SIR - Age Concern Lancashire fully supports the recent petition to save rural post offices. This is an issue which particularly affects older people as they are the heaviest users of these services.

Age Concern Lancashire has been gathering information from local older people on their use of rural post offices. They tell us that rural post offices provide important access to essential services such as getting cash, paying bills and information.

Closures will force them to make additional journeys, which is especially difficult as many older people are reliant on patchy public transport or have limited mobility.

Rural post offices also play an important social and community role. Older people tell us that going to the post office helps to give them a sense of purpose and structure to the week.

It is a focal point for social contact and for exchanging information, providing much more than access to financial and post office services.

We strongly recommend that the Government decides to continue with the current rural subsidy to post offices. These services represent a lifeline to older people and simply cannot be replaced.

If you would like to add your voice to this campaign, there is a questionnaire available from any of our offices or by telephone on 01257 233200. This will help us gather more evidence of how older people benefit from rural post offices.

We would also strongly advise readers concerned about this issue to write to their local MP - before it is too late!

Deborah Kirkup, Age Concern Lancashire, 61-63 St Thomas's Road, Chorley.

Death by cuts

SIR - We are now only 17 months away from the end of Government subsidy for the post office network.

No decision has been made on the future of the subsidy or, it appears, the post office network itself.

Millions in rural Britain rely on their post office, not just for stamps or fishing licences, but for social interaction within the heart of their community.

In no other circumstance would an industry's future get so close to the wire without firm plans and it is clear from the four million strong petition recently handed to Downing Street that this issue is of vital importance to many.

Services such as the TV Licence and the Post Office Card Account have been taken away one by one, leaving post offices to suffer death by a thousands cuts. The clock is ticking and a long overdue plan for the future is needed.

Simon Hart, Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance, Kennington Road, London.

Safe cycling

SIR - I write in response to Mr Swithenbank's letter from last week's paper regarding cyclists.

Mr Swithenbank clearly believes that he has witnessed "the most appalling behaviour on a public road that he has ever seen", but from his correspondence I suspect that he has rarely, if ever, ridden a bicycle on the roads of this country.

Overly aggressive behaviour by car drivers is, sadly, all too common and appears to have its roots in the belief that cars have some kind of divine right to get to where they're going as quickly as they can.

Groups of cyclists routinely ride two or three abreast not to irritate Mr Swithenbank and Volvo drivers, but to create a relatively short, slow(ish) moving "wide vehicle" equivalent.

The object of this manoeuvre is to ensure that cars wait for an appropriate place to pass the "bunch", rather than overtake a few then pull in randomly in the middle of a line of cyclists and potentially side-swipe a bike (thereby possibly encountering "all possible finger language" if indeed they don't injure or maim someone).

Surely in this instance anyone could wait for a couple of miles (there's a very long straight down into Malham) to pass, if the alternative is to risk driving your car into a cyclist?

Would Mr Swithenbank have been so irritated had he come across a tractor pulling a trailer of hay on the same road travelling at 20mph?

I suspect the answer is no. He (and maybe even the Volvo driver) would have waited (perhaps impatiently, but that's life in the country) for an appropriate place to pass a long, slow-moving vehicle.

Bikes don't hold up traffic, Mr Swithenbank - they are traffic. The technique of riding in a short/wide group is long established and given the nature of the road between Airton and Kirkby Malham, with its blind bends and summits, I suspect the group of cyclists were making it as safe as they could.

If you were surrogately offended by the "finger language", may I apologise on behalf of cyclists everywhere - there's no need for it - but believe me when I say that a near miss with the rear end of a Volvo makes a man behave in many uncharacteristic ways.

Andy Wiggans, Dales Avenue, Embsay.


SIR - I write in reply to the letter headed "Ashamed" in your October 20 publication.

While I do not condone the behaviour of the group of cyclists, I can fully understand their frustration at an irresponsible motorist trying to pass such a large group on the very narrow road leading to Malham.

It is obvious this driver was putting these cyclists and other road users in extreme danger by his impatient and thoughtless behaviour.

A great many drivers seem to be so aggressive these days, be it if you are in a car or cycling on your own or in a group on the road.

To conclude, we do not have the luxury Mr Swithenbank has on his local roads in Galloway, where all one encounters are a few tractors and the occasional deer.

Ian Moore Rombalds Crescent, Silsden.

Fairy story

SIR - I would like to recommend a fairy story to your readers. It doesn't have a very catchy title, namely HML/CDC outline planning application, but it does contain the most imaginative drawings and writing that I have seen in a long time.

It tells of a time in 2008 when 700 HML employees forsake their cars and, come hail, rain or shine, embrace public transport and shuttles or, better still, they will walk or cycle to their new office on the edge of Skipton, not actually in Skipton but Stirton.

These public-spirited individuals will have to keep their eyes peeled as their new offices will be almost impossible to spot. According to the drawing, the 50-foot plus building situated on rising ground will be dwarfed by the converted barns of Aireville Grange, screened by mature trees which, like Jack's beanstalk, will have grown overnight and, like all magic trees, will retain their leaves the whole year round to ensure that screening is complete.

Of course, the remaining 400 cars which may be used will cause no discernible traffic problems or danger to the pupils arriving at and leaving the five schools and expanding college.

Where a problem is acknowledged at the end of Water Street, where queuing traffic is predicted to grow from nearly 30 in 2008 to over 100 in the future, it will actually improve conditions on the High Street as people are forced to find an alternative route - perhaps on a road near you! So that's alright.

Yes, you will see from my address that I have a personal interest in this development. Does the fairy story have a happy ending? I doubt it - there are too many vested interests at play. Do I think it worth fighting? Yes, definitely. You may not feel directly concerned, but if you value the integrity of the green belt, if you or your children go to any of the schools or college, if your journeys take you along Gargrave Road, you will be affected. Please get involved.

Jill Wilson, Aireville Grange, Skipton.

Grateful thanks

SIR - I want to express my grateful thanks to the very kind gentleman who returned my wallet to my house last Monday afternoon, October 16.

I had shopped in Morrisons store at lunchtime and had realised about an hour later that my wallet was missing.

Having established that I had not left it at the cash till, I knew that it must have fallen out of my pocket whilst getting into my car. Fortunately for me, it was found by a very honest person who noticed my address on my driving licence and personally brought it round to my house.

He would not accept a donation from me so I would like to publicly thank him for his honesty.

J Heap, Whinny Gill Road, Skipton.

Superb care

SIR - My reason for writing this letter is that I understand Harden Ward at Castleberg Hospital, in Giggleswick, is threatened with closure.

In the last few weeks my husband, who is unable to walk because of his severe Parkinson's disease, received such superb care and attention from the nursing and support staff there.

Their attitude, both to me and my husband, was one of sympathy and understanding. It would be a tragedy if future patients and their families were denied such caring in their own locality.

Carol Dudgeon, Ribblesdale House, Stainforth.

Health hazard

SIR - Last week, delivering empty plastic bottles to the recycling bin on Settle's Whitefriars car park, I heard rustling from the railway embankment.

Looking over the wall I found a disgusting mass of litter, predominantly food waste and drinks cartons, and the cause of the sounds - three large feasting rats.

I contacted Craven's Environmental Health Department to report this and got a prompt return call from the pest control officer. He explained that he regularly placed poison bait on that part of the embankment, but that the rats preferred to eat the food waste thrown over by mindless persons sitting on the seat on the car park.

The waste and litter has been removed by burning more than once this year, but it is promptly replaced with more.

I am writing to ask that parents talk to their children about the hazard to health presented by this littering and I would suggest that the relevant authorities remove the seat from the car park or, at any rate, re-site it further from the embankment wall Our pest control officer is paid by us from local taxes and we should support him in his thankless task.

Sarah E Birkin, Rowan House, Gooselands, Rathmell.

Please explain

SIR - Following hard on the heels of reports of the new £28,400 shower installation for North Yorkshire's Chief Constable, we now learn that there appears to have been an overspend amounting to £183,110 of our (hard-earned) money by our "public servants' in Skipton.

Is there any wonder that I and, I would imagine, many of my fellow Craven Council tax payers are fed up to the back teeth of their apparent wanton waste of our money?

If it's not a new suite of offices on green belt out-of-town land, then it's a "fitness suite".

After reading the article "Swimming pool overspend explained" (Craven Herald, October 20), I was left wondering if I had missed something. I thought that the definition of "explained" was: "to give an account of something with enough clarity and detail to be understood by somebody else".

If this is the case, then why haven't our councillors shared their knowledge with us? That is unless they have not been given a full explanation, as opposed to a simple "breakdown", of the overspend.

So we know that £35,600 was saved - let's be thankful for that, but what Jonathan Kerr hasn't explained is the reasons why, on the original budget of £782,950, an additional £144,000 (18.4 per cent) was required for "the change in the design" and £74,700 (9.5 per cent) was required for "additional architects fees, the appointment of a planning supervisor and building regulation and building costs".

Can Mr Kerr, or any CDC "public servant", provide an explanation (of costs) or are we simply going to have to rely on a breakdown (of costs) and stump-up more money in our council tax next year?

Unlike CDC, the people of Craven don't have limitless assets to fund their apparent incompetence.

As usual with CDC, I won't hold my breath for an explanation.

D Baldwin, Embsay.

Proud tradition

SIR - In response to the letter from Kathleen Kinder printed on your letters page on Friday, October 13, I would, with all due respect, like to correct the lady concerned.

I work at the Fent Shop in Skipton and we have been selling wool for at least four years. We stock King Cole, Stylecraft, Sirdar, Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding and Nero yarns.

At present we have 50 varieties of yarn in the shop. We can also order other yarns not in stock which our suppliers produce.

This is not, and I quote: "A yarn line or two alongside other main selling items."

So I would disagree that we have nothing much to offer.

Wharfedale knitters will know that the craft shop in Grassington stocks a selection of knitting yarns. Airedale knitters will also be aware of the Wool Shop in Cavendish Court, Keighley.

This is not such a sad state of affairs as Ms Kinder assumes. Most Dalesfolk know where to shop. I just hope other knitting members of the Airedale and Wharfedale K & CG know their local yarn outlets too.

The knitting upsurge is not that recent; this has been happening for at least the last three years. The catwalks were showing designer knitted garments for the autumn season of 2003. Winter 2003 saw Harrods offering knitting lessons to their new yarn customers.

We at the Fent Shop have knitters on our staff. Some of us have been knitting since childhood. One staff member is particularly experienced. We can offer help and advice to all our knitting customers when asked.

We are well aware of the therapeutic and creative values of knitting at any level, whether it is a cotton dishcloth or a designer yarn garment. We have the patterns and needles for producing a wide variety of items using yarns in stock.

All Dales people know that Yorkshire Dales knitting is one of the oldest traditions in England, especially the Dent knitters and we are proud of it. At the Fent shop we are keeping this tradition going along with other traditional pursuits.

Jenny Wood, Station Grove, Cross Hills.

Welfare concern

SIR - It was good to read the recent letters of Messrs Bannister and Bennett, published in your pages, hoping that the "Future of Food" conference at Grassington would yield positive results.

In particular, I wonder how many of your readers were, like me, encouraged by Mr Bannister's letter, seeming to represent something that is relatively rare these days - a genuine concern in Britain's welfare - and attempting to promote impartial, significant discussion of a topic that is a fundamental aspect of life that affects us all.

Mr Bannister seems to indicate that his Independence Party is essentially different from the three major political parties, whose MPs were appointed to represent us and seem to ignore our wishes and as many as their manifesto pledges as they find expedient.

Instead, they seem to concentrate on preserving their own concerns at Westminster, including regularly voting themselves extortionately high rises in salary, expenses and pensions in spite of the fact that they admit that 70 per cent of Government has been transferred to Brussels.

Ironically, both Conservative and Labour Governments have relentlessly relinquished responsibility for the Government of Britain to Europe, in spite of the fact that we, the people, have never been allowed to vote on anything except a Common Market, while, although the Liberal Democrats promise to allow that vote, their policies clearly indicate their wish for a total surrender to Europe.

The steadily increasing control from Brussels has helped to inflict many devastating disadvantages on Britain and our culture, not least the decimation of our farming and fishing industries. How is our residual dairy industry to be saved?

I believe it is a distinct possibility that the time will come when we will bitterly regret forfeiting the ability to be self-sufficient in food production.

Now, after the conference, I am disappointed to learn that Mr Bannister's recommendation was not taken up.

JR Jones, Kirk Lane, Eastby.