SIR, - I am sure that I was not alone in feeling angry and dismayed when reading in the Gazette on February 28 that our parish councillors had persuaded Bradford Council to add a bit of extra tax to our Council Tax, to give themselves a bit of brass to spend on their pet schemes.

Parish Precept by any name means more tax to pay by a captive electorate. I may be cynical, in fact I am so, but, I doubt if any of the money they vote themselves will improve my existence or provide better parking facilities in the town for our much vaunted tourists, let alone residents, nor improve the street cleaning or the unblocking of drains, the removal of treacherously slippery patches of fallen leaves, the enforcement of the laws on dog fouling, litter deposition and many more items of public concern.

I know that a consultative document was circulated, I filled in and returned one, but that surely was not a referendum on the subject, or was it?

I did read comments in the Gazette from certain well to do gentlemen of the town who probably would not miss a quid or two, who were in favour of a precept, but who would not have given a thought to those on small fixed incomes to whom every penny counts - even in affluent Ilkley.

I wonder how many of the latter support the idea. I also wonder how many of us would have voted as we did at the last relevant elections if we had known that those for whom we were voting were planning to take more money from us.

It is apparently not just the Socialists who believe in 'tax and spend'. I am pleased to note that one or two councillors have expressed some concern, but there again, who can one trust these days?

Victor M Bean

112 Skipton Road,


Rights of way

SIR, - I am not sure how much more your readers will want of the history in Ilkley of the processes of consultation under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (over the mapping of access land) so I will be brief.

The difference between Anne Hawkesworth and myself is one of opinion over the adequacy of publicity about, and the consequent level of success to be claimed for, the event in the Town Hall on February 2.

I thought it was not a success but in her terms she believes it was, and chides me for not checking what the precise legal status of the event had been before I voiced a contrary opinion.

I have to say I did try to do that but the facts she has described in her latest letter in the Ilkley Gazette (February 21) about the informality of the event) were not effectively communicated on February 2. They are to a degree belied by the pile of official comment forms available at the event with implicit encouragement to use them.

All that is in the past. For the future the public will need to learn: when (for the purposes of the Act) to expect publication of the provisional maps of access land, where to find them, by whom they will be published, in what form and how appeals can be made (if people should so wish).

I hope that if the council gets involved in that process it should make clearer than it did this time the basis on which it is acting.

Michael Atkinson

7 Old Bridge Rise,


Hospital praised

SIR, - I had occasion recently to visit the Coronation Hospital in Ilkley to see Dr Zezulka, who was most kind and helpful in every way.

While waiting to be seen, there were seven of us, either for appointments or accompanying those seeing the doctor.

The health service has often been criticised for incompetence, but here in Ilkley, although some of us had to wait a considerable time, every 15 minutes or so a nurse came to tell us all exactly what was happening, and offered tea or coffee - most pleasantly - to us all.

It caused a good atmosphere and consequently got us all chatting amiably together so that time passed quicker than normally.

Thank you very much Coronation Hospital, for your superb service. The date in question was Monday, February 25 from 1pm onwards.

I give these details as I forgot to ask the nurse her name. She deserves much credit for the way she did her job.

Muriel Clare

Flat 1,

Regent Court,

Regent Road,


Halal and hunting

SIR, - MP Anne Cryer's strictures against hunting with dogs would carry more credibility were she to extend her support to seeking a ban on the infinitely more barbaric practice of Halal slaughter which is responsible for the cruel death of more birds and animals in a single week than the country's hunters and shooters dispatch in a season.

Is her hostility to one and not the other a sign of misplaced social prejudice? Or do the relative number of votes from these very different minorities in her Keighley constituency influence her calculations?

Surely, such a liberal lady and bien pensant advocate for a brave new world cannot seek to discriminate against one minority of whom she may disapprove, while ignoring even more reprehensible practices from another, significantly larger, albeit more political correct minority.

I wait, without much hope, to hear of a New Labour backbencher prepared to sponsor a Bill to ban Halal slaughter with even a fraction of the venom they exhibit in their pursuit of the foxhunter. I do not hunt, but support minority freedoms, including the rights of those who support field sports.

I regret I am unable to allow my name and address to be published. Civilised debate is alien to some anti-field sports supporters whose preference for violence and intimidation is the defining characteristic of their selective intolerance.



Fans of booklet

SIR, - We recently purchased a copy of The Burley History Trail booklet which was created by a group of young people, under the Young Enterprise Scheme, organised by Burley Youth Forum.

Through your paper we'd like to applaud them for their hard work which has produced an entertaining and informative booklet and last Saturday afforded us a very pleasant afternoon stroll around the village discovering all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies along the way.

Bob and Sue Clark


Burley Woodhead,


Kind helpers

SIR, - Madge and Charles Partridge wish to thank the people who helped and comforted Madge when waiting for the ambulance after her fall when coming away from the Sound of Music show at the King's Hall, Ilkley.

Also the doctor and nurses in the accident and emergency department of Airedale Hospital.

Charles Partridge

Springfield Avenue


TV's blind spot

SIR, - I am writing to voice my anger at the discrimination faced by blind and partially sighted television viewers which is causing frustration across the country.

I have a sight problem but enjoy watching television as much as anyone but I am being treated like a second class viewer and shut out from the digital broadcasting revolution.

There are nearly two million people who have sight problems in the UK and like me they are being denied the same choices and opportunities as sighted people.

This is because it is impossible to get hold of the equipment needed to access audio description, and additional commentary to programmes which allows people with sight problems to follow the action.

This vital equipment is not being produced or distributed because no-one is prepared to fund it even though broadcasters are now transmitting some audio described programmes on digital terrestrial channels.

I have written to our MP Ann Cryer about this because I think it is urgent that the Government steps in to solve this problem.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is co-ordinating a national campaign called 'Get The Picture'. I hope others will join in and get involved.

Information on how to help is available from RNIB's campaign team on 020 7391 2184 or e-mail (

Marjorie Hickson,

31A St James Road,


Run for charity

SIR, - Nearly everyone knows someone who has suffered a stroke and I am sure that your readers are no exception.

The Stroke Association has a number of guaranteed places for this year's Great North Run. Anyone wishing to take up a place in the world's biggest half-marathon just needs to be able to raise a minimum of £200 in support of our work.

The Stroke Association is the leading national charity working solely to help those who are living with the often devastating consequences of stroke.

Every year over 100,00 people suffer a first stroke, 10,000 are under 55 and include 600 children under the age of 16.

Stroke is the third biggest killer in Britain today and the greatest cause of severe disability, affecting over 350,000 people at any one time.

The charity also funds vital research into all aspects of stroke prevention and improving methods of diagnosis and treatment, including rehabilitation.

The Great North Run offers an ideal opportunity to raise money for this worthwhile cause and at the same time take part in one of the world's greatest sporting events.

Help us make a difference to thousands of lives this year. Fore more information and a runners pack, please contact me on 01904 427244.

Gillian Brady,

Regional Fundraising Manager.