No easy answers to parking issue

SIR, - For any group, concern or council to claim that it has the solution to increasing the parking capacity in Ilkley, suggests they are not in the real world.

Ilkley, along with many other wealthy towns within this country, is suffering from its own success and desirability. We have inherited a Victorian infrastructure and road plan which did not take into account the horseless carriage and almost universal car ownership.

It is for this reason that any formal on-street parking structures within the residential town centre will produce a resultant loss of 50 per cent of the available parking. During a house to house survey the overwhelming view of householders was 'please leave alone'. Any on-street charging requires formalisation even if charging were found to be desirable

Any parking strategy has to take account of the business sector, the residents (both town centre and fringing the town) and visitors. It is a not an easily achievable balance. The plain fact is that Ilkley is a highly attractive and affluent town with high car use, in spite of and at times accentuated by, the rail links.

Land in Ilkley is expensive and financial models do not indicate the feasibility of increased parking in the centre, not even underground, because of its cost. There are some 'tidying up' improvements possible. Railway Road is not used and I am suggesting charges should be lifted.

There are certain accident blackspots where double parking is just plain dangerous at junctions. Certain parking areas on the periphery need improved signing to increase usage. These will be implemented.

There is, however, one message. When I go to Skipton and drive around without eventually finding a car parking space, I come home and if my journey is really necessary, return the next day. I will, however, make the point that I have never had to take up that option in Ilkley and have always managed to find a space.

Irrespective of that fact, the message of the time is that too many of us use the car too much. I am as guilty as the rest.

Coun Anne Hawkesworth

Environment Portfolio,

Conservative Group,

Bradford Council.

Facts, please

SIR, - The election campaign has opened early. Is it too much to ask that parties will show some respect for electors by sticking to facts, not propaganda? The first Conservative leaflet through my door is hardly a model of accuracy.

To take three areas only: A million young people neither in work nor education - i.e. unemployed? The latest national unemployment figures total 813,000; for the 16 to 24 age group the figure is 234,000 (January 2005). Action to reduce these figures? None proposed.

A million school truants? Action - Give heads the power to expel disruptive pupils. This hardly addresses the causes of truancy. Smaller classes and more resources to help under-achieving pupils might do more.

Immigration - we hear a lot about numbers in, but no figures for those from e.g. Eastern Europe or other areas who come for a year or two and then return home. Immigrant workers pay taxes - we need more people in work to support our ailing pension schemes.

As for giving priority to hard workers, do our immigrant nurses and doctors work less hard than their British colleagues? Michael Howard's parents were immigrants - have neither they nor he contributed anything to this country?

Joan Knott

21a Eaton Road,



SIR, - Recent events surrounding the sudden closure of Bodies Spa and Health Club have caused me to question aspects of my role as the former head of business studies at Ilkley Grammar School.

For nigh on 25 years, I attempted to meet my brief and develop and understanding and appreciation of business ethics within my sixth form students. How puzzled must those pupils now be as they attempt to interpret recent events in Regent Road?

As far as this particular scenario is concerned, ethics may as well be a county in the south of England, so amorally do the main protagonists appear to have behaved.

A developer appears, content to transform, for sorporate profit, the town's major health, fitness and social amenity, into just 11 apartments.

The owners appear to have closed a vibrant business in indecent haste, giving a dedicated staff, along with their paying 'members' a little over two weeks' notice of closure.

Whilst recognising their obvious right to sell and their previous contribution to the community, these insensitive actions are reminiscent of the much despised 'asset strippers' of the lat 1970s and as such should be similarly condemned as the 'unacceptable face of capitalism'.

Finally, my former students must be perplexed by the role of the planning authorities in all of this. Presumably their powers prevent them from declining an application on the grounds of a lost amenity. If not, then they, too, should hang their heads in shame. If their hands were tied, then perhaps it is time for a revision of our planning laws.

Whilst students at the grammar school naively debated the implications of Blair's 'stakeholder society', the precept seems to have gone unheeded in certain quarters.

Sincere apologies to all former pupils who might feel misguided and ill-prepared for the ravages of a rampant free market.


2 Old Lane,


No difference

SIR, - The current law allows a householder to use reasonable force to defend his or her home from a burglar. The proposed Tory alternative would allow a householder to use any force that was not unreasonable.

Can any competent linguist explain the difference? As far as I can see there is none.

Yet on the basis of this phoney distinction, the Conservative candidate for Ilkley attacks Anne Cryer for being soft on crime. Well, if that is the quality of his argument, one wonders what the rest of his policies are like.

I might add that in the last 34 years, I have dealt with thousands of offenders, yet never once have I had to deal with a householder prosecuted for defending their house.

Apart from the notorious case of Tony Martin, who waited until the burglars were running away before taking a shot at them. Householders are simply never prosecuted for defending themselves.

But Mr Poulsen wouldn't want a few facts to get in the way of his thoroughly specious argument.


22, Eaton Road,


NHS praise

SIR, - My letter is one of praise and gratitude for the NHS treatment that my husband received after a stroke in December.

It began with the promptness and efficiency of the ambulance service. He then spent seven weeks in the Stroke Unit of Airedale Hospital, which is quite outstanding.

Doctors and nurses, speech therapists and physiotherapists, were not only highly professional but acted with kindness and humour, so that my husband, my family and I felt that we had found new friends.

My husband decided that he wanted to come home for his last few weeks.

He was provided with a hospital bed, mattress and other equipment, and had what seemed like constant and always good humoured attention from Airedale District Nurses, Ilkley District Nurses and Carers and Companions.

He also appreciated the regular visits, medication and personal interest and concern from his Ilkley Moors Medical Centre doctor.


35 The Grove