SIR - Bradford is a wonderful city in which to celebrate the festivals of all the major faiths.

Unlike some districts where the festivals are either downplayed or ignored, we have quite properly taken the decision to celebrate all of them. So it was my pleasure during this year to join with Hindus celebrating Diwali, with my fellow Muslims in marking Eid, and during December I will share in Chanukah with the Jewish community and Christmas with the majority Christian community.

Although Christmas has clear Christian roots and is a celebration of God's goodness to us all, it is fortunately shared by those of other faiths and of none at all. It is a time when we remember friends who we have not been in touch with for a long time and when we have opportunity to meet up with them, and with members of our families. It is justly a time of celebration.

So whatever may be going wrong in our world and whatever may worry us, I hope that you will find opportunity to both celebrate in this Christmas season and to spend time with those who are important to you. The Lady Mayoress joins me in wishing all citizens of this city and district a very happy and blessed Christmas.

CLLR Choudhary Rangzeb Lord Mayor 2006/7

Good examples

SIR - I write to express my sincere appreciation for the way David Gallagher, funeral director of Utley, Keighley, dealt with my family and myself following the recent demise of my mother.

The situation is unusual only because I, as a very senior doctor (consultant), but not having to deal with death directly, found myself having to face personal bereavement immediately following major trauma sustained by another member of my family. I was mentally traumatised and dreaded the ordeal that lay ahead of me.

However, much to my surprise, I was not only impressed with David personally, but his compassionate, caring and considerate demeanour allayed my concerns.

He was aware that I was extremely stressed but nothing was too much and he answered my questions (even though I am sure many of them were repeated several times) always with respect.

David and his wife, Adele, strike me as genuine and concerned people, dealing with distraught and often incoherent relatives professionally but with over-riding humanity.

Although a young couple, they were very good examples of the way business should be conducted - the people of Keighley are very lucky to have this couple to provide such a service to the community.

DR Maureen Farrar Consultant Radiologist Address supplied

Halal response

SIR - I refer to the previous week's article by Tom Smith on the topic of integration.

I felt it needed a response as I was appalled by his choice of words in regards to Halal slaughter. In Islam Halal means lawful according to the Shariah (Islamic law). It is a long established method of slaughter. This method is also practised by Jews for Kosher meat. Muslims should show compassion and mercy to all living things.

In our prophet's (peace be upon him) time he once saw that a person had put his animal down on the ground and was sharpening his knife in front of the animal, the prophet (pbhu) said: "Do you want it to die two deaths? Why didn't you sharpen you knife before you laid the animal down?" To clarify this means that the Muslim is not allowed to sharpen his knife in front of the animal and to show it respect and cause it little distress as possible.

The animals jugular vein and windpipe are severed together, this process takes only a fraction of a second. It is a sudden quick haemorrhage and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood, there is no time for the animal to feel any pain.

Islam is misunderstood and constantly under attack, what is all this fuss really about? I think the first steps to a integrated society is respecting each other's values and beliefs without criticising it.

M A Rehman Cark Road, Keighley

Feel fortunate

SIR -Your columnist Simply Smith bemoans the fact that people flock to our country from far and wide because of its reputation for liberality.

Surely we ought to feel fortunate that we live in such a country and be proud and happy to share our good fortune with all who seek it.

Resources may become stretched and perhaps standards will fall but not necessarily.

One of our religions has the story of a little boy whose resources were barely adequate for his own needs, yet he willingly offered them up to be shared among 5,000 people.

He must surely have believed he faced a catastrophic drop in the standard of his lunch but in the event everybody was fed, including the little boy.

Everybody has to be somewhere and I think it's wonderful to have been born in a place where everybody wants to be.

ROBERT SWINDELLS Spring Row, Oxenhope

Future voices

SIR -Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serves the whole population of the Bradford Metropolitan District Council area. While many readers may see Airedale as their local health care provider, many patients may end up receiving more complex care from Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

Patients also have more choice about where they would like to be treated.

Because patients living within the Keighley area access our services, we want to make sure they had a say in the future of the foundation trust. Keighley has two Governors seats within our board of governors. These seats are currently vacant.

Governors are elected from and by the membership.

We need more people, aged 16 and over, from the area to register as members.

Membership provides opportunities to discover more about what happens at the foundation trust, as well as opportunities for active involvement by patients and the public.

The governors have set themselves a challenge to increase membership numbers. The aim is to double membership to 8,000 by January 24, 2007.

To register as members you can pick up a form at your GP surgery, health centre, library, phone 0870 707 1532 or visit to register online or find out more about membership.

I would urge as many people as possible to become members of the trust in order to make sure that their interests are represented on the board of governors and so that they have a hand in shaping the future of their healthcare.

David Richardson Chairman, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Police state

SIR - Who was it who said we would never become a police state? I have read it somewhere but whoever it was must be living in a different world, just like our politicians and do-gooders of this once wonderful country.

Let's think again. A police officer drives at a speed in excess of 100mph and gets a £250 fine, a police officer passes a speed camera at an excessive speed to collect a Chinese meal and so far escapes any punishment.

Now they want to take our fingerprints for any motoring and other small offences. If this isn't heading for a police state, then perhaps someone could explain why all these things are happening and why aren't the police governed by the same laws as the public who pay their wages.

P WINDLE Spring Avenue, Keighley

Great charity

SIR - Can I thank all our fantastic volunteers who have helped us at the Bront Vintage Gathering harness racing and our charity evening, which took place on Saturday, November 25.

They have helped us raise over £18,000 for Manorlands at these three events this year.

Also thanks to everyone who attended these events and support us year after year.

ANNE THOMPSON Bronte Vintage Gathering Committee

Pension thanks

SIR - I would like to thank Ann Cryer MP and the Amicus union for their help in securing payment of my Triplex company pension.

This scheme was wound up prior to my retirement from work in January 2005.

Since that time I have been receiving a reduced pension. The scheme has been included in the Financial Assistance Scheme brought in by the Labour Government. Under this I should have been receiving 80 per cent of my pension entitlement. However, it was only after direct intervention by Ann and the Amicus that I received confirmation of forthcoming payment.

Both Ann and Amicus are involved in the continuing campaign to extend the remit of the Financial Assistance Scheme.

At present workers under 52 are not included in the scheme and workers between the ages of 52 and 61 have a reduced entitlement. Many workers in private pension schemes have been left in this position through no fault of their own, including many Keighley constituents.


Replace plaque

SIR - When the Keighley Library is refurbished I do hope the powers that be will not forget to replace the plaque, with the names of all the brave young Keighley men who gave their lives in the Second World War.

R Lapworth Airedale View, Cross Hills

Library views

SIR - SIr - Good news - Keighley Reference Library will eventually re-open and the lending library is to be revitalised.

As a former employee, I have the following thoughts on the new proposals.

Refreshments - do books and sticky fingers really go together?

Removing false ceiling - will it be possible to heat the library and can this be afforded?

Public toilets - Yes. These were need 20 years ago and more. I do remember sending desperate children and the elderly to staff toilets. But in this day and age perhaps an attendant will be needed.

More books - Yes please. Surely this is what a library is about and please may we have better lighting.

NESTA HOYLE Calton Road, Long Lee.

Stop digging

SIR - You cannot be allowed to get away with the unconvincing defence of your headlined story about a "supermum at 15".

Even now, it seems, it does not occur to you that the actions of politicians and others should be, and are being, directed to prevention and that the provision of more mother-and-baby homes will in no way help in the campaign which the Government is promoting. It would seem that you cannot see this as the scourge which it really is. There is another factor which seems to have escaped your attention - the effect that your approach will have on the Muslim community on our doorstep.

One continuing barrier to mutual acceptance of each other is their fear of the poor moral standards which they see around them. Your story will have confirmed their view that the host community is going headlong down to decadence and that their young people must be protected from association with it.

No amount of visiting mosques and inter-faith meetings will be able to counter the damage you have done.

Perhaps you should heed the famous words of Lord Healey of Riddlesden in his halcyon days - "if you are in a hole stop digging". I commend them to you.

FRANK PEDLEY Hellifield, Skipton

Nuclear debate

SIR - It appears that within the Government there is a belief in the need to continue with the possession and deployment of nuclear weapons.

The Prime Minister has all the arguments for such a proposal.

However, there are two areas which do not seem to have been addressed.

The first is how aware the people of this country, especially the younger voter, are of the effects of nuclear weapons if they are actually exploded.

Secondly, the Prime Minister has emphasised the need to work for multi-lateral disarmament with other countries. This can only effectively be done through the United Nations. Is any reader aware of any such negotiations going on at the moment?

The Prime Minister and other speakers emphasise Trident as our "independent nuclear deterrent".

More informed debate is needed before we can make a judgement on how far it is truly independent from the United States. The concept of deterrence is based on fear as it was in the Cold War, then aptly named "MAD" (Mutually Assured Destruction). Only now of course the point being that the destruction will not be mutual or so it is implied.(sic).

Last week the Prime Minister gave a sort of an apology for British involvement in slavery.

I would like to think that this Prime Minister might follow policies through other means than nuclear weapons, so as to produce a climate of peace and hope which would make it less likely that a British prime minister would have to apologise for British use of nuclear weapons in the future Sylvia Boyes Wimborne Drive, Keighley