Coun Davey (letters July 8) would appear to be attempting to deflect attention from the real issue about the Northumberland Live event.
He has absolutely no evidence to back up his claim that the district council leaders, such as myself, are not enthusiastic about commemorating the cultural achievements of the county. To suggest such a thing is nonsense.
In fact, he only has to look at some of the activities that local authorities such as Alnwick District have supported, for many years.
Alnwick, for example, is renowned for its annual international music festival and fair and for a range of events, all held to celebrate our heritage, tradition and culture.
I have lived and worked all my life in Northumberland and delight in its history and achievements.
As for suggesting that the districts' "real intent" might be "the break-up of the historic county of Northumberland", nothing could be further from the truth.
Both options would retain the identity of Northumberland and, of course, my colleagues and I would wish this. The culture and traditions of Northumberland will remain, whatever happens.
All we want is that the public should be able to make its choice by weighing up the arguments for and against the alternatives.
I stand by my opinion that the way this festival has been branded is sailing very close to the wind. I have no problem with good effective publicity aimed at improving awareness of a council's activities but, prior to a referendum, publicity is a sensitive matter.
The festival's changed name, its description as being the biggest ever celebration of Northumberland, the encouragement of people to fly the county flag and the car stickers that are being issued are clearly intended to reinforce in people's minds the concept of one authority.
If the county were serious about this being a non-politically motivated event, aimed at drawing in the whole county, then why were the districts not included, bearing in mind the excellent cultural links that they have with arts organisations?
The festival has obviously been identified by the county as an ideal marketing tool to get over its message and influence the voting outcome in its favour.
So close to the referendum, this does not seem like honourable conduct to me.
COUN JOHN TAYLOR,
Leader, Alnwick District Council.
Glory days of our armed services seem to be passed
YESTERDAY and today, good times and bad.
Yesterday we had the best navy in the world, today they are talking about buying old rust-bucket aircraft carriers from the USA.
Yesterday we had the best air force in the world, today they are talking about closing Boulmer, doing away with the Red Arrows and making other cuts.
Yesterday we had an army the envy of the world, today we send untrained and ill-equipped soldiers to Iraq and elsewhere.
Yet we are told we are living in boom and not bust times like yesterday.
But no wonder we are short of money when we pay the EU £36bn each year. Money that could be better spent at home on defence, schools, hospitals, pensions etc. Are our masters getting their priorities right? Or will we end up being able to burst a paper bag?
Predators have emptied my garden of birds
I AM writing in support of Bill Telfer's letter about birds of prey being the main culprits in the decline of the small bird and red squirrel population.
I wrote in a few weeks ago to say a sparrowhawk had completely obliterated the small birds in my garden, sometimes before my very eyes. If these birds had not been protected I would have happily dealt with it quite humanely.
One reader replied that the small birds were damaging the insect population, one would have thought the warmer climate would have the insects thriving, but if the reader wants to save the midges that's up to him.
I am not against anything killing to survive and feed young, as the reader suggested, I only want a fair balance in nature and to see some finches, etc, in my garden again.
I'm sure the RSPB will come to its senses but probably too late, as with all matters in the countryside and farming these days,
Action is needed now to save the salmon
IT is ironic that at the time of year anglers are allowed to kill salmon legally come the inevitable first reports of distressed adult salmon at Wylam.
Following prolonged drought, the lower reaches of the North and South Tyne are still packed with smolts desperate to migrate seawards.
Unless floods intervene, the mudbanks and overgrown margins of the upper estuary will soon reek with the stench of rotting mature fish which will be absent from the Environment Agency mortality statistics or else bulked under the joint heading "Salmon and Seatrout" as happened last year.
And what of the smolts en route to the North Sea through apparently deoxygenated water?
Predators would soon remove all traces of the tiny dead fish.
In wet summers do deaths still occur with high levels and the peaty stain from Kielder concealing the evidence?
For many years nothing positive has been achieved by the various authorities.
I suggest the EA returns to basics, starting with cross infection experiments between clean and apparently infected fish. Such research was carried out at York, initially with equivocal results but great technological advances have been made since then. I still suspect a variation of UDN (ulcerative dermal nechrosis) which still persists in the South Tyne in frosty Novembers.
As soon as possible, having given adequate warning to holidaymakers etc, there should be a huge and prolonged release from Kielder timed to coincide with the next period of high tides. Follow this, as a matter of urgency, improving fish passes generally, particularly at Hexham, and increase anti poaching measures in these areas.
I recently spoke to John Scott, former bailiff, who was once a part of a team of eight or more covering Tyne and Coquet. How many are there now?
Why, to my knowledge, have there been no prosecutions for killing spring fish before June 16?
GUY HALL MRCVS,
I want scenery, not a stack of adverts on wheels
OVER the last couple of years advertisement hoardings on wheeled trailers have been left in fields along the A69 and on the verge at Kenton Bank roundabout.
Now the excellent Alnwick Gardens has put a fixed advert on the A1 (The Journal, Thursday) and another on the A69.
Is planning permission required? And if not, could someone please arrange to change the law and then enact it?
Out in the countryside, I like to look at the scenery not adverts.
Is anything in place to help Mr Westwood and his family?
THIS Government's treatment of the Humberside Chief Constable, and the dignified demeanour of Mr Westwood himself is so reminiscent of the Dr David Kelly affair, which led to the Hutton enquiry.
I only hope lessons have been learned and that the Home Office has put in place some form of welfare support system to help Mr Westwood and his family.
Truly international fare for a footballing banquet
TA Common's amusing "English" breakfast story (Voice of the North, July 7) reminded me of a potential football menu for Euro 2004.
The selection includes: Greek Salmon - spectacular divers, Italian spit roast, Spanish omelette - light and fluffy but doesn't go very far, German sausage - dull and predictable, Swiss cheese - add ham to make a referee, French toast - a mixture of improbable ingredients that sounds better than it really is, Portuguese Ronaldo "rose" - brings tears to your eyes, Danish pastries - easily rolled over, and, hardest to swallow, English lame duck.
Before setting out for your meal chaps, don't forget to use some "Old Spice" like our fragrant captain.
England was clearly the best team in 2004
IT is my unbiased opinion England were the best team clearly in the European finals.
Also, Rooney was the best player. But we were robbed of the glory for what should have led to a major enquiry. However, the consequences of if we had won would have been much worse because our supporters would have been targeted and the outcome would probably have led to our country being banned from the World Cup because the police over there would have provoked violence.
So I'm happy with my true dream: England beat Greece in the final 4-1 and Rooney scored his hat-trick and became top scorer in the tournament.
I truly believe our country can win the next World Cup, but we should consider electing a new captain with more passion and fire for our green and pleasant land. Skill alone is not enough.
We should fight to preserve these strange new birds
I READ with great interest of the proposed cull of "heron" gulls in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
I can only assume that this is an entirely new species, not only to the British Isles but worldwide, and will clearly put Berwick on the map.
Under the circumstances, however, it would probably not be a good idea to cull them as this would almost certainly provoke an outcry from ornithologists everywhere.
Letter of the week
THE letter of the week was TA Common of Morpeth's amusing tale of a very international English Breakfast served up in Newcastle