SPARE THE TEARS: CROCODILE tears from the politicians are nothing new, but the latest example from North West Durham MP Hilary Armstrong is difficult to swallow.

There was widespread public opposition to a proposal to open a lap dance club in Consett recently (Echo, Jan 19). Knowing this, Ms Armstrong wrote to a number of residents inviting them to make their objections known.

When approval was subsequently given, Ms Armstrong again wrote to the residents to say she was disappointed and had noted with dismay many residents' concerns over late-night behaviour in the town.

She should appreciate that the residents are not entirely gullible.

We know that she was a member of the Government in 2003 when the relevant Licensing Act was passed. Further, she was in position when drinking hours were extended, when casinos (more gambling) were given the go-ahead and when abortion was made easier.

Ms Armstrong cannot have it both ways, seeking the "moral" vote, yet being party to legislation which undermines it. The only way to be true to her purported principles would be to resign from this Government.

She must remember that, since they banned hunting, she can no longer run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. - Terry Craggs, Consett, Co Durham.


RE your Comment column, "More respect less force" (Echo, Jan 23), about the Home Office plan to introduce "respect zones" in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour.

It is time those who repeatedly break the law were made to understand they will not be tolerated.

The usual excuse from the police is lack of funds, yet more money has been given to fund law and order than ever before. The problem has more to do with where the money is going.

Then we have the judges and the coterie of well-paid workers more interested in defending the human rights of those who don't give a damn for the rights of the majority in society who wish to go about their business without fear of intimidation.

The latest initiative is another gimmick and will have the criminals grinning all the way to their next escapade.

It is time politicians got their heads out of the clouds and started to lead the nation responsibly or else resigned and let someone who will. - John Young, Crook, Co Durham.


RE your story, "Does he look like a hoodlum?" (Echo, Jan 23), about two-year-old Jay, whose grandfather was asked to remove the hood of the youngster's jacket at a shop in York.

What a gorgeous picture of wide-eyed innocence and, no, he does not look like a hoodlum.

That said, hoodie hooligans do exist and are a real menace. Jay's grandfather should be pleased to shop where the management has taken a stance against hoodies. It does no harm to put down a hood indoors.

To resist hooligans and terrorists, society has to be united against these minorities and some small loss of freedoms may have to be the price we have to pay. Any exceptions to this rule could leave the proprietor open to suggestions of bias or discrimination. Jay's grandparents should get over it. No one thinks Jay is a problem. Quite the opposite.

Support the stand others are making so that Jay may grow up safe. - Gerard Wild, Richmond, North Yorkshire.


IF the Bevin Boys deserve a medal (Echo, Jan 25) what does my Dad deserve? Not only did he work all the way through the Second World War in "very, very dangerous and difficult conditions" he continued to do so for a total of 47 years helping Britain to recover from the war and prosper. At one time Britain was "built on coal".

He was rewarded with a certificate, a meagre pension (which he had paid for himself) and ruined health. The ultimate reward, of course, for the miners was the destruction of their livelihood and communities by Margaret Thatcher.

Incidentally, the shortage of workers referred to in your story was not caused by miners being "called up". Mining was a reserved occupation. Every miner in the forces was a volunteer. - William J Bartle, Barnard Castle, Co Durham.


IS there possibly any country in the world which tackles the problems of overcrowded prisons by jailing phone-tappers yet allowing a paedophile the freedom to walk the streets? Who poses the greater public danger? Who is likely to re-offend?

Unbelievably, there is such a country and it's Britain. So welcome one and all to the hardened criminals and the dangers to society - feel happy to do your crimes. If you get caught, you'll probably be told not to misbehave again.

But beware those of you who don't recycle their rubbish properly, or somehow tap into mobile phone messages, for the law will deal with you with its full force.

And if you end up in prison, learn your lesson - do something really bad next time - then you'll be let off. - Ian Thompson, Spennymoor, Co Durham.


WHILE the City of York Council takes its time to consider the motion to ban foie gras (Echo, Jan 26), ducks and geese will suffer some of the worst cruelties imaginable.

Portions of their beaks will be hacked off with scissors and they will be force-fed so much that their livers will grotesquely inflate and burst, as if they were merely balloon animals.

Every day foie gras remains legal is another day of pain and misery. The public must tell the council it doesn't want these birds to suffer needlessly any longer. Visit to help put an end to foie gras. - Will Wright, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Europe Ltd, London.


PERHAPS the recent development of miniature remote-controlled aircraft for military purposes offers the prospect of a more cost-effective means of aerial support for the police. Has this been considered?

It should be less expensive, both in monetary and environmental costs, and arguably be more effective and flexible.

For instance, it could be used for remote monitoring of road traffic, detecting offenders and directing police patrols to apprehend them.

With conventional aerial support, offenders know when they are under surveillance, but a much smaller "spy in the sky" would be not so obvious and so be a more threatening deterrent. - John Watson, Darlington.


WITH regard to the NHS being strapped for cash when some hospitals are overspending to the tune of millions of pounds.

It seems they have plenty of money to splash about on banners, leaflets and adverts urging people to stop smoking.

I disagree with using NHS money, which is partly-funded by tax from tobacco and cigarettes, to finance this type of campaign. - George Sowerby, High Etherley, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham.