SIR - In June last year both these beloved ponies took part in the Keighley Gala procession.

Three weeks later, in July, Gypsy was diagnosed with Cushing's disease (a disease that affects the hormones and the pituitary gland).

On the vet's advice, it was suggested we think of her quality of life and possibly have her put to sleep.

The group had a meeting and decided to seek a second opinion from another vet. He suggested a blood test and X-ray to clarify the severity of the disease and go from there. As she was the first pony the group started up with, over four years ago, we felt it was worth trying. Gypsy was put on a medication and she has made a remarkable recovery and is now stabilised.

Then six weeks ago Bessie was diagnosed with the same disease.

She was also put on the drug and is showing a remarkable improvement. Both these ponies could not walk and had weeks of box rest and were helped by an excellent farrier, Paul Rushton, doing some remedial shoeing.

We would like to thank the generous people who have supported the group as this has enabled the group to support these two much valued ponies. If it prolongs their lives for a few more years then it will have been worth all the trouble of nursing them back to health, and without the help of our dedicated helpers at the group this wouldn't have been possible.

We would like to thank: Bradford Council, CNET, Fred Towler Trust, Calderdale Community Trust, Awards for All, George Spooner Trust, Thomas Jagger, Tony McManus, Riddlesden Gala Committee, Keighley Gala Committee, Oxenhope Straw Race Committee, Cross Roads Gala Committee, Bront Tractor Committee, Oxnop Singers and the Keighley News for all their coverage throughout the year. Thank you.



SIR - In response to your editorial, firstly may I make it quite clear that I did not intend any insult to the Stockbridge area.

I was not referring to local children and apologise unreservedly if my remarks were so interpreted. My comment about anti-social behaviour was made in the context of the police report, which stated that both children and youth would travel considerable distances to use the facility. I was concerned that anti-social elements could "move in" to an area that at present is well known to have low levels of both crime and bad behaviour.

The application for the play area at Casey's Corner was one of the most difficult the Panel has had to decide. We first considered it in January, when we made a site visit. We deferred it, mainly because we had not received a police report. We had concerns, but we felt we should have an expert opinion before making a decision.

We reconsidered it in February, by which time we had the police report. The Keighley News has been provided with a copy, which lists no less than 10 areas of concern. You may wish to publish the report in its entirety as this would fully explain the issues.

We felt that some police concerns could be overcome by conditions. For example, fencing could have been changed, a management plan would deal with hours of operation, lighting and signage could be improved and litter bins provided.

However, the police raised several issues that were impossible to overcome by condition. These included ...

Access -- The narrow path is not ideal and if rival groups congregate there is little or no means of escape. The Police also were worried about garden hopping.

Noise -- There would be noise, and to quote from the report, "This no doubt will act as an irritant to local residents who may challenge this behaviour, and in turn lead to anti-social behaviour".

Visibility and Supervision -- The site is not visible from the street and, again to quote from the report "... concerns that this would be a cause for many complaints to the Police from local residents, who would feel intimidated and unprepared to challenge the possible inappropriate behaviour of young people.

"Although the play area facility is aimed at younger children, the 'bored teenage element' will undoubtedly frequent it and attempt to take ownership and spoil things for the younger children".

We do need play areas. However, they must be safe for our children. I felt, and still do feel, that this particular site had so many risks attached that it is the wrong site. I would be delighted if a suitable area could be found, and hope that every effort will be made to provide an appropriate and safe place for children to play.

Chris Greaves

Chairman, Keighley Area

Planning Panel

SIR - Through your paper I would sincerely like to thank everyone who has helped in trying to create a play area in memory of Casey.

Unfortunately the planners have decided that the children of the Stockbridge area will be deprived of somewhere safe to play and will continue to play on the rat-runs that surround our homes.

Special thanks go to Nick Lajszczuk of Eye4Design, Keighley Town Council, especially Bob Horrell and Brian Hudson, Gerald Newton for work on site, Simon D'Vall of Neighbourhood Road Safety Initiative, the Keighley News for their continued support of the cause, Alan Budge of Bradford Vision, Steven Leather of Turner & Wall, Sharon and Glenn for taking the abuse, Mandy, Enid and Andrew of Stockbridge Neighbourhood Action Plan, Tim Martin, teachers and pupils of Oakbank School, B & Q Keighley, Casey's mum Debbie and Grandma Eileen for allowing us to try, and finally all the people who donated money -- it will not be wasted as the site is to be made into a garden in memory of Casey. If anyone would like to get involved in this we can be contacted on 07768046015, where any help would be appreciated.


Bradford Road


SIR - I regret that the Casey's Corner project failed to gain planning permission, but I regret also that David Samuels should seize this opportunity to peddle once more his attacks on Bradford Council.

I do not know what involvement Mr Samuels has had with this project in the past, but I know from attending meetings of the Stockbridge Neighbourhood Action Plan that there was a significant input, and goodwill, from Bradford MDC towards the project.

However, the law is that the planning application had to be decided on planning grounds, and all of the goodwill in the world could not change that fact.

Additionally, the majority of the Bradford Councillors who decided the issue represent and live in Keighley. This was not a decision made by a remote body, but one that I am sure was not made lightly by the members of the Planning Panel. The decision was made after a thorough site visit, and taking account of the very adverse comments from the Police Crime Reduction Unit. The decision had to take account of the safety of the children who would use the site.

As to Mr Samuels signing-off comments about Bradford City's baroque and gold-plated lavatories, I can assure him that the City Hall facilities are Victorian and brass.

Mark Startin

Cllr, Keighley East

Sir - I was just going through the Readers Letters page from last week's KN and was interested to read the piece from Aziz Rahman stating that Islam teaches its followers to respect all religions including Jesus, Moses and Abraham to name a few.

I saw a photo yesterday on a UK blogsite taken at a demonstration in Pakistan over the weekend condemming (again) the publication of the Mohammed cartoons. The shot was of some women carrying placards with the words "God Bless Hitler" in big red letters. A very fine example of respect for all religions I don't think.

Steve Hewitt

Taichung, Taiwan.

SIR - Ann Cryer has signed a parliamentary motion celebrating the first anniversary of the Hunting Act and calling on the police to rigorously enforce and make prosecutions under the Act.

Hunts around Keighley are working within the exemptions contained within the Act. The Act makes it an offence to hunt a mouse with a dog, but not a rat. You can legally hunt a rabbit but not a hare. You can flush a fox to guns with two dogs legally, but if you use three it's an offence, and you can flush a fox to a bird of prey with as many dogs as you like.

You also have a ridiculous situation whereby a farmer can use a terrier below ground to control a fox to protect birds that are intended to be shot. However, if the same farmer uses the same dog in the same manner to control the same fox to protect newly born lambs he commits an offence. This is not an advance in animal welfare; it is quite the opposite.

Mrs Cryer should focus on sorting out things that matter to the people of Keighley and the surrounding areas, such as cutting crime, improving the education system and making sure vital treatment is available on the NHS. By signing a motion such as this, she is putting pressure on the police to divert resources from frontline policing activities and to go into the countryside with "rigorous vigilance" to get prosecutions under this unnecessary, unclear and unworkable legislation. This is at best irresponsible and at worst purely vindictive.

John Haigh

Countryside Alliance

Regional Director

SIR - I note Dr Sheila Webb's comments on environmental tobacco smoke with interest. I wonder what sources she has used to obtain her figures, which she represents as "overwhelming scientific evidence"?

My understanding is that "second-hand smoke" does not generally appear on death certificates and can no more be proved as a cause of death in specific cases than can leukaemias near nuclear power stations, power lines or mobile phone transmitters.

The figures are, in fact, the result of a raft of speculative epidemiological studies based on the recollections of non-smokers about their proximity to smokers. A moment's thought will show that this is hardly likely to provide evidence of much scientific value, and might as well be placed in the category of hearsay or even anecdote.

If we add to this the fact that the relative risk factor claimed by these studies is in most cases well below the accepted level of error, in some cases showing a beneficial negative, we would be well advised to treat the figures (which themselves range arbitrarily from 500 to 13,000) with caution.

In my opinion the recent attacks on smokers are unjustified. If we were to take such drastic action against motorists, or mobile phone users, or people who produce cooking smells, the whole of society would grind to a halt. The stop-smoking lobby have joyfully discovered the notion of "passive smoking" as a stick to beat a minority in a manner truly uncharacteristic of the tolerant society we claim to value. The anti smoking brigade's understanding of the character of smokers is so poor that they expect us all to give up in the face of opposition. We won't.

George Speller

Hill Top Road, Keighley

SIR - Are you an avid reader of romantic fiction? Has Mr Darcy made you leave your fianc? Has Mr Rochester, Heathcliff or any other fictional hero changed your love life in a significant way ?

Silverriver Productions are producing a series of three programmes for the BBC about the history of the romantic novel. Presented by Daisy Goodwin, Reader, I married him will examine the work of the Bront sisters, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Margaret Mitchell, Catherine Cookson and Mills and Boon amongst others, looking at how romantic novels have changed the female perception of the ideal man.

In the programmes we want to talk to real men and women whose love lives have been transformed by romantic fiction for better or for worse. We want to speak to the women who have never found their Mr Rochester, as well as the men who feel that they fall short of romantic literary ideals.

If you have an interesting story, please get in touch with Louisa MacInnes on 0207-580-2746 or with details of your experience and contact information.