The choice is too important to leave to chance May I offer my congratulations to all involved in organising The Hustings at Christ Church, Ilkley, last week. It was a well conducted meeting during which our main candidates revealed much about themselves and their potential to be MP for Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden and Haworth.

Amidst all the media hype about the suitability of Cameron, Clegg or Brown to be Prime Minister; or of the ability of the Lib-Dems, Conservatives, UKIP or Labour to govern, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are primarily choosing between Fekri, Hopkins, Latham and Thomas. It is their credibility, ability, and integrity we must assess because that’s what will define the kind of MP we will have in this constituency, working for us.

If you missed this opportunity to see and hear our candidates, get in touch and put your own questions. This choice is too important to leave to chance or to let others make for you – which is what you do if you don't use your vote in a well informed and thoughtful way.

Valerie Smith

Eaton Road, Ilkley

EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to the candidates mentioned above by our correspondent, Andrew Brons (BNP) and Steven Smith (National Front) are also standing in the constituency.

We get a Government the majority may not want

Question from an American friend: “When is the big election? Will you be getting a new Prime Minister and all of Parliament? How does all your stuff work? Be careful of any comment on politicians, I was a member of the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania.’’ My reply: “This is too big a subject to write about. Our system goes back to the dark ages and is far from democratic. The two largest parties have an in-built advantage. Discussions over proportional representation have been going on for decades without result. This is because the party that wins the election has no incentive to instigate any changes in the existing system. Anyway this is what we call democracy.

“The party that wins is the one that gets the majority of seats in Parliament, whereas the actual number of votes cast may favour an alternative. Therefore we often have a ruling party being elected with a minority of votes. The Thatcher government was elected on less than 40 per cent of the vote. This has been the pattern over many years. Yes I know what you’re thinking . . . What a load of old rubbish! This means that what we usually get is the government the majority of people may not want. Hope this helps your understanding. To answer your question, the election is on May 6.”

Peter Bye

Park Crescent, Addingham

Check the small print before casting your vote

Reading the small print is a must before signing a contract, and the same goes before casting your vote.

One party seeking election has the nerve to bill unwanted national road pricing as a ‘fair deal for motorists’. They will introduce it after the next parliament, ie, possibly a few years away, and claim that motorists will be no worse off. From where will they get the £60 billion needed, not to mention the large running costs?

Another party rules out national road pricing in the next parliament, but this is disingenous as they are fully signed up to European Union proposals and have been putting in the technology piecemeal at local level. They also support workplace parking taxes.

Another party supports road pricing for lorries, but the technology could easily be used to track the rest of us. They have the gall to consider tolls to provide new roads and even on existing roads, including motorways.

Drivers already pay around £50 billion a year for paltry investment; the new and repaired roads that we badly need have already been paid for in advance.

Opinion poll research has shown that the driver vote will be key. I urge voters to ask candidates some searching questions about where they personally stand before casting their vote.

Brian MacDowall

Campaign Director, Association of British Drivers, PO Box 2228, Kenley, CR8 5ZT

Don’t let Ilkley fall victim to the same fate as US towns

As an American visiting my in-laws in Ilkley over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to witness its growth and changes, albeit over a short time period. Unfortunately what I have seen is the subject of my letter. There seems to be a trend of the high street slowly being turned over to major franchises, chipping away at the family-run cafés, shops and eateries which make Ilkley so unique.

Ilkley is a charming town, especially to an outsider. Its uniqueness lies not only in its physical beauty but also in its character. In each of my visits to Ilkley, I have noted a sense of welcome and warmth that the community seems to give off. This is enhanced by the many family-run shops and cafes, which make contribute to Ilkley’s charm.

In each passing year, it seems that one or another of the many franchise shops makes its way to Ilkley. These shops have their place and may be convenient, but they offer very little in the way of character and warmth, and in a place like Ilkley, do not set the right tone. It is my fear with the prevalence and success of these shops, Ilkley will lose its reticent English charm that many other visitors, most of the residents, and I have come to associate with Ilkley.

It is my hope that my humble opinion will strike a chord in the minds of Ilkley’s residents and that they may find the time to grace family-run stores with their presence and not so much the franchises, which can be found anywhere in England. Suburban homogeneity is not just a uniquely American trait. Don’t let Ilkley fall victim to the same fate that many American (and now English towns too) have fallen.

Adam Della Rocca

Isla Popa, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Cheapskate celebration of our national day

Imagine my shock and horror, on the eve of St George’s Day, to cast my eyes upward to the castellated turret of the Queen’s Hall in Burley-in-Wharfedale to see only half a Union Jack fluttering in the breeze. Does this reflect our declining status in the world ?

On closer inspection it appears that the flag appears tatty and burnt. Is it a regimental flag from the glorious Falkalnds, or Iraq or Afghanistan? Or is it merely bureaucratic bungling and a cheapskate local celebration of our national day ?

M Killingray

Cowpasture Road, Ilkley

Could Ilkley follow Wallingford’s example?

The riverside town of Wallingford in Oxfordshire, which is very comparable to Ilkley, has a thriving amateur theatre company based in the town’s old corn exchange. The same management also runs public cinema shows in the same building during the weeks when plays are not running. This provides an amenity for the town and its visitors, generates valuable income for the group, and makes additional use of an auditorium that would otherwise mostly stand empty. Perhaps a similar model of operation could be explored for Ilkley Playhouse.

Peter Higginbotham

Cheltenham Avenue, Ilkley

Farmers market would be an asset to the town

Tim Edwards made a timely remark (Gazette, April 22): “Many local businesses would struggle to survive without visitors to the town.” I wonder how many have stopped to think what is so special about Skipton, Otley, Saltaire, and a host of smaller towns and villages across the South Pennines that folk will travel miles to visit and, once there, spend the rest of the day enjoying the shops and scenery?

In the Heritage Strategy for the South Pennines it is noted how Calderdale and Kirklees have a Food Futures Strategy linking local supply with local demand. In other words, local markets. Farmers Markets!

To quote Pennine Prospects: “The project stimulates demand for local products by raising awareness of the economic, environmental and nutritional benefits of healthy eating and local food production.”

A request went out from the Ilkley and Wharfedale Tourism Partnership asking for ideas to bring visitors back to Ilkley. Something the SOS trio have, which Ilkley does not, but would but for the narrow minded outlook of a few, are farmers markets. It is a well documented fact a farmers market has helped in many areas to bring visitors into failing towns and villages. There was a time when every town, village, hamlet even, had some form of market aside from those in the main market towns, Ilkley being one.

Speaking with traders around town I have the impression all without fail looked on a farmers market as something of an asset to the town. When the weather is inclement Ilkley traders soon feel the pinch, especially those who open over the weekend. However, a monthly farmers market held on a Sunday would bring visitors to the town.

It was proved some years ago when a food fair was held in the Clarke Foley Centre. I remember the first day well. A howling gale, three inches of snow in the car park, yet 700 came through the doors. By the time it finished two years later 700 had risen to nearer 2500. A good precedent if ever. Many who came to Ilkley now go to the SOS trio. If we are to serve the whole community in real terms and not just fancy summer festivals, a monthly Farmers Market will bring visitors to the town, to our traders, and eventually boost the local economy. Something no supermarket chain could ever do. It is worth noting many towns have supermarkets yet that hasn’t stopped them having a regular farmers market. Hopefully the prospect of this South Pennine town having a farmers market will be nearer than far in the future.

Thomas Rothwell


BUAV questionnaire to help voters make informed decision

There is strong public concern surrounding animal experimentation. In 2008 (the most recent figures available), over 3.5 million animals were used in tests in the UK. This represented the biggest year-on-year increase since 1987.

As the 2010 General Election draws closer it is important for voters to know their candidates’ views on the issues that matter to them. The BUAV has offered all candidates from the main parties the opportunity to complete a questionnaire on animal experimentation, to help voters make an informed decision when they go to the polling station.

We have contacted all candidates in Keighley and, at the time of writing, one candidate has responded. We believe that voters have the right to know the views of all their candidates, and so we encourage candidates who have not yet already completed the questionnaire to do so.

We urge readers to go to to see the candidates’ answers and to contact those who haven’t responded.

Josephine Davies

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)

Ilkley in Bloom Committee expresses its thanks

The Ilkley in Bloom Committee would like to thank all those involved in preparing Ilkley for the visit of the Yorkshire in Bloom Judges on April 19 – those who helped with the pre-judging litter-pick on the Sunday evening and those who litter-pick on a regular basis, together with the staff from Bradford Council parks and landscapes department and Street Scene.

Despite the damp start to the day, and the cold weather, the town was looking colourful, and clean and tidy.

The judges have stated that during their summer visit on July 21 they would like to visit some private gardens. We would therefore urge as many residents as possible to enter our local competition details of which will be available shortly, both in The Gazette and on our website.

Kate Brown

Secretary, Ilkley in Bloom