POLITICS: NOW that the election campaign is more or less under way, the furore over the Blair-Brown story will soon die away.

Mrs Thatcher battled with a few Chancellors and she was in power for almost 18 years.

Tension, even disagreements between prime ministers and chancellors is no bad thing.

Apart from the disaster of Iraq, Mr Blair has been an excellent PM and he could not have wished for a more able Chancellor than Gordon Brown.

The tension between them arises from Mr Brown's leaning to excellent public services and Mr Blair wants more private involvement.

The situation will be resolved after the election and the outcome could not be clearer.

If Labour wins, Mr Blair will almost certainly stand down after a couple of years and if Labour loses, he will stand down anyway.

Economics is what decides elections and that makes the outcome inevitable. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.

TO be an MP or a councillor years ago was an honour. These people were to be respected for their truthful honesty.

Now they want power and more responsibility for private gain and personal prestige. Their expenses and allowances would last a dozen families up to a year just for basic necessities.

Councillors, MPs and the like who can't do their jobs should be sacked. The House of Commons is the biggest armchair theatre this country has. It would be laughable if it were not so serious. - Vincent Weldon, Witton Gilbert.


DARLINGTON councillors are doing what they have always done. They never said they were going to change the town centre at the last council elections, all they did was brag about what they have done.

Also, nothing has been said about Rise Carr School and sending the pupils to the new Harrowgate Hill School.

Four thousand signatures have been received against the town centre changes. If these 4,000 people voted for these armchair councillors, they deserve all they get.

Darlington councillors have never done what the voters put them there for.

The sooner Darlington gets back under Durham County Council the better for all of us. - John Hoodless, Darlington.

THROUGHOUT 2004, the columns of HAS were inundated with letters from a small caucus of county councillors who attempted to convince the electorate their propaganda statements contained true facts.

During the Local Government Reorganisation Campaign, they constantly claimed a cost saving figure of £35m, but they never told the public their financial statement was not submitted to the Audit Commission.

They later stated the Audit Commission had given the county council, and I suppose it included them, an 'excellent' status, but they failed to inform the voters the inspection system was now obsolete and would be replaced in 2006-7.

A recent revelation in the regeneration of Weardale has shown the excellent county councillors have become divisive and disorderly in assessing a solution to a certain problem.

Councillor John Shuttleworth (HAS, Jan 3) stated the funding for the newly-formed Weardale Railway has been wrongly invested. Councillor Walker (Echo, Jan 7) speaking on behalf of the county council, is determined to make the project succeed.

Councillor Joe Armstrong (HAS, Jan 2) informed readers of significant investment in education, but two years ago the county council produced a ten-year closure programme which caused such an outcry it was withdrawn, requiring more meetings plus expenses.

A council, which allows a minority of its members to dominate the agenda then fully concurs with their deliberations, does not understand the meaning of democracy.

It is time for the windows of county hall to be opened so the light of truth can illuminate the dark corners of the corridors of power.

Let us hope the new brooms will also sweep away the dust of complacency that has been lying around for too many years. - Thomas Conlon, Spennymoor.


I WALK from Geneva Road, in Darlington, to the town centre almost every day.

I have come to the conclusion that the town boundary ends at the Stone Bridge, from there, past the magistrates' court, the litter, filth and general neglect along Yarm Road is very evident.

The beat and jurisdiction of litter and dog wardens along with traffic and community wardens, not forgetting the almost extinct police force, also appears to end here.

I am a full rate-paying pensioner and my progress along this route is continuously harassed by cyclists on the pavement and dog dirt. Running the gauntlet at the Bank Top railway bridges due to pigeon dirt, broken pavements and, at times, both running and static water is also a chore.

To win Tidy Town accolades, it would appear areas are carefully selected. - JA Telford, Darlington.


PRESENT day religion seems to be going through a period of change. All, including the Salvation Army, chapel, Roman Catholic and others, still survive, and are there for anyone requiring spiritual counselling.

For years, the Roman Catholic Church and other religions have been attacked from all sides because of scum who try to discredit perfectly good religions that are there for all.

In this present day, the Catholic charity Cafod is at the fore of aid to those stricken countries affected by the tsunami.

Pop singers write protest songs on what they describe as cruel church upbringing, when 80 per cent of Irish were glad of their religious upbringing and welcomed the aid received by their families from the church.

Years ago people, the likes of Malcolm Muggeridge and other sceptics felt that they should have a taste of religion before they died. He went with an open mind to a Catholic monastery, after which he changed his attitude to criticism of religion.

What is required now is middle-of-the-road preaching, not left or right.

One thing is certain: the Scriptures were inspired much the same as Handel's Messiah, which was completed in 24 hours, and will survive when most of us are long gone. - Barnard McCormick, Newton Aycliffe.


I WRITE to thank the wonderful people of Durham for their kind reception of my inclusion in the New Year's Honours list.

I have tried to work for the benefit of Durham City since 1951 without expectation of recognition for my efforts. My father used to say: "Colin, it's the things you do for England".

As the MBE is for services to Durham City, I would like to share this honour with the many councillors of whatever party, the council officers and workers who serve the public so well. But above all, that the huge band of voluntary and community workers who work unselfishly for our super city.

Thank you for the support you give to Durham City. We have all cause to be proud. - Colin Beswick MBE, City of Durham.