Letters from The Northern Echo


AS the end of the first year of the third millennium approaches, we would like to congratulate people in the North-East on the amazing and innovative schemes they came up with to mark this moment.

From the award-winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge to the Turning the Tide project, which has transformed the Durham coastline, there have been wonderful achievements across the region.

In total, over £66m of Millennium Lottery money has gone into the North-East, creating initiatives of £139m in value, which will leave a lasting legacy.

An independent study has shown that nearly 75 per cent of these initiatives would not have happened without your Lottery money and, most importantly, your ideas.

We still have some projects left to open, such as the Durham Millennium City project and thousands of Millennium Awards for individuals who have a bright idea to help themselves and their communities.

Interested people can call 0800 06801 2000 for more information, so it's not too late to make your mark on the new millennium.

However, the majority of our work is done and I would like to take this opportunity to urge everyone to take ownership of the projects and enjoy what they have developed with their Lottery money.

Together we have created a fantastic new network of resources across the UK which will be a lasting legacy for generations to come. - Mike O'Connor, Director, Millennium Commission.


RECENTLY, Stephen Byers thought it amusing to scoff at working people who had invested and lost their money in Railtrack.

Asking all of us to invest our money via taxation in the public services is the same theory, apart from we will have no choice, no shares and absolutely no guarantee of success, not even a plan.

Will we have a clause so we can have our money back if it ends in failure?

Of course, the nurses and doctors are a worthy cause. They do a brilliant job under extreme pressure, but throwing money at problems rarely achieves the goal. Let's go and see how the best countries do it and blend this into our 'good' system.

Those in manufacturing have been down the route of efficiency-driven plans, so how does this highly flexible workforce drawn from throughout the region get to Team Valley, Washington, Aycliffe, Peterlee or Teesside using public transport?

If we are to save money, start with the billions wasted on enforcing political correctness.

I wonder how many in the public sector would be willing to shell out ten per cent of their wages to save manufacturing jobs. Lets face it, if we lose our jobs, then who pays the tax? - Jim Tague, Bishop Auckland.


MOST parents are loving and caring. But, sadly, some are not.

The law allows this significant minority of parents to severely beat their children, call it 'reasonable chastisement' and get away with it.

NSPCC research shows that around two children in the average classroom suffer regular serious beatings at home, leaving them bruised, injured and emotionally scarred.

The Government's failure to change the law to protect children will fill these young minds with fear as they go home to yet more 'punishment' - this time with the tacit approval of the Government.

We believe that the majority of parents would be prepared to give up their 'right' to hit their children in order to help protect children who suffer in this way. A law against hitting children would not lead to parents being prosecuted for trivial smacks.

We urge the Government to rethink its policy on the physical punishment of children and the message that it conveys about the acceptability of violence in the home - violence which in any other context is rightly regarded as wrong, dangerous and unlawful. - Mary Marsh, Sir William Utting, Claire Rayner, Glenys Kinnock MEP, Roger Alton, Matthew Taylor, Allan Levy QC, Dr Miriam Stoppard, David Aaronovitch, Lady Tumin, David Hinchliffe MP, Penelope Leach, John Edmonds, Roger Singleton.


THE Rev Stephen Brown made a brave move in commenting in his church magazine about the poor behaviour of some worshippers (Echo, Nov 30).

He may have ruffled a few feathers, pricked a few consciences even, but he is quite right to draw attention to the lack of respect, chiefly to God, that can be present in some churches.

As he rightly points out, family services are generally a different matter, but, even so, children should be under control, not running about, treating the church as a playground.

As for dress codes and prompt arrival, if the purpose of attending church service is clearly defined by minister and congregation as a time for them to meet with and worship God, then surely it stands to reason that they will dress in a fitting manner and will not deliberately be late for the appointment.

If there are jobs to do in preparation for the service, then they should be done in good time, so all is in peaceful, respectful order for the worship of God to begin. Making church services more 'accessible' to unchurched people does not mean making it indistinguishable from a social club. Friendly, certainly, informal to a degree, as long as God is the centre of attention, not the congregation having a party time. - EA Moralee, Billingham.


THE moaning minnies are at it again. One contributor to HAS bemoans the fact that next year's old age pension will rise by a miserly £1.91 per week. What a terrible Government this is, he moans.

This same pensioner conveniently forgets to mention that he has received his winter fuel allowance, free TV licence, Christmas bonus and reduced road tax for his small car.

All of these things, added together with his pension increase, will amount to at least £9 per week. - Jeremy Wark, Wingate.