Techniques could be studied in the UK

IRECENTLY saw a news report concerning the North East Strategic Health Authority spending £84,000 sending a 14-strong team to Japan to study Toyota’s lean management techniques.

I RECENTLY saw a news report concerning the North East Strategic Health Authority spending £84,000 sending a 14-strong team to Japan to study Toyota’s lean management techniques.

And it’s not supposed to be another jolly!

Those techniques could have been studied at Toyota’s factories at Burnaston and Deeside at much less cost and a great deal less environmental damage.

So much for efficiency!

Has the authority forgotten the most efficient car plant in Europe is based down the road at Nissan in Sunderland?

What a choice. Travel by Metro or fly half way around the world?

Stay at home or nice hotels?

And some nameless, faceless goonspeak advises that resources were not diverted from patient care.

What price integrity?

Mr P Bennison, Whitley Bay.


Let’s talk of things that really matter to people

I WISH we could have a rest from climate change and talk of things which really matter to people.

Organisations have been quick to realise that any tenuous connection with the subject opens purse strings.

This is a Government ploy to raise the profile.

We are being bombarded with propaganda, in particular by the BBC.

Earlier this week it was reporting on feeding cows modified grass to prevent flatulence, which we are told causes significant emissions.

Are they serious?

The Government is very happy to promote climate change on inconclusive evidence, as it is perceived as not their fault, and it is an excuse to wring yet more taxes out of us.

People feel uncomfortable complaining as it is spun as helping to save the planet.

I would like to be able to go into clean hospitals and not fear catching MRSA.

I would like them to be efficiently financed and staffed.

I would like my children to attend decent schools and leave, at least with the ability to read, write and do basic arithmetic to make them employable.

I would like to walk down the street at night without being intimidated by feral youths, some high on drink and drugs.

I would like our old people properly cared for.

I would like known terrorists deported and I would like our boys home from Iraq.

These are the things I would rather talk about, and I suspect others would, too.

China is opening two coal fired power stations a week for its rapidly expanding industries, and using poor quality high emission coal.

The increase in their annual emissions far exceeds all those from Britain, and they are not alone.

Products made there, many in disgraceful conditions, then have to be transported huge distances to markets in the west.

We benefit with cheaper goods, so it is wrong to criticise China, when we are part of the problem.

We should be making the goods here.

Britain is only responsible for about 2% of world emissions. The Government target of reducing them by 10% in 2010 and 20% in 2020, only represents 0.2% and 0.4% respectively.

In short a drop in the ocean on which we are spending a disproportionate amount of time and money.

It is unlikely even these figures will be achieved as they are based on the production of wind farms, and some are producing less than 17% of their capacity.

I don’t see anything wrong in recycling, saving electricity by insulating our homes and using resources sparingly, but to suggest that comparatively few people on a small island can have a significant effect on climate change is a gross exaggeration.

And I suspect it is a smoke screen for the appalling mess of many other things.

JOHN HAGGIE West Rainton, Durham


Taking a close look at the rock with a hole

I READ Tony Henderson’s article on July 2 about the discovery on the Simonside Hills of a rock with a hole aligned on sunrise at the summer solstice.

I also read Mr Beckensall’s letter refuting the idea that the hole could be man made and dating from ancient times.

I was so intrigued by the description of the rock that I went to see it and the site myself.

My first impression was that the rock is deliberately positioned in an area that contains many large boulders, several of them appear to be deliberately positioned and set up on platforms of smaller rocks.

The area is under tall bracken and heather, I am sure that there is much more hidden there because I kept on stumbling and tripping on hidden rocks and depressions.

As for the perforated rock: the rock is an unusually regular shape.

The hole is not square-on to one of the flat surfaces, it runs through it from one vertice to the diagonally opposite vertice at around the centre of the height. In other words, the hole is nearly as long as possible in the body of the rock, quoted as 1.79 metres long.

Not only is it long, it is perfectly straight.

But, it does not appear to have been made with a boring tool.

The internal surfaces, as far as can be seen, are very irregular.

The surfaces are piped and fluted as if made by the flow of water or a corrosive liquid.

I suggest that the hole was formed naturally possibly by a tree limb that later rotted away after the sand stone became firm enough to support the shape.

If such a rock was discovered, I feel it would have been put to good use, and that is how the rock came to be aligned on the summer solstice.

Richard Cox, Newcastle


The positive aspects of wind power

THE features in The Journal , focusing on the development of wind farms in Northumberland have clearly highlighted the issues around, and the prejudices against, the change to renewable energy supply.

The UK faces the challenge of meeting government targets to produce 10.4% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly the DTI) predicts that more than 7% will come from wind, both onshore and offshore.

We all accept that with increased demand for energy and a decrease in available fossil fuels to meet this demand, alternative sources of energy will play a larger part in the future.

As we look to meet the energy demands of the future, it is vital that we see both sides of the argument and weigh up the options available.

It is also important to make people aware of the positive aspects of this energy source.

Wind power is a clean form of renewable energy, with no air pollution or waste products.

Wind is not a finite resource, and will be available long after other resources on which we currently rely have been exhausted.

The footprint of the wind turbine is a small area, and the land around can still be cultivated.

Wind turbines last for approximately 25 years and decommissioning is a straightforward process compared to nuclear or fossil fuel powered stations.

Wind farms also generate energy more cheaply than other forms of renewable power production, apart from large hydro-electric dams.

Furthermore, the creation of the wind industry in the UK is creating thousands of jobs.

A number of North-East companies are adapting their businesses to supply the renewable energy industry both here in the UK and around the world.

The oil and gas industry has played an important part in the region’s economy for more than 30 years, and it is essential that the development of renewable energy continues to use the innovation and knowledge amassed in this region and so support the region’s industry.

As with every argument there are two sides.

Those proposing wind farms both on and offshore understand the sensitivity of the developments, and the effects they have on the landscape.

It is essential to create a dialogue between residents and landowners and the power suppliers in order that our future supply of energy can be assured to the benefit of all.

Dr Dermot Roddy Chief Executive, Renew Tees Valley


Come on Arriva, let’s have quieter buses

I NOTE in a recent Journal article that transport group Arriva now owns half the buses in Denmark and operate in nine countries.

This made me think – I recently arrived back from a holiday in Italy, and as usual in all European countries we were conveyed from the airport to our hotels in lovely, quiet, smooth-running buses.

Now what happens here – we leave the car at home and take the Arriva bus to Newcastle and we travel in a bus which is not very comfortable and very noisy.

In fact on the fast stretch between Morpeth and Newcastle the noise is terrible.

Come on Arriva, let’s have some quieter buses and I’m sure more people will leave their cars at home.



Children should be allowed an open mind

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has made a grave mistake in allowing an Evangelical Foundation that rejects consensus beliefs in favour of pie in the sky, to run a school.

Academies are wrong in principle and allowing those who run them leeway over the national curriculum and to control the intake is even worse.

Faith schools are historical anomalies.

It is time to reverse the process and put all schools into complete local control.

They cannot be justified regardless of how many in the population declare themselves to be believers in one god or another.

These are the views of parents not children who should be allowed an open mind.

Is it not too late to rescind this perverse decision?

JACK STEVENS Pity Me, County Durham


One point overlooked on the £3m issue

I WAS interested to read your leader on Monday, July 16 – “Remember whose money it is.”

While many will agree with the point being made – the £3m which looks set to be wasted is indeed our money – you have overlooked one important issue. Many of the people involved in this process simply aren’t that bothered.

And why should they be?

Playing “ping pong” with the fine detail in the Regional Spacial Strategy is a rather nice little earner for an army of civil servants.

One suspects that the cost of their time could at least match the £3m already spent on local projects which might now be scrapped.

They draw from the public purse every day and, frankly, it just becomes a habit. Well said but I don’t expect any of them to be listening.

Pat Thomson Ponteland


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