WILLS AND BEQUESTS: THE European Union now wants to control the distribution of British citizens' assets after death.

Under legislation working its way through the EU, the law on wills and bequests in the UK would be brought into line with the Napoleonic Legal Code.

Legislation on "who gets what when you're dead" is considered necessary because growing numbers of EU residents hold assets, usually property, in another EU country. So far, only the UK Independence Party MEPs have spoken against a "European certificate of inheritance", valid across the EU.

In England (Scotland operates its own inheritance laws) the plan would be a big change on the rights to dispose of your property in any way you wish after your death.

Under these proposals parents would be unable to cut a child out of their will as a portion of the estate must be reserved for the closest relatives of the deceased.

Currently in England, you can leave a flat or house to your mistress (if you have one) or even to the cats' home. In France, you cannot do that if you have children or other close family. The status of common law partners could also be questionable. - Councillor Steve Allison, UKIP Member, St Hilda Ward, Hartlepool.


I MENTIONED in my letter (HAS, Nov 24) that Tony Blair was a good orator - or raconteur, communicator, conversationalist; I never said anything about speeches as mentioned by Peter Dolan (HAS, Nov 29).

Mr Blair uses the English language to gain advantage in debates, just like Churchill during the war. Through his use of words, the whole of England was solidly behind him.

I support a Labour Government as most working men of our region do. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I wish to strengthen all I said by adding that Mr Blair has always had the courage of his convictions. He backed our closest ally, America, in Iraq, a fight against terrorism. As part of Nato he committed troops to Afghanistan in a fight against narcotics. Afghanistan is everyone's fight and Nato-inspired. The country manufactures enough narcotics to supply the world twice over.

There is now a minimum wage in our country and, for pensioners, free television licences and heating allowances were never even dreamt about under a Conservative government. - Bernard McCormick, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.


HOW fortunate we are to read columnist Peter Mullen on topical affairs. Someone is needed to thwart Tony Blair's attempts to rewrite history, especially British.

The main legacy left from our empire has been those great bastions of democracy - Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaya and South Africa.

In the tricky Middle East, Jordan is a rock, but Iraq will never work because of the ethnic mix. Anyone thinking about getting involved in Afghanistan should do history.

The present mighty imperialist power, the US, has given us 200 years of misery and poverty in South America, Palestine, Vietnam, et al, and the present mess which Mr Blair embraces with his grovelling enthusiasm.

Well done, Peter Mullen. More power to your elbow and don't forget to wear a reinforced dog collar. - F Evans, Sunderland.


MIKE Amos certainly knows about food, but I think that he may not know much about geography (Eating Owt, Nov 28). He stated that it won't be long before Bishop Auckland and Darlington bump into each other (due to the mass development that is going on in Faverdale, on the western outskirts of Darlington).

Bishop Auckland is 12 miles to the north-west of Darlington, and is neighboured by Shildon and Newton Aycliffe. These will be the towns that will become huddled together, and not with Darlington, which stands unattached in the Tees Valley.

When Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland and Shildon do become one, then maybe a name like Newton Bishop would be ideal, with a revamped Shildon becoming its historical little centre. - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


AT long last, the 723 Darlington to Durham service no longer terminates at Framwellgate Moor, but now at the Arnison Centre, Pity Me.

What a relief for residents who have had to endure for the past 18 months engines ticking over for up to ten minutes at a time and two buses every hour. It is a great relief that the noise, pollution, congestion and litter have now ceased, and a state of normality now exists.

Yet, why has it taken Arriva Buses and Durham County Council so long to implement this change? As if residents are of little importance and there needs of no concern.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped to highlight this issue, including Councillor George Burlison and especially local residents. - CG Farquhar, Framwellgate Moor, Durham.


HEIGHINGTON Parish Litter Group organises a monthly litter pick, collecting litter from the roadsides and hedges between villages. As a result, our parish is certainly cleaner than it would otherwise be.

We also try to discourage people from dropping litter. To say this is difficult is an understatement, but gradually, like water dripping on stone, we think we are making an impression.

If there are other groups in the region similarly-minded we would like to hear from them. Maybe we could get useful ideas from each other, or perhaps co-ordinate what we do - but at the very least it would be good to know that there are others wearing away at the same stone.

I can be contacted at Eldon House, 7 East Green, Heighington, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, DL5 6PP, or on 01325-312270. - Kit Bartram, Secretary, Heighington Parish Litter Group.


WHEN the winter fuel allowance was introduced by Labour in 1997, it was the greatest single payment ever made to pensioners.

The £50 opening amount was a marked improvement on the £8 cold weather payment that the Conservatives had allowed.

It is also worth noting that people qualify for the allowance by virtue of their age and not necessarily because of severe weather conditions.

Most, but not all, 60-year-olds and above are entitled to the payment which today stands at £200 to £300.

Although the Government has said that it has no plans to increase the winter fuel allowances, I believe Chancellor Gordon Brown may yet spring a surprise in the weeks that lie ahead. - LD Wilson, Guisborough.


I WONDER if any of your readers can help me find my grandfather's Military Medal?

His name was Sergeant Harold Ions 202990, of the 5th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and he was awarded the medal on March 31, 1918, at Arras.

To the best of my knowledge, Grandad must have pawned the medal when times were hard.

I have purchased a replica, but would dearly like to find the original. - Pauline Longhorn, 9 Raydale Beck, The Cornmill, Soberhall Farm, Ingleby Barwick, TS17 0YY.