CONSERVATIVES: THE next leader of the Conservative Party must be able to build a party which appeals to people in all parts of our country.

He must have a vision and policies which offer real hope for changing the North-East and improving the lives of its people. Throughout the leadership election we have been impressed by the message of David Davis. His pledge to rescue the victims of state failure will resonate most strongly here in the North-East, where generations of one-party domination by Labour has let down the people. As a Northern MP he is best placed to understand our problems.

We support David Davis for the leadership of the Conservative Party. - Chris Arthur, Chairman, Federation of City of Durham and Easington Conservatives;

Coun Norma Dias, former Conservative parliamentary candidate for Newcastle East & Wallsend;

Coun Josephine Fergus MBE, Conservative group leader, Durham County Council;

Coun Margaret Forbes, Sunderland City Council;

Brian Moore, Chairman, Newcastle Federation Conservatives;

Coun Dr George Morris, Conservative group leader, Hartlepool Borough Council;

Brenda Pearson, Chairman, Hartlepool Conservatives;

Frank Rogers, President, Hartlepool Conservatives, former Mayor of Hartlepool;

Coun George Rogers, Middlesbrough Conservatives;

Miriam Smith, Chairman, North Tyneside Federation Conservatives;

Coun John Stephenson, Leader of Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council;

Ken Wilson, Chairman, North West Durham Conservatives;

George Wilkinson, Chairman, South Shields Conservatives;

Paul Sterling, Chairman, Gateshead Federation Conservatives.


WHEN are developers going to learn that Ingleby Barwick is no longer the place to make an easy profit? Our community has grown so much recently that apathy no longer reigns supreme. An application for 19 self-build plots at Betty's Close Farm led to almost 60 irate residents attending our ward surgery to register their objections. The message to developers is that the people of Ingleby Barwick have drawn a line in the sand and unless what you propose is of benefit to our community we will fight you all the way. - Coun Lee Narroway, Ingleby Barwick West Ward.


THE Government has begun preparing public opinion for a climb down over Britain's £3bn a year rebate from the EU budget. Only the size of Britain's hike in payments is now in question. Even if the existing rebate were not touched, British contributions would rise.

The French are offering no concessions, saying that farm subsidies could not be touched and still calling for an end to Britain's rebate. Tony Blair has agreed our rebate is "on the table", but had linked that concession to serious reforms to farm subsidies. Whitehall sources now say Jack Straw is no longer specifying that he wanted the EU to limit its spending to one per cent of the bloc's total GDP - a spending cap that was previously a "red line" for the UK. On the eve of the June summit, Tony Blair promised Parliament: "The UK rebate will remain and we will not negotiate it away. Period".

It's now looking like the Prime Minister's assurances on the EU rebate are almost as reliable as his assurances about weapons of mass destruction. - Stephen Allison, Regional Organiser, UK Independence Party, Hartlepool.


I AM appalled at the Government's decision to reject a complete ban on smoking in public places which, I believe, is the only way to end the misery endured by non-smokers due to the effects of second hand smoke.

It has become increasingly clear that MPs are afraid to take decisive action on this issue by adopting this 'middle ground' where the legislation on smoking in public places remains indistinct.

I was shocked when, after researching the website, I discovered that my daughter, who has a part-time job in a pub to support her during university, is 25 per cent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer.

How can an office worker's need for a healthy workplace be more important than hers and why should a smoker's right to smoke supersede the health of the people around them?

The medical facts are glaringly obvious and cannot be denied. I have written to my MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods. I wonder, if her daughter were exposed to second hand smoke, would more have been done? - Lynne Moussavi, Durham City.


MENTOR UK is a registered charity. We are carrying out a Department of Health funded Grandparents Project into how grandparents caring for their grandchildren cope when talking to their grandchildren about drugs and alcohol.

We are looking for individual grandparents in Durham who are full time carers of their grandchildren. We are particularly interested in hearing from grandparents who are not currently attending a support group or getting any formal assistance. Individual grandparents taking part in the project will receive £40 in cash.

If you or someone you know would be interested, or you would like to know more please contact: Susi Farnworth, The Mentor Foundation, 4th Floor, 74 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3JG. Tel: 020 7739 8494.



IN the 1920s poultry were infected by "fowl pest". My dictionary gives the disease the names of fowl plague or Newcastle disease. Is this the same complaint we now have cropping up again? - M Gileson, Wingate.


NORTH Sea gas is running out a lot faster than originally predicted. Prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major told the British public that the British coal industry was a 19th century industry - uneconomical and backward-looking. They said Britain no longer needed a nationalised coal industry or the men who worked in it.

North Sea gas was the energy source that was going to supply the industrial and domestic needs of Britain for at least half a century, not 15 years, and so the Conservative government went about the wholesale extermination of the British coalfields and the communities which once served them.

The coal reserves are still there, the collieries that mined them have long since been wiped off the face of the earth and the men that worked them have moved on.

However, this country has now been left without a long-term non-nuclear energy source and we now have to rely on foreign energy supplies, which could prove expensive and unreliable.

This is a national scandal, a disgrace, thanks to the wanton and short-sighted energy policies of the last Tory government. This country is now a captive customer of the world energy market while the domestic energy source that would have met all our long-term energy needs lies untapped and in abundance beneath our feet. - Stirling Lowery, Willington.

CAN anyone tell me why, when an offer of compensation is made to a retired miner and it is accepted by return post, it takes 16 weeks to receive payment?

Who is receiving the interest from all these claims? Someone somewhere is making money out of the miners. - R Willis, Trimdon Village.

School Closure Debate

SCHOOL CLOSURES: WHY are people arguing against a new school for Eastbourne and Hurworth?

I am a parent with one child in a secondary school in Darlington and two others in primaries.

I hope that all of my children will have the opportunity to learn in the new school and it is so unfair that a tiny minority of selfish people are trying to spoil the future of so many other children.

Every parent I talk to wants the new school to be built so please think of what is important for the children. - T Miller, Middleton St George.

I FIND it hard to sympathise with Darlington council chief executive Ada Burns' appeal to let her have her say (HAS, Nov 5). She has - and we have been listening to a series of conflicting decisions which demonstrate the lack of a long-term overall strategy.

In her March report, Margaret Asquith, director of children's services, expressed concern at the possibility of Hurworth getting foundation status and moving out of council control. She stressed the importance of using it to assist our other schools.

Then came the offer of a £25m City Academy, despite the fact that Hurworth did not comply with the criteria of an under-achieving school in a deprived area.

The acceptance of a City Academy is in direct conflict to the concern about Hurworth getting foundation status. It will be outside council control and cannot therefore be part of an overall strategy. It will be managed by a board of directors mainly appointed by the sponsors.

In order to improve results, academies have selective admission policies and high exclusion rates. In short, the academy directors will only be interested in their own results and will in fact be dumping low achieving and difficult pupils on other schools. We wait to hear the policy which will improve the education of all our children - Brian Fiske, Press Officer, Darlington Liberal Democrats.

LIKE your anonymous correspondent (HAS, Nov 7), I was at the council cabinet meeting on November 1.

The meeting was perfectly fine. Despite flashing cameras and tape recorders being pointed at the councillors, I thought that John Williams did well in coping with the distractions and everything was gone into properly with good talking points.

Who do these Share (Save Hurworth and Rural Education) people think they are? Do they live on the planet Zog? How can they be against getting a new £25m school for our kids? Don't listen to them councillors. Eastbourne parents - and I think most Hurworth parents too - are right behind you. - Eastbourne parent, Darlington.

I WAS disgusted by the behaviour of the taxi drivers and so-called responsible parents from Hurworth School at the demonstration on October 31. With parents encouraging children to scream and jeer, and taxi drivers blaring their car horns while blocking the traffic, it made for an ugly scene.

And what is the taxi drivers' complaint - that the council expects them to be fit and proper drivers before they get behind the wheel of their cabs by taking a test?

Next time the Hurworth protestors and their friends in the taxi trade decide to hold up the town centre, perhaps the police should consider handing out a few Asbos instead. - Name and address supplied.

IN his attack on David Cameron, John Williams (HAS, Nov 7) unwittingly confirmed what the Share campaigners have been saying all along: a City Academy will be run by a private business enterprise which will be responsible for appointing the headteacher, allowing selection of up to ten per cent of pupils and deciding its own exclusion rules.

So much for maintaining the "leadership and ethos of Hurworth school".

Whether or not you support David Cameron's politics (and remember the Conservatives support academies) at least he has come out with his views in public.

When can we expect Tony Blair, our MP, to do the same? - Mary McNeil, Darlington.