YVONNE Ridley tells us why she must go back to Afghanistan (Echo, Dec 10). It beggars belief that she can't understand what she did wrong in going into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan at such a crucial time. Then for her to say: "What the hell have I done that my own country couldn't even meet me", after her release is also beyond belief. Does she not realise the trouble she had caused, not to mention the anguish she caused her daughter and parents? I, for one, will not be buying her book. - AL Carter, Marske, Redcar.


YOUR comment (Echo, Dec 10) on the issue of immigration and criticism of the Home Secretary is pandering to those who would have us believe that simplistic argument on deprivation and fundamental problems are the root cause of what is clearly racial division.

The root cause of this problem is the total lack of responsible control and an ignoring of the needs of the British people. There seems to be the view that it is only the ethnic minorities who are living in deprivation and poor housing. This is an insult to the many on council estates and other run-down inner city areas, who have been ignored at the expense of a middle-class philosophy and politically-correct ideology.

Racial prejudice is not a one-sided problem, and pandering to that view does nothing to solve the dilemma. If an immigrant wishes to live in this country, there is nothing wrong with expecting that individual to profess loyalty to the British and their way of life. The first responsibility of the British government is for the safety and security of its people, and the first responsibility of a citizen is their loyalty to the British way of life and its well being. - John Young, Crook.


I FEEL I must speak up for the police in Shildon in their efforts to solve the current vandalism spate in the town. In September, a police officer went to my seven-year-old granddaughter's home because someone had reported her for chalking on the road.

Living in Bishop Auckland, I can only envy the people of Shildon, knowing that the crime rate is so low that bairns chalking is such a serious crime. I also would like to thank the person who reported this crime. Is this what Mr Mallon meant by zero tolerance? - J Moffatt, Bishop Auckland.

LIKE the vast majority of people in Shildon, I was appalled at the criminal damage carried out to our town centre by a minority of mindless individuals. I would like to appeal to all residents to try to be extra eyes and ears to assist the police in apprehending those responsible.

It has long been the case that Shildon people pay the highest council tax in the Sedgefield borough. They contribute through income tax and council tax to pay for the police. They contribute for two extra police officers specifically designated to Shildon. They contribute to CCTV cameras in the Town Square and elsewhere. They help for the extremely expensive community force and its headquarters at Chilton.

Given these facts, may I suggest to Sedgefield Council that, instead of certain cabinet members threatening to stop future investment in Shildon if vandalism continues, that they better occupy their time considering if we are receiving best value for money from our 'protection' service. - Councillor Gary Huntington, Liberal Democrat, Bylerley/Auckland Terrace Ward, Shildon.


YOUR anonymous correspondent (HAS, Dec 7) needs not go back to the uncivilised times of 400 years ago to record atrocities in Ireland. The last 30 years of brutally maimed and murdered innocents, culminating in the appalling blood bath in Omagh, are equally wicked.

And that is Irish people killing their own in a supposedly civilised country. - Shelagh Harnby, Stockton.


D PASCOE (HAS, Dec 7), seemingly without any sense of irony, accuses those he calls his "enemies" of scaremongering, lies, misinformation and the marginalisation of our constitution.

It's apparent that he's got a distorted sense of current trading laws and a warped knowledge of this island's past. Contrary to his spin on the issue, there are no laws against using pounds and ounces alongside metric measures, providing prominence is given to the latter. And let's remember, metric has been taught to our school children for decades.

Finally, which constitution is he referring to? Is it the one Parliament has never thought important enough to put into writing? - C Bell, Stockton.


HAS your mother or father, husband or wife, or another relative or friend, had to go into a care home? Then you will know how difficult it is to come to terms with your change of role, and how you may even have feelings of guilt about no longer having to let your relative go.

You will also know how difficult it is to express your wishes and concerns to the home's staff as you try to ensure that you get the best possible care for your loved one.

You may also need advice about meeting the fees, state benefits which help towards them, the best homes available, your own rights and those of your relative.

What you probably feel is that you need somebody to talk to, somebody who can also offer tailor-made help and advice.

That is where the Relatives and Residents Association (R&RA) comes in. The R&RA offers practical advice, a listening ear, the chance to join a local group of relatives in the same situation, and has the ability to raise issues with homes, local and health authorities and government departments. If you would like more information, please write to us enclosing a 9 x 6 SAE (31p), or ring 020 7916 6055. - Advice Line, Relatives and Residents Association, 5 Tavistock Place, London, WC1 H9SN.