took the lead role in raising £2,000 for an irrigation scheme for a vegetarian orphanage in Kenya. The initiative was at the behest of British charity HIPPO (Help International Plant Protein Organisation) that does invaluable work on the ground in several African countries.

This year, Animal Aid is seeking support for another HIPPO initiative: a tree-planting project in the same rural community as the orphanage - located 10 miles from Nakuru, Kenya's fourth largest town and the capital of the Rift Valley province. The aim is to plant 2,000 trees that will bear oranges, avocados, mango, pawpaw, kei apple and macadamia nut.

Animal Aid urges the public this year to boycott all donate-an-animal schemes and support projects that help people, animals and the environment.

Andrew Tyler, Director, Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge.

Proven correct

SIR - I can well understand Steve Dobson's bewilderment at the reaction from villagers in Embsay to his plans to stage a community party (Craven Herald December 1).

There was plenty of bah humbug' and objections for the sake of objecting' in Settle, too, when it was announced that the Christmas Lights Switch-on would take place on a Friday evening instead of the usual Saturday afternoon.

Last Friday night proved all those who said nobody would turn out to be totally out of touch and I for one would like to thank Martin Lewton for stepping forward at the last moment to stage the event.

Thank you too to the pupils from Settle Middle School and Giggleswick Primary School and the Helen Howard School of Theatre Dance for providing such festive entertainment, and of course surprise celebrity Daisy the pantomime cow for switching on the lights. Well done everybody.

On behalf of Settle Flagmakers can I also thank everybody who supported our stall.

I heard an interesting comment last week: The reason the Chamber of Trade have organised the Christmas event in the past was to thank the townspeople for their custom over the past year. Perhaps the new Chamber of Trade would like to think about that one!

Jeanne Carr, Castle Hill, Settle.

Closure meeting

SIR - It is a pity that Mr Dobson had to approach The Craven Herald before he heard the views of the residents, who were objecting at a recent meeting to the proposed closure on December 23 of part of Embsay main street and the public car park, and that it would also have been prudent for the Herald to have interviewed parties from both sides to provide a balanced view of the problem.

I can assure you that those objecting to the proposed event were not, as stated, objecting for the sake of objecting' and that, by printing a one-sided version of events, the rift between residents has simply widened and the time for an amicable resolution has passed.

The problem has simply been exacerbated since regional and national newspapers and radio stations became involved.

There also appears to be confusion over the facts surrounding the event, in particular that it is an "all ticket event" as well as many local inhabitants being completely unaware that the event was taking place.

At the time of peace and goodwill to all mankind', I feel that it is sad that this problem could not have been resolved by Mr Dobson simply meeting the residents who would have been affected by his proposed event, without needing to involve the rest of the nation.

Mrs C Shuttleworth, Main Street, Embsay. Editor's note: The Craven Herald approached Mr Dobson, not the other way round. The Herald, being a newspaper, reports news. The fact that this was a newsworthy issue was demonstrated by the interest shown by organisations such as the Yorkshire Post and the BBC which, once they read it in our newspaper, followed it up.

The main thrust of our article was the "mince pies risk assessment" but we are happy to publish letters from people who wish to inform why they object to the community event.


SIR - I knew it could only be a short time before politically correct lunacy hit Skipton, but reading my Craven Herald it would appear to have struck the village of Embsay.

It appears to me that it is very clear that the village of Embsay does not deserve such a public-spirited person as Mr Dobson, and if the people of Embsay had an iota of community spirit about them they would back this man, who is trying to unite his community for Christmas, to the hilt.

To ask a person to state the cocoa content on a warm drink is bordering on lunacy, but then I think that political correctness is the language of cowardice anyway. These are the same people who would want a bottle of milk to be labelled may contain milk'.

My advice to the complainants of the village is that they should try to help Mr Dobson in his worthy efforts to help the community in which they live.

In conclusion, if Craven District Council is so concerned about health and safety requirements they might try looking at the state of some of the road surfaces in the town, Regents Road and Greatwood Avenue to name two which contain holes and stop worrying about how much cocoa there is in a cup.

To Mr Dobson I would like to wish him well in his efforts and hope that he and his helpers have a Merry Christmas.

Robert Chapman, Lytham Gardens, Skipton.

PC madness

SIR - Having read Hearld's World' in last week's edition, I agree that all too often events have been cancelled because the politically correct brigade have scuppered yet another of our customary pastimes on the grounds that such events might be dangerous, so perhaps it is now time that we called a halt to their activities.

If the organisers of events were to follow the example set by operators of car parks who put up a notice declaring that "parking is at the owner's risk" this should end the need for crippling insurance cover.

One such notice could read: "While the organisers have considered every reasonable way to safeguard all persons attending this event, it should be noted that you attend this event at your own risk."

Different organisers may have to consider another form of words to cover different kinds of events but I'm sure satisfactory wording could be found and to hell with the PC brigade.

Gordon Adams, Park View Drive, Threshfield.

Hunt horror

SIR - I must be allowed to respond to Mr Robinson's letter in the Craven Herald, November 24.

He seems to think I am a so-called "bunny hugger". How wrong can he be? I spent the first 20 years of my life living and working on farms in Wharfedale and have been living and working in and around the Dales ever since.

I have seen what foxes can do and I have no problem with fox hunting, but stag hunting I don't like. Hunt supporters always come up with that old chestnut, as Mr Robinson states, "We only hunt sick and infirm deer" and goes on to state that hounds are never used to bring down the deer.

I would ask Mr Robinson to think back to New Year's Day 2000, when a hunt chased and caught a young deer by the side of the A65 more or less outside Coniston Hall, home of the joint master of the Craven and Pendle Hunt, and proceeded to pull the terrified young deer to pieces, watched by the hunt and witnessed by a family in a car as reported in the Craven Herald letters page on January 7, 2000.

Mr Robinson then goes on to state that deer could be carrying TB - that's a new one; don't let the Government know otherwise all deer will be culled as they are thinking of culling badgers for the same reason.

David Scholey, Belgrave Street, Skipton.

Good news

SIR - The decision to scrap bypasses on the A65 bypass is good news to people living between Keighley and Kendal. The inspector at a public enquiry into Gargrave bypass earlier this year has now very sensibly revoked all previous plans and sent the lot back to the drawing board.

Like the invention of autobahns, built across Europe to get capitalist armies into Russia to do down communism before World War Two, after that war Britain's motorways were not planned for actual transport but solely to cover countryside with as many roads as possible.

The inspector's report is certainly bad news for the huge road construction quarrying industry, mostly foreign financed and managed.

Robert D Leakey, Sutcliffe House, Giggleswick.