LOCAL GOVERNMENT: THE truth - that local government and its wasteful bureaucratic, extravagance, whether it is district or county - is all too apparent when one sees the amount of expenses councillors pay themselves.

Durham County Council takes most of the council tax and yet leaves us counting the cost with nothing in return.

We are now told unless we are prepared to stump up more council tax, we will lose more police personnel.

The fact that our police personnel are becoming more of a rarity and the fact that Crook police station is closed from 5pm until 8am the next morning, and all weekend, must question why we pay our council tax at all.

As for the district council, litter blights our town, and anti-social behaviour and other crimes against people's property are making the lives of its citizens unbearable.

As for Councillor John Shuttleworth favouring one single-purpose council serving the whole county (HAS, Dec 14), I would suggest one for Crook Town itself, serving its own local businesses. At least we would know who we are dealing with. - John Young, Crook, Co Durham.


AN article in a national newspaper has reported the findings of the latest opinion poll conducted by the European Commission. It shows Britain as the most consistently hostile of all EU member states towards EU membership, with only 34 per cent in favour of continued membership.

However, the EU is referred to yet again as a "club" - hardly an appropriate term to describe an institution which every day resembles the recreation of the former Soviet Union.

I find it staggering so many intelligent people have swallowed this term "club" so endlessly parroted by BBC news and current affairs reporters, among others, and used whenever referring to the EU.

"Club" is a word intended to convey the image of a convivial, mutually beneficial society. The EU is undemocratic, unaccountable, corrupt, and increasingly dictatorial.

As a test: I challenge any reader to name any "club" that refuses to allow a member to terminate their membership unless they have the permission of all other members.

Using the word "club" to describe the EU exemplifies the inherent deceit upon which this malevolent institution was founded and the means by which it continues. - Dave Pascoe, Hartlepool Branch, UK Independence Party.


I NOTICE that postage stamps are going up yet again, by 2p to 34p, from April (Echo, Dec 19).

In and around Tow Law, where I live, we pay for first class and second class postage stamps like most people around the country. However, we never ever receive our mail, whether first or second class stamps are applied, until well after 1pm and sometimes as late as 2.30pm.

If the Royal Mail is charging more for its services, then why are we receiving what can only be described as a below second class service? - Keith Pinder, Tow Law, Co Durham.


BOTH main TV channels are currently running soap storylines about characters pretending to suffer, in one case, from skin cancer and a tumour on the brain in the other in order to get other characters to do what they want.

Cilla, in Coronation Street, is a comic character playing opposite Les, another joke character, and the idea of them playing at being seriously affected by the trauma of cancer is upsetting to proper people who have suffered or are suffering from this awful condition. - George Appleby, Clifton, York.


I REALLY look forward to reading my daily copy of The Northern Echo, and I have done for the past five years since Christopher Wardell has been a regular correspondent in Hear All Sides.

I do not think that I am alone in thinking that Mr Wardell should have his own column in the newspaper, as his letters certainly make my day and that of my workmates. - A Johnson, Darlington.


AS an international greyhound protection organisation, we were pleased to hear about the banning of greyhound trainers Carole and Michael Allen, of Easington, Co Durham, for concealing the circumstances of the death of one of their greyhounds (Echo, Dec 21).

Sadly, however, the banning of the Allens will do very little to halt the mass slaughter of greyhounds after they become surplus to the requirements of the British greyhound racing industry.

According to our most recent research, as many as 20,000 of these dogs are put to death every year, either after they "retire" from racing or if they fail to make the grade in the first place.

Fortunately, the public can play a big part in putting an end to the killing, by not attending or betting on greyhound races, so that this appalling industry dies away through lack of financial support.

For more information, visit our website at www.greyhoundaction.org.uk - Tony Peters, UK Co-ordinator, Greyhound Action, Kidderminster, Worcestershire.


I WAS pleased when Britain won the right to stage the 2012 Olympic games; hopefully, it will inspire people of all ages to take up sport, which will have a positive effect on levels of obesity in society.

And it seems to have been a long time since our region produced world class athletes such as Steve Cram. If the Olympics can inspire young people from the North-East to aspire to that level then that can only be good.

However, we in the North-East should be under no illusion about who will benefit in the long term. Billions will be spent on stadiums, training facilities, infrastructure projects, and new accommodation.

All this massive expenditure will be concentrated in London and the South-East, so it seems that, as usual, London gets the cream while we are left with the crumbs. - Paul Rivers, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear.


IT'S been that time of year again, turkey, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce - and bullet-hard sprouts with raw middles.

Why is it that these days you cannot get decently cooked vegetables in restaurants?

Who started this trend for under-cooked, hard, indigestible vegetables? I like mine well cooked and squashy, the kind you can flatten with the back of a fork. I am not alone. Many of my friends feel the same.

If I could find a restaurant that cooked vegetables well, I would be its patron for life. - Barbara Tinsley, Durham City.


I CANNOT believe how much I enjoyed Cinderella at Darlington Civic Theatre. I take my three granddaughters every year. This year, we had a dress circle box and Denise Welch, who plays the Fairy Godmother, read out their names.

They have asked me to book for next year. They are 13-year-old twins and a ten-year-old and they still want to go. We have never been disappointed yet. Many thanks to Darlington Civic Theatre. - Mrs P Curley, Bishop Middleham, Co Durham.