I WAS once sympathetic towards Ray Mallon, but his recent Thursday columns have begun to worry me.

The article (Echo, Mar 22) was worse than usual.

He tells us that, in an enormous exhibition of power, the Government decided to slaughter 300,000 animals in Cumbria without any consultation with the farmers.

I have seen pictures of farmers' leader Ben Gill standing at the door of 10 Downing Street advising Government ministers.

I have read statements made by Ben Gill saying that he completely agrees with Government policy on this matter.

I am beginning to wonder about Det Supt Mallon. He has certainly lost my sympathy. - James Kilbride, Peterlee.


ONCE again Peter Mullen (Echo, April 3) tries to belittle the Prime Minister, scoffing at him for putting back the election date.

He would still have poured scorn on Mr Blair if he had left the supposed date of May 3.

His Tory friends are already saying they now want an October election - I wonder why? Mr Blair should have called the election for May 3, never mind the political pleas of Messrs Hague and Major and the man on the fence, Charles Kennedy.

We should all remember 1997 when John Major gave the country six weeks of electioneering and campaigning - far too long. - JL Thompson, Crook.


IT was good to see (Echo, March 31) that one local council at least is to crack down on taxi drivers who hoot for their fares instead of ringing the doorbell.

It was interesting that a taxi operator said: "Our drivers stick by the law that says they can't blow their horns after 11.30pm and before 7am."

Perhaps you could point out to them that it is also illegal to blow the horn at any time if the car is stationary in a built-up area. - I Forsyth, Durham.


IT'S that time of year again when the dreaded council tax bill drops through the door. It has always gone up by more than inflation, with the promise that services will improve. When will services improve?

We understand the need for our bins to be emptied and they are on a regular basis. It's the other things that don't improve, like street cleaning and the need for a local bobby on the beat.

Still, there's always next year and who knows, someone might actually give us what they have promised. - Thomas Amos, Colburn, Catterick Garrison.


HAVING read the article (Echo, Mar 24) concerning cancer and depression, I would agree with Professor Fallowfield's study of the problem.

I have suffered three times from cancer and little or no help has come from any of four doctors that I have been under. Sometimes it is difficult to talk to people, the study feels that filling in a questionnaire at your GP's surgery would help the situation.

I, too, think this would help patients to open up more and solve some of the problems they have. - Name and address supplied.


IN response to Mr Peacock's letter (HAS, March 16), I would like to highlight some clear advantages of single currency membership for Britain.

Both workers and employers would be better off with the euro. The strong pound, high costs and risk of currency fluctuation are deterring investors from British industry.

A strong European Central Bank is vital to reduce the risk of shocks emerging from mismanaged domestic monetary policy, and to promote a stable climate for investment.

British economic policy is increasingly converging with European, rather than American systems. European countries are becoming increasingly liberalised, de-regulated and lowering taxes.

This will produce a fast-paced, high-growth euro zone from which Britain cannot afford to be isolated. Fifty per cent of UK trade is with Europe, it is our single most important market.

Sovereignty issues are largely illusory. In a globalised market of vast capital movements, no single government can have complete control over its monetary or fiscal policies. No decisions will be made on behalf of the British public without a referendum, but 67 per cent of people questioned said they had received no information about the single currency.

It would thus appear difficult for voters to make informed choices based on economic logic rather than euro prejudices. - Rachel Blenkinsop, Newcastle University student.


IT is unfair to blame any government for an apparent influx of thousands of illegal immigrants. It is more a case of criminals taking advantage of people living where life has become intolerable, due to constant fighting through medieval attitudes.

The people who flee often travel across half of Europe to get here with few officials checking their papers or wanting to stop them. It becomes another's problem once they cross a border. This is a problem that concerns the whole of Europe. - FM Atkinson, Shincliffe.


WHAT a pity that the otherwise entertaining efforts to raise money for Comic Relief on TV had to be marred by the disgusting sight of so much nudity.

For one so-called famous personality to expose himself in central London was bad enough, but to then introduce a large number of naked men into the studio, with no attempt at modesty, was not funny. It was gratuitous pornography.

Some may call me a prude, but many more people were no doubt as offended as I was. Under any other circumstances, those men would have been arrested for indecent exposure and rightly so. I switched off my TV in disgust. - EA Moralee, Billingham.