ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: AS a person who is concerned about global warming, I was rather pleased to read news of a plant to produce Biodiesel fuel on Teesside.

This is great news for the North-East, and a positive step towards cleaner burning motor fuels. Perhaps this could be a nudge in the right direction for, say, China, America, India, etc. - FM Atkinson, Shincliffe.


IT just goes to show how some people who gain a degree of fame think they can do just as they please regardless of how it offends and affects others. Elton John's reported foul language on Radio 1 (Echo, Nov 9) is a case in point.

It's a sad fact that swearing has become part of so many people's vocabulary these days. There's nothing clever or smart about it. Rather it demonstrates a lack of knowledge of how to express oneself in decent English.

If Elton John and his ilk cannot find anything but foul words in their vocabulary, then something is very wrong with them. They should keep their mouths shut until they have something sensible and decent to say. - EA Moralee, Billingham.

Darlington TOWN CENTRE

I FEEL Darlington Council's plans to remove High Row steps and granite balustrades are so wrong and an ill conceived idea. These are features which make our town centre unique and attractive.

Most people are very happy with it the way it is. Who wants a uniform town which looks identical to others?

It is appreciated access is required in town centres, but we are already providing this.

Our council seems hell bent on discarding the old, ie the museum which was so central for people to drop in and visit, as was our art gallery. The art gallery was discarded without much thought for the provision of facilities for people who exhibited there, not to mention the many people who enjoyed visiting, and is a great loss.

It is so good to know The Northern Echo is taking an interest in the town centre plans, but on the past performance of the present council I feel it will do exactly what it wants without much thought to the future or desires of the townspeople.

I am sure with your newspaper taking an interest the council may listen to common sense. - Greta J Coates, Darlington.

AFTER reading the recent article about pedestrianising Darlington town centre, I do agree with views of Anthony Frieze. No cars in that area would be a good thing, but not the proposed plans to change High Row and remove our heritage. Leave it as it should be. - Mrs D Welsh, Darlington.

TO change the present structure of High Row to the suggested nauseous farcical one would be sacrilege.

Sometimes the old styles are as good as things get and cannot be bettered. The present style is homely; Darlington is many peoples' homes.

There is no need for any more safety measures as no one has ever been run over on High Row either.

Anyway, our young ones find life over-protected and are seeking high-risk pursuits these days instead.

If our councillors think High Row is boring then they have an attitude problem.

I would be devastated if High Row were to be changed from the way it is now. - Amy Johnson, Darlington.


THE current performance of British managers is, generally speaking, atrocious. Look at the state of public services: transport, health, law and order, education, utilities, the civil service. Right across the board the standards are abysmal.

There is a deep malaise here, a moral one, the prevalence among top executives of a quite maniacal degree of self-promotion - the ruthless prioritisation of personal goals like high status and income at the expense of the old ideals of duty and disinterested service.

Under such management those who do the real work, the under-valued, under-appreciated, under-paid technicians, craftsmen and clerks, become cynical and demoralised, and who can blame them?

As to the remedy, what is needed is a fundamental restructuring of officialdom and its private sector counterparts, including the requirement that in future, top jobs are awarded on the basis of merit and hard graft - preferably manual - not on that of favouritism and cronyism.

Only a radically new political initiative could accomplish this. The three main parties are not up to it, and they are the objects of universal contempt. We need to look elsewhere for leadership. - T Kelly, Crook.


I BELIEVE heating and suspended ceilings are responsible for the germ problems in hospitals today.

The grills where the hot air exits are always covered in woolly fluff. The warm air is recycled and spread all over the hospital. Hot water radiators recycle the air in the same area. Old hospitals had plaster walls and ceilings which were painted at regular intervals, sealing the joint between the wall and ceiling and any other cracks.

Suspended ceiling tiles are gapped all around and dust and germs collect on them. I believe also there is interconnection between passages and wards due to the electric cables, water pipes etc in the ceiling void, making easy access for maintenance.

The old germ-free way was, pipes and cables, sealed when painted. - Ken Bowes, Shildon.


JIM Rushworth (HAS, Nov 1) trots out that tired old argument beloved of smokers about toxic fumes of tobacco and motor vehicles.

Admittedly there probably is far more pollution from vehicles than from smokers now as there are far more vehicles than smokers about, especially with the former increasing and the latter in decline, and I would hardly count a smoker as producing as much fumes as even a small vehicle.

But the fact is that nobody has any need to smoke to survive, yet everybody from before birth to after death is in need of some vehicular traffic service, so the argument he puts is a total nonsense.

I would also advise him that it has now been shown, by scientists, that of the two pollutants, measured in equal quantities, tobacco fumes are by far the most lethal. - R Lewis, Birtley.

WITH all the crime there is, I am amazed the council hit on a smoking ban as its main target.

When I switch on the TV news there is nearly always a murder, sometimes two.

I have smoked all my life, and when one is over 80 there are not many pleasures left.

During the war we were issued with smokes and, in hospital in Sicily, the sister used to give cigs to the lads in pain who could not sleep.

My father-in-law worked till he was 83 and had smoked Woodbines all his life. - RJ Walters, Whitby.