VITAL funding for Settle Swimming Pool has gone up in smoke after vandals again set fire to a paper recycling trailer.

The trailer has been torched several times since the collections began and it is a matter of great concern to those involved in the initiative, which raises around £13,000 for the pool each year.

Helen Firth, a member of the pool committee, told the Herald: "I have lost count how many times this has happened now, but think it must be about half a dozen.

"How it catches fire is always a mystery, but it is always late evening or early morning.

"It saddens me greatly to think that the work of the dedicated group of men who work tirelessly week after week have to watch the money they have raised being spent on repairs," said Mrs Firth.

The trailers used are made out of metal as far as possible, but the damage this time is believed to stretch to a new floor and two new wheels.

Mrs Firth said: "The police tell us that we do not have a problem with vandalism in Settle and to some extent they are right. If you compare our problems to other areas they are small, but we must try to make those responsible for these actions realise that the people they are hurting are the ones trying to help others and it must stop.

"If anyone has any information about these fires, or knows anyone involved please try to make them see sense.

"If the collectors gave up it would greatly affect the quality of the swimming pool we are proud to have in Settle. Please don't let it come to that."

The paper collectors are always looking for more volunteers to help out with the scheme and this week Arthur Lupton, one of the collectors, appealed for more help.

"We are hard stretched to collect the paper. what we would like are more volunteers. We are most of us getting rather elderly and we don't want to spend our fading years collecting waste paper," said Mr Lupton.

He explained that the service was worthwhile for a number of reasons.

"It is a social group, it is very good exercise out in the fresh air and it has obvious ecological value by cutting landfill as well as the virtue of helping the swimming pool," he said.

Mr Lupton praised John Roberts Holdings, the paper mill at Langcliffe which buys the waste paper and acknowledged the contribution from North Yorkshire County Council in recognition of the saving on landfill.

He asked that those supporting the scheme could help further by properly flattening any cardboard boxes put in the trailer and not putting boxes inside one another.

Meanwhile a supporter of the waste paper collection has criticised Craven District Council's blue bag initiative for doorstep paper recycling.

Frances Leeming, of Long Preston, said she was "irate" when blue bags were distributed throughout the village recently.

She feared that the council scheme might affect the charity collection.

However, organisers said the blue bag scheme was complementing rather than rivalling the charity collection.

Mrs Firth said: "We have such loyal support and our income has not suffered. In fact we are on line for a record year."

Miss Leeming wanted to make sure that residents, particularly those who have recently moved to the village, were aware of the swimming pool collection which takes place every second, fourth and fifth Wednesday of the month.

Greg Robinson, Craven District Council's head of operational services, said: "When the scheme was set up the council was keen that the charity was not adversely affected and if there was any impact we would look at making up the difference."