WAR ON IRAQ: THE American President's father is to blame for this war.

The last Gulf war was legal, Saddam Hussein was then on the ropes, waiting for defeat when America decided to call a halt.

This gave Saddam 13 years to build up for another crack at the world. Nobody wants a war, but once again we must stop this tyrant from swallowing up our rights.

We all know that when one country attacks another, the country being attacked has the right to defend itself, which shows what Saddam Hussein has been planning for 13 years against America and Britain. - A Pyle, Coxhoe.

THE decision to go to war with Iraq on the strength of the findings of the UN inspectorate is a delicate one.

They were totally ineffective after the Gulf War and were ordered out after being accused of spying.

How can you excuse anyone of spying if you have nothing to hide? It is pretty obvious after the Gulf War and in the intervening years that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical ones, but their willingness to allow the inspectors back in indicates that there is little danger of them finding anything.

During the Iraq-Iran war, the West chose Saddam to be the lesser of the two evils. One may well ask whether he was the lesser of the two. - D Punchard, Kirkbymoorside.

THESE people who are so against the war in Iraq must be getting worried in case they get their call-up papers.

They should be made to go. If they don't fight send them white feathers. - S Beaton, Darlington.


COLIN Shearsmith, chief executive of Durham City Council (HAS, Jan 24), must have his head in the clouds if he believes there are only one or two people in the region who are against subsidising the Gala Theatre.

If the theatre is doing so well why are we going to have a substantial increase in council tax?

The council should be informing us, the council tax payers, how much of our money is going to help fund this theatre, and what profit, if any, or any shortfall there might be.

I am not against having a theatre in Durham but other council services are suffering at this moment in time. The money that is subsiding the theatre could be put to a better use. - H Dalby, Durham.


YOUR article "Euro law no bar to sacking staff" (Echo, Jan 25) raises one salient point.

The assurance given by the law specialists to the Christian Institute that they would not fall foul of EU law if, for any legitimate reason, they wanted to dismiss an employee, is misleading and optimistic.

The EU employment directive referred to is identical to every other EU directive, in that it can not be challenged.

Directives issued by the EU will receive no scrutiny by our democratically-elected Parliament and, as has been established in the case of Stephen Thoburn (the Metric Martyr case), will take prominence over English Law.

Therefore the closing paragraph in the article stating: "the Government has not yet decided whether to implement the directive" is nonsense.

In short, we now no longer have the protection of the laws of England. When John Major and Francis Maude appended their signatures to the Maastricht treaty in 1992, they surrendered our constitutional system of law making, allowing the European Commission to rule by directive.

If readers need a one word definition of the process now ruling our lives it is dictatorship. - Dave Pascoe, Press Secretary, Hartlepool Branch, UK Independence Party.


A RECENT report by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) states that local councils are planning to cover 166 square miles of greenfield sites with houses or the equivalent.

This report has let the cat out of the bag. This confirms what environmental activists and the Liberal Democrats have been saying for years.

An example of this building programme is the proposed housing development at Whitworth in Spennymoor where a large tract of open space is to be turned into a large housing estate.

This fact explains why councils are so eager to grant planning permission so willingly - money. More houses mean more people and more people mean more council tax revenue.

The planning application for Whitworth is now being considered. Now is the time, especially with elections coming up, to write to your local councillor and tell them how you feel. - Martin Jones, Environment Spokesman, Spennymoor Liberal Democrats.

Bishop Auckland

WITH regard to the retailers meeting in Bishop Auckland (Echo, Jan 29), while I cannot fault your account of events for accuracy, it failed to convey the anger, worries and sheer desperation felt by many traders towards their current situation in the town centre.

While many of the points raised on the night have contributed to the demise of the town, the major problem has definitely been the loss of Asda.

The timing of the move, seven weeks before Christmas coupled with the refusal to consider letting the store to another food chain, has decimated customer numbers to such an extent that the costly refit of the Newgate Centre is of scant consolation. Indeed, the work is compounding the current problems.

For many traders, still struggling to recover from the hangover of foot-and-mouth (for which we were ineligible for compensation) the North Bondgate development will be too late.

How any of our local councillors could have voted in favour of the Asda relocation beggars belief.

As Bishop Auckland quickly turns into a ghost town, we all know where to lay the blame. - Craig Latcham, Bishop Auckland.