COME off it, Ray Mallon (Echo, Jan 25). Your version of savage cuts takes you back to a budget level of 2008, when nobody was talking about closing this, that and the other.

I don't recall Ray and his brethren worrying as to whether the public, that's those that actually pay, could afford the equally savage increases in council tax imposed by Labour.

Perhaps Ray needs to explain why in 1997 Middlesbrough Council had four staff earning above £50,000 totalling £250,000 in wages, whereas in 2009-10 Middlesbrough had 58 staff earning over £50,000, totalling just short of £4m in wages.

Or that the equivalent of 2.4 full-time staff are paid by the taxpayer at Middlesbrough Council, but work permanently on union duties at a cost of around £70,000.

Despite all this extra money, Middlesbrough, like much of the North-East, remains at the bottom of the pile, so I have an equal right to ask what on earth you and your ilk did with my hard-earned cash.

The front loading of cuts might be challenging, but allowing the unions and the leftwing awkward squad time to barricade the fences and block every sensible plan to reduce spending would be a foolish step in the extreme.

Jim Tague, Bishop Auckland.