Team Valley could help lead the way

You highlight the changes that have taken place at Team Valley over the past 20 years where the industrial estate has been very successful in attracting new investment ("Case for upgrading A1 is in sharp focus", The Journal, September 4).

You highlight the changes that have taken place at Team Valley over the past 20 years where the industrial estate has been very successful in attracting new investment ("Case for upgrading A1 is in sharp focus", The Journal, September 4).

Inevitably, this has led to an increase in traffic and placed significant pressure on the A1. A recent study of the roads surrounding Tyneside has highlighted the importance of getting to grips with congestion.

However, there is no simple solution. Investing only in roads will not solve the problem in the medium to long term.

Business and Government have important parts to play.

Tyne and Wear local authorities have already signaled their desire to work collaboratively to tackle congestion and improve travel conditions to create a more sustainable future. They have secured Department for Transport funding to explore innovative ways of managing demand for road space, combined with improved public transport provision to attract more people out of their cars.

The Highways Agency has started pilot projects for new approaches to work travel at a number of large development sites close to England's motorways and trunk roads, working closely in partnership with new and existing business as well as local authorities.

Team Valley is the first such pilot in the North of England and could help lead the way as an example of a place whose success does not overload the road network that serves it.

JONATHAN BLACKIE, Regional Director, Government Office for the North-East, Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle NE1 4WH

We also don't like Burma Government

SORRY, Clare Woodall (In My View, September 5), it was the former Labour city council who, in March 2004, shortlisted Kajima for the new city library project.

Once we had persuaded the Government to allocate additional private finance funding to the project to enable it to proceed, the Liberal Democrat administration then had to select the preferred bidder.

Under Local Government Procurement Regulations this can only be on criteria of cost, design and deliverability, not on anything to do with the contractor and its track record.

We don't like the human rights record of the Burmese Government any more than Clare Woodhall. It is disgraceful.

Kajima has apologised for supporting the Japanese war effort in Burma - along with other companies - under the instructions of the government of the time.

They have no contracts with the Burmese Government and have not had one for many years, they say.

Their work in Burma is with an office with one local employee to co-ordinate some office refurbishment projects for international companies. Not quite a transgression to match this Government's support for United Kingdom companies arming authoritarian regimes across the world, is it?

And by the way, the project team for our city library includes local companies, Tolent, as the construction company and architects, Ryder HKS, using local employees and creating new jobs in delivering this project. Are they to be condemned as "collaborators" with Kajima? What a ridiculous idea.

However, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story and a bit of party political sledging.

Can we not expect some attempt at balance or at least some respect for the facts from those who contribute in The Journal's columns?

Coun DAVID FAULKNER, Deputy Leader, Newcastle City Council

Benefit of improving existing rail network

THERE is much nonsense being talked about the need for a high speed rail link between London and the North, not least about the supposed virtues of the Maglev "rail-less" train.

This is completely unproven technology, at least on such a large scale, and would be a self-contained, inflexible system, with no means of plugging into the existing rail network, as French TGV trains do, at terminals and in order to reach destinations beyond the dedicated high speed lines.

Arguably, any United Kingdom equivalent of the TGV (and by the way, does MP David Clelland really think that 186mph amounts to "trundling"?) should enable trains heading North to bypass the congestion in the South-East.

But much the same benefit could be had, and at much less cost, by a series of smaller scale improvements to the existing network.

For example, eliminating the sections of the East Coast Main Line that have only two tracks - such as at Welwyn in the London commuter area, and parts of South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire - upgrading the signaling so as to increase capacity and allow higher speeds (the electric trains that serve Newcastle are built for 140mph, but are prevented from reaching that speed because of inadequate signal systems).

If a signaling upgrade were linked to the introduction of "tilting" trains, like those now run on the West Coast line, and if freight trains were taken off the main line by, for instance, reinstating the mothballed , but rapidly decaying, Leamside line to the east of Durham, we could achieve a step change in the quality of service to the North.

And we could achieve it relatively quickly, without getting bogged down in the planning approval process, which any major new project inevitably would.

Maybe we don't need big "prestige" projects, but a more efficient use of the infrastructure which is already in place, so that reliability (just as important, surely, as ultra-high speed) can be guaranteed for rail users in the region and beyond.

IAN GATES, Gosforth, Newcastle

Last resting place of mystery ramblers

IT does not surprise me that the website set up to publicise walking in the beautiful Cheviot Hills is attracting record numbers of visitors (The Journal, September 4).

This area has long been my favourite place for recreation and relaxation away from the strains of political life, with its impressive array of wildlife and wonderful sense of freedom.

However, one little mystery that has continued to intrigue me on my many walks through these hills is just who were Bill and Joyce? Their last resting place lies in a beautiful spot alongside the Usway Burn and they were clearly a couple of keen ramblers who shared a great affection both for each other and for the Cheviots, where they now lie in peace.

I often spend a few moments in their company alongside this burn, enjoying a welcome break and refreshing cup of tea and feel that I would really like to know them better.

Could any of your readership therefore throw any light on the history of these fellow ramblers who so frequently come to share my moments of relaxation?

Coun ROB HIGGINS, Labour, Benwell and Scotswood Ward, Newcastle City Council


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