I did call the police – three cars arrived

Chief Superintendent Graham Pears says I did not call the police concerning an incident at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea at 2am on August 25 ("Implied criticism of police not justified", Voice of the North, September 5).

Chief Superintendent Graham Pears says I did not call the police concerning an incident at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea at 2am on August 25 ("Implied criticism of police not justified", Voice of the North, September 5). But I did.

If I didn't, how did three police cars arrive following my call to the 101 number? Or is it a case that we are not allowed to ask questions of his force?

I feel that the police do not seem to give a hoot for the public. I will not trust them again. Northumbria's Chief Constable says the party's over; maybe it's time he told his officers.

NAME & ADDRESS NOT SUPPLIED, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Turning into a petty, vindictive little country

It had to happen of course. I was naive thinking it may not. To support the ridiculous smoking ban next summer, the Government will introduce a "shop-a-smoker" hotline (The Journal, September 7).

Coming soon to a telephone near you: "shop-a-driver not indicating correctly", "shop-a-public servant who doesn't respond to your cheery greeting", "shop-a-man wearing brown socks with black shoes".

These are to complement the already in place "shop-a-benefit cheat", "shop-a-TV licence dodger", "shop-a-fare dodger", "shop-a-driver whose driving you don't like", and "shop-an-illegal hunter". What a nasty, petty, vindictive, pernicious little country we're turning into. I recently read George Orwell's 1984 and in my lifetime I can see it being transferred to the factual section of our few remaining public libraries, from the fiction.

Any libraries not complying? Please phone "shop-a-library" on 0800....

PAUL DIXON, Stakeford. Northumberland

North-East hospital staff win praise

We are constantly told bad news stories about the state of the National Health Service, but my own experience of Newcastle General Hospital showed how dedicated and professional our NHS can be.

I was on holiday in Northumberland when I suffered spinal injuries after falling from a horse. After being seen at Hexham, I was transferred first to Wansbeck Hospital and from there to Newcastle General for an operation on my spine.

Throughout my nine-day stay, I saw nothing but professionalism, hard work and dedication from the nursing staff, surgical team, physiotherapists, porters, cleaners and auxiliaries who helped me to recover from a traumatic time.

May I pass on my grateful thanks to all on Ward 35? The people of Newcastle can be proud of the service that your hospital delivers.

KATE RUSSELL, Mobberley, Cheshire

City people deserve better information

Further to my letter published on Monday questioning the "spin" put on research undertaken by Newcastle City Council in their Citylife publication about the casino proposals: the council have pointed out to me that there were in fact two separate pieces of research. One was conducted by NECA, and the other by their own research team.

However the assertion in Citylife that the NECA research was to "assess ... the scale of additional problems that might come with a major new casino" is untrue. It does not. And it gets worse.

Further investigations reveal a very worrying aspect of the council's own research too. When their researchers asked people's opinions on the proposals, they showed flash cards on the proposed benefits. Number two on the list was the assertion that they would create 1,000 to 1,500 jobs in the city and 2,000 in the region. However, PriceWaterhouseCooper's major report for the city on the proposals suggests the figure would be between 399 and 847 in the city and between 498 and 952 in the region. So, at their most pessimistic estimate, less than 500 jobs will be created regionwide.

I repeat that people in the city deserve better, more responsible information from their council.

PETER THOMSON, Elswick, Newcastle

Is this another case of selective amnesia?

Are the Lib Dems in power in Newcastle or aren't they?

That's the question many Journal readers are entitled to ask following Councillor Faulkner's ramblings about Kajima being contracted to rebuild the City Library.

The decision to appoint Kajima was clearly taken by Newcastle City Council's procurement committee in May 2006, which is yet another single party Lib Dem committee making decisions behind closed doors.

At the meeting, Lib Dem councillors decided on a preferred bidder from a shortlist of three. Not a single one of them thought to ask about Kajima's human rights record and several of them have publicly justified the decision since.

So, does Coun Faulkner agree with his colleagues that it was the right decision or is this just another case of selective amnesia from Newcastle's Lib Dems?

Coun NICK FORBES Labour, Westgate Ward, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Newcastle City Council

EU pursues shameful policy of trade barriers

MP Fraser Kemp's enthusiasm for helping the world's poor is laudable, but he has missed one crucial change that must be carried out before poverty can ever be made history (In My View, The Journal, September 6).

The European Union controls all of our trade and pursues a shameful policy of trade barriers and tariffs against those outside the union, depriving millions of impoverished farmers around the world of income. Many of the people who Mr Kemp identifies as needing aid would dearly love the chance to work themselves out of poverty and to sell their produce to eager consumers in our country. Tragically, they are not allowed to or are taxed heavily for the privilege. It is a horrendous fact that for all the aid that EU nations give to the world's poor, the EU takes far more away in economic damage.

MARK WALLACE, Better Off Out Campaign, PO Box 2820, Bridgnorth, Shropshire (www.betteroffout.co.uk)

Please keep up the good work, Journal

I think you have got the format of The Journal right at last.

Friday, September 1, was the first day for ages I did not have the floor strewn with pages and pages of The Journal as I sought to take out the television pages, the puzzle pages, the sports section and the home section. And on Saturday these pieces, as well as the motoring section, were easily handled.

Please keep up the good work, trying to condense everything without losing the content.

HAPPY READER, (Name & Address Supplied) Belford, Northumberland

I much preferred paper in the old format

What is The Journal's thinktank trying to do with our beloved newspaper?

I much preferred the paper in the old format and if you don't return to your old system, I for one will leave you. It used to be that you got your paper on a Saturday morning, say, and could remove the Homemaker section, next the Executive Motoring section and then the TV section, all well done.

Now I am all over the paper trying to remove the TV bits. Instead of the old pull-out, now there are television pages with news pages on the other side of the sheet. Trying to sort it out leaves a heap of pages all over the floor.

The chap who planned this must be an ex-jigsaw worker.

Well, your paper now costs me 29p more each week. If you can't right this wrong, sadly I will depart forever.

DEREK YOUNG, Harraton, Washington

* Editor's Note: Quite a few readers have contacted us to say they've been confused by the way The Journal is now laid out.

In fact, there is now a consistent flow with regular content items published in the same chronological order each day.

News and features are followed by two pages of Culture, then the Time Out puzzle pages, then the page with the weather, horoscopes and cinema listings, then the four pages of TV, followed by Classified Advertising and finally sport.

Journal best newspaper in the North-East

I've just noticed that The Journal has increased in price to 49p. This is not a criticism, but an observation: you can't get a tea for that price these days. The Journal is the best newspaper in the North-East.

GEOFFREY GREGG, Tursdale, County Durham

Front page headline was sensationalist

Having bought my regular copy of The Journal this morning, September 7, I feel I must object in the strongest terms about your choice of headline on the front page. "The killer in your child's classroom" is sensationalist and indeed misleading, given the full details of the article that follows.

I am the father of three young children, one of whom started school only this week and I can well imagine that parents across the region will be disturbed by your over exaggerated reaction to the story you have uncovered. There is no doubt that the issue you highlight is important, but with continued worries over child welfare and the vetting of school staff in general, your front page is extremely unhelpful.

Such tabloid style headlines are inaccurate and insensitive and I would expect more of our leading regional paper.


Diesel or petrol? make absolutely sure

The caption for the photograph on page 48 of your Executive Motoring section (The Journal, September 2) stated: "Damage danger: putting petrol in a diesel engine can lead to damage and a costly repair bill." This is true.

Sadly, the lady in the picture is putting fuel into the car from a black headed filling pump. These normally pump diesel.

There is no indication from the car's badging if the car in question is diesel or petrol.

A LODGE-JOHNSTON, Tynemouth, North Tyneside


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer