SIR - Airedale Chemical Co is concerned over the inaccuracies reported in your newspaper last Friday which could mislead residents and businesses local to our site and we would therefore like to set the record straight as follows.

Hazardous Substance Consent has not been sought for sodium cyanide as listed in your article and is not part of the application. Sodium cyanide will not be processed or stocked on our premises.

Although consent is to Craven District Council's planning department, the application does not involve any new outside building work, storage vessels or expansion of the site.

The application involves only one new product, the other product has been stocked and processed for the last three years with stock levels below Hazardous Substance Consent limit of 50 tonnes. The application is to increase this to a maximum quantity of 65 tonnes.

Markets for one of the products includes the cleaning of sheds/buildings/greenhouses etc used for growing strawberries and cultivating mushrooms. The product is also sold to farms for topical use on livestock.

The article infers the possibility of an explosion and fire similar to the recent Hemel Hempstead disaster. Airedale Chemical Co wishes to reassure local residents and businesses that neither of the products in the application is flammable.

In fact very few flammable products are stocked on site and in total, are currently only 0.2 per cent of the controlled quantity required for Hazardous Substance Consent.

With regard to spillages, Airedale Chemical Co has recently spent in excess of a seven figure sum on improvements to ensure site safety and total bunding. Any spillages that may occur, inside or outside of buildings would be contained within the site boundary and sent to our new effluent treatment plant.

Airedale Chemical Co is a responsible member of the local business community. The company operates a strict Health and Safety and Environmental policy and is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency. In addition the company works closely with the emergency services and will continue to do so.

We would therefore be obliged if you would kindly reassure your readers by notifying them of our comments.

Airedale Chemical Company

Skipton Road, Cross Hills.

SIR - Many of us in the Cross Hills area are feeling concerned about the application by the Airedale Chemical Company for a licence to keep larger quantities of "toxic" and "very toxic" substances at their factory.

We have been told that the three chemicals referred to in the application are formaldehyde, Sodium bichromate and sodium cyanide.

Formaldehyde is labelled "toxic"by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the other two chemicals are labelled "very toxic" - all potentially very harmful to people and the environment.

According to information on environmental chemistry web sites, sodium bichromate has been ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10 per cent) to ecosystems and human health. Sodium bichromate and formaldehyde are carcinogens (cause cancer) and have been linked to problems with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune, respiratory, pancreatic and liver systems.

The HSE publish a leaflet called 'Chromium and You' which you can download from their web site at It says that chromium compounds, such as bichromates pose the most significant health hazards. Sodium cyanide has been linked to some similar conditions and marine toxicity.

It is important to note that the Airedale Chemical Company not only stores and uses these chemicals in manufacturing processes but also offers a transportation service by road tanker. This application covers this too.

However well run a plant might be there is always the risk of accident. People fear leakage, spillage or explosion. Who and what might an accident affect?

Well, the local residents for a start. It is not enough for the council to say the factory is on an industrial site. It is a tiny site bordered closely by many residential streets! There is no mention in the plans of the proximity to a petrol station. A few minutes walk away we have a primary school. The nationwide increase in childhood asthma is already worrying.

Are there no alternative production methods or substitute products which can circumvent the use of these particular chemicals?

The river Aire is a few yards away. Wildlife could be affected. The A629 is well known for its accident rate and the level crossing is always in the news.

This application is going to be considered by the council, by the HSE and by the Environment Agency. Even if the company is meeting all the requirements, we cannot get away from the possibility of an accident. The drama of Hemel Hempstead is still fresh in our minds. Human lives are so valuable, so vulnerable, should we really be unnecessarily adding to the risks we already face?

If people are concerned, they could write a letter to the Planning Department at Craven District Council. The consultation period ends on March 6. The time to write is now. Every letter counts.

Gail Simon,


SIR - With reference to Mr Ellwood's frustration at the proposal for a drum and bugle corps by the British Legion, I gather this is to ensure there is a marching band for commemorative events later in the year with the ultimate aim the formation of a military/wind band for our area.

I am excited at the chance to be part of a new musical venture in my home area. As a clarinet/sax player, I don't have the option of brass banding so there are few other opportunities (I currently enjoy playing at Skipton music centre as well as occasionally in a German-style oompah band!).

So, leaving aside the good works of the British Legion, my primary motivation is musical.

We need to be realistic and not prejudicial - if the proposed British Legion band takes off, it should be seen as complementary to Skipton Band (as well as the other quality brass bands in Craven) and not as a threat, especially as there will be other such outfits in the region.

Most brass players I know switch capably between musical styles and indeed many switch between bands as the need arises. I sincerely hope that the Legion can muster a full military band, but also that Skipton Band get back to full strength as soon as possible.

The biggest threat to serious musicians is failure due to apathy or hostility. Tradition alone has not saved many fine brass bands, so all bands of whatever ilk need to recognise their interdependence and avoid antagonism and duplication of effort, and those in music education must continue to push the benefits of all ensemble playing, particularly when opportunities are on the doorstep.

If all else fails, how about we set up a kazoo band?

Tim Clarke,

Byron Street, Skipton.

SIR - I firmly believe that every Skiptonian, just once in his lifetime should be entitled to have a letter printed in The Craven Herald. This is mine and will, I am sure, take many readers on a trip down memory lane.

The inspiration for this, strangely enough, is taken from an article in Lancashire Life and is entitled "Ballroom of the Stars". It goes on about this remarkable venue and how it hosted all the great stars of the sixties - The Beatles, The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and too many to list here. Later, it catered to Lancashire's craze for Northern Soul by bringing in top names from America.

This of course was the famous Imperial Ballroom in Nelson. Or the 'Imp' as it was fondly known. But there will be many readers who can go back much further than that to the age of Be-Bop and the time of the Big Bands: Geraldo, Joe Loss, Vic Lewis and Ted Heath.

There was a gentleman who lived up Otley Road in Skipton, who owned a Rolls Royce as big as a house. His name was Hughie Dent. Now the numbers might have grown with time, but I am sure that we once got 15 of us in this vehicle on our trips to the Imp. He was the forerunner of the minibus. Hughie would enjoy the music seated on one of the many settees whilst we jived - and we were good thanks to expertise born at Clifford Coup's Dancing School and honed to perfection with Fred Hudson at Skipton's Welfare Ballroom.

We were a sight for sore eyes in our drape fingertip gabardine suits, our colourful shirts and loud ties, shoes with two-inch thick crepe soles, fluorescent socks and drainpipe pants.

This was the early fifties and at this time we were all called upon to do our national service. By the time we came home, or shortly after, we were all married. It was the end of an era - but I bet those Lancashire lasses didn't half miss us!

Norman Smith,

Firtrees Drive,

Feniscowles, Blackburn.

Editor's note: Do you have memories to share of the Imp? Write to the editor.

SIR - Here we are again, another short-sighted decision made by the Dales National Park. In removing the concessionary parking entitlement to all Dales residents they are compromising the livelihoods of traders in local areas, Grassington in particular.

Residents may think twice about paying £2 in their quest to "shop locally", and will just by-pass Grassington and head for Skipton, where a greater selection of shops and the market beckon.

Local people who really want to shop in Grassington will, in a futile attempt to use other car parking, add to the congestion of the Main Street.

Why remove a small gesture to local people, for what can be only a minor financial gain for the National Park, when the knock-on effect to the fragile economy of the area could be far from 'small'.

Since moving to Hebden five years ago, I decided to adopt the 'use it or lose it' attitude to shopping locally, but I didn't realise how difficult this would become.

Pam Hargreaves

Brook St, Hebden.

SIR - Recently there have been letters published which either misinterpreted statements I have made or have contained 'snapshot' quotations which also have led themselves to misinterpretation. I believe this has been both mischievous and unhelpful.

To set the record straight and to ensure that my electorate and particularly those who have supported me at previous elections have the true facts in front of them, I would like to make this statement.

At the meeting of the Performances and Resources meeting of January 17 at Craven District Council I said "We had been consulting on the Skipton Developments now for two and a half years and the time had come to make decisions and I urged councillors to do just that pointing out that I had been elected by my constituents to make decisions on their behalf, and if the decisions I made they were not happy with, then the answer was in the ballot box at the next election".

With regard to the comment "this time we have decided to put our money where our mouths are" refers to the Skipton Town Council meeting held on February 7 to approve the annual budget.

The 25.8 per cent increase has come about because in the previous two years the council precept was kept artificially low by taking money from reserves. It is obvious to anyone that you cannot keep taking money from reserves or you will have no reserves left and therefore this year we have insisted that a correct budget amount will be precepted and every household in Skipton will receive a newsletter detailing the full explanation of our spending under all the budget headings.

This will mean that the typical Skipton Council Tax Band B will be an overall weekly cost of 96p this is an increase of 18p per week. If any of my electors have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

Coun Polly English,

Burnside Avenue, Skipton.

SIR - You have to admire Settle town councillors' nerve posing at the new Town Head Way state-of-the-art (one slide), generously proportioned (10 feet x 10 feet) playground provided for our 0-11 year olds (Craven Herald, February 3).

In respect of our 12 to 16-year-olds currently showing off their football skills on Town Head Way, might not the 45 car parking spaces currently being mooted for Town Head Surgery revamp (Craven Herald January 27) be better utilised as a playing field, just possibly avoiding childhood obesity and at the same time drastically reducing the NHS drug bill and surgery waiting time?

Sally Anderson

Town Head Way, Settle.

SIR - A recent ITN news campaign highlighted a "bleak outlook for carers" in which they describe declining health in carers and the question of where carers themselves can get the support they need.

This is not just an issue in deprived areas. In Craven alone there are over 4,500 carers - unpaid people looking after a friend or family member with a disability or illness.

The answer to ITN's 'Who Cares?' campaign, at least locally, is: We do!

The Carers' Resource, with offices in Skipton and also working across Harrogate and Airedale localities, supports thousands of carers of all ages both practically and emotionally.

Working with other voluntary and statutory organisations within the community, we encourage carers to think of their own needs by providing information, one-to-one support, benefits advice, personalised training and employment guidance, social groups, and many volunteering opportunities to help make it a better outlook for carers and the person they care for. If you are a carer and would like more information, or if you would like to volunteer, please contact The Carers' Resource on 01756 700888.

Ann Smythe,

The Carers' Resource,

North Park Road, Harrogate.

SIR - With reference to John Manley's letter (17 Feb), he may be interested to know that things can only get worse. I live outside Settle and although our town also enjoys an excellent train service, I have on occasion to use the service from Skipton.

Trying to find a parking space in the station car park is often impossible and I have in the past only been able to catch my train due to the kindness of station staff who have let me use their own private space.

I have discovered from the Planning Department that any application to increase station parking is likely to be refused as the station building is listed.

When will the council understand that not all rail users live within walking distance of the station?

Nicola Clowes,


SIR - Thank you for the excellent coverage of the successful Airedale rail line last week in the article "Longer Trains Could Solve Overcrowding".

I would just like to correct one detail. There are in fact nearly 2,500 seats on trains arriving in Leeds in the morning peak, from the Airedale line. There are even more passengers as some of the 350 seat trains are carrying up to 550 passengers into Leeds.

In addition the half hourly Bradford service carries up to 400 passengers on some trains - and several hundred people use the train to travel into Skipton each morning.

In short, the railway is an essential part of the infrastructure here in Airedale, conveying many people in an environmentally friendly way up and down the valley. That's before you include the 30 or so freight trains which use the line every day!

We believe that demand for travel in Airedale will increase. Investment in roads is both very expensive and will damage the environment. We are hoping that this will be recognised in the Northern Rail Review which is due out this spring.

If not, then we will need to make full use of the consultation period to make sure the transport needs of our part of the world are taken into account in the final report.

Tim Calow,


Aire Valley Rail Users Group

Laurel Close, Embsay.

SIR - One has to wonder what the function of The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning department actually is - apart from being obstructive to ordinary people.

Without any warning, in full view of my front room windows and those of other residents in the area, is being built, what is, probably the biggest and most unsightly, building in the whole of Upper Wharfedale. It is being clad in what looks like dirty green corrugated iron and by any standards in the world, is very ugly indeed.

If you arrive in Threshfield and see this monstrosity for the first time, you could easily mistake it for a military aircraft hanger - don't just take my word for it, send out your photographer and put some real news in your paper.

The building I refer to is destined to be a new sports hall at Wharfedale School and it is funded by lottery money.

It all sounds like a very good thing and I applaud the enterprise which has been taken to bring such a facility to our area. Surely, however, some consultation could have been sought with local people? One would expect that more thought could have gone into the building appearance and design together with positioning of it, especially when one remembers that, a couple of years ago, planning permission to turn a field, a few hundred yards away, into a simple sports pitch (which would still leave it looking like a field!) was turned down flat!

In the case of the sports pitch application, people from all over the country, were invited to object - and one or two did. In the case of this new, three to four storey, (at least), hideous building, however, not even local residents, (that I know of), were asked, particularly the people who might be most affected.

Please do not think that this letter is the ranting of one NIMFY (not in my front yard) and grumpy old man - if the national park's Royal hero, Prince Charles, were to see it, he would, no doubt, have apoplexy! It makes his famous London Carbuncle compare favourably to York Minster.

While most people are pleased with the facility and that we might have the use of four badminton courts (and more?), opinion is unanimous among the masses and common folk, visitors included, that this new building is a hideous blot on our beautiful Yorkshire Dales landscape. So much, then, for the The National Park's avowed policy of making sure that new buildings blend in with local surroundings and that local peoples' interests are considered!

Everyone has true stories about the 'planners' in The National Parks - one of my favourites is about the chap in Threshfield who conducted some minor alterations to some old cottages in the village and was told by the authorities, to rub cow dung into the new sandstone lintels to make them tone in with the rest of the buildings (what do you think happened when it rained?).

Compare that offensive sandstone lintel to an enormous aircraft hanger clad in dirty green corrugated iron less than half a mile away!

I am amazed that such a huge and ugly building, with the controversy surrounding it, has not been the subject of any of your reports to date. Many local people have still not got a clue what the building is going to be used for and one visitor told me a couple of weeks ago that it was "by far the biggest dutch barn" he had ever seen!

Maybe you could provide a service to the local community by asking the local education authority and the planning authority at the national parks (if you can catch them in their office) by obtaining some information on this monstrous eyesore which has been foisted upon us.

Richard Toyn,

Wharfeside Avenue, Threshfield.

Editor's note: The Craven Herald carried an article saying the school had applied for planning permission to build a sports hall on October 1 2004. Further stories about the progress of a sports hall being built were published on December 17 2004, May 13 2005 and November 25 2005.

SIR - For someone with a profound interest in the improvement of policing services, it is encouraging to observe the public debate that is currently taking place in respect of the Home Secretary's proposals for the restructuring of Police Forces.

As in any situation however, it is essential that the reporting of the debate is balanced and reasoned and that emotive evaluation is minimised.

Recent media coverage of the debate has focused upon the estimated potential cost of regional amalgamation. It is important that your readers are aware that such estimates have been produced in somewhat of an "information vacuum".

It should be noted that, until new Police Authorities and new Chief Officer teams are appointed, nobody will know how future police structures will be shaped and therefore, at this stage, estimates of future costs are at best, minimally informed guesses.

A good example of an issue that has received potentially misleading coverage is the gloomy speculation concerning the potential costs of a new headquarters building for a regional force (alarmingly estimated in terms of a nine figure sum!). Such speculation is based upon what can only be described as an outdated belief that amalgamated force structures will merely be bigger versions of that which already exists.

We in North Yorkshire Police would rather move away from the application of 20th century logic. We believe that 21st century challenges require 21st century thinking and solutions. If one follows our forward looking rationale, it would be both possible and indeed desirable that the "headquarters" structure for a strategic regional force would radically differ and be much reduced from the current model and that the building to accommodate such a structure would accordingly cost a fraction of the sum currently subject of speculation (if indeed one would be needed!).

Members of the public of the Yorkshire and Humber region need to be aware that there is a powerful and persuasive case indicating that, far from being diminished, the quality of neighbourhood policing, and the status of the local Basic Command Unit, will be significantly enhanced by regional amalgamation. There is a strong indication that the scale of a strategic regional force would positively enable a local Basic Command Unit to become the focus for local neighbourhood policing needs.

Emerging local accountability arrangements would further contribute to the creation of a local identity and a local focus for crime and disorder reduction.

Unfortunately the potential success of the mooted merger of the North and West Yorkshire Forces would be severely hindered by the massive contrast between the policing needs of the North and West Yorkshire areas respectively.

In plain language, such a merger would effectively be a "takeover", accompanied by none of the energy and potential for positive change that would be possible if the four forces of the Greater Yorkshire area combined their resources and best practices in a strategic regional amalgamation.

All parties have acknowledged the need for change in order to bridge the identified gap that currently exists in respect of protective services (eg murder investigation, counter-terrorist activity and combating serious and organised crime).

With imagination and willingness to envisage future policing structures that may be different from those currently in place, we believe that a more effective, more efficient future is possible for protective services and local neighbourhood policing alike.

Della M Cannings,

Chief Constable,

North Yorkshire Police,


SIR - Continuuing the subject of the nuclear energy debate, Michael Horner's letter (Craven Herald February 10) prompts me to make the following observations. Both Mr Horner and Mr Shaw (whom he mentions), having been employed in the nuclear power industry, obviously have to support it or they would either talk themselves out of employment or denigrate the work they had been involved in during their working lives.

Mr Horner is quite right to point out that nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide but what he disingenuously fails to mention is that it does produce radio-active waste. This waste has to be transported to sites around the country to be stored, a very dubious and unsafe procedure as evidenced by the national news story earlier this week whereby radio-active waste was being transported from Cookridge Hospital to Sellafield through unsuspecting towns and villages and leaking lethal waste due to human error.

This will be more and more likely to occur if we follow the nuclear power option. It would also be a potential terrorist target.

Is he therefore suggesting that we just alleviate the problem of carbon dioxide emissions and replace it with another massive problem of radio-active waste?

Such waste remains active for thousands of years and would have to be stored in an ever increasing number of vast reinforced concrete bunkers that over time will degenerate and leak into the water table.

This has already happened with the Tritiated water stored at Aldermaston. What a legacy to leave to future generations; have we learned nothing from the crisis of global warming?

Funding for nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is phenomenal, if only even half as much were devoted to research into wind and wave power we would be looking at a safer future. May I direct your readers to website where they will find the other side of the debate.

Olivia Agate,

Hallam's Yard, Skipton.

SIR - I am trying to track down information on Alex Smith, a stone and wood carver, art teacher and sculptor who painted the murals on the ceiling on Keighley Library and died in the 1950s.

I am trying to trace as much of his remaining work as possible.

Secondly a builder recently took a box of artefacts relating to a building in Keighley to Skipton Library and then he delivered them to Keighley Library. I believe his name was Hird. I would like to speak to him.

Anyone else who has items from relatives, or of their own, or memories of old Keighley are welcome to contact me on 01535 669914 or email

Barbara Klempka,

27 Box Tree Grove,

Long Lee, Keighley.

SIR - I would like to thank you for the support you have given to Langcliffe School. Keep up the good work. You're right - it is a fine little school.

Mrs Ann Jubb,

Park Crescent, Hellifield.