YOUR Comment (Echo, Oct 14) rails against the present Government's policy regarding the closure of so many local sub-post offices.

Both your paper and the LibDems support the European Union, but neither of you have made it clear that the Labour Government is merely carrying out the directions of the European Commission.

This instructs all member governments to scale down their postal services to prepare them for opening up to general competition at some future date.

Our Government is then complying with the other EU policy of "not exacerbating public concern by attributing unpopular the remote workings of the (European) Community".

I can only believe that the Government's push to get pensioners and other benefit recipients to have their monies paid into bank accounts is designed to make the sub-post offices unviable to force their closure.

It is to be hoped that most claimants will opt for the Post Office card account, or have an account with a bank that allows withdrawals to be made at the Post Office, as either of these measures would help to keep the local offices open. - R Brownson, Durham.


I READ with interest the letter by Chris Greenwell (HAS, Oct 14) and would wholeheartedly support his views.

I recently wrote to our MP, Tony Blair, raising several points of concern. After a while I had a reply which to all intents and purposes ignored my concerns.

This Government has done nothing for the self employed who have to arrange their own pension, from what in most cases is quite a low income.

In fact, Gordon Brown has substantially diminished the pension pot by his taxes on insurance funds, to the extent of the black hole in the funds. They do not have to worry about their pensions, they have no idea how ordinary people live and they do not care.

The worst of it is that at the next election we will vote them back in, because we in the North-East always do.

I would say give them a shock this time but I guess the electorate is too apathetic. - Colin Douglas, Darlington.

WHY is the Government so astonished by the tremendous shortfall in pensions?

The value of money is the things it will buy; if everyone's pay is doubled tomorrow then no one is any better off.

The first pound coin was the sovereign. How many pound coins today are needed to buy just one now?

After the last war the pension for old people was just ten shillings a week and it was sufficient with postage stamps being one penny, the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough was one penny as were most local bus fares, in Linthorpe Road there was a tailor's shop where new measured suits cost £1.50 - it was called The Thirty Shillings Shop.

Why not reverse the process and if the trade unions, financial experts and the Bank of England decide to give up one penny in the pound each year then in 50-years time, when today's pension is due it will, with interest, be worth more than double today's value? - E Reynolds, Wheatley Hill.

I WRITE this letter on behalf of myself and the thousands of people like me. It is a total betrayal of our fathers and grandfathers who fought two world wars to build a so-called better life for the future generations to follow.

I was a young man of 15-years of age when I started an engineering apprenticeship in 1951. The whole country seemed to be working for one major cause, which was to rebuild the nation under a different format from the past, with full employment for all, new and better schools, a public health service. Self sufficient in food, pensions to provide a dignified retirement and the elderly to be looked after when the need came.

This all came about through a Socialist Labour movement followed by a Conservative government under the leadership of one Harold Macmillan who made the famous announcement: "We have never had it so good".

This was not a freebie but paid for by everyone who was in employment and working by national insurance contributions part paid by the bosses, and income tax.

Now 50-years on from those aspirations, we have these present day politicians in our country telling us the future for the elderly is probably leading to poverty.

Let me tell you it is not the future but now, when after 45-years in employment in a skilled and professional job my old age pension is £87 per week. I call this a total betrayal of the people who gave this nation the means to survive, only to be told at the end of your working life you were only worth £87 per week.

This Government and the others over the past 25 years should hold their heads in shame at this despicable situation the elderly today find themselves in.

I don't need handouts or means testing, tax credits, or seasonal allowances etc etc. All we require is a pension to restore the pride and dignity of the elderly. - Name and address supplied.


I WOULD like to offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all involved in bringing the National Railway Museum to Shildon. Shildon is a railway town, despite the demise of the Wagon Works, and it is right and proper that the town's contribution to the rail industry, and indeed the world, has at last been recognised by the opening of this superb museum. It is a wonderful achievement that will bring many much needed visitors to the town for years to come.

As a county councillor, I would personally like to highlight the contribution made by the county council in supporting our railway heritage. The £300,000 investment in Shildon's railway station has been money well spent and ensures visitors arriving by train get a good first impression of the town and the museum. The county council has also been a major contributor to the Weardale Railway, which, when linked to Shildon, will bring the history of the town full circle and add enormously to the museum's appeal.

The railway heritage of Shildon and South West Durham is something we should celebrate and be proud of. Let's hope these important developments are just the beginning of a new spirit that we can all share. - County Councillor John Quigley, Durham County Hall.