MP tells of role in Brown Lumley meeting

Last week the Keighley News printed a letter from Councillor Glen Miller criticising my position on the Ghurkas. Cllr Miller may be interested to know that I personally ensured that the meeting between Joanna Lumley and the Prime Minister took place. I appreciate that there are strong views on this issue and am pleased that Gordon Brown is taking personal charge of the review of immigration policy as it relates to the Ghurkas. In due course I am hopeful there will be a satisfactory outcome for all concerned.

Ann Cryer MP

Bob Cryer House, Keighley

Shameful point scoring

Finding myself swept along by the Ghurka debate, I wrote to Anne Cryer asking for the reasons behind her lack of support for the recent bill. She replied promptly, as she always does whatever the issue, to explain her point of view.

Her letter put into context much of the hysteria that has been blown up around the case and also made me think how both the Tories and the Liberals had shamefully used this for a bit of point scoring.

Mrs Cryer explained a little of the background behind the issues and how it was actually the present Government that brought in rules to allow Ghurkas to apply to stay permanently in the UK in 2004. This allowed those Ghurkas who had completed at least four years service and been discharged in Nepal from 1 July, 1997 to apply. There was also some scope for Ghurkas who retired before 1997 to apply.

In 2008, following a judicial review of this policy, the High Court found that some of the guidance for pre-1997 veterans was irrational and unlawful, that the policy should be reconsidered and that decisions under appeal should be reviewed. The High Court did not find that all pre-1997 veterans be automatically given the right to settle in the UK. It was in response to this that the Home Office then issued new guidance.

Through her extensive work on immigration and as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mrs Cryer pointed out that she was not voting against the rights of Ghurkas to settle here, but believes that rather than the open door policy on immigration, supported by both Glen Miller and Judith Brooksbank in last week’s letters page, there needs to be a fair, balanced review of the policy for pre-1997 veterans.

In her own words “a fairer set of rules ... to ensure Ghurkas are treated fairly without undermining wider immigration policy”. To achieve this she has supported an Early Day Motion which would call upon the Government to withdraw current guidelines and “bring forward a new and more equitable ruling”.

It is comforting to find an MP who does not feel the need to exploit the current “hot topic” for their own political ends, but rather has the commitment and courage to take a step back, examine the evidence and find a way to solve the problem rather than plugging the gaps or pandering to public opinion.

Mrs Cryer was not voting to deny Ghurkas justice but make sure that the Government acts fairly and that the Ghurkas are treated with dignity. I find it most galling of all that a representative of the Tory Party should try to take the moral high ground where immigration is concerned!

Antony Silson

Skipton Road, Utley

Exciting future for Central Hall

It is indeed exciting news that Central Hall will at last be revived and transformed from its sorry state into a hub for community services and activities once again.

Thanks, Keighley News, for the regular coverage over the last few years and in advance for what we hope will be a continuous and positive update on progress.

The ups and downs of planning such a large project are inevitable but now we can concentrate on the detail while the builders do their stuff. We hope they will start mid-summer, with an opening in early 2011. I can understand that some people may have concerns about the project but we hope that everyone will be proud and enthusiastic to see the building buzzing once again. The voluntary and community sector is contributing very significantly to the regeneration of the town, along with other big schemes such as the college development. In these troubling times of recession and anxiety about the future, and despite the additional challenges this poses for Central Hall and its management, it is particularly important to have something positive to aim for.

KVS will be working with advisors and partners to firm up the business plan for Central Hall’s future, fundraising relentlessly and working with local communities to ensure that the building’s use and management reflects the diverse nature and needs of the area. “We want to ensure that this is a locally-driven and locally-owned local facility and that everyone feels able to contribute to its development.

I would also like to thank everyone who has already supported this project through the last five years and this includes Airedale Partnership, Bradford Council and the area committee, Keighley Town Council, CAB and KVS trustees themselves, who are taking on a significant responsibility as partners in this venture.

Caroline Schwaller,


Not such a Capital idea

Keighley Capital of Airedale, so the banner headline reads on Keighley Town Council’s latest newsletter.

Did I miss the inauguration ceremony for this prestigious honour? Who decided Keighley is the “Capital of Airedale”?

This is a supremely arrogant statement to make, regardless of its publicity value as a tag-line.

Did those responsible stop to consider how they may have alienated people who live in the other towns of Airedale and whose civic pride may be offended because they feel they live in the “Capital of Airedale”?

Did anyone actually consult public bodies in Leeds, Shipley, Bingley or Skipton to gain a consensus before making this declaration?

Did those responsible not consider it worth putting to full council for debate? As much as I am proud of my adopted home town, its heritage, culture and its contemporary status, I would have to think long and hard before I made a decision that could offend the residents of every other town or city on the Aire Valley.

However much I personally feel that Keighley is the “heart” of Airedale, I do fear the town council has once again demonstrated ambition above its station by making this self-styled declaration.

As a footnote I feel I should add an apology to everyone living along the Aire Valley, I would not presume to be so arrogant and can I assure them, Keighley Town Council does not represent my voice in this matter.

David McKay,

Alkincote Street, Keighley

Thanks for pounds

I would like to thank everyone who has sent us donations following the recent publicity in your newspaper on the appointment of our patron, author Milly Johnson.

Many of the donors wished to remain anonymous so we have not been able to thank them personally for their contribution towards our new eco rehoming centre which will care for cats and help local people.

Behind every cat is a person. Please continue to support our In For A Pound Appeal by setting up monthly standing orders of one pound or donating as a one-off and encouraging friends to do the same.

As a local charity, this local support is the difference between failure or success. Thank you once again to everyone who has supported our appeal so far.

Sara Atkinson

Secretary and Centre Manager, Haworth Cat Rescue

Challenge this bill

A Bill, called the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, is currently passing through Parliament. It may sound innocuous and obscure, but it could have a serious effect on our ability to influence future developments in our local area.

The Bill will make changes to regional planning that could make it even harder for local people and communities to engage in the planning process. This is really serious as the Government currently has a target to build three million new homes by 2020. Regional plans are used to decide where these new houses should be built and once these targets are signed off by central Government local councils are required to make sufficient land available to enable these houses to be built, even if the regional targets are not achievable.

With the current recession, the numbers of houses the Government wants to see won’t get built and developers will only pick the cheapest and easiest sites to build on. With such high targets councils will be forced to let them build wherever they want, regardless of any negative social, economic or environmental impacts.

While there is a need for more affordable homes, research, by organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has shown that just building more and more houses doesn’t make them more affordable. There needs to be targeted action to build affordable homes where they are needed most.

Changes need to be made to the Bill so people are guaranteed a chance to influence what development happens where they live. If this is to be achieved it is essential that people write to their MPs to call for changes to the Bill. Go to to find out more.

Darren Broadbent

Acre Meadow, Cowling

Town and country focus

The Countryside Alliance has launched its Rural Manifesto, our campaigning focus up to the General Election.

The manifesto identifies five key areas and is urging supporters to sign up to its aims. As Britain’s best known and most effective rural campaigning group we are offering the next Government a blueprint for putting the countryside at the heart of its policy. The manifesto promotes changes in five key areas that will make a real and lasting difference to the countryside: housing, education, farming, country pursuits and services.

Our countryside is a national treasure admired around the world but it is also a home and workplace for millions of us. Yet those who live and work there can be forgiven for feeling at times that it does not receive the political support it deserves.

Divisive politics, media misrepresentation and a lack of understanding can create a gap between rural and urban areas. Yet there should be no conflict over “town or country”. The challenge is doing the best for both town and country.

Our aims are deliberately realistic and achievable. In these challenging times a vital, working and thriving countryside for the benefit of the whole nation is more necessary than ever. You can find out more about the manifesto and sign up to our aims at

Kate Hoey MP

Chairman, Countryside Alliance, London