SIR, - What a strange confluence of conflicting views was aired in the Gazette (May 24) with Councillor Brian Mann's message that councillors should be paid for the work they do and Mr Andrew Dundas affirming that much of the work undertaken by Ilkley Parish Council is unnecessary.

Before this exchange I had assumed that councillors were well meaning volunteers who provided their time for altruistic reasons to do with the needs of the community. In this respect they are no different from any other well meaning group of volunteers concerned with the wellbeing of the place in which they live.

There have certainly been occasions when our local representatives have been an asset. Whether it is fronting the collective interests of the community in dealing with other layers of government, or co-ordinating campaigns for the maintenance of vital local services, or just being available to advise local residents on their rights, I have no doubts that councillors can provide a useful and valuable service to their fellow residents.

But I question very much whether what they do is more worthy of reward than the work undertaken by many other Ilkley volunteer groups who combine to do what they can to support the full range of needs that emerges in every community and for which there is no other provision.

Ilkley in Bloom, Candlelighters, Rotary, Round Table, Soroptimists, Age Concern, Cancer Research, Ilkley First Responders, and Good Neighbours are among the better known volunteer groups. There are other not so well known volunteers who also give of their time simply because there is a need and they can help.

The significance of Parish Council work has hitherto been that it is done on a voluntary basis and that it is a privilege to be appointed to serve on council and there has been no shortage of applicants.

In one retirement speech, this role has been reduced from beneficent to mercenary. This is wrong and I hope other councillors will provide their views so that the electorate can better decide who should serve us and whether the cost is worthwhile.

Perhaps Mr. Dundas has the solution in his suggestion that the council should refocus its efforts on what is essential for the town's business.

But we, who may be asked to pay for the service given by our councillors, are entitled to know precisely what business is being transacted and what value it is to the community? What will be lost if we do not wish to meet Councillor Mann's push for payment?

At the moment all we have is the statement that work is expanding and must be paid for. What reasonable and cost-effective control can stop a programme in which it pays councillors to expand their role and how may they be held accountable to prevent the taxpayers being faced with an ever increasing bill?

Until the case has been made: "No - councillors should not be paid!"

Philip Chinque - 18 Parish Ghyll Drive,Ilkley.

Tolerance again

SIR, -The camp off Ashlands Road would not have been there but for that eyesore beside the stepping stones on Denton Road. The following is part of a letter I sent Ilkley Gazette on July 28,2003.

"I hope after the escapade in East Holmes Field Ilkley folk will be more tolerant to our annual visitors on Denton Road. It should not go amiss how often they have camped on said field over the past 30-plus years. Not once, preferring to keep themselves to themselves and out of the main Public eye where possible.

"Paul Atkinson in his letter last week sums up much of my feelings. As too Victor Bean in earlier letters and I'm sure there are many others in town who feel the same. When we put our own backyards in order and stop tipping garden rubbish on Public footpaths, edge of moorland, in woodland and parks, then is the time to start shouting about annual visitations of the Roma race. Until then residents haven't a leg to stand on.

"A countryman once said to me, There's nowt worse than ignorance in action.' What right have a minority to stop the majority enjoying the riverside 12 months of the year? What right have they to break centuries old traditions for the sake of a few fish? I understand the bund has been put forward as part of Bradford's clean up campaign. If the fish's welfare is looked after in the same way as that bund I pity the fish."

Frazer Irwin - Queen's Road,Ilkley.

Switch it off

SIR, -May I through you correspondence column make an appeal to mobile phone users on the Wharfedale line to consider the comfort of fellow passengers.

If we are out of doors or in a shop we can escape their penetrating prattle by walking away but in a train we are an unfortunate captive audience.

Gone is the ambience once associated with rail travel. The quiet snooze, a winding down from work, a good book or a newspaper to read, a quiet conversation with our neighbour or a happy contemplation of the welcome home.

Twice in the last month I have felt it necessary to point out to the offending phone users that I have no wish to work in their office. These calls took ten and 18 minutes out of a 29-minute journey and they both concerned building projects.

On one occasion the offending phone user suggest I move to another carriage at which stage I felt it necessary to obtain the views of other passengers.

Not surprisingly, I obtained overwhelming support and the phone was put away. If anyone feels as I do then they really will have to make their feelings known or suffer in what certainly is not silence.

It would be interesting to hear if Northern Rail have a policy on this.

John Rhodes - Stonecroft,7 Smithy Lane,Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Sustrans superb

SIR, - May I, as a relative newcomer to the district, comment on the controversy in the Ilkley Gazette (May 10) regarding the proposed cycle, foot and bridle path from Bolton Abbey to Addingham put forward by Sustrans?

I can understand the misgivings of those opposed to the scheme. I felt exactly the same two years ago when Sustrans completed the trail in Cullingworth - particularly as the path ran as close as two to three metres from my garden wall.

As it turned out, my fears were misplaced. Sustrans did a superb job, and were always ready to listen to any concerns.

The end result - an amenity which gives pleasure to the users, a safe place for children to cycle, and adds something extra to an attractive village.

Robert Hughes - 4 St Mary's Close,Ilkley.

Fred Heap's shop

SIR, - In answer to R J Lacey's request for information regarding a garage along The Grove run by F Heap and Co, I have looked up F Heap in a 1909 street directort and he is given as Fred Heap, 10 The Grove, Piano and Cycle dealer.

This is now The Grove Bookshop. I imagine what is now Grove Promenade shops may once have been a stable block before the railway ran through what is now the car park.

Probably the shops along the part of The Grove where Fred Heap had his business were able to have a unit for storage or even a garage.

Fred may have progressed from cycles to motor cars before Glovers opened their garage in 1915. Perhaps someone else can enlighten us

Margaret C Clark - 18 Sunset Drive,Ben Rhydding