TONY BLAIR: WITH Tony Blair being interviewed by Little Ant and Dec, one has to wonder if the Prime Minister is becoming desperate about the upcoming election.

Not satisfied with his "masochism strategy" of live TV grillings by voters, which he plans to continue, he apparently feels the urge to keep his face on the TV screen by appearing in a light entertainment show.

He's surely aware of the problem that seeing too much of someone on TV can be a great turn off for many people.

Appearances with cute kids and babies is, sadly, an accepted feature of electioneering, but this schedule of endless Blair on our TV screens, while he repeatedly parrots the same party policies, is becoming very tedious.

Enough is enough, Mr Blair. Not even Little Ant and Dec will be able to stop the yawns if you go on like this. - EA Moralee, Billingham.


IT WAS a strange letter (HAS, Mar 29) from Leslie Tyson in support of the Liberal Democrats. He stated they were full of life, but failed to present what kind of body would develop in the future.

In his reference to the cost of the Dome and the foot-and-mouth epidemic, he seems to have forgotten a large amount would have been paid in wages, with the Government reclaiming a good proportion through taxation. The thousands of civil servants whom he claims have been recruited since 1997 will also be paying various taxes.

He calls the present immigration policy a shambles, but if he would look at the big picture instead of the glossy postcard he would see people fleeing mass murder in Bosnia and Iraq.

The vision of New Labour will be the guide to preventing costly mishaps because there is a vast difference between carefully considered economic accountability and gazing at a crystal ball. - Thomas Conlon, Spennymoor.


I WAS a member of Stanhope Parish Council when the idea for the Weardale Railway was first proposed.

We were never told where the funding for such a project would come from but we were assured by Wear Valley District Council that the council taxpayer would never have to foot the bill.

I am now appalled to hear that Wear Valley District Council, as well as other quangos, is about to pour council taxpayers' money into the project.

Why should we have to pay for someone else's blunder? We are not responsible for would-be entrepreneurs getting their sums wrong. So Wear Valley, please do not follow in their footsteps. - Mrs G Elliott, Weardale.


HAVING resided in the Kelloe area for the past 16 years and grown to love it, I feel compelled to put feelings into words.

Since 1989, I have witnessed great change, having arrived at the time when the community was feeling totally depressed as their whole way of life and livelihood had been snatched away by the closure of the coal mine - for which they had suffered such great hardships and fought so hard to retain.

There still remained one thing - the pit heap - towering so high it seemed to be shouting out its own protest.

Work began to remove it and regeneration began on this as well as the disused part of the quarry, breathing new life into the surrounding area and allowing nature to return.

Then along came the litter bugs, people who seem determined to upset others by imposing on our beautiful landscape the great monstrous wind turbines, desecrating and putting asunder all the hard work applied to improve the area and the skyline.

We would welcome any species that would be an enhancement to our cause, but the out of place, out of tune wind termite (turbine) is one we can really do without. - D Hill, Kelloe.


May 26 will come and go, like any other day, but is perhaps of more significance this year when there will be the 60th anniversary celebrations for Victory in Europe and Victory over Japan and the end of the Second World War.

The significance of the date is that, in 1940, Churchill informed the King that only 20-30,000 were likely to be brought back from Dunkirk.

In response, King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer to which hundreds of thousands of people responded. Over 300,000 were rescued from the beaches, and brought safely across exceptionally calm seas. It was miraculous.

Today's widespread distress, fear, disenchantment and lawlessness needs some massive response, which no general election pack of promises can truly equal. A National Day of Prayer for the nation is long overdue. May 26 perhaps? Or St. Georges Day? - Tony Pelton, Catterick.


THE recent death of Jim Callaghan has reminded me that, in 1976, I was very impressed with him as Prime Minister.

He had been a leading Labour politician for many years and had held high office in government.

By the time he became Premier, he had developed into a very good public speaker.

The 1970s in Britain was a strife-torn decade, with widespread industrial unrest that included two devastating miners' strikes.

There was, however, a lighter side to all this, and shortly after he became Prime Minister, I remember Callaghan telling journalists that he did not have an instant remedy to the nation's problems, that he was not Jimmy Savile and that Jim would not fix it. - LD Wilson, Guisborough.


ANOTHER Bank Holiday has passed us by. An early Easter - which was sunless, damp and cool. All the other Bank Holidays, Whitsuntide, August etc have a fixed date, so why can't Easter have a permanent date?

Why not the end of April, when hopefully the weather may be a little better?

This would surely benefit trippers, tourists and those in business. - Dougie Clay, Bishop Auckland.


MY wife and I recently visited Ormesby. We travelled by car and I was driving.

A week later I received a Notice of Intended Prosecution from Cleveland Constabulary advising me that on the day of our visit, a speed camera had recorded me travelling at 34mph in a 30mph restricted area.

The correspondence gave me the option of paying a £60 fine within 28 days and receiving three penalty points on my licence or attending the magistrates court to answer the charge.

I accept that I was wrong in exceeding the speed limit but feel that this should have been dealt with by way of a caution.

Had I committed a burglary, stolen a car or assaulted someone in Ormesby that day and was unfortunate enough to get caught, I would be eligible to receive a police caution if I simply admitted my guilt.

All that this exercise has achieved is to alienate two members of the public whose support, prior to this incident, the police could have relied upon. - Name and address supplied.


AFTER the recent rail tragedy at Darlington, spare a thought for the train driver who has to live for the rest of his life thinking: "What if..." - Tom Nicholson, Darlington.