The article regarding lower speed limits on rural roads contains misleading figures for fatalities on rural roads (The Journal, August 14).
The figures quoted refer to A roads in rural areas including, for example, much of the A1 in Northumberland, and do not include B roads, C roads and Unclassified roads which have a much lower number of fatalities than A roads.
The Department for Transport annual report, Road Casualties Great Britain 2004, states that from a total of 2,978 road fatalities in the United Kingdom in 2004, there were 642 on rural B roads, C roads, and Unclassified roads.
The definition of "rural roads" was issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, based on the population within the local authority area. The ODPM specifically stated that the definition "does not consider the `look' or `feel' of a locality" and goes on to warn that "this can lead to local anomalies where the classification does not agree with what local residents think about their area".
Consequently, the statistical definition of "rural roads" is not the same as the definition in most people's minds.
The result of the ODPM definition is to make all single carriageway roads in Alnwick, Berwick, Castle Morpeth and Tynedale council areas "rural roads" for statistical purposes, except those within Berwick town, Morpeth and Hexham. Most roads in Blyth Valley and Wansbeck are classed as urban roads.
Proposals currently being considered for speed limits on rural roads are likely to be applied as a blanket limit to single carriageway roads to maintain consistency throughout the country. This could result in all rural roads having a speed restriction of perhaps 40mph and will include single carriageway sections of the A69, A68, A696, A697 and the A1 as well as other A roads and all B, C, and Unclassified roads.
The phrase "narrow, twisting rural roads" as used in your article and constantly quoted by vested interests, is both misleading and devious in that it is aimed at reducing opposition to lower speed limits.
A blanket 40mph limit is unnecessary, expensive for those who conduct business in rural areas, and almost impossible to police effectively.
These proposals should be rejected forthwith.
TONY CORMACK, Cambo, Northumberland
Perhaps hospital needs Green Travel Plan
YOUR anonymous Freeman Hospital correspondent (Voice of the North, August 16) bemoans the fact that not all staff are being given permits to park on site, despite the fact that the hospital has recently built a large multi-storey car park. They question where staff are supposed to park, given that surrounding areas are resident permit parking only.
As a councillor for the area close to the Freeman for the past eight years, the issue of Freeman overspill parking has been the problem most often raised with me by residents.
The problem of all-day parking by Freeman staff has caused misery to residents of many nearby streets, with frequent reports of blocked drives and vehicles such as ambulances, bin lorries and even funeral corteges being unable to get down some streets because cars are so tightly parked.
Even the tiny parking area at the Paddy Freeman's Park was jammed with all-day hospital parking until measures were introduced.
Resident permit schemes are not universally popular, but the residents of the High Heaton area are extremely supportive, as the schemes introduced here have significantly helped to tackle the problem. A new scheme has recently been agreed for the upper Jesmond Park West and Denewell Avenue area.
If it is not possible to accommodate all who wish to park on site, perhaps the hospital should aim to follow the city council's lead and introduce an improved Green Travel Plan which prioritises use of public transport rather than parking permits.
I accept that bus services are not always convenient for everyone, but the Freeman is well-served by bus routes to many parts of Newcastle and North Tyneside.
We will only make headway in cutting traffic and parking congestion, not to mention improving air quality, when more people start considering alternatives to using the car for their daily commute.
Coun GREG STONE, Liberal Democrat, North Heaton Ward, Newcastle City Council
Support the 41,000 Faces campaign
EVERY year over 41,000 people from all walks of life are newly diagnosed with breast cancer; that's 100 people a day. In view of this shocking statistic, I am writing to ask your readers to join me this summer in supporting the 41,000 Faces campaign.
Together Breast Cancer Care and Boots aim to bring this statistic to life through an impact full and interactive gallery depicting 41,000 photos and stories of people affected by breast cancer.
It's an ambitious campaign, which is why we need your help. We're asking for anyone who has been touched by breast cancer to send in their photo to join the gallery of 41,000 Faces.
If, like me, you have been touched by breast cancer, please join me in supporting this campaign and send in your photo. Help others to understand the scale of the disease. I have actually submitted two photographs to the fantastic campaign! My photo and story will go alongside 41,000 others in the online gallery which will go live in September.
This powerful campaign has already received thousands of photos, but we still need plenty more. I hope readers will join me and other celebrities such as Cherie Blair, Lorraine Kelly and Lisa Snowdon on the 41,000 Faces Gallery.
It really couldn't be easier to join 41,000 Faces: all you need to do is choose your photograph, log onto www.41000faces.org.uk and follow the instructions. Alternatively, call 0870 060 0788 to find out more information.
ZOË BALL, Breast Cancer Care, Kiln House, 210 New Kings Road, London SW6 4NZ
No legal right to force test on patients
IWONDER how many insulin-dependent patients resent being informed by nurses and GPs that they can force us to have blood sugar tests, even though we are having an insulin reaction and have recognised our own symptoms of what is actually low blood sugar?
We are being poisoned by the injected insulin we must take to stay alive.
We rely on nurses in many circumstances to help us and are grateful for that help, but they have no right legally to force any kind of test on us.
I believe nurses who act like this are ignoring one of the basic tenets of the NHS and this serious medical condition. Perhaps if, instead of being called hypos, it was called low blood sugar or insulin reaction or shock as in America, it might be treated more seriously.
My advice is to ask for written proof that blood tests can be forced on us. A blood sugar test is invasive and it is absolutely irrelevant how short a time is takes to do one when we know we don't need one. It is our urgent need to be treated that is vital.
It is my experience and belief that anyone who has hypos should not be prescribed beta blockers which, as I understand it, put us in danger because they lower the blood sugar. There are many other kinds of pills we can be prescribed.
JEAN CARNEY, Sunderland
Who came up with this idea?
WHATEVER next? Now we can't have our own signs, on our own land, outside our own business (The Journal, August 15). Who came up with this idea? We need to find out what their salaries and expenses are, because that would save the taxpayer a few quid.
They can't have been anywhere in Europe as the signs there are 50ft square.
ALEC CANNON, South Dissington, Northumberland