Rail masts are needed to prevent tragedies

In January 1995, heavy rain caused a landslide on the Ais Gill line between Carlisle and Leeds.

In January 1995, heavy rain caused a landslide on the Ais Gill line between Carlisle and Leeds. A train ran into the obstruction and was derailed.

Because of the remote location of the accident, controllers at Carlisle were powerless to radio to another train travelling in the opposite direction and 10 minutes later it crashed into the first train.

Unfortunately, the guard was killed in the collision.

It is to prevent such tragedies as this that a network of masts is to be installed. Trains are normally controlled by the lineside signals, so radio traffic on the mast system would be minimal. Messages would probably only be transmitted in emergency situations, when people's lives were in danger.

DENNIS GRIEVE, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Labour failed to keep promise on education

After all the clarion calls by Tony Blair and his failed Labour Government about "education, education, education", and the huge funding poured into the State system, the call from Education Secretary Alan Johnson for private schools to share their expertise with the state sector is tantamount to admitting failure with the present system.

However, the really grotty thing about Mr Johnson's idea is that unless the private sector schools agree, they will have their charitable status taken away.

What lack of integrity, what downright blackmail this threat is from a Government that was going to be `whiter that white'.

The enlargement of the comprehensive system has meant classes of 30 pupils or more are still present, despite Labour promises to reduce class sizes.

Massive numbers of computers and other electronic aids have done little to increase the success rate of GCSE results.

Maths and science subjects, in many instances, do not include practical laboratory work.

Extended staff absences through ill-health, many stress related, mean that children in years 10 and 11 are babysat because of the lack of suitably qualified teachers.

Not only has the state system discouraged competitive sports, the Government has stood by and allowed local authorities to sell off playing fields to housing developers. It has allowed subjects like history to be diluted to such an extent that pupils have not been taught the true facts of Britain's past contributions to the world.

Mr Johnson goes on to say that he wants private schools to take pupils on secondment from local state schools, open up their science labs to comprehensives and offer more bursaries to poorer families. This from a minister whose Government boasted about the state system, a Government that withdrew 30,000 assisted places for pupils from poor backgrounds.

Come on, just how much more is this apology for a Government going to drip feed to the nation that all is not right with education, the NHS, immigration, pensions, our armed forces and practically every aspect of Government?

The so-called New Labour, the Third Way, Cool Britannia notion of Britain under Labour's tutelage has been a myth. Like the emperor's new clothes, they do not exist but their dismal record will take some eradicating.

COUN GE HOWE, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, Sunderland City Council

We can resist if we have the will

The nightmare scenario of continued European Union encroachment into our lives, as portrayed by Paul Dixon (Voice of the North 30/5) contains that element, essential in all satire: truth.

However, much as I concur with his fears of allowing our country - a fear shared by other Europeans for their own respective countries - to be transformed from a sovereign democratic nation into a patchwork of soulless regions populated by obedient, homogenised citizens controlled by a centralised, unaccountable bureaucracy, may I add a criticism of his analysis?

Mr Dixon appears to adopt a fatalist attitude and at no time suggests that this relentless attack on our nation should be resisted.

There are many in this country who are determined to oppose the fate that the EU, and their fellow travellers in the political, business and media establishments, have in store for us.

Mr Dixon is spot-on in implying that it is only because of the electorate that we are whom we are now; a sad statement of fact.

The three `main' political parties are all pledged to Britain's continued EU membership, thus ensuring that the EU's vision of total political integration will continue as long as they hold office.

It therefore follows that by voting Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem, the electorate is giving the green light, albeit largely unintentionally, to further EU control of our lives.

Unless this reality is faced, and past tribal loyalties are ditched, then sadly the process will continue.

Thirty five years of lies by the EU and its agencies have blinded the electorate into unwittingly bringing us to this point. Whether the EU's vision is realised depends on that same electorate.

DAVE PASCOE, Press Secretary, Hartlepool Branch, UK Independence Party, Hartlepool, Teesside

One stop service for victims of violence

Your article of May 24 headlined "Help for victims of domestic violence" refers in the second paragraph to victims of domestic violence having previously "been made to visit a number of legal firms".

This is not correct. There is no reason why any victim of domestic violence should have to visit more than one firm of solicitors to obtain basic advice to specialist representation in the courts even when they are of limited means; indeed, my firm has been offering a specialist one stop service for obtaining court injunctions for the last 25 years.

JANE MARSTON, Travis, Martson and Co, Orchard House, Priestpopple, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 1PQ

Second home owners support local shops

Regarding comments made by Coun Patricia Scott about second homes on the Kingsfield Estate in Seahouses ("Swamped in seconds", The Journal, May 21):

We own a property on the estate and yes, it is a second home for us. We do not rent it out, but use it as a lovely place to stay and relax as often as possible having spent the last 11 years visiting the area.

We always use all the local shops, purchasing all our carpets and so on locally. In fact, we probably spend more in Seahouses than the locals do.

How dare Coun Scott imply we are "blighting the community". Local people do live on the estate, many have become very close friends. I agree that some of the houses have been bought to rent.

In fact, many people on the estate own more than one property and rent for considerable sums.

We do not. Please be kind enough to ask Coun Scott just where her second home is. Would it be abroad?

SUE GREENWOOD, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland

Time to support our wonderful carers

The life of a carer is often stressful, demanding and exhausting. This is further emphasised by new research that suggests the knock-on effect of being a carer, especially those who care 24/7, can have far-reaching implications, particularly where health, careers, finances and relationships are concerned.

With Carers Week 2007 just around the corner (June 11-17), it's crucial that more is done to ensure the lives of carers are changed for the better.

A survey of more than 3,500 United Kingdom carers has revealed that one of the key areas that suffers as a direct result of day-to-day caring responsibilities is relationships.

Carers look after a loved one, a friend or family who needs their help because they are ill, frail or have a disability.

Many carers find the experience immensely rewarding but they also face unceasing demands on their time and energy.

It is perhaps little wonder, therefore, that this can have a negative impact on their own lives.

The contribution carers make to society cannot be underestimated and without them lives for many would be unbearable.

That's why this Carers Week, we are trying to ensure more carers know about the support and services that are available to them.

For more information visit www.carersweek.org

IMELDA REDMOND, Chief Executive, Carers UK, STEPHEN BURKE, Chief Executive, Counsel and Care, ANNE ROBERTS, Chief Executive, Crossroads Caring for Carers, CIARAN DEVANE, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support, SIMON GILLESPIE, Chief Executive, MS Society, PAUL JENKINS, Chief Executive, Rethink and SHAN NICHOLAS, Chief Executive, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers


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Culture Editor
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Business Editor
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Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer