ROYAL VISIT: IT SEEMS to me quite mean of you to portray Camilla in the way you did (Echo, Sept 15) in your report of the royal visit to Richmond.

On two occasions she was pictured eating, which is not an easy exercise for the best of us, especially while standing.

Surely there were better photographs of Camilla you could have printed. Those, along with the front page caption "Meat the wife" appears a deliberate attempt to put the royals in a bad light.

By now I would have thought it time to exercise some restraint, compassion and forgiveness. - CG Farquhar, Durham.

IT WAS stated that Prince Charles was the first royal to visit Richmond, North Yorkshire, in 100 years (Echo, Sept 15). Please correct me if I am wrong, but the Duchess of Kent visited the Georgian Theatre in the 1970s. Is the Duchess not classed as royal? - A Peacock, Richmond.

Editor's note: We understand this was the first royal civic visit in more than 100 years whereby the royal in question is a guest of the whole town through its council, rather than a visit where the royal is a guest of a specific institution.


HOW can the same property be reassessed and revalued year after year, as the Government was proposing to alter the council tax bands? It is still the same property - it is stationary. - Vincent Weldon, Witton Gilbert


I WAS very pleased someone kindly returned Mrs Ibbotson her lost bus pass (HAS, Sept 15). I lost mine on the bus late in the afternoon on September 5. I made lots of inquiries but had to pay £5 for a new one, but later received a letter from the town hall to say the old one had been handed in.

I had used the old one once. Surely I could be allowed a rebate as it will cost another £40 for my new one. Where does fair play come into this for a pensioner? - MS Edwards, Darlington.


AS THE newly-elected Liberal Democrat councillor for Hurworth on Darlington Borough Council, I attended my first full council meeting on September 7.

One issue that caused much consternation was the potential threat to Darlington's Primary Care Trust (PCT) from potential restructuring of the neighbouring care trusts, in an effort to save money. The council voted unanimously to make representations to the NHS Strategic Health Authority about the importance of retaining the existing PCT boundaries.

This is a fine stand and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. But for at least ten minutes during the debate, council leader John Williams waxed lyrical about how the council should be properly consulted over this issue.

Mr Williams, I agree with your sentiments 100 per cent and would ask that you extend this new spirit of open consultation to Hurworth School and the council's proposed changes to it.

I suppose the Labour Group could already claim to have had some consultation, that being the by-election on September 8 that saw Labour achieve less than four per cent of the vote - that is 45 people in Hurworth, Hurworth Place and Neasham who agree with the proposed merger/closure and 1,203 who do not.

In fact, so totally was the proposed plan rejected that a single issue candidate (against the school closure) standing bravely as an Independent, collected nearly seven times as many votes as the Labour one.

If the Labour Group truly believes in local democracy it is time they started talking to parents and residents of these villages rather than tearing out the heart of the community. - Councillor Martin Swainston, Liberal Democrat, Hurworth Ward.

THE Liberal Democrats' dramatic win in the once Tory stronghold of Hurworth is further evidence that the Tories have lost the plot and currently are irrelevant in British politics. It also proves that, having taken control of Newcastle and Durham councils, the LibDems are the only alternative to Labour in the North-East. We are the only party which can break their stranglehold. - BK Fiske, vice-chairman, Darlington Liberal Democrats.


WE have been working to produce hand-knitted garments for children and shawls and woollen blankets for the elderly in Africa in response to an appeal by Feed the Children. The charity has asked that we help in contributing to the shipping costs of these garments to its headquarters in Twyford, Berkshire.

Does any business travel into the area of Twyford and would be willing to help in the first leg of the journey by transporting the goods free of charge? We would be happy to pay petrol expenses. - Mrs Ann Turner, Dean Bank Chat and Craft Group, Ferryhill (01740) 657221.


THERE are two major threats to the civilised world, namely drugs and terrorism, and the two are linked. The sooner they are sorted out the better.

The intervention in Iraq may well have accelerated the process of law and order taking hold, a path which cannot be easy. Both dictatorship and terrorism stand in the way of a fairer world for all. Worldwide now, the terrorists are challenged. Next the dictators. - Councillor Tony Pelton, Catterick.

Shildon POOL

THERE has been criticism that neither Sedgefield Borough nor Durham County Council will foot the bill to keep Shildon swimming pool open.

Is it to be expected that either of these councils will ask their ratepayers to pay for a facility which is exclusive to Shildon when the Independent-controlled town council had one plank in its election platform - to cut the demands on their own precept-payers?

For years the rating system has been unfair and very unjust - bearing heavily on places like Shildon. Recently the town has had a lot of money in various forms.

There needs to be a change in attitudes before Shildon can again go forward and provide for the needs of the townspeople. - Walter Nunn, Shildon.


KATH Sainsbury of the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (HAS, Sept 6) implies that failed asylum seekers should not be deported because they "inspire" and "enrich" our communities.

I find it difficult to understand how an increase in council tax, further strain on public services and an increase in diseases such as HIV and TB can "enrich" any community. Or maybe I am just one of the many "simplistic right" she mentions. - C Wheldale, Spennymoor.


A SIMPSON suggests that Jerusalem should become England's new national anthem (HAS, Sept 9).

I disagree. God Save the Queen is a splendid anthem. Whenever it is performed, whether I am in pub watching the Three Lions or watching the Proms on television, I stand up with my hand placed on my heart and pay homage to our Queen and to England. It gives me a huge sense of how proud I am to be English. If England were ever to change its national anthem then I would choose Rule Britannia - but only if Her Majesty agreed. - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.