WE have heard much about carbon footprints and green taxes from the ministers of spin. Darlington Memorial Hospital, like all others, has been forced to discard greens - those items of linen, the towels that cover patients during an operation and the gown worn by surgeons and theatre staff to preserve sterility.

Instead, we now use natty paper disposables. They are brought here from South America or the Far East where a ready source of rain forest trees is available for conversion into paper.

They are stitched up carefully in Third World sweatshops using electric sewing machines and then transported thousands of miles so that we can throw them away at the end of every operation. It costs more than £40 a bag just to dispose of them and a bag doesn't take many of them. They are waxed and not biodegradable.

We are making people in the hospital laundry redundant because we don't wash and reuse linens any more. Why? I don't know. I am told that it is something to do with the latest laws from the Eurocrats. I don't know how much it costs us to send them off to Brussels, but I do wish we could save on the return journey. - Carl Watson, Darlington.


I'VE been trying really hard to find something positive to say about the new-look Darlington town centre.

I walked along the wavy shelf which has replaced the old High Row and found I liked the names of the yards on the sandstone flags leading out from them. What a good idea.

I also welcome the forthcoming advertising campaign and launch weekend, and hope it will be successful as that is a good thing Darlington Borough Council is doing. We need people back in the town.

Then I saw them - the new signs directing people around the town. I think they are terrible and look like they should be in a prison complex. I cried about them all the way home from work and see them as yet another insult to poor Darlington and its concerned people.

I just don't believe that as well as losing our much-liked iconic places and atmosphere we have to have cheap and nasty-looking street furniture, too. I wonder if other readers feel as upset as I do over this latest blow? - Beryl Hankin, Darlington.

COULD someone please direct me to the much vaunted "Pedestrian Heart" of Darlington?

I looked up the word pedestrianise, in the Chambers Dictionary, and the definition given is - an area set aside for walkers only. Well, where is it?

Two cyclists were weaving their way through the walkers outside Marks and Spencer in Northgate one morning recently - one was even doing what I think is wheelies. Amazed by this, I made inquiries and found that cyclists can cycle anywhere in the newly-paved area of our town.

So, can someone please direct me to the pedestrianised area of Darlington? Thanking you in anticipation. - Mrs P Dinsdale, Darlington.