REGIONAL ASSEMBLY: A REGIONAL assembly is the only answer to the problems beset by councils is this area.

The 18th century political philosopher Montesquieu wrote that governments are likely to be tyrannical if they are responsible for administering large territories, for they must develop organising capacity characteristic of despotic states.

Edward Heath's government imposed the county of Tyne and Wear and councillors' allowances. Margaret Thatcher's government replaced it with quangoes.

Mrs Thatcher's poll tax fiasco brought local government finance in England into chaos. Councillors' allowance rises are determined by the people who receive them and the council tax is an unfair one. Increases are spiralling out of control.

Regional assemblies are now the best solution to sort out the mess. The alternative is to revise the way local councils are financed. A revaluation of housing units will be made. In the past this has been based on the needs of London and the South-East, to our disadvantage. Large council tax increases would be inevitable.

An assembly would also bring all sections, rural and urban, into one cohesive unit and give us some control over our future. - Joe Hall, Sunderland.

WHY is it that politicians and councillors think that a regional assembly in the North-East will succeed where other forms of administration have failed?

Since the last war this area has been administered predominately by Labour Party politicians and councillors who have had the same opportunity as area administrators in the rest of the country, with a northern prime minister in his second term of government with no apparent interest in the area.

The result is not very impressive.

To vote for an elected regional assembly is to have your consent taken by stealth to be governed in the future by an unelected, unaccountable totalitarian government based in Brussels.

The target, I believe, is 12 regional assemblies in the UK and, with 25 countries in the EU, I would estimate a total of 150 regional assemblies across the EU. All competing for funds.

Once these assemblies are in place you could lose your national government.

Be realistic, the only asset this region has is a low income economy, but it's fragile. It's already lost manufacturing to the East European countries joining the EU.

We don't need a regional assembly, we need a reduction in taxes and bureaucracy. Industry will flow back with the right conditions in place. - EA Burton, Newton Aycliffe.

THE topic of the moment, apart from the imminent ban on hunting with dogs, is surely the debate on the question of a regional assembly for the North-East.

Opinions are quite clearly polarised between those who feel it will benefit the region in terms of more jobs and more investment from outside, and those who feel that more government will result in higher council tax and needless duplication of effort with existing councils.

The problem is that both arguments are valid and I only tend to support the pro-assembly side because of one thing.

Now in my middle seventies, I have learned in life that those who shout the loudest seem to get all the attention and usually most of the rewards. So if the pros win the day and we get our regional assembly let's hope they bring the house down and ensure a prosperous future for our region, but if it means an increase in council tax I would change my mind. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.


WHAT a pleasure to see the GB team perform so well at the Paralympics. The high standard and excellent performances have made for riveting viewing.

The Paralympics should have the same coverage as other sporting events such as the Olympics. The competitors are wonderful examples of courage and determination to both able-bodied and handicapped. They proved what can be achieved when the emphasis is on 'can do' rather than 'not able to do'. - EA Moralee, Billingham.


DURHAM City LibDem councillor Carol Woods's complaint about the litter-strewn state of the North Road bus station (Echo, Oct 7) was ironic to say the least.

While there might have been an accumulation of litter over one or two days earlier this month, it was during a period of time when bus company Arriva was switching its cleaning contractors.

Durham County Council has been in discussions with Arriva for some time regarding our concerns about the cleanliness and attractiveness of the bus station.

The old cleaning contract was held by Durham City Council and the reason Arriva terminated it in favour of new arrangements was because the city council was not doing a thorough job.

The new arrangements put in hand by Arriva involve an enhanced level of cleansing which promises a more efficient and effective operation.

Passengers should in future find that the bus station is more attractive and that it provides visitors with a better 'first impression' of the city. - Don Ross, Durham County Council.


HAVING listened to Michael Howard's conference speech, I have to ask the question: How short a memory span have the Conservatives?

He stated in his speech that the Tories would reform the NHS so that more people can obtain treatment more quickly and that hospitals would be cleaner.

What a laugh. No explanation how they would do this, and has he also forgotten that it was the Tories who wanted to abolish the NHS and make everyone pay for treatment. They also got rid of the matrons from hospitals and closed thousands of wards throughout the country.

It was also the Tories who introduced all the pen-pushers to supposedly improve hospital services and efficiency.

All that this achieved was more money was spent on administration with nothing left for people who earned it - the doctors and nurses.

So come on everyone, wake up. Don't forget the Thatcher years and the mess the country was in.

Mr Howard is talking a load of rubbish.

Tories have no sense of family values and have no consideration for the common people. They don't even know who common people are. - Mrs E Thompson, Crook.


AS an ex-Labour supporter, I have got to admit New Labour must be better.

Mr Blair went into hospital and within 48 hours he was out of hospital. There was no waiting in hospital corridors, in fact no lying about at all.

After an operation he looked fit enough to go tatty picking, but he will still not get my vote. - R Hedley, Bishop Auckland.