CHANCE TO LIVE: HATS off to The Northern Echo, Alan Milburn and the local partners involved in he launch of the project A Chance To Live.

The health problems of south-west Durham are well documented and this is a truly worthy campaign. Let's hope that this project is driven through to really make an impact on the overall health of the district.

Many of the poorer wards of Wear Valley now have community transport in a variety of minibuses. It would be great to involve these in the project and transport folk to places where a series of regular walks could be encouraged.

However, the launch of this project comes at a time when Wear Valley Council has drastically reduced its leisure facilities, is closing play areas throughout the district and meekly accepted a new hospital with fewer services and beds, while the county council's decision to close many of its care homes is hardly looking after the elderly.

We live in a climate where good people are willing to pay more for better services. We, in Wear Valley, pay a lot for very little in return.

I would happily pay more if I thought they could use my money wisely. I don't envisage that situation. - J Tague, Chairman, Conservative Party, Bishop Auckland Branch.


AS manufacturing jobs leave the North-East in droves, we have to bite the bullet and move towards British membership of the euro. Without this, North-East manufacturing jobs are going to drift over to Eastern Europe where costs are cheaper and the North-East, which has a higher proportion of its workforce employed in manufacturing, will be hit.

The decision to join the euro must be made on purely economic considerations. There is no point in having national sovereignty if everyone is out of work.

Also, the euro is not the same as the old Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The single currency, as the name suggests, is a single currency. The ERM was a system of fixed exchange rates among different currencies.

If we join the euro the strength of the British economy will bring stability to the euro, secure manufacturing jobs in the North-East and lead to a wave of inward investment into the North-East. - Martin Jones, Liberal Democrat, Spennymoor.

LILIAN Mains (HAS, Oct23) would have been more honest if she, instead of claiming Britain is doing well, had written that there are parts of Britain which are doing well and other parts that are not.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, bases his budget and thereby the economy on a two-tier system.

According to his statements, the retail industry is maintaining growth while the manufacturing industry is performing at a low level. That was yesterday but when tomorrow comes, a particular event will change the economic situation.

The Fire Brigades Union has submitted a massive wage increase, backed by strike action. The employer, who happens to be the Government, has agreed in principle that £400 per week is not a living wage and has agreed to pay more. So how can we, as Lilian Mains states, have control over our economy when the tail is wagging the dog?

A few years ago the employers insisted on competition with the Japanese and the South Koreans. Today they claim their biggest competitors are in Eastern Europe.

When we become full members of the European Union our newest competitors will be our partners and through sharing one currency we will be a strong global force for the good of mankind. - Thomas Conlon, Spennymoor.

TWO reports concerning Europe (Echo, Oct 29) confirmed what the anti majority has been saying for a long time. The formal suggestion has been made that the European Union becomes the United States of Europe. How many times have the pro-Europe camp vehemently denied that such a thing would ever happen? That a federal superstate was never their intention?

Secondly, the British fishing fleet is at risk from an EC ruling that there must be a virtual shutdown of key fishing sectors. Our fishermen have been telling us for years that their livelihoods were being ripped away by EC rules, but their pleas for help have been dismissed by the pro-Europeans as crying wolf.

How many more plans, schemes, strategies, designs, whatever you care to call them, that the European Commission is hotly denying and our own Government is pooh-poohing as far from the truth, are in fact in the pipeline?

When they suddenly burst upon us as new regulations which must be obeyed, it will be too late. The anti-Europe side does not want to keep saying 'We told you so.' It would be far better if action were taken now. Say no to any more of our nation's sovereignty being given away. - EA Moralee, Billingham.


I WOULD like to tell all of your readers that I am a Millennium Award winner in the scheme mentioned by the Earl of Dalkeith (HAS, Nov 4).

I live in Coxhoe and I am on the committee for Coxhoe Community Partnership. The amount of award I was granted was £3,912, the total amount of money awarded is to pay for specialist training I need.

It has also enabled me to do a drug awareness course and I am going to do a youth work course in the spring. Both of these courses have certificates on completion.

My award is to produce a cycle leaflet for five villages, which will promote safer cycling for all of our local children leading them to our Kidszone and our newest project Skidzone, situated adjacent to Coxhoe Leisure Centre.

Everyone I have met is more than willing to help me, other Millennium Award winners as well as the tutors. May I thank the Millennium Commission Lottery Fund for giving me this opportunity. - Pam Brown, Coxhoe.