Anger at plan cost

In the days when Conservatives actually believed in conserving things they also tended to be against waste. Spending over a million pounds on failing to produce a local plan in good time is not my definition of the best way to use ratepayers’ money.

When this was revealed by the Craven Herald last week members of the ruling party queued up to inform your readers that this was not their fault and it was all caused by constant tinkering by central government since 2010. A curious argument when the Conservatives were responsible for both central government decision making and Craven Council decision making.

An even more curious argument when you consider that the Dales National Park already has its plan in place.

Up and down the country local councils have managed to produce strong local plans that do their best to insist on developers building what is needed locally in the face of fierce insistence from the central government that there must be an assumption in favour of development.

Craven has consistently produced late drafts of a desperately weak plan that does not include a single mechanism that would allow councillors to insist on developers building the one bedroom starter homes or specialist homes for the elderly that we actually need.

It was therefore hardly a surprise to discover that the council cannot recruit full time staff to work on a project which is developing such a bad reputation and are having to rely on expensive outside consultants who are less likely to know our area.

No wonder more and more local people are angry about seeing their local communities spoiled by endless developments of executive homes on green field sites. And also rather cross about seeing services cut whilst money is wasted in this profligate way on a project which is costing a fortune and completely failing to deliver. Not many people’s definition of competent economic management from the ruling local party.

Andy Brown, Main Street, Cononley                                                                                    Time to stop this waste Several years ago, I wrote letters to the ‘Craven Herald’ to express my concern at the sale of valuable assets, namely the HML site on Gargrave Rd and No 9 The High Street with attached car park, at well below their true value.  Now we hear of the large sum of money – already over £1.0 million, and I have it on good authority that it could rise to £1.25 million - has been spent on the ever promised but never delivered ‘Local Plan’.  The latest promise is for December this year, but don’t hold your breath.

When will somebody take control of CDC finance and stop this appalling squandering of tax payers assets and money.  It is only too easy to be profligate with other people’s money.

TOM GIBSON Stirton   Unite against injustice Leaping nimbly onto the Cold War bandwagon, Mr AJA Smith (Academics lean Left, March 16),  has spied the red under the bed: its name is academia.  Apparently higher education is awash with left-wing academics busily brainwashing our youth.  He cites the (right-wing) Adam Smith Institute’s study, “Lackademia: Why do Academics Lean Left?”  That intellectuals in the Humanities tend to be more left-leaning is hardly news.  Is Mr Smith right to be worried?  According to one of the main sources for “evidence” used in “Lackadamia” Smith can rest easy: John Morgan in the Times Higher Education calls the study a “wafer-thin report” which draws unsubstantiated conclusions from the online survey he (that is Morgan) conducted to see how academics would vote before the last election.  A self-selecting 1019 responded, 46% stating they intended to vote Labour.  Even the author of “Lackadamia” admitted that his conclusions should be treated with “caution.”  What any of this, outside Mr Smith’s fertile imagination, has to do with intolerance and a lack of free speech in universities is anyone’s guess.

Mr Smith goes on to distinguish between the loony left in academia and the sober majority who clearly resist “groupthink.”  However, academics and the sober citizen have much more in common than Mr Smith allows: the overwhelming majority are for a free and public NHS, 70% for renationalizing the railways, and a majority for more accessible, i.e. cheaper if not free, higher education.  Leftwing?  Or common sense if one believes in a more equal and fairer society?

By citing a life-long socialist, George Orwell, in his assault on academics, Mr Smith is really showing how selective he is with his “evidence.”  If Orwell could be acerbic about self-serving intellectuals (on the left and the right) he would also warn that if Socialism was not instituted in England we’d end up with “a slimy Anglicised form of Fascism.”  Rather than attempt to whip up division and spread misinformation, as Mr Smith prefers, we should, Orwell argues, unite against exploitation and fear-mongering as well as be concerned “more about justice, liberty and the plight of the unemployed” (The Road to Wigan Pier).  DR BRUCE MCLEOD Otterburn