THIS week the Echo has been accused by some readers of being racist, and by others of stifling free speech about minority groups.

Nothing new there. A quick look at the comments posted under stories on our website or letters on Hear All Sides proves the maxim that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

The spate of tit-for-tat crimes linked to an ongoing feud between some members of the travelling community continues to be a very hot topic in and around Darlington.

Residents are understandably concerned in spite of police reassurances that the crimes, which in the main have involved damage to property, are limited to the travelling community and pose no direct risk to the wider public. No sensible person thinks it's acceptable to live in a place where some people use violence to settle scores. This applies to all sections of the community. The vast majority of stories we publish involving murder, rape, violence, theft or disorderly behaviour have nothing whatsoever to do with travellers; there are good people and ‘wrong-uns’ in all communities.

As a newspaper we have never shied away from publishing stories about the ongoing feud, but unlike some of the dimwitted keyboard warriors who post messages on our website we are not in the habit of publishing abuse, wild allegations, comments that prejudice legal proceedings or hate speech.

We work closely with the police to ensure our reports are accurate and balanced.

We accept that we won’t keep everybody happy but we always strive to be fair.