ANIMAL CRUELTY: WHAT the hell is going on in this country? Where is there any sport in shooting swans, cats, horses etc (Echo, Sept 14). What kind of evil morons are we breeding?

It is high time the gun laws were changed and people stopped buying their kids guns to do such horrible things to animals. There should be harsher sentences when they are caught.

If the idiots can't find anything else better to do, they should be put in leg irons and made to do manual work, like in a "chain gang" under armed guard.

I also think a spell in the Army on national service might get some of the rubbish off our streets. Some discipline at home would help. - P Martin, Croxdale.

WITH reference to my suggestion of compulsory registration and micro-chipping of all domestic animals and pets, at no time have I stated that this should be "offered" free or otherwise, as Patrick Blewitt seems to think (HAS, Sept 14). Such a move would be preposterous and futile.

We are not "offered" vehicle registration nor licensing. This is compulsory - an excellent way of catching all kinds of offenders.

Mr Blewitt's observation that the human race is cruel is not entirely correct. There are thousands of people all over the world - most of them volunteers - working very hard to counteract cruelty of every kind.

It's called being human, as opposed to the inhuman behaviour of those who delight in cruelty. Anything that can be done to apprehend and punish these individuals should be implemented.

Other countries have compulsory animal registration. And now there is the added advantage of micro-chipping.

These countries are not free of animal cruelty but they do not have the appalling record that our country has - particularly here in the North-East.

And it's getting worse. Well done The Northern Echo for the Animal Watch campaign. - Margaret Zamir, Tudhoe Colliery.


I GOT my first lurcher two-and-a-half years ago as a pet.

He is the spit of Alfred in Heartbeat. After a good walk he sleeps all day, and is a lovely gentle companion. He is trained to sit, lie down, wait and comes to the whistle. He is micro-chipped. He has won plenty of rosettes in the show ring and introduced me to lots of people I would otherwise not have met.

Most dogs are bred for a purpose, and yes he will nail a rabbit, but it's dispatched as quickly as you could swat a fly, which I can't say about my cat. If you want to talk cruelty, have a word with her. She enjoys the dying, not the kill.

The only trouble here is mud sticks. Not all lurcher owners are irresponsible, and we do have a code of conduct. - C North, near Darlington.


IT never ceases to amaze me how fickle the public can be. I am a five-times-weekly swimmer at Darlington's Dolphin Centre which is undergoing much alteration and repair.

For five months the main pool was closed and we were asked to use the training pool which, unfortunately, had to be vacated by 9am as schools were booked in. I found this a little early but understood the position. Many were not so happy and voiced their many complaints to the long suffering and very professional attendants.

August saw the main pool reopen and a very much improved changing area which includes personal cubicles, lockers and showers with cleaners in constant attendance.

Once again the "moaners" found faults. They now missed the training pool, hated the new changing areas and spent more time complaining than swimming.

I would wager the complainants are those same "swimmers" who find it necessary to hold a five minute conversation with their friends after finishing each gruelling length. - Dave Dent, Darlington.


R RICHARDSON (HAS, Sept 15) says racism is behind the anti-immigration lobby.

This sounds suspiciously like an attempt to silence critics of the flooding of this country with immigrants, some of whom are now threatening violence against us.

Many people do not wish to live with these threats, which Mr Richardson chooses to ignore.

A swathe of our countryside is going under concrete and reservoirs. Where will we grow our food? Add to this the fact that a country which has a homogenous population will unite and pull together in a national emergency. A population full of divisions like England is becoming will, in an emergency, be divided against itself; and will fall.

Mr Richardson may not value his homeland. There are many who do. Immigration is a very dangerous threat to the future of England. - M Williams, Bishop Auckland.


WITH the cost of posting envelopes now being complicated, would it not make sense if envelope manufacturers printed in small figures the cost of posting the various sizes? I think that most people buying envelopes would choose those with the information of the cost of postage. - E Reynolds, Wheatley Hill.


ON SEPTEMBER 13, my club Gold - Growing Older in Darlington - held a Positive Health Day at the Darlington Football Stadium. There were a variety of therapists taking part: from reflexology, Indian head massage to aromatherapy.

We were all very impressed with the stadium. It was beautifully carpeted. There were escalators and a lift to the first floor on which was situated a very large room, beautifully decorated. There were smaller rooms, overlooking the pitch, in which therapists worked.

All in all it was a wonderful day in a great setting. Roll on the next visit to this place. - Ruth Rowe, Darlington.


THE anonymous correspondent from Chester-le-Street (HAS, Sept 15) suggests that the resignation of North Durham's MP, Kevan Jones, would make a lot of Labour members happy. I suspect that happiness might not be shared by the majority of North Durham's voters.

I have never met Mr Jones, but I can see that he is his own man. Moreover, he replies to those who write to him - something that cannot be said of the Right Honourable Member for Sedgefield. - D Cook, Sacriston.


THIS Government, especially Prime Minister Tony Blair, is so busy being involved with foreign affairs that our own desperate needs are being sorely neglected.

We are not allowed to protect ourselves or retaliate to violence. We have to take abuse from children.

The law looks after the criminal - not the victim. People lock themselves into their homes early evening, afraid of being robbed, burgled or attacked.

If they do go out during the day they are afraid someone is already inside when they return home.

It is time urgent steps were taken to punish wrongdoers instead of the paltry sentences that are handed out. Tony Blair: remember you are Britain's Prime Minister, not the world's.

Look after us, ONLY us! - Ellis Armstrong, Crook.


THIS would have made a good tool for my business studies students had I still been teaching. They would have been asked to produce a business plan through researching a number of questions.

Are there enough people who currently do not use supermarkets to make a new one viable? 'Yes' would be a surprising result given that, currently, there are four supermarkets and more than six convenience stores.

Tesco claims it will create 500 jobs. To become viable, they need to attract customers away from other supermarkets. The decline in the turnover over the other supermarkets would lead to cuts in jobs. Since Tesco is expanding its "white" goods and clothes markets, other shops will be affected with the strong possibility of job losses. The pressure on the covered and outdoor markets may also result in job losses. There is a strong possibility that more than 500 jobs would be lost.

Currently, there is considerable disruption due to the re-development of the town centre. Another major building project would also take a considerable time to complete. The students would have to work out how long Tesco would be prepared to wait for their investment to contribute to profits.

Currently, there are significant costs to suppliers caused by delays due to traffic congestion. Students would have to examine the costs of new traffic systems that will be required to meet the new situation.

Currently, even the most efficient suppliers to supermarkets are under strong cost cutting pressure and some have been forced out of business. Students would have to forecast the long-term effects of having a supermarket with 34 per cent of the market.

It would be a good study for business studies students, but it is very important for the people of Darlington. - Bill Morehead, Darlington

I was going to write and give reasons why we should not have a Tesco store in Darlington when I saw a small piece in the Business Echo on Saturday, September 16, which I think says it all.

"Tesco planned to open 170 stores in Thailand over the year but the Thai government has decided to review the plans after calls from small shopkeepers for better protection. Members of Darlington Council - read, learn and emulate! - Margaret McCormick, Darlington

I WAS concerned that Hurworth's consultation exercise was to be held on the Green in the open air on a Friday lunch time, which for most is very inconvenient.

I wrote to complain about the time place and date and received a great response from the council. They are now scheduling a second meeting in Hurworth, which will be on Monday, October 2, at 6.30pm, at the Grange Community Centre. - Julie Jones, Hurworth

The site proposed for the Tesco store is only matched in stupidity by the wet changing area with no drainage in the Dolphin Centre, followed by the folly of the destruction of a "Heritage" town centre. Rate payers, I think, would have preferred working drains, cleaner, less rutted streets, and possibly a bus station. - J A Telford, Darlington