VANITY PUBLISHING: IT WAS sad to read that would-be authors are still being ripped off by vanity publishers (Echo, Sept 8).

There is a vast difference between self-publishing - that is paying for your book to be professionally produced on the understanding that all the marketing is down to you and the webs of lies spun by vanity publishers.

These people generally prey on the vanity of the writer by claiming the book is excellent and likely to sell well. This is not generally true. They charge high fees to produce the book and market it and then fail to do so.

I hope the vanity publisher concerned gets his just desserts and no more people suffer distress because of similar unfair practices. - E.A. Moralee, Billingham.


HOW wonderful it was to read that once again Tony Blair is on the trail of mass killers in the wake of the Beslan horror.

This week he is determined that anyone going about killing a fox by using dogs will be fined; next week he may bring in a law that includes fishing. How can anyone say that sitting on a river bank armed with long sticks with string tied to them, baited with food to lure fish to jump on to a great hook that sticks in their mouths, and pulling them out of the river and bashing them with a piece of wood, or hitting them against a rock is a sport?

Hopefully he will also go after all his friends who shoot birds. That will show those people overseas that he means every word of his threat to curb terrorists. - Peter Brown, Trimdon Village.

I WONDER if EA Moralee (HAS, Sept 4) would enlighten me. If I and other lapsed Christians decide to return to the faith, how will it stop Muslim women from having too many babies or stop or reduce the flow of Muslim asylum seekers?

Going to church and praying seems similar to sticking your head in the sand and hoping that the Islamic bogeymen will go away. Maybe EA Moralee knows something I don't. - J. Smith, Hartlepool.


A LEAFLET has been circulated around Witton Gilbert stating that Durham City Council has off-loaded Cooper Hall Community Centre on to the village, leaving it with a financial headache.

This is simply not true. Durham City Council has never owned Cooper Hall, nor has it been responsible for its upkeep.

The hall has always been financed through the hard work of a small number of dedicated people through the years with the assistance of small grants from the county and parish councils.

The city council owned the land the hall is built on and leased it to the community association.

At the request of the association, the city council has now given the land to the association in order to facilitate it in applying for grants to replace the roof. This has nothing to do with council tax.

Many charities like the Lottery will only make grants if applicants own the land their building stands on or have an extended lease.

I fail to understand why the Labour Party, which I believe was behind the leaflet, was unaware of these facts, and I deplore its apparent attempt to make political capital from our association, which has always been non-political and non-religious.

I consider the leaflet to be an insult to all those village people, many of whom were members of the Labour Party, who have worked to support Cooper Hall over the years. - R Gibbon, President, Witton Gilbert Community Association, Labour city councillor and former mayor.


THE article headlined "Not a warm welcome" (Echo, Sept 6) brought back lots of memories. The camp was Kiora Camp named after Kiora Hall in Blakeston Lane, Norton, which is now part of a housing estate called Ragworth.

I was a shorthand typist in Main Offices, ICI Billingham. At the start of the Second World War the staff were evacuated to large houses in the vicinity. Supply and accounts departments were transferred to Kiora Hall, just opposite fields that became a Royal Artillery Camp.

The fact that soldiers were on permanent alert and confined to barracks meant they were a bit down in the dumps till one enterprising commander approached our manager, MV Miles, and asked if female members of our staff would be prepared to attend a whist drive and dance at the camp. I was reticent, but eventually was persuaded that things were run efficiently and more girls were needed as dancing partners. I attended the dances and had a hilarious encounter in the dark one night with an Irish escapee from the glass house but that episode is not for telling now.

I also know of an Estonian gentleman who lived in the displaced persons' camp on the site. He worked at the red roof tile factory near the top of Junction Road, Norton (now the site of Blakeston Lane School). He and others played cricket at Norton Cricket Ground, attended St. Mary's Parish Church at Norton and were confirmed there.

These were young men of exemplary character. Newspapers of the time sensationalised the differences between local folk and the unfortunate incomers who had lost their homes, their land and were strangers in a foreign land.

Kiora Hall still stands and is now called Kiora Community Centre, Ragpath Lane, Norton. I recently attended German lessons there, and spoke to someone researching its history. He told me that there was a farmhouse where the house now stands, and that at the time of the potato famine the farmer's wife sent away a gipsy girl with a baby. The girl and her baby were found dead at the farm gate by the other gipsies and a curse was put on the farmhouse.

When I was firewatching at Kiora during the war, one of my young colleagues came to me with a look of fear in her eyes and said she had seen a lady in grey on the upper landing who had disappeared along the corridor on the right. I put it down to her being young and fanciful and told her I was sure she believed what she said but it was just a flight of fancy.

When years later I learned of the folklore, I wondered... - Irene Green, Stockton.