GREAT news! For the next six weeks the local newspapers will be a Ben Houchen free zone as election candidates are not allowed to communicate with members of the public about new or government initiatives.

Tough going for a man who thrives on constant attention.

A great relief to those who are fed up seeing Mayor Houchen’s photo constantly slapped on the front pages day-in, day-out with his ifs, buts and maybes, his rehashed announcements and recycled projects.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar

* EDITOR'S NOTE: We're afraid that's not entirely the case. We assume you are refering to the pre-election period, known by most as ‘purdah’, which describes the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on communications activity are in place. It affects civil servants, who must be politically impartial, preventing central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Purdah does not, howver, apply to candidates themselves. In fact, in the run up to an election, candidates will usually ramp up their communications with the public in the hope that it gets across their message to undecided voters.