MOBILE PHONES: NOW that the banning season is in full swing, would it be possible for a new campaign to ban mobile phones in all public places.

These machines are gradually damaging people's health by making blood pressures rise, which will eventually have an effect on our National Health Service.

If people wish to be obsessed with their little machines they should not be allowed to do so in any public place.

Travelling by rail these days is like riding in a mobile phone booth with all and sundry nattering on their phones, generally talking a load of nonsense. - Jim Rishworth, Darlington.


IS Jon Barron's eulogy to Tony Blair (HAS, Mar 5) a joke or a wind up?

This is the man who waged what increasingly looks to be an illegal war and does not appear to have any conscience over it.

The man who preaches democracy for the rest of the world and has done more than anyone to undermine our own. He has changed from saying membership of the EU would be ruinous for us to now trying to give away to it our remaining freedom to govern ourselves.

It must be a joke, Jon. - John Heslop, Gainford.


DARLINGTON'S motorists must be in need of tranquillisers after the series of disconnected decisions and poor planning by the council recently.

Minor roadworks are to be found on almost every major road - sceptics might think its the end of the financial year and there is money to be used up. Add the closure of the Crown Street car park, the long-term sewer replacement work on the inner ring road and the result is traffic chaos.

Take my simple journey from Lingfield Point to the town centre at lunchtime on Monday. The council's electronic information signs told me there were hardly any car parking spaces free in the entire town centre, the traffic had ground to a halt on Yarm Road outside the station, and the trip took longer than a car journey to Middlesbrough.

The council should be planning roadworks more effectively. They should stop reducing the space on our roads for vehicles - the alteration at Yarm Road/Neasham Road junction appears to be removing an entire lane of traffic. They should also take into account the closure of Crown Street's car park and temporarily remove yellow lines from some streets.

Our town is getting a reputation as a driver's nightmare and it's not good for business. My staff are regularly held up in traffic jams and the situation is only getting worse. We pay them to be in work not in gridlock.

It is time to plan for the car and not against it. A good start would be the cross town route. This proposed road has been promised by the council many times and was part of my own firm's decision to locate at Lingfield Point - but why has the Labour Government and the Labour Council failed to deliver? - Graham Robb, Darlington.


PETER Mullen (Echo, Mar 1) needs to renew his subscription to the flat-earth society if he thinks climate change is anything other than a fact that every individual is going to have to face up to.

Local authorities have a duty to prepare themselves and their communities for the impact of climate change. In Middlesbrough that has been a really rewarding experience as it has focused people's attention on how important the environment is to us all and how we can all do something to mitigate some of the serious effects of climate change.

The level of understanding in the community - and particularly among members of our Youth Parliament - who helped put together the action plan, would put your columnist to shame. I am very glad they and most other people will find little merit in his head-in-the-sand attitude. - Councillor Barry Coppinger, Executive Member for Community Safety and Leisure, Middlesbrough Council.

PETER Mullen (Echo, Mar 1) confuses the long and the short-term.

True, climate change has been around far longer than people have. Thus, when the North-East coalfield was being laid down 280 million years ago, our area was clad in dense tropical swamp forest. Fifty million years later this had been replaced by the waters of a shallow coral sea: that's where the magnesian limestone, or dolomite, of East Durham comes from.

And, no doubt, to geologists of the remote future, when uncovering 21st century strata, evidence of current climate trends will be of no more immediate concern than that of those earlier episodes is to us.

However, to ourselves it should be of overwhelming concern. The reality is that, unless the main polluters - including the US - are curbed now, before the end of the century all the main European coastal cities and conurbations, including our own, will be under water. - T Kelly, Crook.

PETER Mullen's tirade against the BBC was hilarious (Echo, Mar 8). I think he may have missed his vocation - he could have made an excellent scriptwriter for one of those satirical TV comedies. No-one can play the blustering right-wing reactionary quite like Peter Mullen.

Many within the BBC have expressed their concern about declining standards in TV broadcasting - particularly with regard to the brain-rotting "reality" shows and the "100 best this" and the "something or other from Hell" type of programme. But such programmes are the result of an obsession with TV ratings - an obsession which would become worse if the BBC was funded through advertising revenue rather than a licence fee.

The BBC is far from perfect, but accusations of political bias from the extreme right should not be taken seriously. - Pete Winstanley, Durham.


ON a freezing, hail-strewn afternoon my disabled son and I struggled up to the Williamson Stadium at Darlington to view a truly awful game of football. As the only person in the pie queue, I was a little surprised when I was short-changed by £5 from a £10 note and complained.

In the West Stand tiny hot drinks are now dispensed from one small-scale vending machine, so I took the pies down to my son and returned to queue for drinks. When I got back, he told me the pies were cold. My second visit to the pie counter produced a flat refusal to replace my son's pie, because he'd eaten half. Staff weren't interested in my explanation that this was due to the way the club has organised its catering arrangements. With this level of hospitality towards fans, I'm not surprised that just 3,219 attended. It will be 3,217 next week. - Name supplied, Darlington.


BOTH E Reynolds and A McKimm (HAS, Mar 1) must have short memories. The poll tax was brought in to replace a tax based on the rateable value of a property - a value not many people understood.

The new tax was designed so that the four wage earners next door to Mr Reynolds's elderly couple each had to pay their fair share.

Unfortunately, they and thousands like them did not want to pay so the poll tax was replaced by the council tax, which is just another name for rateable value, and the four wage earners next door still don't pay their share. - CB Dobbing, Bishop Auckland.