Sir, - One fine Saturday evening recently my dogs alerted me to the front door.

A gorgeous little girl of about six stood there. She was too small to reach the door bell. Clean, well spoken, nicely dressed, her long curling hair well brushed, she was the picture of innocence.

She wanted to wash my car. She wasn't big enough to touch the centre of the bonnet, but beside her on the step was a new bucket and sponge. Someone had obviously equipped her. I turned her away, and she went to the next house.

What if I had been the type to take advantage of a child? I could have asked her in on the pretext of filling her bucket, and she might not have ever been seen again. I am horrified that parents can be so irresponsible when so many children are just disappearing on a daily basis.

At Christmas time last year, a group of half a dozen tinies came carol singing. It didn't take a detective to establish that the eldest was six, the youngest three and a half years old. No grown up hovered in the background to watch over them. They had no torches. I didn't know any of them, but they were methodically going from house to house. What are parents thinking of? A child is precious, a gift from God, the greatest gift one can have.

I too did all these things 60 years ago, but I was aware that there was always a grown up in the shadows, concerned with my safety. Children have to learn to cope with the big wide world, but with a little thought and concern, their young lives would not be so easily at risk.

Please, parents, find the time to accompany your children - you might even enjoy an evening being quietly watchful. No-one wants to spoil their fun, but it needs to be safe fun.


Vicarage Road,


Catterick Garrison.

Rail privatisation

Sir, - Over recent months I have seen several letters from various sources in the Yorkshire region all claiming that a little known European Directive 91/440 obliged the Conservative government to privatise British Railways. This is completely untrue. The directive merely asked for a separation of operations from the infrastructure provider in the name of transparency (mainly financial transparency).

The directive also laid down regulations setting up a rail regulator to ensure fair access to a railway network. The Tory government did not have to privatise. Sweden, Belgium, France, Denmark, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain and Portugal all have state-owned railway companies and a separate stated-owned infrastructure provider. The Netherlands put forward a proposal to privatise its railway operator (NS) but has had second thoughts. Its infrastructure provider is a state-owned company.

Only Britain privatised both sectors (to the amazement of the rest of Europe). This was a British decision, taken solely by the British government of the day and it was not forced on by the EU (91/440). Ironically there is nothing to stop Britain taking its railway back into public ownership (providing that they are two separate entities to conform to 91/440), which of course makes a nonsense of the claim that the EU forced us to privatise.

If the Conservative Party is to ever recover its credibility it must first of all accept the responsibility for the mistakes it has made in the past.


MEP Yorkshire and The Humber

Blenheim Terrace,


Easy quiz

Sir, - Walking the part of the riverside that is now open at Yarm, I thought of a short quiz.

Which took the longest?

(a) The building of the Pyramids.

(b) The building of Rome.

Or(c) the wall improvements and new foot paths on Yarm riverside.

There is no prize as the answer is really too easy.



Hutton Rudby.

Our thanks

Sir, - My daughters and I would like to thank most sincerely all the people who sponsored us in our recent charity walk round Kiplin Hall lake. We raised £534 for the Alister Bullen aromatherapy fund at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.




Family pride

Sir, - On June 28, you kindly published details of our diamond wedding celebration.

Regrettably the article omitted certain family details. In addition to two daughters, we have a son recently appointed a magistrate, and six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


Willow Road,