NORTH TEES HOSPITAL: I WAS saddened to hear about the threat to services at North Tees Hospital.

During the 2005 General Election I stood as the UK Independence Party candidate for Stockton South and at several hustings meetings I tried to raise the issue that North Tees Hospital was under threat. I was shouted down every time and accused of scaremongering.

As a qualified nurse I take a keen interest in health service issues and know that hospitals all over the UK are under threat, and will stay under threat as long as the Labour Government has a policy of building big new super hospitals.

New Labour is looking after its new friends in the construction companies and big business in general through the private finance initiative. The private finance initiative is most attractive to investors when the project is a big build on a green field site, because these are the projects where the most money can be made.

It is with no satisfaction that I say "I told you so" but when the Save Our Hospital Group in Hartlepool succeeded in influencing the Darzi Report in their favour then the writing was on the wall for North Tees. - Sandra Allison, PPC Stockton South, UK Independence Party.


I WAS invited by the chairman of Sedgefield Civic Trust, John Ingham, to their evening presentation of floral awards.

The weather was atrocious but the warmth of the welcome I received and the pleasant evening which followed more than made up for it.

I understand Sedgefield town councillors had also been invited. Apparently, the Civic Trust had only a reply from Coun Wells, who did attend.

My late sister Monica, who like myself was once Mayor of Sedgefield, would have been appalled.

It would appear that courtesy and good manners are not necessarily to be present in people who have posts of responsibility. - M Bell, Stockton.


THE case of pensioner Sylvia Hardy (Echo, Sept 28) shows just how stupid the rates system is since the cost of her rates had gone up higher than the rise in her pension.

She refused to pay the extra cost so it took a large amount of money from the rate payers to take her to court and being sentenced to seven days in jail means that it cost more each day to keep her there than the extra cost she refused to pay.

It is about time that the rate system was replaced by something more sensible. A couple of old age pensioners living in a semi-detached house have to pay the same as four wage earners living next door.

So four people get the same council facilities as two people for the same money.

What is the percentage of people living in a council area who pay nothing for those facilities even if they have a well paid job and use the facilities more than poor old age pensioners? Margaret Thatcher might have had a good idea. - E. Reynolds, Wheatley Hill.


JOHN Gill (HAS, Sept 26) has not appreciated that much of the habitat in the countryside is there because of shooting and is managed in a way which is sympathetic to other wildlife.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation's Green Shoots project, which links land managed for shooting into external projects to improve wildlife habitat, has benefited many species such as bats, brown hares and barn owls.

Properly set snares in the hands of experienced operators are not indiscriminate. They are one of only two legal methods of fox control, the other being shooting.

Their use is closely regulated by law, and BASC publishes its own codes of practice which go beyond the requirements of the law. An independent working group on snares, which has been examining issues surrounding their use, is due to report to DEFRA in the near future.

Predator control is not about attempted eradication, but about achieving a balance in local populations to encourage a thriving diversity of wildlife. Land management for shooting makes an important contribution to that. - Helen Shuker, Press Officer, British Associtation for Shooting and Conservation.


BISHOP Auckland used to be a nice place to visit but not any more. The police appear to have thrown in their hand and accepted that they cannot control the town, a result of which they seldom visit.

They no doubt feel more secure on an evening in their locked police station, to which the public no longer have access after 8pm.

The boy racers on a weekend have taken the town over and race up and down the bypass, down Bondgate, and up the pedestrianised area of Newgate Street, frequently turning left into Tenters Street, contrary to the No Entry signs.

The hierarchy within Durham Constabulary should hang their heads in shame, as clearly they are not capable of doing their jobs. Ray Mallon is right when he says the yobs now rule the streets. - R Elliot, Escomb.


TREVOR Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality has sparked a much-needed debate about the future of our multicultural society (Echo, Sept 23).

Multiculturalism has different meanings to different people. Only to Peter Mullen could it mean a policy of segregation inspired by a politically correct Trotskyist conspiracy (Echo, Sept 20).

Those who regard multiculturalism as a "failed experiment" should explain what monoculturalism might mean. Would it mean that British people would be allowed to play bowls but not petanque? Speak with a Yorkshire or a Cockney accent, but not with an Irish or Pakistani accent? Wear a bowler or a flat cap, but not a turban, hijab or yarmulke?

The fact is that people have migrated to and from these islands for centuries, and family history and cultural identity are important to all of us, whether we are from minority or majority ethnic groups, or a mixture of several.

In the face of racism and xenophobia, leading to discrimination, economic disadvantage and social exclusion, efforts have been concentrated on celebrating diversity and promoting equality and tolerance. These objectives should not be abandoned, but, as Trevor Phillips suggests, there is now an urgent need to emphasise what unites us, rather than what divides us. - Pete Winstanley, Durham.


ON a recent radio programme the presenters were looking back to the 20th century and quickly attributed events to the various decades in which they happened. The conversion was therefore full of references to the Fifties, Sixties etc.

However, when describing current day happenings they had to resort to the extremely clumsy phrase "in the years of the first decade of the 21st century", which hardly rolls off the tongue.

My own suggestion for our current decade would be the "Noughties" although I am sure that other HAS readers can improve on this. - Martin Birtle, Billingham.