SIR, - There is much talk of crime statistics, usually on a national or regional level, but it's often more useful to be aware of the situation in your own local area.

I was recently shown statistics on a ward level, relating solely to the Adel and Wharfedale Ward.

While crime statistics can never really make pleasant reading, it was encouraging to see that reported crime in the key reportable areas is on the decrease. Levels of burglary, theft from a motor vehicle and criminal damage all showed significant reductions in 2006 compared with the same period in 2005.

This is particularly pleasing as it shows that the good work done by the police, the council and volunteer groups is having an impact. For example, the Area Committee has used some of its funds to help the police enhance patrols in crime and anti-social behaviour hot spots and the council has funded extra PCSOs.

There is also excellent work being done by the Community Action and Support Against Crime (CASAC) - a voluntary group which fits security devices to properties in high burglary rate areas.

We have had some real success in Adel and Wharfedale, but it is important not to rest on our laurels. As I said, crime figures can never really make pleasant reading but when the work the police and other groups do to combat crime is successful, it's only right that it be recognised.

Coun Barry Anderson Adel and Wharfedale Ward

Civic Centre

SIR, - The sterling group of people who run Otley Action for Older People will probably have no time to respond to Ken Creek's letter of November 16 accusing them and other users of Otley Civic Centre of apathy.

If Mr Creek visited the office of Otley Museum in this building we could show him a bulging file of letters, some dating back to the 1980s urging Leeds City Council to fulfil its responsibilities in maintaining the outer fabric of the building.

Civic Centre staff, town councillors and users have all been engaged in this soul destroying task for years only to encounter administrative muddle and negativity at every turn in Leeds City Council.

Most of the problems inside the building stem simply from the leaking roof and blocked gutters which I agree would seem to be the most obvious features to be kept in good order but seem to be attended to only when a crisis occurs, as now.

It is a pity Mr Creek does not genuinely appreciate what a great community asset this historic building could be. In his final paragraph he suggests it should be demolished.

What attracted him to make his home in Otley recently? Was it featureless modern buildings (the money available will not run to a 'state of the art' new building) or an environment full of interest and character?

Margaret Hornby Secretary, Otley Museum Otley Civic Centre.

Santa and clock

SIR, I have read with interest the account of Otley Town Council's decision to ban Santa and Snowman from the restored Jubilee Clock this Christmas. The town council is to be congratulated.

These two figures, festive symbols though they are, have looked shoddy and cheap for some years. I seriously question whether they are much loved' and know of others who are in agreement.

The clock, as Councillor Eveleigh rightly states, is not a war memorial, nor even was intended to be. We have our cross in the memorial gardens.

I am proud to belong to Otley and my family history can be traced back for 300 years of living in this lovely town. The beautiful clock stands alone in all its grandeur and dignity.

The new plaque is not a memorial to the dead, but a tribute to of thanksgiving to all the men and women who fought for our freedom from tyranny in two world wars.

Many died, others sustained lasting wounds and not a few lost limbs. Our clock stands in the heart of the town, bearing its plaque which applauds all the brave who went, defending our Union Flag. Without them we would now be seeing the Swastika flying from the flagpoles.

The wording on the plaque contains a quotation from the book of psalms and says God gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace."

The heroes were given strength to do the job and bring us peace. Don't we all long for this peace in our lives? Only God can bless us with it.

Margaret Procter Newall Carr Road, Otley.

Keep parrots free

SIR, - May I add my support to the plea for the continuing freedom of the three Otley parrots. They are a delight to hear and see living wild and free.

On the other hand, there is nothing sadder than to see any bird caged - and these parrots seem to agree.

There are numerous instances of escaped parrots surviving perfectly happily through an English winter. As long as they are fed (I am aware that people throughout the town are feeding them proper parrot food - fruit, seeds and nuts) and can find shelter (which they clearly are) they will be fine.

Parrots are incredibly intelligent. Tests have shown that they are able to understand and use language, not just mimic sounds. The only other creatures on the planet that can do this are humans. After the cold weather we have had this month these intelligent birds could easily have found their way home' to their cages, but they have chosen not to.

Rather than misguided attempts to rescue' the parrots (and I wasn't aware that to rescue' meant to trap and condemn to life in a cage') why can't people embrace the freedom of these beautiful birds?

Even in the unlikely event of them not managing the winter, I would rather think of them as having a few months of freedom than a lifetime of imprisonment.

The only justification for catching them would be to return them to liberty in their native rainforests in Australia, South America and Africa. But as they're here now, it would be far less stressful for them to remain here.

Which raises another issue, namely the inherent immorality of the trade in exotic birds and animals for use as trophy pets, which is the only reason these parrots are here in the first place.

Richard Sabey Via E-mail, Full address supplied.