FLUORIDE: IN reply to A Hall (HAS, Dec 15), it is true that, in excess or in the wrong combination, fluoride is poisonous - but that's true of most things, including much that we could not last two seconds without, even of oxygen.

The fact is the anti-fluoridation case seems to rest upon a simple and inexcusable confusion of fluoride with fluorine. Fluorine, certainly, is a dangerously reactive gas and deadly poisonous.

Fluoride itself, however, is perfectly stable and, in the tiny amounts we are talking about, both harmless and beneficial; not only because of inhibiting tooth decay, but even more importantly, in that it promotes the healthy development of young bones and protects the elderly from osteoporosis.

This anti-fluoridation hysteria seems to derive from an apparently wilful ignorance of the relevant facts, facts which are readily available to those who care to look them up in their local library. - T Kelly, Crook.


RE the article about filming in Middleton Tyas church (Echo, Dec 17). I don't mind people making films anywhere, but to use the House of God is unbelievable.

To have people playing out a seduction scene behind a curtain is out of the question. I myself am not a big churchgoer, but I respect the House of God.

People always blame lads for things that happen to girls and here is a piece where a girl tries to seduce a lad in church. Don't people today respect a church or what is means?

No wonder there are so many people being attacked because of films showing drugs, booze, murder and sex.

Nobody can show respect for things today. Young people know more today than I ever did in my younger days. - D Richardson, Richmond.


RE the article about the Harrowgate Farm Estate, Darlington, which has not yet been adopted (Echo, Dec 10).

I have been a resident of the Oakfield Lodge Estate for the past seven years, and I understand that the site was started two years before this. The site still remains unadopted.

We pay full council tax but do not get full services.

No doubt there are other estates in the town in a similar position.

This begs the question - is the council dragging its feet on this issue? - R Watson, Darlington.


TO talk about coal dust being used for energy production (HAS, Dec 3) is just completely wrong.

Whether it be coal or coal dust, the result is always the same, energy produced, but the scale of atmospheric pollution is always the same, quite devastating.

Then to say that the Scandinavians are using this method for producing electricity is completely wrong.

Admittedly, the Danes do use coal for producing electricity, but the Swedes and the Norwegians do not. Norway produces almost 100 per cent of its electricity from hydro schemes, as do the Swedes.

Not having as much water in Sweden as they have in Norway, the Swedes do have considerable nuclear power for producing electricity.

If any country in Europe is careful about the environment, then it is Sweden. I have lived there for 40 years and know what I am talking about. - George Robinson, Darlington.


HAVING received the confidence of the electorate of Longfield Ward for 27 years and also as a former governor of Hurworth and Eastbourne schools and long-time chair of Heathfield School, I feel that I am qualified to enter the debate about the future of education for the whole of Darlington.

The opportunity for a purpose-built, state-of-the-art academy school will only come once and to turn our backs upon such a proposal would be irresponsible in the extreme.

The siren voices from Hurworth have only self-interest at heart and care nothing for education as a whole throughout the borough of Darlington.

For the governors of Hurworth to support a plan that would see the closure of Eastbourne is unbelievable.

The most important quality for any person who becomes a governor is to have a broad enough vision of the educational needs of all young people, not just their own particular school, but for the whole borough.

That is why the council has already committed nearly £100m to education in the town for the benefit of many generations to come - a vision that is obviously not shared by the head of the governors of Hurworth. - Frank Robson, Labour councillor, Lingfield Ward.


THE trustees of Start and Women In Need, Leah Pattison and Usha Patil, and in particular the women and children in the slums of Naqpur, India, would like to thank the readers of The Northern Echo for their kind donations and support. - Start, Frosterley Cottage, Bishop Auckland.


IN response to Robin Brooks (HAS, Dec 20) the Wear Valley flag soap opera has moved on apace, but first I must clarify some of Mr Brooks' misconceptions.

Firstly, I am not a Europhobe. I am fully in favour of co-operation between our European neighbours but I do not wish to be governed, nor have my laws made by a corrupt, unaccountable, undemocratic profligate bureaucracy.

Secondly, I am not 'ragtag' nor 'bobtail' and Jim Tague is also usually well turned out.

Thirdly, we praised council officers for adhering to the correct protocol and procedure in removing the EU flag, which is not the flag of a nation state but the flag of a highly contentious political project and is classed simply as an 'outdoor advertisement'. It has the same legal status as the Jolly Roger, but at least those flying that flag were honest about their intentions.

So, Mr Brooks, in response to question 'why shouldn't the English flag and the EU flag fly side by side?', the answer is quite simple. You cannot use public money to persuade the public to hold a particular political viewpoint. It would be akin to flying the flag of a political party using public money. - Neil Herron, Sunderland.