SIR - The survival of the market in Skipton is a really important local issue. The market provides a service for local people and is a major attraction which brings in many tourists who also spend money in other Skipton outlets.

The right of market traders to be on the setts has been challenged in the past and usually each challenge has, I think, been dropped due to the obscure "trading rights and conditions".

This time, the Johnny-come-lately owners of Craven Court are flexing their muscles and hope to evict traders at the entrance to Craven Court on the grounds that they obstruct shoppers from entering their shopping area.

Do they not realise that half these people would not be there if there were no market? I think that Skipton people might like to demonstrate to Craven Court what it might be like without the market shoppers.

I suggest that, for a period of one month starting on Monday, October 1, all Skipton people boycott Craven Court and do not step inside its shops during the month of October.

I would be interested to see what the general response to this idea might be. You can indicate your support by writing to the Craven Herald or perhaps by speaking to the market traders near to Craven Court. I am sure this is an action which the Craven Herald might support and publicise.

Malcolm Wiseman, Netherghyll Lane, Cononley,

* Response from Noble Harris on behalf of Tyburn Lothian:

The local market and Craven Court shopping centre provide an attractive retail environment to the benefit of both local people and tourists visiting Skipton and are vital to the economic viability of the town.

The owners of Craven Court recognise this important fact and the need to continue to improve this environment to the benefit of everyone.

They are not looking to challenge the survival of the market as it is one of the main attractions of shoppers into Skipton.

Markets are, of course, held in numerous towns throughout the UK. However, in most instances the highway is closed to vehicle traffic and stalls located in the road so that shoppers pass between stallholders and shop frontages alike with greater ease.

The owners of Craven Court would support any proposal to move stalls away from shop fronts to allow this.

Termination of any stall agreements is not taken lightly by the owners of Craven Court. Indeed, it was anticipated that the stallholders would consider a relocation to barrows located within Craven Court or indeed the empty kiosk unit which is available to let.

Certain local residents are now even suggesting a boycott of Craven Court. Such a suggestion would have a devastating effect on the local retail shop owners in Skipton town centre who generate wealth for the local economy and pay business rates to assist local government finances.

The four stallholders who have been asked to leave did not exercise their right to renew their stall licences in April of this year until they were approached and have always been aware that it was open to the owners of Craven Court to determine the licences on agreed notice.

Furthermore, the four stallholders in question are not about to be evicted. As agents for the owners of Craven Court, solicitors representing the four stallholders have been advised that if our clients decide to pursue the matter they will be given notice of that intention.

This is not about financial gain as, if the licences are actually determined, the owners of Craven Court will be losing the licence fees from these four stalls.

Our clients' actions are purely motivated by the desire to create a more visible entrance to Craven Court which is a matter raised and requested by several of the shop owners within Craven Court.

NHS praise

Sir - I have read that it's a commonly held belief of those people who complain bitterly about the NHS that they have no complaint with their own doctor or local hospital.

I imagine that because, in six week's time, I will be beyond the age when I would be invited to participate in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and would have to request a screening kit myself. My Skipton doctor did this on my behalf I sent the kit back to Gateshead for analysis on Wednesday, September 19, and was informed by letter of the results three days later. Not only did the speed of the procedure surprise me, but I was thanked for taking the time and trouble to participate in the NHS programme.

My father, who began work in the Ministry of Health when it was founded, would be astounded at how the NHS has progressed and developed. In my dealings with Dyneley House Surgery and Airedale NHS Trust I can only be thankful at what they have done on my behalf and, when I think of what we can expect of the NHS in 2007, I can only marvel.

Mrs Chris Lawrence, Wood House, Cowling

Food fear

SIR - May I draw attention to our excellent Airedale Hospital. I have just spent two weeks in the hospital and the nursing staff could not do more. They should earn far more than they get. The food is very good but, because the kitchen is in need of refurbishment at some stupid amount of money that Airedale does not have, it is going out to tender. This will ruin our hospital. So, come on Morrisons, Tesco, Somerfield and Co-op, sponsor our good hospital. Do not let it go down the drain, you might need it one day.

Olive Greenwood, Princes Drive, Skipton

Circus reply

SIR - Re your article of Friday, September 14, headed Circus Hits Back at Animal Rights Accusers'. I would like to reply to Petra Jackson of Circus Mondao and her comments in the article.

Firstly, I note that, although the circus has a variety of domesticated and non-domesticated animals, including horses, zebras, camels etc, the only defence she seems able to offer is in the case of domesticated horses. Horses have been domesticated for centuries and are easily trained, usually without the need to resort to violence. Yes, the liberty routine' is using movements which come naturally to horses. However, what of the other animals?

One of my charities, Animal Defenders, has done extensive research into animal circuses. This research has involved their staff obtaining jobs at animal circuses to enable them to film what goes on behind the scenes. What they have documented, on film and other media (and which has been passed to DEFRA and other Government Departments in addition to councils around the country) is violence being routinely used to train non-domesticated animals to do the required tricks.

As the tricks in question are totally unnatural to non-domesticated animals, and also frightening in many cases, use of violence has been found to be the norm. This violence has been so severe that prosecutions have resulted in heavy fines and bans.

If one was to merely pay a visit to the circus, to check the health and happiness of the animals, it would be easy to hide any cruelty which may (or may not) take place. It would be necessary to be there for an extended period of time to see how the animals are treated and trained. In any case, zebra and camels can hardly be termed resident species of this country and they must at least be suffering from the climate in the UK - they are animals of hot, dry countries!

Carol Oliver, Wood View, Embsay

Landscape plea

SIR - Throughout England, the Government is requiring councils to undertake vigorous building programmes to solve the housing crisis.

However, most must be built on brownfield sites. Before the Craven District Council planning committee at present there are two cases where green fields are due to be developed.

In the case of the Burnside Allotments, it is proposed that public land is built on for private profit. Also, very few of the homes will be affordable for people most in need.

Skipton Town Council and Craven District Council also do not seem to appreciate the extreme problem of climate change and the need to take responsibility for the environment. Our children's future, as well as that of our planet, is increasingly endangered. Open spaces are essential for regeneration. Skipton could, like Settle, set land aside for protecting local flora and fauna.

In the case of the development of offices for Craven District Council and the Skipton Building Society on Gargrave Road, permission, unfortunately, has been granted for green fields to be covered with buildings, Tarmac and concrete.

Let us hope that the buildings are sympathetically designed to blend in with Skipton's traditional architecture, with no flat roofs or shoddy material.

There is a strong likelihood that the town will get something to be ashamed of.

Since Craven has adopted the Nottingham Declaration, we must also expect proper energy conservation standards.

Craven District Council has so far shown insufficient concern for our landscape and for the special character of Skipton. Let us hope for a change.

Hilary Fenten, Craven Branch, The Campaign to Protect Rural England, The Shaws, Selside

Benefits blow

SIR - I was very disappointed when I heard that the council here was not going out informing people of their benefit allowances, should they be entitled to them.

We all are tax-paying people and we all pay our council tax. We hope that this money, should we need it, will be due to us in our time of need.

Why then, isn't Craven Council targeting those who are able to claim such benefits to help improve their everyday life?

I was even more disappointed to hear that a member of another council's staff was able to inform Craven residents of benefits they should be claiming. Where are our council staff?

Please, think on, and think about those less fortunate than yourselves.

Lucy Smith, Chapel Street, Carleton

Ragwort risk

SIR - I noticed over the summer months a large amount of ragwort growing in the Craven area, on roadside verges and bankings and in adjoining fields.

Although this is a colourful flower, I wonder how many people realise just how poisonous it is to farm animals and horses when eaten? It is producing seed which will, of course, result in a further crop next year.

There is legislation in place that obliges landowners and highway authorities to destroy it when it appears on their land or roadsides - The Ragwort Control Act, in force since February, 2004.

Why is nothing being done by Craven District Council or the relevant highway authority to destroy this very dangerous flower?

Jenny Bryan, West Marton, Skipton

Birds' diet

SIR - In reply to D Reardon's letter of September 21 in which it is stated 250,000 songbirds are taken by birds of prey per day. There aren't even 250,000 birds of prey in the UK.

There are a maximum of 80,000 sparrowhawks, 2,880 peregrine falcons (whose diet is 80 per cent pigeons!), and 2,600 very localised merlins. None of the other main birds of prey takes songbirds on a regular basis: hobbys (summer visitors only and roughly numbering 4,400) eat dragonflies and flying beetles as well as swallows and bats; buzzards eat only carrion, as do red kites; and kestrels rarely eat other birds, preferring small mammals.

This means, at best, there would be no more than 80,000 songbirds taken per day because this represents the population of sparrowhawks. However, even this figure is way too high, because sparrowhawks often take collared doves and woodpigeons and they do not make daily kills.

One chaffinch would be enough to support a hawk for up to 48 hours under some circumstances, although the hawks would prefer to take at least one bird of this size per day.

However, a collared dove would be enough to support a female sparrowhawk for two days or more than three days for a male Sparrowhawk - (oh, the greed of the female!).

The relatively small figures, that is compared to the totally inaccurate quarter of a million songbirds per day that D Reardon wildly offers in frantic defence of the indefensible, rise only in the breeding season when sparrowhawks will take three small birds per day because they are feeding young.

People making this kind of emotive, factually inaccurate attack on birds of prey really exercise me. Even more ludicrous is the idea that a respected and knowledgeable body that is the RSPB should even vaguely think of siting these birds in "unnatural places". I wonder too where the writer gets this figure of "millions of pounds" of taxpayers' money spent on protection of the nests of birds of prey? It's just another figure plucked from the air.

Birds of prey have existed as long as songbirds, and nature is red in tooth and claw. If D Reardon wants to protect songbirds (an admirable aim) I suggest embarking on a campaign to get all domestic cats belled since these are responsible for thousands of bird kills for malicious pleasure rather than food. But I suspect cat owners will be found brainlessly resistant to this aim.

Allan Friswell Keighley Road, Cowling

Unfair review?

SIR - It was with great surprise that I read your reviewer's negative account last week of a visit to Harlequin Restaurant in Cowling, as I have been there many times over the years and know what an excellent restaurant it is.

My husband and I had a table booked there last Friday evening and I can honestly say we were not disappointed; we had an excellent meal, the food and service being of the same very high standard as on previous occasions.

I really feel that it is time that the Craven Herald stopped these amateur' reviews of local restaurants. I wonder, does the person writing it realise the harm that can be done by such a review?

In this day and age when so many businesses are fighting for survival, this can be considerable. If a venue such as Harlequin, which has always had such a good reputation, is having an uncharacteristic off-day (and we can all have them), surely it is only fair to the restaurant concerned that it be given a second visit before a review is written.

I would urge your readers not to be put off by the report and to continue enjoying the excellent food at Harlequin. I, for one, will certainly do so.

Pat Daley Sutton-in-Craven


SIR - Instead of seeing images for 9 High Street, artist's impressions of new sites on Horse Close and other options to regenerate Skipton, could it not be possible to have an artist's impression of a much-needed bus station (last week's Craven Herald)? Maybe we do need more houses, maybe our councillors need new offices. But surely if anything needs to be regenerated it should be our bus station first.

Anne Kay, Princes Drive, Skipton * Editor's note: When we get one we'll undoubtedly print it, Anne.

Not just food

SIR - I read with interest about the impending opening of Marks & Spencer Simply Food in Skipton. Are the Chamber of Trade and other traders in Skipton aware that these outlets are not just selling simply food? On visiting one of these shops on two occasions recently, I found they also sell men's and ladies' underwear, socks and tights, household accessories, hardware and greetings cards!

Helen Reid, Scar View, Settle

True grit

SIR - True Yorkshire grit showed through at Nidderdale Show on Monday, September 24, when people turned out in numbers to support us. Not even foot and mouth, bluetongue or heavy rain showers could dampen the spirits of thousands of people who turned up at the show and all with a smile on their faces and a cheerful word for everyone. May I take this opportunity to thank my wife, Ann, and close family and friends for all their help and support and everyone who made it such special day.

David Smith, President, Nidderdale Agricultural Society, Brimham Rocks Road, Hartwith, Harrogate

Centre of fun

SIR - Cononley residents need the Church Centre as a community centre (no religion). We have all had fun here. Whatever our interests, we need to retain this building.

Joan Oldroyd, Skipton Road, Cononley