Lord Mayor's Christmas message

This year, Divali, Eid and Christmas have followed each other in fairly quick succession. Having been involved with each as civic head, I am well aware that we all hope above all else, for a peaceful time for ourselves, friends and relatives wherever they may be.

During quiet moments over the Christmas period our thoughts and sympathies inevitably go out to those who will have difficulties this Christmas and to those in danger for whatever reason. There have been a number of recent natural disasters recently in Asia. Floods in Bangladesh have killed many family members of Bradfordians and left even more homeless. Still not everyone has been properly rehoused in Kashmir since the terrible earthquake of two years ago.

There are also man made disasters ongoing at present and the thoughts of many families will be with the Second Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment who are on duty in Afghanistan and will be in danger over the Christmas period.

Nevertheless, Christmas is a time for hope and in the words of a carol - a time of goodwill to all men, which I sincerely wish for everyone in this great city of ours.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Robin Owens.

Put policeman on roundabout duty

With regard to the Beeches roundabout. Can we please have a policeman on duty there occasionally during the rush hour - say 4.30 to 6pm. His sole duty being to send all vehicles which are in the inside lane into the town centre.

There is always a queue of patient, law-abiding drivers in the outside lane from the Marley roundabout, waiting to go straight across Beeches roundabout, and there are also dozens of "I'm all right Jack" drivers who whiz down the always empty inside lane, then either cut in at the last minute or totally ignore the left turn only arrow and drive straight across.

This practice is extremely frustrating for the queuing drivers who, because they are patient, are made to wait even longer in the queue so that the more selfish drivers can gain a few precious seconds.

The longer this practice is allowed to continue the worse it will become, as formerly patient drivers will think "why should I etc, etc, etc?"

This leads me to wonder why the lane priorities were changed in the first place. It seems to me that previous lane markings were far more user friendly.

That was - inside lane turn left or straight on, second lane straight on and third (short) lane right turn only. Nobody ever had a problem with this system and both inside and second lanes were used - you made your choice and you stayed with it.

I am well aware that present thinking is "make it harder for the motorist and they will give up their cars and go back to public transport", an ideology introduced by that cerebral genius John Prescott. This thinking can only be described as "cloud-cuckoo-land-ideology" and the sooner some common sense prevails, the better.

But to return to my original point, can we please have a policeman in place at the Beeches roundabout - say once a week on random days then, although this problem will not go away entirely, at least it will make things a little better for those patient and law-abiding drivers who sit there quietly fuming.

Frank Morris Skipton Road, Utley

Look at human suffering

Kelly Slade on behalf of Animal Aid is making an attack on farmers. What is common with these attacks is they are usually far from the truth.

I have never kept turkeys but I have seen quite a lot of turkeys being fattened for Christmas and in my experience nothing thrives in the conditions she describes.

The turkey sheds I have seen have air conditioning; the turkeys are on what is called deep litter, which is added to all the time, they have ad-lib food and water and, yes, they have short lives by human standards but have known nothing else and are happy.

Animal Aid would be better spending its resources on the human suffering in the world. Hundreds of children and adults would be glad of the same accommodation, food and water and care the turkeys have.

If anyone knows of any farmer keeping birds or animals in the conditions she describes they should be named and shamed.

PERCY SUNDERLAND (retired farmer) Aireview Cottage, Grange Road, Kildwick.

No change on bins call

I am writing as a responsible dog owner who always picks up after my dog, so I read with interest the item on dog fouling at Marley.

I wrote to you approximately 11 years ago, when the "clean up after your dog" signs first appeared at Marley requesting more bins to put "IT" in. What's changed? Well ... I now walk a different dog and yes, there are a few more bins near the new changing rooms but there are none at all on the top field and none away from the car park on the bottom field.

Perhaps if there were, the football/rugby players would also be able to deposit their many plastic drinks bottles and other items of litter in them, as well as being useful for dog walkers! Regarding the canal bank, please could we have some poo bins on the stretch between Leach Bridge and Riddlesden Golf Club.

Wendy Halloway Colenso Grove, Stockbridge

Local train services first

I have followed the correspondence on rail services in the Keighley News over the past couple of weeks with some interest, as I travel by rail to London at least once a week, commuting to Leeds the rest of the time.

It would be wonderful to be able to afford to improve everything but there is only a limited amount of government subsidy for rail services.

The response to Mr Cook from Councillor Mitchell does not say what the priority is; local trains or London trains?

The 0705 direct service via Keighley to London is already of little use because it arrives in London too late; it is better to catch the earlier service from Bradford at Shipley or take a local train and change at Leeds.

Most people catching the 0705 at Keighley get off at Leeds and only a very few ever travel on to London.

Given that anyone wanting to travel to Keighley by rail from London can do so easily - it is not too difficult, even for Londoners, to cross from platform 6 to platform 5 at Leeds station - where is the evidence that more direct London trains would boost tourism?

Is it not more likely that the near six hour round trip and the price of the ticket does more to put off London-based visitors?

In the meantime, local commuters have to put up with increasingly crowded, dirty and vandalised trains.

The council should be putting its weight behind better local train services for commuters and local travellers rather than chasing illusions of hordes of tourists arriving by train from London.

Kenneth Allen Ridgemount Road, Riddlesden

Heart-warming band

What a cold and dreary day it was last Saturday.

However, when I entered the Airedale Centre during the morning in my usual dash to the shops I was greeted by the sound of the Salvation Army Band playing Christmas carols old and new.

There's nothing nicer than listening to a brass band, particularly at Christmas. It warmed my heart as the words to those familiar carols were brought to mind once again.

My thanks to the band for starting my Christmas in the right way and reminding us all that it is a time to celebrate the birth of the greatest man who ever lived - Jesus, Son of God and Saviour of the world. Why not visit a church near you and join in the celebrations?

Oh, and thanks must go, too, to the members of the Rotary club for giving up their morning to collect for the work of the Salvation Army. This organisation helps many needy people all year round, but especially at Christmas.

Margaret Anthony Greenhead Lane, Keighley

Fools and scoundrels

Being a flawed human being, I couldn't help laughing on first seeing the photo of my old friend and verbal sparring partner Judith Brooksbank with a cross over her mouth under the headline about gagging her.

We disagree on many topics and have been arguing on and off for the past 18 years. However, after this unworthy reaction, I recognised that this is a serious issue, deserving serious comment.

Our Members of Parliament quite properly have the right to express their personal opinions across the nation's press. Yet, in its wisdom and might, Keighley Town Council wishes to deprive its members of this freedom in our local newspaper.

The argument that only the mayor, the deputy mayor and the town clerk can speak on behalf of the town council is in this context a nonsense. It was perfectly clear from Mrs Brooksbank's letter to you that she was speaking for herself and not as a mouthpiece for the council. It is insulting to the Keighley News readership for the council to assume that we can't tell the difference between personal comment and official public statement. Even more worrying is the council's leaders' apparent inability to understand the difference themselves.

We are told that the council must be apolitical. To my mind, it is a supremely political act to deprive citizens of their freedom of speech on the grounds that in exercising it they are breaking an imaginary or misconceived rule. Those responsible for these attacks on Mrs Brooksbank and Mr Samuels need to reflect on that.

Only fools and scoundrels expect freedom of expression to be confined to those who never disagree with or challenge them. Indeed, if I did not passionately believe this, my friendship with Judith would never have survived 18 minutes, let alone 18 years.

Jane O'Connor Creed, Thwaites Brow Road, Long Lee

Sent to naughty corner

I was under the impression the town council was conceived to bring democracy back to the people of Keighley. Instead, its ruling clique seems to want to censure everything to a degree Stalin would be proud of.

When a district councillor of the standing of Councillor Simon Cooke is not allowed to address the chamber and its own town councillors are subject to the "naughty corner" for expressing their own points of view, then I have to wonder what place debate has in the town council.

Are they in possession of some state secret that forbids allowing their own members to speak openly without first seeking censure?

Is there some terrible intelligence known only to a few in the town hall that needs every word vetted before release to the general public?

Whatever the reason for, and, who can say what and in which context, how pleasing it was to see in the photographs accompanying your article on the subject, that councillors Samuels and Brooksbank are not only standing together in their right to free speech and political associations but are still blowing kisses to each other.

David McKay Alkincoate Street, Keighley

Long live this letters page

The right of free speech has cost many lives and hardships to the people who fought so hard for it, therefore it is sad to see the photographs of two people with a cross over their mouths in the Keighley News.

Judith Brooksbank did no wrong whatsoever. She stated her views on the letters page; they were her views and opinions. David Samuels, hero or villain, sparks debate and sometimes controversy, the foundation of democracy. He gets under the skins of the powers who wish to control.

Let's raise our glasses this festive season to all those who take the trouble and time to bring forward their views and, of course, to this newspaper whose letters' page we hope will still be up and running long after the illegal Standing Orders of parish councils regarding the freedom of the Press are dust and forgotten.

In conclusion, long live the letters' pages of this newspaper which provide the opportunity for free speech and opinion for all.

R P Beale Ridgmount Road, Riddlesden