Sir - How sad it is to hear of the closure of Scargill House. My wife and I have been associated with Scargill for 40 years, firstly in the community and then as partners. My wife still works there.

In your editorial (June 27) you say that the "world needs its quiet places, where people can find the time and space away from everyday challenges, for spiritual refreshment." This is what Scargill was doing through its holidays, house parties and conferences. So why change?

I believe the financial accounts show that this was viable and there was no indication that this could not continue.

David Baker, the chairman of the trustees, said in the article in the paper "over the last five years we have been working with a different philosophy".

It would appear that it is that different philosophy that has caused Scargill to close. The accounts are a matter of public record.

Scargill never "insisted" that people came to it, as David Baker said in the article. They came because they wanted that time out for refreshment and rest and new knowledge.

Scargill, since its beginnings in the late fifties, emerged into the sixties and seventies when society radically changed, went through the miners' strike and the four-day working week, went through times when interest rates and income tax were high and also through times of high unemployment. I seem to remember also that there was a big slump in the construction industry, affecting thousands of workers. It was a survivor.

That is not to say that Scargill has not done good works and I am sure the trustees were well intentioned. The Mythbusters is just one that you referred to in your editorial.

So the place where people came for rest, refreshment and, in some cases, went away with a life-changing experience, will be no more. All for the sake of a changed philosophy.

It is very sad, made all the sadder because it need not have happened.

David Nelson, Amber Cottage, Kettlewell

In danger of ruin

Sir - We have lived for 29 years on a short avenue that runs into open fields.

The possibility of the avenue being extended by the development of further houses has, in recent years, become increasingly more likely with various plans thankfully being rejected. The latest was for five affordable houses; part purchase/part rental, we were told.

During the time available for objections, we learnt of proposals to build 288 houses in the adjacent Elsey Croft area. This appalling prospect has horrified residents in the wider Moorview Way area.

Inevitably this affected how we viewed the original planning application for five houses, set in a formation which permanently made Airedale Avenue a cul-de-sac.

At least this small development would mean the avenue could never be a through-road into the proposed new estate. Our view was one of damage limitation; accept this and protect our future. How naïve we were!

The plans that were made available to the public making Airedale Avenue a cul-de-sac bore no relation to final plans that were passed for development. Instead of five houses in an L' formation, the development was actually a row of five houses allowing for Airedale Avenue to continue into the future development (Elsey Croft).

The housing association developing the site also informed us that the homes would be for rental to means-tested applicants who could not afford to buy or privately rent. The planning officer told us that this was not a major change and that therefore they had not been obliged to consult with local residents again. Well we beg to differ and I suspect if she lived here, she would too.

So be warned. If this is how Craven District Council operates, our delightful rural town is in imminent danger of ruin due to over-development.

Julia Oxtoby (on behalf of seven households), Airedale Avenue, Skipton

A raw nerve

Sir - My letter concerning Sheep Day (June 20) obviously touched raw nerves and was responsible in part for the joint Dave Parker/Joan Evans letters last week. But I do resent the implication in Joan Evans's letter that I "pontificate from an armchair" on these matters.

In my time in Skipton, my "action rather than words" has included, among other things, physically putting up and later taking down Skipton's Christmas lights; acting as parking marshal for the medieval markets in the early days; safety marshal for the buggy racing down Grassington Road; erecting banners on all Skipton approach roads advertising Sheep Day; installing sheep pens on the setts on the High Street at 7 o'clock on a Sunday morning in the pouring rain and taking them down again at the end of the day; sweeping up the straw off the High Street etc etc, being an unpaid town councillor for seven years, mayor of Skipton for two years and raising money for charity in various ways.

And all while in a full-time job and bringing up a family (and I managed to fit in a coronary artery bypass graft five years ago). I still have a full-time job, currently travelling to Grimsby each week working there for four of my five working days.

With regard to Dave Parker's letter, in it he inadvertently admits that no action had been taken to book participants for the July 2008 Sheep Day before June 2008, which suggests that there had been no intention months ago to hold a Sheep Day this year, presumably so that more effort could be put into the additional event mentioned for September, of which we have no details.

By the way, can someone tell us what has happened to the chief officer and deputy chief officer of the town council?

Richard Colley, Park Avenue, Skipton

Pews controversy

Sir - With regard to the letter regarding the "pews" controversy at Kildwick Church (June 27), two points stand out to me.

1: That the matter of pews v chairs is for the congregation to decide.

2: Outsiders like me should know better and keep our opinions to ourselves.

Well, I take issue very strongly with the last point. While at Kildwick I was very closely involved with the church and have held a secretaryship of a parochial church council - not Kildwick, I might add.

While at Kildwick, which was as prestigious then as now, I fully appreciated the "Tourist Information" at the back of the church and would like to pay tribute here to eminent local historian Alec Wood, who very ably wrote about the history of the building.

Personally, I believe traditional Christianity is facing a difficult future and "centres of Christian excellence" like the "Lang Kirk o' Craven" may become historical monuments to a bygone age. So is the current dilemma just another step along the way to secure survival in a world of changing attitudes and ways?

Is heritage and history important when one is side by side with other world religions?

Was JC bothered about pews/chairs in buildings? No he wasn't. But we have the past physical heritage to deal with here and now. Only God knows what the future holds for his church at Kildwick. So let the God-fearing people off South Craven who attend the church make the right decisions as far as God is concerned. These will have far-reaching effects for the community at large.

J F Ackroyd, Worth Cottage, Haworth

Plaques of honour

Sir - Skipton has erected plaques to commemorate famous sons who have done well for this country both in war and peace.

Thomas Spencer was born in Caroline Square in 1951 and helped to found Marks & Spencer who have, at last, opened a store here. Look for his plaque placed on the wall next to Woolworths by the Yorkshire Society.

The society placed another plaque to remember the life of Herbert Smith on Skipton Town Hall. Herbert Smith was born in Bradley, educated locally and became chief designer for the Sopwith Aircraft Company at Kingston on Thames. He designed all of Sopwith's fighting aircraft during the First World War, including the Triplane and the Camel.

Thousands of Sopwith Camels were built and they eventually had control of air over the trenches of the Western Front. They must have saved thousands of lives. They were the equivalent of the Hurricane and Spitfire during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War.

Mr Smith retired to live in Skipton and I visited him many times.

When Northern Aeroplane Workshops started building a Sopwith Camel, Herbert was able to help with advice but never saw it fly at Old Warden, home of the Shuttleworth Collection and well worth a visit.

Sir Mathew Wilson was the only person who was still alive when his statue was erected at the top of town. It was later moved to its present position outside the library to make way for the Cenotaph. Nowadays people do not know much about him.

Perhaps the Yorkshire Society could erect a plaque to remember Freddie Truman on the site of his sports shop in Swadford Street and save our council funds thousands of pounds.

Ken Ellwood, Tarn Moor Crescent, Skipton

Why Bettys?

Sir - While I welcome council leader Chris Knowles-Fitton's vision to pedestrianise the High Street (Herald, June 20), I have to raise issue with his aim to attract Bettys.

Perhaps he could clarify for the people of Skipton whether cafés are banned from the central zone or not? Sorry, I'm confused!

Why was Costa Coffee rejected from Sheep Street when it seems Bettys Tea Rooms would be firmly welcomed? Well let's not deny the snob-appeal of the Harrogate chain. It would probably help attract more tourists too.

But who in the working population of Skipton could routinely afford to buy a coffee there?

A Costa/Starbucks/Nero's would be more suitable, accessible and preferable to the people who actually live and work here. These are the same people who are going to have to wait for the tourist season to be over before improvements are made to the bus station. Why wait to avoid disruption to tourists when most arrive into the newly traffic-calmed Town Hall car park?

It seems to me that the council is putting tourists first - over residents. Or perhaps even putting themselves first (controversial, I know).

Why can't the people who live here be considered primarily when it comes to these decisions? Skipton is an industrial town, whether that be agriculture or the financial services, yet we have a council that aspires for us to become yet another God-forsaken provincial town like Ilkley or Harrogate. Why can't Skipton be better than that?

Edwin Rothwell, aged 19, Devonshire Street, Skipton

EU dictators

Sir - Mr A J A Smith (Craven Herald, June 19) is right to emphasise the apparent God-given right of inefficient French farmers to exist, except that their preferment has no basis in the Divine Purpose.

The anti-democratic EU has shown that it is also anti-religious, having deliberately excluded all reference to God from both versions of its constitution and having refused to appoint national nominees to the EU government simply because they dared to profess their Christian faith in public.

Our Prime Minister had the effrontery to condemn President Mugabe for stealing his people's election, only weeks after he himself stole the British People's election by cancelling the Lisbon Treaty referendum promised in the last election manifesto, without which he would not have been Prime Minister.

When will the British people realise that our politicians are dragging us into the European dictatorship, with too few kicking and screaming along the way?

JR Jones, Kirk Lane, Eastby, Skipton

Phantom planes

Sir - Having read the item "Phantom Sightings" (Craven Diary, June 20), I felt I must write about an incident about 50 years ago (risking ridicule).

I was driving home to Lothersdale from Keighley on a clear, sunny afternoon about 4pm one weekday. I was about 400 yards from Leys Lane, when I saw an aircraft approaching from over the moor, between Cowling and Laneshaw Bridge. It was a twin-engine propeller-driven plane and seemed very low - I estimated no more than 500ft above ground level.

I pulled into the side of the road and stopped. As the plane got nearer, I recognised a Heinkel bomber. As it crossed about 200 yards in front, I saw the Luftwaffe camouflage. I could even see the flying helmet of the pilot in the cockpit.

The aircraft continued at a steady speed over Weasel Green and Cowling towards Skipton.

When I told my wife I'd seen a Heinkel over Glusburn Moor she said, "Impossible". As a teenage messenger with the AFS in the London Blitz of 1940, she knew the outlines of Heinkels, Dorniers and Junkers.

I said I expected it was involved in a new war film or something like that. However, I never found out.

A Foster, Moor Lane, Addingham