The Northumbrian Association is again asking the people of the North-East to nominate an individual for the Hotspur Award. This silver spur is based on the famous Charlton Spur of North Tynedale and carries the name of one of the region's most famous sons, Harry Hotspur.
The award is made annually to a living personality, who, "through bold endeavour", has brought credit to the North-East.
Previous winners have included: Antony Gormley, for the Angel of the North, Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland for her wonderful Alnwick Garden, Brendan Foster, international athlete and founder of the Great North Run and Frank Atkinson, creator of Beamish Museum, Lee Hall, the writer of Billy Elliot and Tom Maxfield for Seaham Hall.
In 2005 there was our first corporate winner, Gateshead Council, for the development of Gateshead as a major centre for culture.
Any one of last year's nominees would have been a worthy winner and their names will go forward automatically for this year's judging. The judges have a hard job, as there are many ways in which individuals make their contribution.
Amongst the great strengths of our region are the resilience, talent and character of its people. Help us to celebrate these with our own award, which is genuinely from the people to someone who inspires or serves us today. Who do you think deserves this award in 2007?
The cut off date is April 30, the judging to take place in mid-May and the winner to be announced at a special dinner in June.
You may nominate whoever you wish, just write the name of the person you propose and a sentence or so, as to why they deserve the award. It would be helpful if you also included your own name and address, as a prize will be awarded to one of the proposers of the successful nomination. Send it to: The Northumbrian Association, PO Box No1169, Sunderland SR5 9AA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MIKE TICKELL, Chairman, Northumbrian Association
Bus station is accident waiting to happen
ITHINK I write for every bus driver in the North-East who has used the new Eldon Square bus station in Newcastle.
Congratulations have to go to the city council and Nexus for building what must rank as the most badly designed bus station I have seen in nearly 20 years of driving buses.
Do they think every bus using it is going to be a minibus? The station is far too small for the manoeuvre of large vehicles and it is an accident waiting to happen. The bus bays are narrow and with buses either side of you, it is very tight reversing out, while buses parked behind are very close. It is an absolute joke.
They have also put screens up above every bay so the driver can see what's behind him when wanting to reverse, but this is not working as it is giving the wrong information out to the driver due to the camera position.
The other day I had a bus directly behind me, so was unable to reverse, but the TV monitor showed behind me was clear so if I'd gone off that I'd have hit the other bus. You are basically reversing out blind. Every single driver who has used the station has complained about it. Already, there have been bumps and it will only get worse. Stagecoach, Northern and Arriva should be getting in touch with Nexus and telling them this is just not acceptable.
Traffic congestion has also got worse in the Haymarket area, with buses queuing up to get in to the new station but having to wait for other buses to complete manoeuvres before they can enter. It is nothing short of a farce.
In the pamphlet that Nexus give to drivers it says "Where safety comes first"; I'm afraid this is not the case. Hundreds of buses a day, sometimes reversing three or four times in 10 minutes in a small confined area, is in my eyes and many of my colleagues' eyes dangerous.
Get it sorted Nexus.
NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED, Northumberland
Many councils are increasingly dictatorial
BRITAIN has become a one-party state, but then it always virtually was, at least for five-year spells, as the Opposition, by definition, could debate but never defeat a Cabinet decision.
Meanwhile, many local councils have become increasingly dictatorial, making moves without any regard for public opinion. Yes, we vote them in for convenience, so we don't have to discuss drain laying, street lighting and so on, but they now ignore our wishes as though they were the masters, not our servants.
Collecting garbage fortnightly is one example. Nobody wants a stinking, rotting bin of maggot infested, rat attracting rubbish in their backyard, but if your council says you must, then you must.
The alternative is coming up soon: vote against them at the local elections and register your displeasure. They also plan to reassess council tax to cover improvements made at your expense to your own property, to which inspectors will have unrestricted access. Under a fiction of saving the planet, Tony B is forcing full house insulation, bad lighting and useless wind farms on us.
DON HENDERSON, Gateshead
Ideas wanted on mental health issues
MENTAL health problems - such as depression, stress and dementia - affect one in four people in the United Kingdom. There's lots of good work going on to tackle the problem, but more needs to be done in both treatment and prevention.
That's why Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) has launched a new £500,000 fund to capture new ideas on addressing the big issues, whether it be improving local mental health services or tackling workplace stress.
If you have direct experience of mental distress, or are a health professional in the field and have had a good idea for a new or improved service or way of managing care, we'd really like to hear from you.
We're aiming to find and develop local ideas that have the potential to grow into successful national projects that could really make a difference.
Visit our website at www.nesta.org.uk/mentalhealth for more information and details on how to apply.
RAVI KAPUR, Head of Challenge team, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, 1 Plough Place, London EC4A 1DE
UK should declare war on Iran over kidnap
THE stand by the British Government is disgraceful. Fact. Iran abducted British military personnel by false means. Fact. Without further ado Britain should declare war on Iran and attack the country that kidnapped their citizens, unless the Iranians agree to their immediate release.
The UN should insist on immediate release of our citizens. Fact. Failure to do this amounts to a declaration of war. So be it. The Iranians pretend to hold these people under international maritime law and yet do so because they have ulterior motives. Let Britain declare war on them and punish those responsible for this despicable piracy.
BRYAN J ALLEN, Newcastle
Experiences of disabled students sought
AS a student who is disabled, I would like to ask some questions of your readers. Have any disabled students or workers ever felt they have been bullied at any North-East colleges over the years?
Has anyone been invited to the Disability Equality Policy meetings, originally known as Disabled Equality Scheme, as a disabled student representative to input any ideas? Has any student with physical or learning difficulties had trouble with their support workers past or present?
Does any disabled student with physical or learning difficulties feel they are not represented fairly and denied the same complaint procedures as the able-bodied? Has any disabled person been stopped from doing a specific course that they want to do at any North-East colleges?
Does any disabled student or carer of the student feel the Disability Act is inadequate (college support workers are excluded from this question)? Please let me know your views as this is vital to the information that I am gathering about the Act. And if you answer Yes to any of the questions above, please let me know on email@example.com so we can do something about it. All information will be treated with the strictest of confidence. Please do not feel intimidated by these people. If I get a good response, I will arrange a meeting to discuss what steps we should take next.
Thanking you in anticipation.
NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED, Sunderland