Letters December 25th

County is riding roughshod over us

I HAVE been watching with interest the developments along Moor Lane.

Lancashire County Council, not our local council, appears to be riding roughshod yet again over the needs and requirements of the town's local shopkeepers. I would question how many of the officials at County Hall have any experience of running a business in the retail sector?

Over the years we have seen an increase in loading-only bays, each with its accompanying reduction in on-street car parking. Furthermore, there is the steady increase in widened pavement areas in various parts of town. However these are a further reduction in on-street car parking for the general "shopping" motorist.

I have written on the subject of parking in the past, that I felt sure the planners were looking to pedestrianise the town centre, and what do I see recently in the Clitheroe Advertiser? Plans are in fact afoot to do just that.

Has anyone taken a look at any of the local towns, such as Nelson and Burnley, and seen the debacle that has come with pedestrianisation? It kills the atmosphere in the town, takes the hustle and bustle out of the town, and leaves in its wake a bland, insipid aura that needs only tumbleweed blowing down the street to complete the one horse town feeling.

One fundamental difference to shopkeepers, which they won't realise until it's too late, is the reduction in the number of prospective customers looking in their shop windows as they walk through town. It is far too easy to walk from A to B down the middle of these pedestrian areas rather than be channelled along the front of these shops by the pavement. So this in itself will lead to a reduction in sales.

Furthermore, the article on the front page of a recent copy of this newspaper alludes to the fact some major stores are potentially coming to town. I suppose this is possible, however as I see it, they will only want to come on the basis they are provided with their own car parks so "their" customers can shop with ease.

Notice the large car park for the shortly-to-open Homebase store. If the site in Peel Street didn't have space for car parking Homebase would never have considered the site, and furthermore, in that particular case I don't believe the planning department would have allowed the project to go ahead anyway without car parking. So for any of these major stores to even consider coming to Clitheroe town centre they will need to have space for car parking, and I'm not sure there is sufficient space in the town centre for that, so any developments will need to be on the outskirts of town, and hence be of little benefit to the local shopkeepers.

On a slightly different note, when these large shops do come into a town, it is implied they bring extra shoppers with them. The truth is, I feel, somewhat different in reality. What actually happens, is that these stores bring more people into their store, and as they carry such a large range of goods, the shoppers find they can park right outside the store, do all their shopping, carry their bags to their conveniently parked car, then drive home. Job done, convenient, easy, painless! The benefit to the town centre shopkeeper? Very little.

I have suggested in the past that Clitheroe needs to increase on-street car parking, not reduce it. Furthermore the town would benefit hugely from free car parking, but that will of course fall on deaf ears. There are a number of places within the town centre where additional parking spaces could be made by reducing the width of the pavement along the right hand side of Castlegate, along the front of Boots and removing the bus stop from the Market Place.

I believe Clitheroe's only cost effective means of increasing trade for its beleaguered shopkeepers is to improve its parking. Most local customers visiting Clitheroe do so on relatively quick errands. The customers want to nip into town, do their errand, and leave in a short space of time. They do not want to park in the health centre car park and then traipse to Moor Lane to collect something. It is in just such a situation the larger shop with its own car park will benefit, to the loss of the private shopkeeper in town.

Finally, if Clitheroe must succumb to pedestrianisation then let us ensure our elected and non-elected representatives insist on doing the job properly. The only way to do such a job successfully for our local trades people is to enclose the whole area from the bottom of Moor Lane, to York Street, and both King Street and King Lane with a covered area to protect the shoppers from the elements and create a totally different approach to shopping. But somehow I'm not sure the consultants who will be commissioned to develop this project (because our local town planners will seek to offload any liability) will be brave enough to suggest something so bold.

In that case, can I say to our wonderful Clitheroe shopkeepers... will the last one out please turn the lights off!

TONY WOOD, Blue Butts Farm, Slaidburn

Sat nav is creating havoc on this road

THE minor road from the Judge Walmsley "S" bend to York Village is being frequently closed on account of HGVs and artics assuming this is a viable short cut from Blackburn to the A59 Clitheroe by-pass.

In the past, many of us who live on this road have approached the local and county road authorities with the result that a number of road signs have been placed in the area around York Village, warning this road is inaccessible to vehicles of any size. For a long time, these notices were effective and there was little trouble.

However, in recent years, we have had many incidents of large vehicles reaching the double bend, finding it impossible to negotiate and then having to reverse for about a-mile-and-a-half to the nearest turning point at York.

This has happened twice recently. Truck drivers report they are being directed on this route by sat nav, which is likely as there are at least two low rail bridges on other routes.

In the latest incident two police cars were involved for about one-and-a-half hours, diverting traffic while a three-axle HGV completed the reverse journey. I need hardly point out this is a highly dangerous operation, particularly during the dark.

A large vehicle was involved in this last week at the "home time" when numerous vehicles are using the road as a short cut from the Blackburn industrial areas to the Whalley/Calderstones Park/Clitheroe area.

(In 1991 a police survey of traffic on this minor road – no white lines – showed there were 1,400 vehicles using the road daily then. Traffic has greatly increased since).

During the diversion, I asked the police on duty if they could get in touch with the sat nav authorities and see that this lane becomes de-recognised – strangely they seemed to have not the remotest notion about how this information might be conveyed to the appropriate sat nav departments. Surely, this must be possible.

The situation is obviously most unsatisfactory for the commercial drivers, particularly if they are on the "just-in-time" directive for their deliveries; it is particularly difficult for ordinary road users who are often forced to turn round and find an alternative route.

From time-to-time, with a large HGV or artic, the vehicle becomes jammed on the steep "S" bend, and on many occasions in the past rescue vehicles and cranes have been ordered to remove a trapped truck, with the inevitable expense and long delays.

THE REV. IAN AND MRS GERTRUDE ROBINS, Painter Wood, Billington

Thank you for this enlightening piece

I FOUND Sheraz Arshad's article (Thought, December 18th) very interesting and enlightening.

I for one was ignorant of these facts about Jesus's life being a part of the Q'uran.

I think it was very thoughtful of him to take the time to write the letter and also forward his good wishes for a "happy holiday".

May I wish you a Happy New Year!

LINDA HOMER, Clitheroe, (by email)

Wonderful boost for these children

MAY I, through your pages, thank the public and staff of Booth's supermarket for their support for the Friends of Chernobyl's Children, annual Christmas raffle. We made just over 500.

As the Chernobyl disaster occurred 20 years ago, it is no longer news, but the effects of the nuclear fallout will last for generations. We bring about 20 children each year to Clitheroe to provide not only respite, but good hospitality in the Ribble Valley. The medical experts say a child who spends one month a year for a few years away from the pollution can add many years to their life expectancy and this is the service we provide.

It costs us about 10,000 in a typical year, so the Booth's raffle is an important annual event for us.

Thanks again to Booth's and its generous customers.

The three raffle prizes have been delivered and the winning names are on the Booth's notice board.

DAVID WYMER, Secretary, Friends of Chernobyl's Children, Clitheroe.

Party was a really smashing affair

THANKS to Joanne and the residents of Pendle Court for a wonderful party, with entertainment from Clitheroe Brass Band.

A peaceful Christmas and New Year to you all.

LAURA QUINTON, on behalf of the Ribble Valley Tenants' Board

Sorry, but your facts are wrong

CONTRARY to the opinion of animal rights activists (letters, December 18th), shooting is a force for good in the countryside.

It is supported by the Government and many well respected countryside and conservation bodies.

Pheasants are reared, but spend only the first six weeks of their lives in pens to protect them from the elements until they can be released into the wild. Fit, healthy, wild birds are produced for shooting which are then taken home to eat or sold on to game dealers, pubs, restaurants and supermarkets.

The shooting season for pheasant began on October 1st and is the culmination of a year's hard work for the gamekeeper. Ideal habitat is planted and managed by the gamekeeper who provides additional feed and water for the birds. The aim is to produce strong, healthy game birds which will eventually end up on the dinner table. To find out more about where to buy and eat game in the North West visit www.gameson.org.uk.

HELEN SHUKER, Press Officer, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Marford Mill, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 OHL