SIR, - In March 2001, the LEA commenced public consultation on the re-organisation of primary education in Otley.

The debate, which had already started, was widely conducted and reported within the media as well as within the formal meetings held by the LEA. The debate was effectively ended on May 9, 2001 when the Executive Board of Leeds City Council decided on the plan as it now exists.

The decisions were controversial, although there was no consensus within the town as to a better outcome.

Parents and other interest groups rightly fought for what they perceived to be in the best interests of their own school.

Otley Town Council took the wise decision that, on such a divisive issue, it would have no official policy regarding the details of the re-organisation. Once the plan was presented as LEA policy, most people of goodwill in Otley pragmatically cast aside their reservations and resolved to work to ensure the success of the re-organisation.

Governing bodies were set up to oversee the appointment of staff and the rebuilding work required. And there the matter should have ended.

We now find that a number of parents of one closing school, have decided to attempt to throw the whole re-organisation into disarray by seeking judicial review of the procedure.

If they had sought to seek review immediately after the re-organisation procedure, that would have been understandable and indeed would have been supported by many parents and staff.

Instead, they have left the legal action until almost the eleventh hour when many staff appointments have been made and building plans to extend the three schools involved are well advanced.

We are informed by the Wharfedale Observer that the excessive delay in applying for judicial review was criticised by the original High Court judge.

Two questions that need to be put to the 'refusenicks', why did you wait so long before taking legal action and what do you think will be gained if you succeed in your course of action?

If the judicial review found in favour of the protesters, Education Leeds would have to restart the whole process. In all probability they would come up with exactly the same formula whilst ensuring they met any conditions of the judge's decision, which would leave our schools in a state of limbo for a much longer period than at present. Such a scenario would lead to the worst of all worlds, the protestors would not get what they really want and parents and school staff would be faced with a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Councillor Graham Kirkland is quoted as saying that, Education Leeds will be in serious trouble, because there are already contracts of employment out to teachers. Staff appointments already made involve the signing of legally enforceable contracts and building plans are well advanced.

If these were now to be scrapped, the cost would be considerable, paid for ultimately by the ratepayers. Of more importance is the effect on people living and working in Otley, school staff have already faced many months of stress and the scenario outlined above would have a devastating effect on their morale, parents would face possibly another two years of uncertainty regarding the education of their children and the community would be plunged into another prolonged period of strife and division.

I appeal to those who have brought the action to re-consider their position and support those who have (sometimes reluctantly) accepted the reorganisation plans and who are now striving to ensure that Education Leeds delivers a first class education to all the children of Otley.

Ray Johnson

Otley Town Council governor All Saints Infants School.

Otley Town Council governor All Saints Primary School (Temporary Body)

Flawed process

SIR - The consultation process for the change of Otley Primary Schools was flawed at the start. Information was given only to the parents of children currently in the schools concerned, despite the fact that the changes would not affect those in the top two years. Others who needed to know were not consulted. I have twin two-year-olds who should start Nursery in September. I went to two different Mums and Toddlers groups yet was not given any information about the proposals.

I also live on Lisker Drive, where the plan is to expand the number of children from the current 60 ish to a possible 210, and that on an estate where it is not permissible to build because of the traffic problems.

Yet, I had to receive information about the changes from my neighbour, whose child goes to the Whartons, the one Primary school unaffected by the changes.

Only parents at the schools were informed of the change of venue of the consultation meetings, leaving several people, myself included standing outside All Saints in the rain.

The misinformation was not just given out by Education Leeds. Parents of Nursery children at Westgate were told that their children would definitely be given places in the school despite where they lived.

Because of this, they supported the changes, only to find now that they cannot go to Wesgate after all. I hesitate to say 'I told you so' but I did. The practicalities of the situation were such that there is no way that all the children who want to go to Westgate can get places there.

I have decided no to put my twins into Nursery this year because I do not want them to settle somewhere only to have to move to another school.

I am aware that they will be given places at Lisker Drive because of where we live. I will appeal that decision (on religious grounds) and win.

But what choice do I have? I fully support the need for change in Primary Schools in Otley. The current system is far from ideal, as well as being very expensive to run. But I feel that the new proposals have been forced through. It was obvious at the public meeting that Education Leeds would continue with their plan regardless of the feeling of local people.

L Nuttgens

44 Lisker Drive


Super service

SIR, - Who gives you the best service when you go shopping? Who's the person whose determination to do their best for you makes it a pleasure to get on the bus, to book a holiday, to send your children to school, to get the car fixed and to do business with them?

Who's the person whose sympathetic and professional approach helps you to face a stay in hospital, a visit to the dentist or to deal with authority?

At Servicemark Yorkshire and Humber, we want to know. We want you to tell us who these people are, who they work for and why their service is so good.

We want you to nominate them for the People's Award for DService Excellence in the Servicemark Yorkshire and Humber Customer Service Awards 2002, which will be held on September 18, 2002.

The winner will be invited to the gala awards ceremony in Le Meridian Queen's Hotel, Leeds, and for dinner on board the British Pullmans oif the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express during a special journey around the region.. If the person you nominate wins, we'll ask you to join us, too - both for the awards and the celebration dinner.

All you have to do is ring our nomination hotline 0800 169 4317 and we'll send you a form so that you can tell is about the person you think deserves to win.

Why are we doing this? Because customer service has never been more important than now to the future economic growth and development of Yorkshire and Humber.

As a part of the Regional Development Agency, Yorkshire Forward, we know that our region relies upon developing world-class industries and businesses for its future.

Every single one of those industries, businesses and organisations is dependent for success upon one vital human element - the people who give the very best service to their customers.

This is your chance to thank those who work hard on your behalf and to encourage everyone else to attain their standards.



Servicemark Yorkshire and Humber


Sleazy figures

SIR, - Malcolm Naylor's poll figures have changed somewhat, Labour and Tories 54% each on sleaze now.

One figure Malcolm ignored though, the Daily Mirror's poll asking if prisoners from Afghanistan in Cuba were being mistreated, 91% said No, what do we make of that?

Surely 91% cant be 'out of step'. Getting away from Polls though I note Iain Duncan-Smith fully supports President Bush on Iraq along with Tony Blair.

Now that's what I call real Tory - Labour agreement.


48a Larkfield Road


Bus cuts blow

SIR - I have just heard that some buses have been cut from Horsforth to Otley. On speaking to people who come to Otley each week for the day, they now only have less than half a day.

Surely in view of the encouragement of more buses coming into Otley and the news that this is happening, then Horsforth buses are acting contradictory.

We have a lovely town with all visitors needs and speaking to visitors from Horsforth proves that we do get shoppers on a regular basis to our town.What comment do the bus company have?

Mrs S Luxton

The Lodge

Scarborough Road


SIR - There was no letter from F Dickinson of Larkfield Road, Rawdon in last week's Wharfedale Observer. Was he not well?

David Brearley

29 Micklefield Lane