HUNTING: I COMPLETED my first legal day's hunting on Sunday and what a sad day it was.

I am a 26-year-old committed member of the South Durham Hunt in Tony Blair's constituency. If I could hunt down Tony Blair I would with great pleasure.

The new law is a law against people like myself. It is an infringement of my human rights and a war against many country folk.

It is not a law against cruelty. If it were, how could I be allowed to legally participate in a fox having its brains blown out with a shotgun? At least before, the fox had a sporting chance to outrun the hounds. With a shotgun it has none.

This ban is personal. It's not foxes they love, it's people like me they hate. I find it unbelievable that the Government will allow me and my friends to participate in 24 hour drinking sessions but will not allow me to engage my heart and soul in foxhunting, a sport I live and work to do and through which I have made many lifelong friends.

I write this letter feeling extremely frustrated and deeply saddened by this ridiculous hunting ban. When will this Government learn to listen to the people? - Ruth Parker, West Auckland.


I ASKED Wear Valley District Council yesterday morning if a road leading to an industrial estate could be gritted as vehicles were getting stuck in the snow and ice.

I was told they had sent the gritters to the coast to help keep the roads clear.

We pay, as part of our council tax, for the roads and I thought this included keeping them gritted in bad weather.

I think the council needs to get its priorities in order and remember who pays for the roads in Wear Valley.

Our council tax is high enough and I dare say it will probably be high this year. It's just a pity we don't see what we get for our money. - Julie Dobinson, Crook.


SEVERAL letters expressing negative views of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have appeared in Hear All Sides recently.

Firstly, Britain is not going to fill up with refugees. There are only 9.7 million worldwide. Two million of them are in Sudan. Two hundred thousand of them are in Britain. Furthermore, most asylum seekers already go to a country close to their own - hence, the high numbers in Sudan, compared with Britain.

Secondly, there is no evidence that asylum seekers and refugees are more likely to commit crime than anyone in the general population, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers. On the other hand, there are currently 95 asylum seekers in prison, even though they have committed no crime, simply because there is not enough room in one of the detention centres specially set up for them.

Thirdly, while government support for an asylum seeker may be as much as £37.77 a week, many of the richest people from Britain live outside the country to avoid paying taxes. On the other hand, migrants in general make a net tax contribution of £2.5bn a year. - Helen Smith, Teaching Fellow, University of Leeds.

HOME Office research has revealed that immigrants, including asylum seekers and refugees, contribute considerably more to government revenue than they take out - their net contribution is £2.6bn annually. Immigrants and migrant workers make up only eight per cent of the population, but contribute ten per cent to GDP.

If John Young (HAS, Feb 7) thinks this is all "spin and subterfuge" he should present his evidence. He can repeat as often as he likes his assertion that immigrants are allowed to come here at the expense of the poor, but this will not make it true.

Bob Jarratt (HAS, Feb 12) says that immigration policy has been neglected for 40 years. For most of the last 40 years, more people have emigrated than immigrated. The recent reversal of this trend is due to economic factors rather than loss of control of our borders. It is worth noting that over half of those coming in are British people returning, and more British people are returning than leaving. - Pete Winstanley, Durham.

I WAS enraged to read of yet another gangmaster slave trader, Victor Solomka, plying his trade, feeding immigrant slave labour to factories and businesses in my country (Echo, Feb 12).

I am not making excuses for such people, but they could not exist or flourish without the help and knowledge of unscrupulous employers and the complacency of the Government.

When I read about men like Solomka, supposedly stateless and penniless yet setting up three businesses within a year of arriving here off the back of a lorry and no questions asked, I can't help but wonder how they got away with it.

I bet if a British working-class labourer was to set up three businesses within a year the authorities would soon be breathing down his neck wanting to know what he was up to and where the money had come from.

British people won't work 16 hours a day for a pound or less an hour like the immigrant slaves. We are not that desperate. Yet.

But we will be when we have been priced out of the jobs market by slave traders, immigrant slave workers working for a pittance undercutting our wages. - Olga York, Bishop Auckland.


UNLIKE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that appear to have been non-existent, world pollution is a real threat.

Can we now expect Tony Blair to lead a coalition of all the countries who signed the Kyoto Agreement to invade America and dispose of George Bush? After all, his refusal to comply is a threat to our children and the future of the world.

And of course, if it was a success, Mr Blair could then become president. - Malcolm Stubley, Barnard Castle.


I HAVE the same feeling about the experts and the media who ascribe this phenomenon to the activities of man that I had when similar experts predicted that the Millennium Bug would wreck computerised systems the world over at the turn of the century. These experts, the Government and the media encouraged millions to be spent on preventing a global catastrophe that was never going to happen.

There is no doubt that the earth's climate is cyclical - it was once warm enough to grow grapes in Yorkshire, and there have been ice ages too. The world has therefore had systems of its own to regulate these swings without the influence or even the existence of mankind for millions of years.

It is the arrogance of the "experts" and their woolly theories that feed the hysteria stoked up by a witless media, who state that man can control his climate. They attribute the perceived climate changes to human activities, whereas I have seen no evidence that rate man's contribution to climate change as anything other than minuscule and therefore irrelevant to the outcome. - Chris Greenwell, Aycliffe Village.