Sir, - At least John Major is ashamed but Sir John Banham is not. I hasten to add this is nothing to do with Edwina Currie. His shame should be in regard to the report he produced when abolishing Cleveland County Council. Frank Cook MP has recently criticised him and rightly so. The so-called investigation by his commission is the only time that a farce and a tragedy have been played at the same time.

And what does Sir John now say? He says " I remember the overwhelming support for the proposals". In the report published by his commission he regards a sample of 1018 as important. His review was so quiet that one survey revealed that only 17pc of those interviewed confessed to knowing a fair amount about the review

The review was inadequate, low weighting was given to cost-effectiveness, guidelines were not followed and the lead Commissioner admitted scant experience of local government.

The Chamber of Commerce, the CBI, the Small Business Club, the Teesside Training & Enterprise Council and some trade unions, as well as countless individuals, opposed the commission's proposals.

After the proposals were issued what was the response? A survey revealed 28.6pc supported the commission, whereas 46.5pc supported the Teesside/Hartlepool option whereby Hartlepool went on its own and the other authorities were merged into a single unitary authority

We have to blame on Sir John the present shambles. The inability to plan overall, the fights between the fragmented authorities, three chief executives, three social services and education departments and so on.

But worse is to follow if we get a regional assembly. Teesside will be controlled from elsewhere and quite incapable of standing up to Newcastle and or Leeds.

We need a City of Teesside so:

* the structure will be efficient and cost-effective;

* road transport, industry and infrastructure can be planned overall;

* we can stand up to Newcastle and Leeds with a single substantial voice

If any groups would like a speaker on this topic they should phone the Secretary at 01642 477203. If anybody is interested in the work of the group a phone call to that number would also be welcome.


Chairman, Teesside Study Group,



Youth hostel

Sir, - Following the letter from R Wood (D&S Oct 18) and recent media interest in the future of Ellingstring Youth Hostel, I would like to clarify the situation. The decision to close this youth hostel was taken by our board of trustees in November 2001. We needed to invest to bring facilities up to the level expected by members and guests today, and felt that business levels did not justify the use of our scarce capital.

We have been in discussion with the local planning authority over the future use of the building. Once these issues are resolved, YHA will market the youth hostel to achieve the best possible value. The current youth hostel manager has indicated an interest in buying the property and continuing to run it as a youth hostel. When the property is placed on the market, should she choose to make an offer, hers will be considered alongside all others.

YHA regrets the need for the closure of YHA Ellingstring. A youth hostel has been part of the village for 60 years, welcoming and introducing guests to the village and to North Yorkshire.


YHA Regional Manager

Yorkshire and The Humber

Too much talk

Sir, - No doubt I shall be howled down, but I think that the majority of sports commentators talk too much - far too much, in fact. I wonder if anyone has thought to tell them that they are broadcasting on television, and that the viewers can see what is going on as well as they themselves. I really do not need a highly-paid commentator to tell me that A has passed to B, or that C has taken a shot at goal and missed. I have just seen it for myself.

I personally find their unceasing inconsequential chatter distracting in the extreme - they even claim at times to know what an individual is thinking - and prevent me from following the action as closely as I would like.

Another irritation is some of the snooker commentary, especially one commentator who foretells what the player is likely to do several moves ahead. I like to work that out for myself, and I am sure that many other viewers do too.

So please commentators, keep your remarks to a minimum, and let viewers think for themselves - we aren't all ignorant numbskulls.


Long Street,