AIRPORTS: WHILE our politicians and leaders have been arguing the case for the renaming of Teesside Airport, considered vital for its future expansion plans, the TUC and trade unions have been lobbying the Government to back plans for a third runway at London Heathrow, which they claim will create 70,000 new jobs.

While the argument here has raged over calling Teesside Airport New York or James Cook or Durham-Tees Valley, the general secretary of the TUC has warned of a very serious impact on the future international competitiveness of the UK aviation industry and damage to the UK economy if Heathrow does not get the third runway.

While we talk about having half a dozen new cheap fare flights by 2015, the GMB's general secretary has said: "A new runway at Heathrow is critical to regional expansion."

Freedom to Fly, the aviation industry group, claims that without a new runway at Heathrow, air fares would soar and the cheap flights boom would end; Britain's skies would become the M25 of European airspace.

Why are this region's politicians and leaders not arguing the case for this region to have a hub airport with all its implications for job and wealth creation?

This would be sensible social engineering. It would take the strain off the people living in the south east and bring hope, opportunity, work and real expansion to this region. - David F Preston, Darlington.


I PRESUME the writer of Comment (Echo, Nov 11) may have learned his or her journalistic craft in the wireless room of the Titanic.

The message was so full of doubt and despair it may be necessary for the editor to quietly inform the scribe there is no possible chance of a large iceberg floating down the Skerne.

What we are now observing in the Shadow Cabinet under Michael Howard is a bold attempt to move the Conservative Party rather hastily from the Victorian era into the second Elizabethan age.

To use a sporting allegory, player/manager Mr Howard has reverted to a 3-5-2 system of playing the game. This plan allows his team to dominate the centre of the field while at the same time it gives his seven-man attacking force the option of outflanking the opposition's defence. It also gives him a six-man defence which if played correctly controls the centre of his own half of the field.

The Government side will have to play 4-4-2 formation to counter attack any mistakes made by their opponents in the centre of the field. This would give the Government team the opportunity of launching a seven-man attack against a three-man defence.

Mr Howard has introduced flair and innovation into his team and with the full support of some ex-players in the boot room encouraging the young reserves from the academy, he would, with a bit of luck, have his supporters standing out of their seats singing You'll Never Walk Alone.

It would be a chance for the scribe to cheerfully write a report on what will be a thrilling encounter. - Thomas Conlon, Spennymoor.


YOUR articles (Echo, Nov 12) highlight the main problem with the ghost ships.

It is not the dismantling, which I am sure can be carried out safely without danger to the workers or harm to the environment.

The problem lies with the disposal of the hazardous materials they contain.

The first four vessels contain 400 tons of PCBs, 633 tons of asbestos and nearly 11,000 tons of oily ballast.

The first two materials can be disposed of in landfill sites, but the ballast will require a secure lagoon to prevent leakage and should also be covered to protect bird life.

Yes, the ships could be dismantled in the US, but obviously they do not want the problem of disposing of hazardous materials.

Why should Hartlepool become the world's rubbish dump? Hardly a tourist attraction.

Is this Peter Mandelson's vision of the future for Hartlepool?

Nor should we countenance the transfer of the ships to one of the developing nations. - Brian Fiske, Vice-Chairman, Darlington Liberal Democrats.


WHILE often agreeing with Mr Reynolds of Wheatley Hill, I must say that his latest letter on smoking really does take the biscuit.

To say that smoking killed more than two world wars beggars belief.

Regarding passive smoking, in the early 1940s I was employed by a Newcastle brewery delivering to pubs.

In most cases, you couldn't see the far end of the bar for tobacco smoke yet a lot of the customers spent seven nights every week there and somehow managed to live to their 70s and even longer.

I believe the main cause of cancer are the fumes belching from the ever increasing numbers of petrol engine vehicles and I shudder when I see young mothers with very young children in the modern type of pushchairs waiting at the kerbside with the children being blasted by the fumes at the same height. - FR McCormack, Newton Aycliffe.


THE recent resolution passed by the US Congress to lift travel restrictions on US citizens visiting Cuba is almost certainly to be vetoed by President George W Bush.

However, for a neo-conservative Congress to have passed such a resolution shows acceptance for a new reality and pragmatism - that four decades of trade and travel embargoes against Cuba have completely failed to achieve their objective of undermining Cuba's sovereignty.

The sovereignty of Cuba is firmly in the hands of its people and it is they who will decide Cuba's political future, not Washington or the Cuban exiles in Miami who helped to propel George Bush into power.

The US must stop deluding itself into believing that some sort of vacuum of consumer culture exists in Cuba and that a post-Castro generation of young people is waiting to embrace the dubious freedom of the shallow US consumer culture by changing Cuba's political structure from within.

With great bravery Cuba freed itself from American domination. Good show! with great bravery America freed itself from British domination. Good show! Both countries have much in common and should work together for the mutual benefit of both. - James Fitzpatrick, Secretary Tyne Bridge Socialist Labour Party.


A GOVERNMENT White Paper 'Valuing People' will bring about the closure of Durham County Council's Durham Centre, Aykley Heads, which provides day care for people with learning difficulties.

The replacement service is not yet decided.

Durham Centre is a happy, vibrant community with a friendly caring staff and its closure will adversely affect its users.

I urge all parents and guardians, whose children, relatives or charges use the centre, to lobby their county councillor urging them to remove all threat of closure, no matter who or what in Whitehall says it must happen. - John Routledge, Durham.