SIR, - Britain prides itself on being a nation of animal lovers, and yet barely a word has been uttered about the suffering endured by the 160,000 birds who have been shoved into crates and gassed to death during the Bernard Matthews H5N1 bird flu outbreak.

This outbreak is yet another disaster caused by brutal intensive farming. Influenza has affected poultry for millions of years, but it is the dirty, overcrowded conditions of intensive farming that make it spread and mutate rapidly among thousands of shed-reared birds, and it is the international transportation of both living and slaughtered birds that spreads it around the world.

The industry's claim that H5N1 has been spread by migrating birds is now discredited, as we are not in a migration season.

Since 1997, 164 people have died from H5N1 and 200 million birds have been slaughtered. These are unnecessary deaths, caused by dangerous and cruel farming methods.

If we are to prevent further epidemics of diseases such as H5N1, foot and mouth and BSE, we need to end intensive farming, close down livestock markets and prevent long distance travel of farmed animals.

Of course, as an individual, the best way to ensure that you are not eating infected meat or poultry, is not to eat meat or poultry at all. For a free vegetarian recipe pack, contact Animal Aid on (01732) 354032.

Richard Mountford - Development Manager,Animal Aid,The Old Chapel,Bradford Street, Tonbridge,Kent.

Workshops loss

SIR, - We have read the Gazette's recent article about a planning application to convert workshops in back Nelson Road into houses. Although we live near Ripon we have often visited Ilkley, and know this part of it well.

We are writing to oppose the proposed change of use of these workshops because it will deprive Ilkley's inhabitants of a source of beautiful pottery and glass.

We feel this loss will have a very negative effect on tourism in Ilkley. Local businesses, which are an asset to any community, are threatened by this application.

We also feel that to make a change in a conservation area is a very dubious practice.

Sir James and Lady Graham - Norton Conyers,Wath,Near Ripon,North Yorks.

Not elected

SIR, - Mr Bowen claims that Ilkley Parish Council is a democratically-elected tier of local government'. This is not so. Only three of its 14 councillors are elected.

Nor are Ilkley's gerrymandered wards and voting arrangements approved by the Electoral Commission.

Moreover, the exceptionally high parish precept always bears most heavily on the lowest bands of Council Taxpayers who are not represented by his band of Conservative councillors.

His council takes money from low-income households and gives it to the users of posh venues.

Andrew Dundas - Chairman,Ilkley Labour Party,37 Parish Ghyll Drive,Ilkley.

Protest against cottage plan

SIR, - I strongly object to the planning permission applied for to establish a restaurant and pub at 54 Main Street, Menston.

I live at 50 Main Street and it is difficult enough to get out of my drive when the 'school run' is on and there are cars parked on both sides of my drive. But at least that is only for a short time.

I hate to think of cars packed all along Main Street until 11.30pm and beyond at night, not to mention the noise of music. I do hope the planning application will be turned down.

Johanna Murphy - Main Street,Menston.

  • FOOTNOTE: Planners have rejected the plan under delegated powers.

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City plan horror

SIR, - I am a newcomer to the district, and have just received a copy of Community Pride, Bradford Council's newspaper, which gives details of the exciting proposals' to transform Bradford city centre.

The picture of the eye-catching' Mirror Pool filled me with horror, especially as the new structures (right next to a lovely Edwardian building) make the place look rather like a shipyard with three futuristic liners on the stocks. It is a nightmare scene straight out of a space fiction comic.

It is beyond belief that the plans have got as far as this. Did no-one really express their worries during the public consultation? Were the only comments, as Community Pride reports, ones of admiration?

One was that it will be a talking point and people from other cities will come and look at it'. Bloody right they will, but not, I am sure, for the reasons hoped for! Talk about the emperor's new clothes!

More and more are we in thrall to the architects and planners whose only aim is to win awards from each other. Their attitude seems to be damn the public, what do they know about town planning?' Bradford is not an old town, but with its Victorian and Edwardian architecture, it has a stolid, warm, comfortable and reassuring feel about it, aside from the parts that the planners have already laid their hands on.

Throughout England, town planners and architects have been allowed to destroy our old, friendly town centres with disastrous results.

Some, built in the 1950s and 1960s, are already being demolished. If the plans to destroy this city centre go ahead, Bradford is going to be one of them. Do we really want a surrealistic, futuristic shipyard in the middle of what is still a lovely town?

Wake up, city fathers, and put a stop to his ridiculous development before it is too late!

Name and address supplied

The name game

SIR, - When are the people of Ilkley going resist christening local landmarks with totally inappropriate names?

Nothing but confusion greets lost visitors when they are given directions containing colloquial names for various part of the town which bear no relation to maps, or even worse still to the reality on the ground.

I can think of many examples but the two which particularly irritate me concern the town's bridges. The pedestrian suspension bridge at Denton Road is called by almost everyone one who meets the Swing Bridge'.

In my experience, a swing bridge is one that swings open to allow river or canal traffic to pass.

Unless I have missed fleets of cargo vessels chugging up and down the Wharfe, pausing only briefly for Ilkley's swing bridge to open and let them continue their journey, then I contend that it is not a swing' bridge but a suspension bridge.

The fact that it might sway from side to side slightly in a stiff breeze does not qualify it to be given the epithet swing' bridge.

The single-lane bridge near Wheatley Lane is invariably referred to as the Toll' bridge.

Regardless of any situation in the past, this bridge is no longer a Toll bridge by any stretch of the linguistic imagination.

Ilkley Resident - Name and address supplied.