Why not subscribe to save library service?

Sir - Regarding the proposed cost-cutting in North Yorkshire’s Library Service, I have a suggestion.

Instead of just concentrating on cutting costs, why not also consider increasing revenue?

I agree with previous correspondents, and I’m sure, most other people, that the proposed ‘core’ libraries, including Skipton, should not have their staffing cut at all - their knowledge, training, and experience are too valuable to be lost - especially if they have an extra responsibility for the support of volunteers in the ‘community’ libraries.

However, I don’t see why the majority of library users should not make a direct contribution to the cost of retaining core staff by paying an annual subscription, for the privilege of holding a library card.

The National Health Service, like the Library Service, is basically funded by taxation, but for a long time now, we have all - bar children and pensioners - had to pay a proportion of the cost of prescriptions; and similarly, the cost of NHS dentistry is subsidised, but not free; and the library service, though very important, is less essential than the NHS.

I suggest therefore that an annual subscription is charged to all book borrowers between the ages of 18 and 65 - with a reduced charge for those over 65.

I also think that libraries should sell new books, as well as loan them - so people who borrow a book they like, or find useful, can order their own copy from the library (if in print); and people who normally buy their own, can be exposed to the library while doing so, and encouraged to take out a subscription as well - while the library enjoys the profit on any sales (this could be done on an order-only basis, without carrying an extra stock of new books).

The exact amount of any subscription will need to be finely judged, and there may be a need for other concessions, but the total net revenue must be sufficient to avoid redundancies (taking into account all other savings and revenues).

If any readers agree with any of the above, perhaps they could let the North Yorkshire Library Service know, before the consultation period is over.

Martin Hanson West View Threshfield No more free travel Sir - Colin Speakman (Craven Herald, December 4) predicts a “dire future for transport in the countryside without major changes to the way it is funded”. He is correct.

Unfortunately, the doom-laden Mr Speakman has (unsurprisingly ) got it wrong. Perhaps he has not noticed that taxpayers are no longer willing to stump up ever more cash (or ‘funding’ as he calls it ) for these buses (often empty) carrying ‘freeloading’ pensioners from West Yorkshire into North Yorkshire, and many of whom are tourists.

North Yorkshire County Council would do well to ignore his pleas for even more of our hard-earned cash, and fill the potholes instead.

With ‘austerity’ set to continue for the next five years, whichever Government wins the next General Election, we need to find new ways to pay for these buses so that they become ‘self-funding’.

As things stand, hardly anyone is paying to board, except of course my dog and penniless teenagers. No revenue equals no buses, and which is not good news for pensioners in the remoter Dales.

Following an invitation from North Yorkshire County Council three weeks ago, I prepared a report showing how our reducing bus service could be saved from closure, and even improved, by achieving self-sufficiency following my personal experience of the (now gone) X59 bus from Skipton to Harrogate, and the Number 70 bus from Grassington to Ilkley which I use weekly. This service is a ‘freeloaders’ paradise. Costing about £50,000 per year to we taxpayers to run this five day service with no revenue to offset that cost (hardly anyone is paying) is disgraceful.

The beneficiaries of the present system are North Yorkshire pensioners (worthy), pensioner tourists from West Yorkshire, and let’s not forget all those retail operations on the routes. Are we taxpayers expected to pay for delivering customers to their doorsteps?

My proposal to North Yorkshire County Council is that everyone should pay something. Full fare for pensioner tourists from outside our borders, and half price for our North Yorkshire pensioners. A full review of the national concessionary bus fare system is also urgently needed.

If Mr Speakman and his organisation are not prepared to support new thinking on this subject , then all these buses will soon be gone, and where will that leave all our pensioners up the Dale, those drivers who lose their jobs, and his own Dalesbus Friends standing forlornly at the bus stops awaiting the ‘free’ bus that never arrives?

No more afternoon teas in Bettys at my expense, thank you (£15 per head?). It’s time for change, and my ‘fare-paying’ dog agrees.

Peter Rigby Beamsley Plan for countryside Sir - CPRE Craven has been lobbying Craven District Council for the past three years regarding the need for an up-to-date local plan - one that truly reflects the needs of this beautiful, rural district of North Yorkshire.

We have always recognised the need for affordable homes. However, we strongly object to the needless destruction of agricultural green fields to build unnecessary market value houses where the harm of doing so clearly outweighs the benefit. It is perfectly possible to address affordable housing needs and protect the Craven countryside.

The draft local plan fails to protect our rural landscape and fails to recognise the importance of farming and food in the district.

The local plan should be based on common sense, fair play and rational open discussion, and not focus on building what we don’t need in order to get what we do need. Planning is a minefield for the average (and not so average) person. The odds are stacked in favour of development. Therefore, the only way to ensure we get what we need, where the community needs and wants it, is to build a sound, working local plan.

The local plan has been under review for seven years or more. Residents and local groups have all written to Craven District Council on numerous occasions to express their concerns. However, if one disagrees with the opinions of the planners, it is, according to one source, viewed as negative or NIMBYism. A differing opinion when supported by valid reasoning is not negative, it is simply different.

We need a strong, clear local plan. We need it soon and while we understand that it must stand up to scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate, it must be fully acknowledged by planners and politicians alike that it must truly reflect the needs of Craven district.

CPRE have attended meetings at the council. We have asked questions, written reports and repeatedly asked for answers to our questions. We are not working against the council, we are trying to work with it and we are failing. This should not be viewed as them and us, but all of us working together for a mutual goal to ensure that we get the very best for the people of Craven in this generation and future generations.

What does the countryside do for Craven? It provides the setting for our highly successful tourism industry and it produces food. Farming maintains the countryside seven days per week, 52 weeks a year. Between November, 2013 and November, 2014, a total of 295,219 sheep and 18, 857 cattle passed through Skipton Cattle Market.

The local plan pays lip service only to the value of Craven’s food and farming businesses. Craven’s agricultural industry should not be dismissed as of little or no importance.

We seek protection for the countryside and for the farmers who are responsible for its beauty and attracting for tourists and for producing the milk, beef and lamb this country so much relies upon. We need to ensure that young families involved in agriculture and agri-related business can actually afford to remain in the area. We need to keep the Craven countryside alive for all. We need a local plan that clearly identifies the rural characteristics of Craven and then goes onto recognise their importance and offer protection, we need to see two way communication, accountability and transparency.

Stephen Butcher Vice-chairman of Craven CPRE Rylstone Festival grit concerns (Below is a copy of a letter sent to North Yorkshire county councillor David Ireton, which was copied by the writer to the Craven Herald.) Sir - I have attended the Grassington Dickensian event as a re-enactor for the past four years but I appreciate it has been in existence for 33 years. I travel from north Manchester to the event and the 1940s event in September.

On Saturday the weather was very cold, with black ice from Skipton to Grassington. On arrival into Grassington at around 8.30am the roads and pavement were extremely slippy.

The highways gritter did not arrive until around 9.30am. As this event attracts at least 25,000 to 30,000 members of the public I would of thought that the NYCC (North Yorkshire County Council) gritting team might have applied grit onto the main roads leading into the town.

The Dickensian committee had to pay a local farmer with a small quad bike and trailer to apply grit from the main car park to the event. I really hope the NYCC will do their upmost to support the committee and this fantastic event in forthcoming years.

Stephen K Holt Manchester Christmas mail tips Sir - As Christmas approaches, Royal Mail research suggests over 20 per cent of us leave our online Christmas shopping until December before getting started.

Here are some tips for readers to help them plan for the last-minute rush to be ready for Christmas.

Order early, post early and use the postcode.

Ordering early means that you have time to return Christmas presents if they are not quite right and order new ones.

Posting early for Christmas will enable people to enjoy their Christmas cards for longer and helps Royal Mail spread the workload at its busiest time.

Royal Mail’s postcode finder can help you locate address details for long-lost cousins. Using the postcode also helps Royal Mail sort the cards and letters by machine rather than by hand.

Don’t forget latest recommended posting dates - see www.royalmail.com/Christmas2014 for full details.

l Today – Second Class l Saturday – First Class l Tuesday – Special Delivery Guaranteed Amazon is offering its online customers access to Royal Mail’s Local Collect ‘click and collect’ network. Online shoppers can now choose to get their parcels delivered to over 10,500 Post Office branches throughout the UK.

Don’t forget that Royal Mail delivery offices all over the UK are open longer throughout December. Details will be on the Something for You card you receive if you are not at home when we try to deliver an item that requires a signature or is too large to go through the letterbox.

When sending fragile items, make sure you pack them carefully, providing adequate protection for your important items.

Rob Jenson Operations director Royal Mail North West It’s an ill wind...

Sir - I wonder how many people are aware that if the late Jeremy Thorpe MP not had his court case troubles in the late 1970s that the Settle and Carlisle Line may have been closed?

In 1979 his North Devon seat was won by Tony Speller for the Conservatives.

One year late Mr Speller engineered an amendment to the Transport Act which made it easier for BR to reopen closed stations on a trial basis. This amendment was used by Ron Cotton to reopen eight stations.

Of course it could be that the Speller amendment may have been brought in my someone else, or that Ron Cotton would have found another way forward.

Martin Pearson Westhill Road Kings Norton Birmingham Some points to ponder Sir- What a lot of consumers will not understand is that “we have lost our empire”. We no longer rule the waves, despite the song.

The ‘heads of industry’ have outsourced their workforce where labour is cheaper than in this country. (The unions abroad are still in their infancy and have still to get a grip on their workforce. When they do, we shall see an end to cheap imports.) Luxuries and cheaper air fares mean they can flit about and pull the strings as they wish. This means that factories are continually being closed down in this country.

The ‘heads of industry’ are also the heads the heads of the government, the Army, and the Navy, etc, which are used to quell any ‘unrest’.

They may be charged with ‘infighting’ but they are still the heads of government. The government backs the ‘high-speed railway’. Re-read the last paragraph. Need I say more?

The reason we are short of housing is that everybody, and I mean everybody,wants their own ‘pad’, and we cannot grow more land on which to build. The marriage ideas have been thrown out generally speaking, as people prefer to ‘co-habit’.

We cannot even grow our own food any more. Did we ever? Perhaps we have too many mouths to feed.

Once upon a time people could salvage what they wanted from the rubbish tip, but not any more.

The councils have learned it is robbing the government of taxes such as VAT, so it has been stopped.

Change of subject. An ‘extremist’ is someone who has exchanged the delights of ‘this world’ for the promise of delights in the next. I wish our ‘mind manipulators’ of any faith would see this. As the saying goes: “It’s all in the mind.”

Jeff Bilbrough Hebden Hall Park Hebden