Sir - What have our district councillors been doing for the past couple of years?

First they tell us that they are under-spent by £500,000, so they start to plan ways of dishing out the extra cash to help voluntary groups and the Little Red Bus scheme.

Then there is an election and the Conservatives manage to wrest control away from the Liberal Democrats. They look at the books and claim it’s not an under-spend, but the opposite; the council will be £700,000 in debt. Down come the shutters, the “spare” cash is snatched back and organisations such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Village Well are left struggling to survive. I suppose that’s the Tories for you – if you’re not a fat-cat City slicker, you won’t get any help.

Now there’s a chance we can have a new railway station in Cross Hills, with up to £40 million of Government aid for the asking, and then councillors say they can’t decide on it because they don’t know anything about it.

Are they being misled by their officers or are they not doing their job properly? As a parish councillor, I knew about the projected station because I read the report from Craven District’s strategic director and emailed my response. (I want the station, but only if there is a bridge across the railway line and a bypass or lorry ban around Cross Hills.) It would be helpful if the Craven Herald could do some investigative research and find out exactly what is going on in the council’s finances, where our missing money has gone and whether the officials have really kept the councillors in the dark about developments in the region.

A barrage of questions using the Freedom of Information Act might help. One thing is for sure; don’t expect a straight answer from that bunch of politicians!

Stephen Cohen, Lothersdale Parish Councillor, Beeches Barn, Lothersdale

Pensions poser

Sir - It is becoming clear that the crisis facing the country is now so grave that to tackle it effectively will require co-operative action by all the main political parties and a recognition by the public that drastic measures will be required.

It has been widely commented that the current financial turmoil must have repercussions for all private pension schemes and that almost all defined benefit schemes in the private sector have now been closed, but defined benefits are still the norm in the public sector.

This appears to put public sector workers in a privileged position in that their pension value is guaranteed by the tax payer. What is not widely realised is that the structure of local government pension schemes is very similar to that of the old private sector defined benefit schemes and that local government pensions are backed by financial assets.

These are controlled by trustees on behalf of the members of the scheme. They are not the property of the councils. The councils simply guarantee to make good any shortfall in the funding required to maintain the defined benefit.

The great majority of council workers throughout North Yorkshire are members of the North Yorkshire County Council pension scheme whether they work for the county council or one of the district councils. Our local councillors have the power to close the scheme in just the same way that most private defined benefit schemes have been closed.

This would not enable the councils to get their hands on the assets of the scheme, but it would mean that councils were no longer committed to making good any shortfall.

Because the size of any shortfall is so unpredictable at the moment the work of the councils is grinding to a halt.

Our councillors must put aside their differences and act urgently to close the scheme.

Ian Mattock, Brougham Street, Skipton

Wind of change

Sir - In the early 1980s plans were submitted for a wind farm on Ovenden Moor above Halifax. There were great discussions, lots of doubters and opposition. The disruption of wildlife, the scaring of sheep and fears of a blot on the landscape were just a few of the objections.

At this time I was living in Wainstalls, the nearest village, and had concerns myself, but over the years all these have been laid to rest.

Last weekend there were lots of other walkers crossing the moors at Ovenden, enjoying the views and fresh air. Grouse were flying among the turbines, sheep slept under them – in fact more sheep slept under the turbines than anywhere else.

As far as an eyesore is concerned, which is the best option: wind turbines or coal-fired power stations? I travel regularly along the M62 and pass Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Drax power stations and my thoughts turn to how lucky the people of Wainstalls are not to have one of those monstrosities on their doorstep. The people in the nearby pretty villages and towns have to endure endless belching out of toxic waste and CO2, the main pollutant in global warming.

Instead of more wind farms, perhaps we could build a similar fossil fuel power station in the West Marton area, or cut our energy usage. I’m sure readers will agree these scenarios are not favourable.

It is true that wind energy is not 100 per cent efficient, therefore, as is proposed by the Government, a mix of renewable and traditional energy should be employed thus providing the power required and cutting toxic emissions. The people near Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge have to put up with polluted air and a blot on the landscape so that people who live in “areas of significant beauty” can have power at their fingertips. I’m sure people living around these power stations would prefer a wind farm, similar to that proposed at Brightenber Hill.

I have a vested interest in wind farms and the well-being of our planet. I work for a transport company in Halifax that has transported turbines from the continent to wind farms all over the UK and Southern Ireland. Most of the issues have always been the same: wildlife disturbance, panoramic views spoiled and incessant noise. These complaints have been unfounded time and time again and I think it is time these people wake up to the fact that turbines are the cleanest and quickest way to put renewable energy into the national grid until other renewable energy systems, such as wave power and solar power, are readily available.

Our world is changing, the people of Brightenber Hill area should realise this and accept the part they need to play.

Richard Collett, R Collett and Sons (Transport) Ltd, Victoria Terminal, Albert Road, Halifax

Turbines spin

Sir - Having read the opinions expressed in your letters column over the past few weeks regarding the Bank Newton wind farm development, I was amazed to find we had so many budding politicians in the local area.

Both parties, for and against, have managed to put a very impressive spin on the facts and have succeeded in bringing up points I’m sure many locals, including myself, were amazed to hear – who’d have thought so many people felt so strongly about the colony of bats living near Bank Newton, for example?

I think that both parties would gain a lot more respect from neutral bystanders if they stopped trying to hide behind the science and stated the real reasons behind their stance.

EnergieKontor want to build the wind farm because it will be profitable. Some “local” residents are against the scheme because they perceive that it will affect the value of their property and they don’t want to see wind turbines when they look out of their bedroom window every morning.

Let’s just hope that, when this whole wind farm debate is done and dusted, the campaigners from both sides will direct their time, energy and effort just as passionately into more worthwhile community projects – I know there are plenty of local sports clubs in the area that would welcome such diligent and effusive support!

Dan Thompson, Old Hall Farm, Gargrave

For the young

Sir - With reference to the story concerning vandalism to dry stone walls (Herald, September 19), I would like to comment on a couple of issues raised by Mrs Bell.

She called on “Settle Town Council to provide (the youth of Settle) with a meeting place indoors”.

Settle Town Council has given funding for four meetings of the Settle Youth Forum. This group works with local young people and organisations to look at potential youth projects in Settle, with the emphasis being on provision the young people actually want.

A youth café is opening in Settle shortly and the new youth area under the town hall is almost ready. The group has done some fantastic work and youth provision is steadily increasing.

I would like to quote Mrs Bell again: “Let’s be more creative about providing somewhere for young people to meet.”

Settle Youth Shelter is well used and was thought up and designed by the young people of Settle. There were two main opposers to the youth shelter – Mr and Mrs Bell.

Hugh Knowles, Sandholme Drive, Settle

Rabbit plague

Sir - I read with interest the article regarding myxomatosis (Country File, October 3).

Myxomatosis was not spread by accident. It was introduced deliberately by landowners wanting rid of the wild rabbit populations that plagued this country. It was introduced to France in the 1950s by a man from South America, where it occurs naturally Myxomatosis is a vile disease which rears its ugly head annually in the Dales. Large wild rabbit populations are undoubtedly a huge pest to agriculture and, as an amateur ferreter/pest controller, I spend many days helping to reduce their number and the damage caused by them.

Ferreting is an environmentally friendly method of control. It is specific and, unlike myxomatosis, does not leave a rabbit dying for days, blind and deaf, covered in scabs and swellings.

The humble rabbit can be eaten and is a very tasty dish – none of the rabbits taken by us are wasted.

If any of your readers has a rabbit problem they would like us to resolve, they can contact me at

Nigel Wallbank, Alpha Street, Salterforth

Thanks for cash

Sir - In Spring last year it was discovered that vandals had done a great deal of damage to Zion Congregational Church, Settle, and a total of £9,170.88 has had to be found to demolish and clear up the mess.

The church members send their thanks to North Yorkshire County Council for £1,066; Craven District Council for £1,000; Settle Town Council for £250, the Rotary Club of Settle for £250 and Settle Charity Dance for £300 – a total of £2,866.

Some of the remainder has come from a few smaller donations and partial help from insurance. A special thanks to Salem Congregational Chapel, Martin Top, Rimington.

The rest has had to come from church funds, money which should have been used towards upkeep and updating the church.

Also, we thank those members and friends who worked hard cleaning and decorating after the contractors had finished.

No recompense or apology has been received from those responsible for the damage.

Jean Thackrah, Church Secretary, Zion Independent Congregational Church, Castleberg Lane, Settle

Take more care

Sir - As the caretaker of Cononley School I get paid to clean the school, not to clean up after your dog. Would you let it mess in your house and then get someone in to clean it up? No! Then don’t expect me to do it outside the school.

Most dog owners carry their little green bags, free from the Post Office. You most likely do – for show! You take the dog out (a smallish one going by the size of the “parcels”), let it do its job, look around, no-one looking and walk on. Along come parents, children and there it goes, on shoes, on to carpets etc, etc, but aren’t you the lucky one.....not yours. So come on people, keep your eyes open, get a name and give it to the dog warden.

From one irate caretaker.

Avril Longworth, Cononley Primary School, Meadow Lane, Cononley

Praise for council

Sir - I am pleased to report that despite the current financial turmoil, Craven Council have kindly waived the parking ticket I received when the permit fell off the screen (my letter, September 19).

Sensibly, they warn that this should not be seen as setting any sort of a precedent and I will now know to check the permit each time I park, anyway. They also sent a sparkling new adhesive holder and I did a bit of trimming to make it fit, so my permit is now – just a minute – yes, firmly in place on the screen.

Great service from the council - whoopee!

Rod Meredith, West View, Langcliffe