I GREATLY sympathise with Anne Whitmore who fell into the canal as she went towards Niffany Bridge from Skipton – Pensioner suffers ‘potentially fatal’ fall on towpath (Craven Herald, April 21).
Slithering through the mud at the edge of the canal is dangerous, but dozens of people a day do it in wet weather.
As a spokesperson says in the report, a bid was put in for Government money to surface the path from Skipton to Gargrave and it was turned down. The bid was inflated by the cost of surfacing from Niffany to Gargrave, which is not in such bad condition and is far less used, and by the very high cost of re-aligning the canal at Niffany.
Yet, what needs doing urgently to prevent further life-and-limb threatening accidents is to improve the stretch from Skipton centre to Sawley Street and Niffany, a stretch used especially by pupils going to school and older people, such as Anne, and that would be much more used if improved.
It is appalling that the relevant authorities refuse to organise this, which is not a major expense, because they insist the job must also include the Niffany realignment and surfacing Niffany to Gargrave. North Yorkshire has resurfaced remote roads to nowhere used by virtually no-one, like Lower Winskill Lane near Stainforth and Green Gate Lane at Long Preston, so there is no actual shortage of money.
The Government has just brought out its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for consultation. It says it wants to invest in good off-road routes to walk and cycle on, but it will not release any money until 2018/19, and then it will be down to the new city mayors as to what gets done. That does not bode well for our urgent needs for our towpath. Please respond to the consultation by stating that absolutely the best way for the Government to encourage walking, especially amongst their target groups – the elderly, those going to school and those from ethnic minorities – is to ensure Skipton centre and Skipton to Niffany are safely surfaced and soon. Email walking.cycling@dft.gsi.gov.uk or write to 2/14 Great Minister House, 33 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR.
Green Party candidate for Skipton North
Hall Croft, Skipton

WHILE I cannot account for the circumstances of other 73-year-old pensioners, as one who frequently and in all weathers walks the canal towpath between Gargrave and Skipton, and beyond, I would say that, personally, I would need to try very hard to fall in. It was quite possibly through no fault of her own that the lady went in, but your report – Pensioner suffers “potentially fatal” fall on towpath (Craven Herald, April 21) – merely says she “slipped on mud”.
Yes, the towpath along that stretch is frequently muddy and slippery, but nowhere is it so narrow that you have to walk so close to the edge that a slip should lead you to fall in. Or am I missing something? What were the exact circumstances of the fall?
In the absence of further information, I fail to agree that the towpath is dangerous, as implied in your report, and therefore to understand why the Canal and River Trust was put on the defensive, finding it necessary to issue a statement saying that it was “very sorry”, and urging people to “take extra care”. It is not always realistic to blame incidents like this on someone else, and follow them up with demands that “something must be done”. Sometimes you have to take personal responsibility.
And while on the subject, is there any provision to address the appalling litter problem on the splendidly renewed stretch south out of town – i.e. collection of the years of accumulated rubbish, installation of bins, and the regular emptying of them – or is it another case of money being available for a capital project but none for maintenance thereafter? Given adequate back-up, I might be persuaded to volunteer (apologies if this has been addressed since my last visit on March 22).
Duke Street, Settle

ON April 23, four members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (the Craven branch of CPRE) spent a couple of hours picking up litter between the entrance to Skipton Auction Mart and the roundabout by the Burger King/Little Chef – perhaps 100 yards. We accumulated 14 bags of litter, a number of signs, sandbags and hubcaps and a fishing rod (complete with lure and bait boxes). A familiar haul to any litter picking party.
Much of the litter is of the consume-and-chuck type – there was a huge amount of Burger King packaging.
Obviously, food outlets like Burger King or businesses like Keelham Farm Shop are not responsible for how their customers dispose of litter. However, sponsoring some extra bins along Gargrave Road to cater for the increase in traffic/litter that results from the popularity of both establishments would be a responsible gesture; a gesture that recognises we all have an impact on the environment and we all need to have an impact on protecting it from our throwaway culture.

FOLLOWING the very low turnout in the first North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner election in 2012, I would like to emphasise the importance of voting on May 5.
At the 2012 elections, the turnout was just over 13 per cent across North Yorkshire, excluding the high number (6,400-plus) of spoilt ballot papers. Afterwards, this was mainly attributed to lack of public knowledge and confusion about this newly-created position.
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) responsibilities include representing and obtaining the views of local communities, setting the North Yorkshire Police budget (and police element of our council tax), holding the chief constable to account, setting force priorities and preparing the Police and Crime Plan.
In the run-up to the PCC and local council elections, I have spoken with many residents. I am concerned that very little has changed regarding the public’s awareness of the important role and responsibilities of the PCC, which could again be reflected in voter turnout.
Unsurprisingly, the public opinion that did come across loud and clear was that the influences of party politics should be kept firmly out of policing and the elected office of the North Yorkshire PCC.
Beanlands Drive, Glusburn

IS CRAVEN District Council having a laugh or treating us all as complete fools?
I take its notice of the Local Plan consultation in Settle as an insult. Have they not got the courtesy to advertise this very important document in a more professional manner?
It was only by word of mouth that we were made aware of this meeting and, on arrival at the Victoria Hall, we were amazed to find the lack of presentation for any form of discussion. There were three tables with planning officers and files for individual consultation; resulting in people sitting waiting for any chance to find out what is planned for the local area.
Nowhere were there any maps or plans showing exactly and clearly the areas proposed for future development.
A newly-delivered flyer for the forthcoming local elections mentions “a culture of secrecy and cronyism has grown up”. I would go along with that and say “got it in one”!
We expect much more from our elected councillors and council and, supposedly, living in a democracy, we hope to see it in action. Sadly, this is not obvious from the behaviour of the planning department of this council.
Hesley Lane, Rathmell

I FEEL like awarding Housing 21 a first-class degree in obtaining cheap publicity via the headline in the Craven Herald of April 21 – Housing for people with dementia is county first. The headline gives the impression that Limestone View was built specifically to cater for people with dementia, whereas on the front cover of Housing 21’s “home ownership” booklet, it states: “A stylish new development of retirement apartments, located in the pretty market town of Settle within the Yorkshire Dales.” Within the community of Limestone View, there is a normal mix of community, albeit the older section (i.e. 55-plus). Within this group, there is a wide range of abilities among residents, a number of whom have followed very skilled professions.
There are also people who may have developed conditions, rather than mental ones, which impair movement, so have chosen to live where care is available, if needed. In conclusion, the success, or failure, of such a venture lies with the in-house staff, to whom I say, on behalf the residents, thank you for your invaluable contribution.
Limestone View, Settle

I WAS so sad to find out, while attending a Give Blood session at Settle, they are no longer going to come to Settle after May.
Donors will have to travel to Skipton or Ingleton.
I have since received a phone call from Joanne Leeman at the NHS explaining that due to the size of the venue, it is not cost-effective to keep the session going.
I always felt it an honour to give blood – it has now become an unreachable achievement. I am perplexed as to understand why the NHS has taken this action in a rural community.
There has been no attempt to find a bigger venue, or to gather more donors. Even on donor day they do not place advertising on the main road. You cannot see they are in attendance until you go down the driveway to the venue, St John’s Methodist Church.
Please can we have our sessions back – surely, this cannot be another cost-cutting exercise from Government.
Craven Terrace, Settle

I WAS sad to read that Craven District Council has withdrawn its grant to Craven Volunteer Centre – Grant cut “could not have come at worse moment” (Craven Herald, April 21).
As a former volunteer, I can vouch for the important work the centre carries out with a small, dedicated team. Their services are needed now more than ever.
Whilst I have every confidence they will find other sources of finance, I would appeal to local businesses to consider supporting the centre on a regular basis to ensure continuity of service.
To anyone thinking about volunteering, do it, as you will find it a rewarding experience.
Neville Road, Gargrave

RECENTLY, I had my gallbladder and offending stones removed on Ward 20 at Airedale Hospital.
All staff on the ward spent time talking me through what the procedure entailed, as did the anaesthetist and consultant. What could have been a very worrying day was made so much easier by them all. Thank you Mr Newman and team. I cannot thank them all enough for the care I received and job well done, as I have very little pain a day later.
God bless the NHS and all who work in her.
Gladstone Street, Skipton

IT’S election time again and all of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Green candidates say they want to oppose over-development and building too many houses and all their leaflets say as much. Yet, their respective parties in Westminster say exactly the opposite, all of them are pledged to build hundreds of thousands of new homes countrywide. Not only does this smack of total hypocrisy, but proves that none of the political parties are being honest with voters, either locally or nationally.
Water Street, Skipton

I AM extremely concerned about the dangerous and unnecessary situation that has developed in the NHS because of the obstinate and intractable attitude of Jeremy Hunt.
Doctors are, for the most part, hard working, reasonable and moderately minded people, with the interests of others at heart.
So, I find it difficult to believe that a fair compromise could not be negotiated to resolve this dispute if the Government was prepared to listen to the concerns of the doctors.
Middleton, Cowling

JUST a quick thank you to the people (and Craven District Council) who must be clearing up the litter in Aireville Park and on the towpath in Skipton.
It’s a pity the fine weather brought out some park users that spoiled it with litter last Wednesday.
West Bank Road, Skipton

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