YOU do not have to defend every decision taken by Derwentside and Chester-le-Street district councils to feel that neither their leaders, nor their employees deserves the insults of Kevan Jones MP (Echo, June 28).

He must know that, in the 1980s, the economic base of County Durham was seriously weakened and local government has struggled to cope with the consequences ever since.

Starved of resources by the Tories and increasingly marginalised by Labour, local councils often find themselves between a rock and quite a hard place.

How ironic then, that someone who has built his political career in local government in Newcastle should now become its biggest enemy, but, as has become all too evident, Kevan Jones cannot resist a cheap headline - New Labour at its worst. - David Connolly, Chester-le-Street.


IT is said that you never know what it means until you know how it feels.

Peter Mullen (Echo, July 2) stated that he does not know the meaning of racism and as a white, middle-class, male Christian, it is unlikely that he ever will know the meaning of racism or any other form of intolerance, describing racism as having 'no meaning beyond the cult of sentimentality and political correctness'.

Perhaps the next time Peter Mullen is out with non-white and non-Christian friends he should ask about the cult of sentimentality and political correctness concerning the 11 million killed in the concentration camps, those who are assaulted and murdered because of their race, creed or colour?

Perhaps he should ask himself how a rector with an Irish surname ended up in England? - CT Riley, Spennymoor.

I DON'T agree with half of what Peter Mullen says, but I love the way he says it.

Freedom of speech is a precious commodity. Pravda was appealing for readers to speak their minds at the Perestroika time. They are still afraid of Siberia.

The CIA is the biggest drug dealer in the world. But tell it to an American paper. Mike Amos, Harry Mead, Peter Mullen all express their views. This is England.

An old preacher in the Bournemouth or Brighton area recently was knocked down and mud-bespattered by gays because his placard said homosexuality and lesbianism was evil.

He was taken to court for inciting riot and heavily fined. He still hasn't found the court costs.

To me, he was only expressing an opinion. He wasn't harming anybody. We may not agree with him. - Jim Ross, Rowlands Gill.


I AM disgusted and upset by the way children will do anything to pull gravestones to the ground and cause vandalism.

I normally walk down my local cemetery, but not any more because of the number of gravestones which have been knocked down. I can only see one or two still standing.

There is a little chapel that I am surprised to see still standing, as the amount of vandalism is disgraceful. - Emma Costello, Darlington.


CT RILEY (Echo, Jun 28) suggests that the world's problems stem from organised religion.

Man's problems stem from their separation from God where they live for themselves and not for God.

God commands us to love him and to love others as ourselves. If one followed what he said we would not have the problems that we have in society.

Biblical directive has never changed because God does not change, nor is it restricted to the archaic; in fact, God's word is very relevant to present-day realities.

Men and women who have taken God's word seriously and acted upon it become great writers, great inventors, great architects, great educators, great visionaries, great scientists, great generals, great reformers, etc.

Slavery existed during Biblical times. God never condoned it. On the contrary, the Bible states that those who owned slaves should treat them with respect and care and fairly. It was William Wilberforce, a Christian MP, who was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade.

God wants all men to be free - Jesus Christ paid the price for that freedom. We can all know that freedom if we come to God through His son. There is only one way to God - that is through Jesus Christ. - P Springer, Hartlepool.


I WOULD like to assure any American readers of your newspapers that the views expressed by Hugh Pender and his ilk are in no way representative of the British people.

Many people of the left are motivated purely and simply by envy of American affluence and generally a superior lifestyle than we enjoy.

Many people who have holidays in America return with nothing but praise for the generous, good-natured and friendly Americans they have met.

Seemingly, nothing will give Hugh Pender more pleasure than for the West to fail in its endeavours to bring some sort of stability to that war-torn region, Afghanistan.

No one surely wants the return of the Taliban, particularly the womenfolk who were treated like chattels under that revolting regime.

American need for oil has brought immense wealth to the oil-producing countries and given the inhabitants a far better lifestyle than otherwise they could possible aspire to.

The oil is worthless to these nations if there is no market for it.

Many Americans gave their lives for European freedom - long may we remember that. - Name and address supplied.