NO CRISIS: THE article "Milburn urged to support campaign" (Echo, Mar 2) stated that Darlington CAB is urging Alan Milburn "to help with a crisis over legal aid funding".

Over the last year the Legal Service Commission (LSC) has invested about £1.2m in Darlington in projects, local solicitors and organisations such as Darlington CAB to give high quality legal advice.

The LSC pays for the equivalent of four caseworkers at Darlington CAB specifically to help people with debt, welfare benefit and employment issues.

Legal aid funding in Darlington has in fact increased over the last 12 months. Nationally, ten per cent more people are getting civil legal aid help than were last year. There is no crisis over legal aid funding.

Everyone in Darlington can find out where they can access advice from CLS Direct. Ring 0845 345 4 345 or click on - Yvonne Collins, Regional Planning and Partnership Manager, Legal Service Commission.


IT was alleged that minutes before photographs of abuse by British Forces in Iraq, the same soldiers were under small arms fire, mortar fire and petrol bomb attacks.

Having had training for similar confrontations, the three Iraqis singled out by senior ranks for snatching would, undoubtedly, be ringleaders and the biggest threat to life of that particular confrontation.

Tuesday, February 21, marked the funeral of Corporal Gordon Pritchard, who was the 100th British soldier to die in Iraqi, all giving their lives to secure peace and security in the country.

It also brings to mind the deaths of Red Caps, brutally massacred to the man without mercy by a similar confrontation of people, and also a British trooper on fire getting out of his armoured car after it was set ablaze and many other similar incidents to British troops who, on a daily basis, risk their lives.

At one time or another, British troops have been involved with similar warfare: Malaya in the 1950s, Cyprus, Kenya, Ireland. I know soldiers involved would be told to use restraint, at all times, and on no account bring the British Army into disrepute as the finest soldiers in the world. - B McCormick, Newton Aycliffe.


WHEN is this Government going to stop our manufacturing jobs going abroad?

The latest are at MFI Stockton, which is going to get its products made in Turkey and Italy.

Every week we hear of jobs being lost abroad. Our industries are being reduced at a steady pace.

We have lost our shipbuilding and fishing industries; our steel making and farming is on its knees.

We don't make any British cars, lorries, buses or motor bikes now; our electric, gas and water companies belong to foreign owners.

The NHS is on its knees. The only things we seem to import are the gangsters and undesirables, such as the drug pushers, muggers, prostitutes, burglars and armed robbers from all over the world, who we keep at our expense with free housing, free gas, free electricity as well as free council tax, free medication, free dental care and free spectacles, along with free furnished accommodation.

The Government wants to bring in identity cards. It is a waste of money which only the law-abiding citizens will have to pay for because do they think that the people who can copy passports, credit cards, bank cards and bank notes would be unable to copy the ID cards?

The way that this Labour Government has damaged this country and treated its people is beyond belief.

The past Labour supporters and trade unionists would be turning in their graves if they knew how this so-called Labour Government has turned out.

Listening to what the man in the street, in the pubs and clubs, the workshop floor thinks of this Government, Labour will never again be elected in government in our lifetime on their disgraceful performance. - C Harris, Norton.


TONY Blair is creating a new Cabinet post to deal with poverty. Big deal.

Just another aspect of his Government's self propagating policies to create more jobs in this field of misery, at the expense of those who are suffering.

Whatever they say, the depths of poverty worsen at about the same rate as job creation to deal with it.

One example of many: means testing for pensioners. - George Appleby, York.


HAVING been force fed statistical studies at times, I understand 'there are lies, damn lies and statistics'.

Surveys must be among the worst of bad statistics. For example, a supermarket asking Sunday customers if they should open all day Sunday. Yet just see how many people are glad of one day off from the tyranny of shopping, work, school etc.

We should always be wary of who is producing figures, survey results, letters etc, because they may have reasons that may not be in our interests.

An example was a letter claiming European countries were swamping Britain with their companies. Last time I looked at Government figures, one country had 60 per cent of overseas investment and it was not European.

But if British management is so pathetic is it any wonder overseas interest is growing?

But bad statistics are no better than lies and rumour. As Churchill said: "Lies and rumour get half way round the world before truth gets its pants on." - C Dawson, Billingham.


R Watson complained about my letter regarding the Czech taxi driver who took me home from Darlington train station the other week, and also recommends that I perform volunteer work like he does (HAS, Feb 25).

Firstly, I had every right to complain about the Eastern European driver as he had no clue at all where my home was and I had to give him directions.

Secondly, I am unable to carry out any volunteer work as I am busy running my own promotions business which often takes me all over the UK and to Germany.

If R Watson does not agree with my letters then maybe he should carry out more volunteer work, as this will distract him from having to read my own personal views, which are often published in The Northern Echo. - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


ANOTHER two glaring examples of Mr Blair's servile attitude to the Americans: 200 CIA flights in and out of the UK in the past few years and nobody can find out why or where.

Then three British bankers are to be extradited to the US without a prima face case being presented to justify the extradition. Extradition is meant to be arranged on a system of reciprocity, but yet again we lost out to the US. Just what are Blair and his pathetic MPs doing? Secrecy is rife and we are the subject of the mushroom mentality - we get to see the light occasionally and we get the brown stuff thrown over us.

I feel really sorry for Gordon Brown - when he finally takes over from Blair he will be handed a poisoned chalice with little chance of winning the next election.

Just as Mrs Thatcher consigned the Tories to years in the wilderness, so Mr Blair is doing the same to his successor, whoever he is. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.