SIR - A look in your paper of May 9 at crime and the courts in the Craven District makes woeful reading.

There are numerous reports of thefts: mountain bike, slates, lawnmower, batteries, agricultural vehicles, a trailer and a third attempt to take a quad bike from the same farm as well as two serious incidents of vandalism of cars (one in central Skipton mid-afternoon) and a number of "distraction burglaries" and burglary of a workshop.

So what are we seeing the police prosecuting in the courts? Five seatbelt offences, two uninsured cars, one speeding at 90 mph and one parking offence. True, there was an affray/criminal damage conviction but the only other two non-motoring offences were theft by a drug addict of two CDs, for which the perpetrator received a conditional discharge, and urinating in a doorway, hardly pioneering police work.

Alan Perrow is right to query what the additional police charge in the council tax is being spent on, although presumably when he gets the "spin" from police headquarters they will happily point to their conviction rates, even if the majority of these are for motoring offences.

Perhaps all we can hope for is that on their way back from the various thefts and burglaries, the offenders commit a motoring offence; at least that way, they don't entirely get away with it!

Mr AJ Blackett,

Broughton Crescent, Skipton.

Editor's note: Many burglary offences are dealt with at Bradford Crown Court and cases in the magistrates and juvenile courts may not be reported because of legal restrictions.

SIR - I have driven for 60 years without an accident or speeding ticket, a clean record, tried to keep within speed limits and never over 70 on motorways.

I taught my three children to drive and they too have clean licences.I worked for the police as a civilian typist after my husband died in 1968, and found the police to be very kind and considerate.

Then: A month ago, driving slowly along on a quiet Sunday morning, there was a van parked with back doors open and a man in overalls lifting parcels into the back.

As I passed, I saw it was in fact a police van. Two weeks later it arrived - £60 fine and three penalty points on my wonderfully clean licence, for cruising along an empty road at 35 mph, the limit being 30.

In an instant my treasured view of the police was shattered and will never recover. Now I am obsessed with keeping both eyes on the speedo, driving everywhere in third gear.

I get virtually pushed along by irate drivers, some of whom pull alongside and shout or signal what they think of me for "behaving myself". Why are they never caught?

I cannot afford another £60 and certainly not three more points which might mean a ban.

And I am also a nervous wreck.

Kathleen Davidson

Thornton Close, Skipton.

SIR - While Robert Heseltine's victory in the recent local elections (Craven Herald, May 9) has brought dismay to those of us who feel strongly that politicians/public servants convicted of crimes related to the abuse of their privileged position should be barred from holding public office, it has served one useful purpose.

It is a sobering confirmation of what democrats from all responsible political persuasions and students of politics have been telling us in recent years - that increasing voter apathy in local elections, reflected in low voter turnout, is a genuine threat to our democracy. It nutures a political climate where rogue parties and even rogue candidates become electable.

Heseltine's victory simply would not have happened without the appallingly poor voter turnout in Skipton South (24.8 per cent).

There is an old political adage that in a democracy, an electorate gets the representation it deserves. Heseltine and his supporters should not bask in the glory of his election or political "comeback."

His victory says little about him, his popularity or his qualities as a local councillor. It says a great deal more about the people of Skipton South, their general atitude towards the democratic process and the representative they ultimately deserve.

Robert Kandt,

Stock Green Farm, Bracewell.

SIR - I would like to use the Herald to point out to the people of Barnoldswick that I am not the Robert Smith who nominated the BNP candidate for the Coates Ward in the council election.

I had not seen the electoral list and it was not until I was asked by a friend why my name was on the paper that I was aware of the situation.

I am entirely and utterly against the hatred that the BNP is stirring up against those unfortunate persons who have had to flee their country because of persecution and torture. The vast majority want to work and earn their living.

There are those who are British in this country who falsely claim dole; those who don't pay their due taxes; those who put their money into foreign banks; those who don't pay car tax and insurance etc, which probably loses more money to this country than we pay the refugees.

I do think, however, that refugees should be more widely distributed so that there would be better integration and also that they should return to their own country when the reason for their leaving has been resolved.

Robert (Bob) Smith,

Avon Drive, Barnoldswick.

SIR - Regarding the county council order for a one way street in Gargrave, whilst I fully agree that there is a strong case for the making of East Street into a one way street, I strongly disagree that traffic be compelled to travel southwards.

This will result in serious bottlenecking when traffic tries to leave, from what would be the only remaining exit, at South Street.

If one counts up the number of residents' vehicles from: East Street, Knowles Court, South Street, Ivy House Gardens, Airebank Terrence, Pinfold and River Place, plus the vast number of visitors and service vehicles, then it is going to be extremely difficult for all of these to exit at South Street, especially at rush hour holidays and weekends.

The simple solution is to reverse the one way direction in East Street to northwards. Problem solved!

I know people will say that in busy periods, it is difficult to exit from East Street on to the main road, but unusually considerate approaching motorists do allow for this, whereas having travelled 150 yards on and through the pelican crossing at "green" they very rarely give way to traffic trying to leave South St.

Traffic lights have recently been introduced at Skipton. We are going to need them at Gargrave.

Democracy requires that people be consulted before changes are made. East Street residents were consulted, but what about the far greater number people affected by this proposal. Why were we ignored?

I urge all the affected residents to write to County Hall, Northallerton before the deadline of May 19 and ask for the proposed direction to be reversed.

Traffic lights or a mini roundabout are the only alternatives to this serious impending problem. That is, of course, unless the N.Y.C.C orders an about turn!

I hope that common sense will prevail.

David E Wade,

River Place, Gargrave.

SIR - I refer to your article (Row breaks out over mayor's civic regalia - Craven Herald May 9).

It is a long established custom that a lord mayor/mayor/chairman of the city/borough/district takes precedence over all, saving members of the royal family or the Lord Lieutenant (in certain circumtances). This position was given statutory force by the Local Government Act 1974.

It is also well established that, when attending a function outside of their own area, the visiting dignitary requests permission to wear their insignia from the "home" civic head, regardless of whether or not that person is in attendance.

A town mayor, when attending a function at which the head of the city/borough/district is present should, as a simple matter of courtesy, request permission. There is nothing new here and there is certainly no "new protocol".

However, the custom is also that permission would be refused only in the most exceptional of circumstances and usually only where genuine confusion may arise.

A storm in a tea-cup?

Steve Mason, (Former secretary to Lord Mayors of Leeds),

Wellington Terrace, Leeds.

Common courtesy

SIR - I write in connection with your recent article resulting from Skipton Town Council's comments on the new civic protocol.

Craven District Council has a good working relationship with the 73 parishes in Craven, not all of which have parish or town councils, and seeks to continue this. The district council is a professional organisation, which aims to look after the interests of all the residents and parishes in Craven, and has no interest in getting wrapped up in a row with any of the parishes.

In the article, Mr Strong of the Yorkshire Local Councils' Association acknowledges that the law says that the district chairman should be given precedence throughout the district over anyone except the Queen or the Queen's representative.

He goes on to comment that the wearing of civic insignia is a matter of custom. The district council is not aware that there is any custom in Craven that permits a parish chairman or town mayor to wear civic regalia anywhere except within the boundary of their parish.

Reference is also made to the recent opening of Long Ashes. Threshfield is a parish in its own right and has its own parish council and parish chairman. It would hardly be right for the town mayor (chairman) of Skipton parish to wear the civic regalia in a parish where he/she has no jurisdiction.

The statement in the article that "the district cannot control when and where insignia is worn" is not correct. Any visiting mayor or other district chairmen, including all those in North Yorkshire, would, in line with accepted protocol, seek the permission of the Chairman of Craven District Council to wear their chain of office when visiting a parish in the district.

Indeed, only last month the Lord Mayor of Bradford sought permission to wear his chain of office when attending a Bradford-related function at Giggleswick.

The article gives the impression that the civic protocol applies only to Skipton Town Council. It does not. Skipton is one of 37 parish/town councils in Craven District, each of which have their own chairman or town mayor. All have equal status with each other. Three of those parish councils have decided to call themselves "town councils" and two (Bentham and Skipton) have decided to adopt the title of town mayor for their chairmen.

To date, Skipton Town Council is the only parish council that has raised any objection to the protocol, which has been designed primarily around the principles of common courtesy and respect for others in terms of one parish chairman attending a function in another parish.

However, there is clearly some dispute over aspects of the protocol so the district council will seek further guidance from experts in civic precedence and protocol.

Colin Iveson

Democratic Services Manager,

Craven District Council.

SIR - I am grateful to your newspaper for highlighting the Carers' Resource's case for funding of our carer support service.

It has given people a glimpse at how Craven, Harrogate and Rural District Primary Care Trust spends its £170 million budget (or in our case doesn't spend it), and people have a right to know through the press how their money is being spent.

Unfortunately, while the press coverage has been clear and correct, inaccurate comments have been made behind the scenes in an attempt to refute our case.

I should like to address these errors in the interests of carers, health service professionals and many others who have given heart-warming support to us. So may I please state briefly:

o At no time have we suggested that carer support services other than our own might be at risk

o We do not regard ourselves as in competition with other voluntary organisations. We act as a signpost for carers into the maze of services that they offer. They can, and do, make their case for funding just as we make ours.

o We do not take on staff regardless of future funding. We have prudent and robust approaches to employing staff. Any contrary suggestion is a damaging slur on our integrity.

o The idea that we sought a 500 per cent increase in funding is absurd. Our core contract has been underfunded for several years. It was established at £87,000 in 1995, supporting five staff including two carer support officers - with fewer than 200 carers. In seven years our funding has risen by a total of only 15 per cent to just £100,000. We are now in contact with 3,500 carers and the funding no longer supports our carer support team. So we seek separate funding for our carer support team.

o Our carer support team saves the PCT money, as do carers, enabling people to be cared for at home - not in hospital and long-term care.

I hope this serves to correct misunderstanding or misinformation which may have caused concern to carers and professionals.

Carers see us as a lifeline and many professionals have said they find the carer support service invaluable. We do not intend to let them down.

Brian Murrell,


Carers Resource,

Low Laithe, Harrogate.

SIR - Collecting for Christian Aid I came to a house just ahead of a man delivering a parcel.

When a lady opened the door I told her my purpose and she handed me the previously-delivered empty envelope. "Preferably with something in it," I said with a smile. She smiled back but shook her head.

As I left I said to the man with the parcel: "I hope you have better luck."

A few doors further on I was overtaken by the delivery man in his car. He stopped, got out, took money out of his pocket and said: "Have you got a spare envelope?"

I pointed out that somebody would be collecting at his house too. "Doesn't matter," he said.

I've no idea who he was.

George H. Kinder,

Station Road, Giggleswick,

SIR - Well done to Rebecca Sim, of British Waterways, and Pamela Clark, of Pennine Cruisers, for their efforts and commitment in organising the British Waterway Festival which took place on the canal basin over the three days of the May Day Bank Holiday.

It was a great event which brought 10,000 visitors to this area of Skipton and was enjoyed by all.

It also brought awareness of the canal basin and what it has to offer both locals and visitors alike. Keep up the good work and I look forward to next year's event.

Joan Evans,

Oswaldtwistle Mills,

Coach Street, Skipton.

SIR - In case he is having sleepless nights, I feel it is my duty to reassure Roger Ingham that the spectre of "mob rule" is not slouching towards his doorstep.

Civil disobediance is not some nefarious ideology imported from North Korea, it is a vital part of electoral politics (and democracy). Electoral politics - voting now and then, writing letters to your MP - is all very well but in time of war something a little more vocal and visible is required.

Just as well Martin Luther King didn't settle for writing letters to his elected officials. And I'm certain the Romans informed a certain rebellious individual named Jesus to put it all in a letter and vote in the next elections.

So the ultimate conclusion? Those who see "mob rule" when school children demonstrate against war are afraid of young people thinking for themselves.

Dr Bruce McLeod,

Bodkyn House, Otterburn.