Sir, - John Prescott's visit to the North-East (D&S, Jan 30) confirmed that the Government is on the back foot in its campaign to establish an assembly for our region.

Suddenly all sorts of vague promises are coming forward to try to convince people that any new assembly would not simply be an expensive talking shop.

We hear that police authorities might come under its jurisdiction, or maybe the Learning and Skills Council. There are also mixed messages about possible locations of an assembly - one Government minister says Durham, another says Newcastle.

This is clearly a cynical tactic by a Government that is frantically trying to shore up support for the "yes" campaign. In typical New Labour fashion it is promising all things to all people, but, as we have seen with their broken election promise on top-up fees, it will only end in a betrayal of the voters' trust.

We can already be certain what a regional assembly will give to the North-East - higher taxes, more politicians, an end to local democracy and, no doubt, an expensive assembly building.


MEP North East Conservative


Reservoir dogs

Sir, - It was good to see that a young reader (D&S letters, Jan 16) is concerned about our environment. It is a pity that the older generation of the local hunt do not share her feelings for wildlife and public.

I travel to Cod Beck reservoir quite often to walk my two dogs and recently was shocked when confronted by a hunt in full swing with dogs running all over the place amidst the narrow walkways in the wood.

On a previous visit, on January 3, there did not seem to be any horses, only quad bikes. Can you imagine the mess and the danger to anyone walking.

On January 13 the hunt was there again. Imagine the horses churning up the footpaths and posing great danger to anyone enjoying a quiet stroll.

Yorkshire Water has taken time and money to provide an enclosed public place to walk but the hunting people seem to think that it is their right to go charging around frightening everything in sight and damaging the footpaths.

There is plenty of open countryside to gallop horses without using the enclosed area specially provided for walkers and families. I have contacted both the water authority and council in the hope that between them they will be able to stop this dangerous practice.


Bullamoor Road,


ID cards

Sir, - May I answer the three-pronged reply (D&S Jan 30) to my original letter re ID cards, beginning with Mr Nicholson.

The essence of my response was not to espouse my reasons for not wanting ID cards but to highlight his final sentence.

Now Mr Nicholson "suspects my motives". As all three correspondents have used time-worn cliches, I will now use one myself. I will not dignify his latest comment by replying to it.

As to Mr Hutton, my "vehemence" was against Mr Nicholson's sweeping assumption and may I remind you again of what he actually wrote: "The only people who fear ID cards are those who have something to hide or are protecting someone who has". The insertion of the word "should" between "who" and "fear" would have made all the difference.

I too have held a variety of ID cards but those items were a prerequisite for the job or to allow me into a foreign country and back, but all are now long gone. Mr Hutton's comments about an addition to my wallet I found pretty meaningless.

Yes, Mr Morris, I am old enough to remember the war and ID cards and why that war was fought. In fact, shortly after the war a private citizen took the government to court over ID cards and won. That is why we do not have them today.

You chide me for trying to deny Mr Nicholson's right to free speech. I did no such thing, I simply challenged his assumptions. Will you now defend my right to free speech?

Gentlemen, please do not assume that ID cards would solve all the problems that have been mentioned, or that there will be no dangers with their introduction.


Turker Lane,


Equine exports

Sir, - Due to proposed changes in European Union legislation, the live export of horses, ponies and donkeys from UK to Europe for human consumption could soon be resumed.

This is a vile and cruel trade and virtually impossible to police adequately. The present rules for the transporting of live animals over long distances bear a wide range of interpretation. A friend of ours returning from Italy witnessed a wagon loaded with over 200 sheep carry out its obligatory stop.

The driver placed three small cast iron bowls of water into the truck. As the sheep were not penned or tethered they technically had access to drinking water, therefore fullfilling the driver's obligations. This of course was totally inadequate but quite legal.

This Government is intent on banning fox hunting and yet will, if not stopped, allow highly intelligent equines to undergo the prolonged trauma of a horrendous journey.

I urge anyone who harbours any feelings at all to write to their MP or the Secretary of State for the Environment.




Reader's warning

Sir, - I would like to bring readers' attention to John Turner, plumber, of Mount Pleasant, North Stainley, Ripon.

I rang Mr Turner to ask if he could look at our leaking shower. I was surprised when he said he would come the next day.

Mr Turner arrived next morning while I was at work. He was in my house for five minutes, told my wife that because of the age of the shower ( three-and-a-half years) it wasn't worth repairing, and charged her £45.

When I rang Mr Turner to register my digust, I was told that was his rate - £45 per hour or any part of.

I wonder why he failed to tell me that when I first rang him?

Mr Turner did say he could supply and fit a new shower and it shouldn't take more than one hour. Guess how much that would cost!


Nursery Gardens,


Grow up you lot

Sir, - I have read with incredulity your reports regarding the Northallerton and Romanby Joint Burial Committee.

I was a member of North-allerton Town Council for a brief time, when the then mildly urgent problem of burial space came up. I was also a member of Romanby Parish Council.

The original figure quoted by the then Coun Dobson for the conversion of the allotment land to burial land was £70,000. I questioned this and suggested an alternative of purchasing land elsewhere, perhaps in Romanby, and saving the proposed land for allotment holders.

I did point out to both councils that while a parish council has no statutory obligation to provide burial facilities it does have a statutory obligation to provide allotments.

As a member of both councils I was asked to leave a meeting in Romanby, being told I could not listen to the discussions let along take part in them. The latter may have been true but the former most certainly was not. Members of the public may attend full council and committee meetings.

I took the matter up with the Yorkshire Local Councils' Association who upheld my complaint and confirmed that the only legal obligation of parish councils is to provide allotments; even though they of course do much more. I received a formal apology from Romanby parish council.

But nothing changed. The burial committee continued with its plans to take away allotment land (admittedly with a view to returning half of it) and alternative suggestions made by my husband, who was also on Romanby council, or me, were dismissed, usually as too expensive. With recent suggestions of 400pc increases, please excuse our urge to smile.

I am no longer a member of either council but as a parishioner may I make one plea? You are both just parish councils. The burial committee is out of its depth, and has been for some time, so please stop digging. Hand over the management of Northallerton and Romanby burials to the district council and give the proposed land back to green-fingered parishioners and thereby fulfil your legal obligations.

May I also urge Coun Hall to ignore calls for his resignation. His appointment as mayor was long overdue because members of my beloved Labour Party insisted on playing the same childish games as the Tories had done for decades - that is, passing over the next person in seniority in favour of members of their own party. Grow up all of you.


Pennine View,



Wartime Thirsk

Sir, - I am researching life in Thirsk between 1938-1946 and would welcome contact from any readers who have memories of life in the town during those years.


22 St Giles Close,


Christmas question

Sir, - I wonder if readers could solve a mystery for me?

For yet another Christmas I have received a card for my mother, Mrs Eileen Milburn, who sadly passed away in 1996, from a Thomas and Elizabeth who apparently live in Askrigg.

I feel very embarrassed about the situation, as I thought I had told everyone at the time, and I am sure they are wondering why they have not received a card in return. I do hope someone is able to help.


16 Barton Close,


Devon TQ7 1JU.