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Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 13:52 UK

Some of your comments on the latest programme...

Sunday 16th May 2010

The coalition government is penalising the most vulnerable in society with VAT. The banks caused this economic problem and I find it amazing there are to be no cuts in defence. We can't afford to have a massive army spending billions pounds. We stopped being a world power in 1945.

Colin Parker Bedlington Nothumberland

The Conservatives have no choice but to make cuts. Interest rates would've shot up otherwise and the country would've been bankrupt.

Thomas William Beatty, Lockerbie

Why do Labour talk about how they would solve the deficit caused by them over the last eleven years. There's lots of wastage in the NHS such as through management jobs created by Labour. They increased public sector jobs threefold and are now creating job losses of the future.

Marjorie Matthews, Sunderland

Despite all the things the banks have done, the government are still hitting the poorest harder than anyone else. They're not taking adequate actions against the banks, the American banks in particular. They should pay, not the general public. It's about time we cut off from the United States, as our so-called 'special relationship' has cost us a great deal. They're not our friends in an economic sense. Took up neighbours in Europe.

Ronald Curran, Newcastle

"David Cameron is the biggest liar and hypocrite. He said he would help poor people and pensioners. They have stopped free school dinners for children in Durham, but he will give nearly two million to Eton and other universities. I don't know how he dare go on the television. He said at the time he would help poor people and families. It's true what they say in the papers - he is the son of Thatcher, only I think he's ten times worse."

Birch Cassidy - Ryhope, Sunderland

On Sewers:

"We have a local village sewer which does the same thing into the local river. It's the plumbing and the fact that storm water can get into the sewer in the first place that causes most of the problems. In this day and age, it isn't difficult to segregate plumbing and make storm water go where it's supposed to. Why should it come down the sewage works and overflow them?"

Gordon Swainson, a farmer from Thursby, Carlisle

"How can we have the cleanest beaches of England if we have even one pipe putting out raw sewage? Is it safe to bathe in or fish in these places? They've got plenty money, I don't thing they're spending that much on this. If it was a small firm doing this, polluting a river, now the Environment (Agency), the water companies, would jump on them."

John Haydon, Gateshead

On Police Force Mergers:

"I personally think it's a good thing.I don't think our small forces are equipped to respond to incidents like the Cumbria shootings. If Northumbria and Durham amalgamated, the combined resources that this would produce would enable police to respond quicker to incidents and in particular to respond to major ones."

Joseph Harder

County Durham

In the current financial circumstances, mergers of this nature may unfortunately be a necessity. But they are not ideal, and I think a force of such a size would be increasingly unresponsive to local concerns, notwithstanding the existence of neighbourhood policing teams.

If there is to be such a merger, I think it would be reasonable to expect sight of both real and significant savings before it went ahead. Furthermore, any savings which could reasonably be made within the current structures should be made now. I hope the media will be rigourous in searching for such savings.

Health spending:

I think Martin Callanan,who disagrees with his own government, was right on the issue of health cuts. I'm not saying whether or not there should be cuts in the NHS, but the idea that we should rule them out without even looking at the books seems a bit daft to me. Whilst I do work in the public sector, my only experience of the NHS is as a patient. But I've seen enough to be sure that there is plenty of waste there, just like everywhere else.

Everyone knows that the NHS is a touchy subject when it comes to politics and most of us think very highly of its ideals. It is easy to see why the new Government has given the pledge in relation to NHS spending, although I note that they have said savings will still be expected, it's just that the savings will be reinvested in the NHS.

Contrary to what some seem to believe, "healthcare" and "the NHS" are not the same thing. The reality is that an awful lot of NHS spending does not go directly on healthcare and once we all get to grips with that fact I think it will be much easier to look at the issue in a less polarised way. For example, are all of these health authorities, NHS trusts, etc, each with their own management structures, really, honestly necessary for the provision of healthcare, particularly in our current financial plight? I think not.

Andy, Newcastle

The amount of prisoners kept in jail at the taxpayer's expense while all other services are slashed is wrong. Should there not be a more strict rule on this who commit crimes and those kept under supervision outside prison?

Mr Ward, Haltwhistle

Interesting studio interviews. But the Conservatives' Timothy Kirkhope can't square the circle about North East cuts - the One North East Regional Development Agency will go under Conservative plans, so how about a bit of business planning? Since it now seems OK with the Conservatives to implement a National Insurance rise for employees but not for employers, can we have a commitment from all those business leaders who said they were the engines of growth to tell us how many jobs they will create because they won't have to pay the same tax as their employees?

Graham Harper

I wish the media would give the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives a chance. They certainly can't do any worse than Labour. I voted Lib Dem and am still quite happy with this result. So people should give it a chance and stop slating it, it can't be worse than what's gone before.

Susan McMullan Middlesbrough

I would never trust Labour again because of their bad financial housekeeping and I also feel there there should've been a referendum on issues relating to Europe. We've got to give this government a chance and I hope they'll do something about the question of Europe. I personally think we should withdraw from it.

Sandra Carlisle, Morpeth

David Miliband was involved with Tony Blair's decision to go to war and so I don't feel David Miliband should become the next leader of Labour.

Sofia Mezan, South Shields

The two minority parties together would've been bad for the country - the Lib Dems and Labour couldn't have worked. The majority party - the Tories - plus the Lib Dems is is the best and indeed only solution for the next five years.

Mr Ridley Cleveland

Labour had to deal with a world recession and didn't stick it to working people. Conservatives weren't interested in ordinary people last time, let alone in the current dire situation.

Brian Stevenson Newcastle

I think all this carping about a new fledgling government is not doing anybody any good. They're not even into harness before people have said it won't work. Kevan Jones also refused to answer your questions about Labour's record in office.

Cllr Jackie Elder, Middlesbrough

I don't understand why the Lib Dems haven't formed a government with Labour. Labour did a lot of good work renewing schools in the area and other facilities.

Joan Pyle, Gateshead

Regional reaction to the election result:

The people of this country want a referendum on political and electoral reform. An alliance between the Liberals and Labour will give a short term government able to govern long enough to deliver electoral reform.

Stephen Davies

I used to work for Union Carbide and in the 1980s watched so many of our big customers go to the wall. I then lost my job and feel that with the Conservatives coming in, their policies are very, very short sighted. I just don't trust them. People can see that we are coming out of recession - slowly - but people can also see that Conservative policies are not going to get us out.

Heather Allison, Cumbria

We've had Conservative governments, we've had Labour Governments, and if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what the same thing. A change should be imminent.

Joyce Loftus, North Yorkshire

The demise of the Redcar Steel Plant is only the latest in a long saga of economic mismanagement that has brought this region to its knees. I would suggest that when Tata took control of the Redcar site, the plan was to cease production there. Tata are past masters of the takeover, booting the workforce into touch and moving on. It was at that time that Vera Baird and the rest of the North East Labour MPs should have got up off their backsides and done all they could to halt a looming economic disaster. They did not; as a result, Vera will now have all the time in the world to reflect on a catastrophic political failure to act on behalf of her constituents.

Ron Metcalfe, Sunderland

Let us not forget that Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at council level work together all the time throughout councils, throughout the country, and in particular on Cumbria County Council and still manage to get things done and agree on different things.

Mr Butterfield, Maryport

Is it true that in terms of popular vote the Labour party and the Liberal Democrat party obtained 51 per cent of the popular vote which would seem to give them the right to govern in terms of a popular vote? Or am I mistaken?

Barry Davis, Carlisle

Any coalition will fall out, particularly over two issues. The Conservative's alliegiance to the right wing in Europe and Northern Ireland.

Colin Parker, Bedlington

From the figures that were given this morning the people voted against the Conservatives were a lot more - a million more - than who voted for the Conservatives. The media have been unfair to Labour and Gordon Brown.

Audrey Coulter, Whitley Bay

Lib Dem activists like me are not happy at all with any collaboration with the Tory Party. We should be looking for an agreement with Labour.

Alan Lomax, Richmond

We do not trust any of these politicians. The country's said none of the above is fit to rule so we should go back to another general election, that's the only answer.

Lilian Barnes, Newcastle

It's not going to be easy to get this amalgamated deal between the Conservatives and the Liberals and really, there should be another election so we have a strong government who can deal with the economic situation. We need electoral and political reform first and reform of the registration system too.

Jacqui Elder, Middlesbrough

On our live debate from Berwick on the issues surrounding older voters:

What people were not addressing in your discussion of care during your live debate on issues related to older voters at the weekend is what people are being charged. It's not only a question of asking how someone is going to pay, we need to look at the amount. If you go around Newcastle for example and ask every care agency what they charge, the hourly rate will be different each time. It can vary from around £17 all the way up to £30. What we need are nationally-set rates of care, depending on the level of care required.

Your Labour contributor Dave Anderson was talking about carers' rights and of course that's important, we need to look after carers. But this had nothing to do with the issue in hand and the carers are not the people paying the bill. He also mentioned respite care, but this doesn't address the situation of care and what they're being charged either. I use the respite care I receive as a carer to take the gentleman I look after on holiday .

There are a whole army of people who work in care, not just family members and the funding issue will need to be looked at no matter who wins the election.

John Reading, Gosforth

I'm a widow, a pensioner over the age of sixty and I believe women over sixty have been treated like victims because we can't fight back and nobody stands up for us. I'm not entitled to the savings credit because I'm under sixty-five. Up till now I've been taxed as a single woman. I pay three thousand pounds more as a female pensioner than a man. I've been hammered by the Icelandic banks and Northern Rock. There's no interest rate. Gordon Brown's party and the system has put me into poverty. I'm £20 over the limit of what it takes to qualify for financial help so because of that I pay full rent, full council tax, my outgoings are more than my incomings.

Ann Murray, Darlington

On the policing and private security issue:

Relevant to community service issue and youths misbehaving, it's a good idea about taking these boys out for restorative justice, but it's very difficult now because of all the forms, risk assessments and the rest of the red tape.

John Richmond, Ripon

I thoroughly agree with the members of your panel who were talking about policing and the need to tackle the causes of crime far earlier on. It's so much to do with the way children are brought up and educated. Just shoving people in jail won't work. I fully agree with the female commissioner talking about the criminal age of responsibility for children being raised to 12 or 14. I think it's an absolute scandal we don't recognise that in this country. We don't have a compassionate enough attitude to children in this country.

Jill Miles, Hebburn

My feelings are really strong about the total, total disregard the legal fraternity have for the innocent people of this country. Instead, they try very, very hard for the perpetrators. They don't care about the innocent. The Law abiding, hardworking people of this country can have no confidence that the law is on their side.

B. Robinson, N. Yorks

Last year since I saw lots of adverts about how the police were going to put 80% more police on streets, but realistically I think we've actually seen less in places like my area. As for the use of Asbos, that hasn't worked. All we get told is these people have to live somewhere, but people on the council or in the police force aren't living next to them or integrating with them.

Miss Carr, Byker

We are well used to the security guards on point at places like Darras Hall or Wynyard Hall! Why is it that as soon as private security, paid for by the householders in sink estates is suddenly all wrong?? This is a double standard and I notice you found senior Police and Councillors willing to speak on the subject, so they do exist. I wish they were as good at answering people's concerns on the doorstep or on the street corner at midnight when the balloon goes up and none of these overpaid people can be found for love nor money.

Don Robertson

I agree with your panel members who say the police are doing their jobs and the courts are not doing theirs. The fear of punishment needs to be put into criminals.

John Parrott, North Yorkshire

People are already paying for a policing service, and if they put their motivation into improving their local police service instead of paying money to a private security firm, everyone would benefit. People are just looking for the easy way out. I think it's just that people are more comfortable with filling out a direct debit form than writing letters of complaint to MPs/Councillors/Police Chiefs. Maybe I should start a business to automatically file and send letters of complaint to such people on behalf of the customers until a positive outcome is achieved! It is the fear of crime, I think, that motivates people to hire private security. Private security responds quickly - likely far more quickly than the police; after all, the continuance of their beneficial private security contract depends on the efficiency/effective service that they render onto you. But having said all this, it's only the more affluent neighbourhoods that could afford this type of personalised, responsive attention. So of necessity, private security must result in a two tier system. Personally, I'd rather have an efficient and effective police force because the private security business can create as many problems as it solves eg a private security person is walking you home from the bank; someone confronts you. The private security individual ends up wounding your potential assailant. Where does the liability lie? The private security person was at your disposal, was he not? Also, you cannot get a valid statistical snapshot of crime IF not all incidents are duly reported and duly entered to the policing system so that patterns can emerge. Do the private security firms compile reports which they subsequently turn over to the police? If not, you will never have a clear snapshot of where the gaps lie in the policing effort. Lastly, there is a need for the courts when dealing with anti-social behaviour to get more imaginative so that the miscreant is not quickly returned to the streets and so that jails do not become overcrowded at taxpayer expense. Community service is likely the best idea. Make it tough. Make it related to the crime. Make it so that it teaches a lesson...and maybe causes a little shame to the miscreant.

Bluesberry via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss

On how speed rail:

It takes a great deal of electrical energy to run high speed trains

How many power stations will have to be built in order to run these trains?

Bob Moorhead via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss

There seems to have been very little coverage of the alternative technologies and route. The UK Ultraspeed group are proposing a serious implementation of Maglev along a single route that serves all major conurbations. The system is more environmentally friendly, faster and cheaper to build and would link major population centres and airports for maximum benefit to the economy.

Mark White via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss

On John Prescott interview:

"Mr Prescott, in my opinion, speaks like a northerner but thinks and acts like a southerner. The people in the North East have just had enough."

Mr Gorman, Teesside

"Mr Prescott is in cloud cuckoo land. Does he realise that Sunderland has the highest youth unemployment apart from Hull? As for public transport within Sunderland, public transport has been savaged under Labour."

Terence Docherty, Sunderland Conservative Party

John Prescott just bullies all the time. "Now he's not in Government he's even worse. He just barges through and doesn't give anybody else the chance to speak."

Paul Anderson, North Yorkshire

"Ask Mr Prescott why we didn't hold the banks to ransom when we had the chance to. Because without us, the banks were going to go under. We gave all the money to the banks and kept nothing for ourselves."

Kevin Barras, Pegswood, Northumberland.

"He's the absolute wrong person to come here where sixteen hundred people at least are going to lose their jobs. Tell John Prescott to come here to Middlesbrough and I will show him the condition of the roads in Middlesbrough, and let him do something about that."

Joan McTighe, independent councillor, Middlesbrough.

If Prescott listened to the electorate then he would realise that nobody wants a regional assembly in the North East - we don't even want a unitary authority!! The trouble is that a Londoncentric party has no idea what the local population want and so comes up with what it feels is a good idea and then tries to force it on us. Well it is time they listened to us and realised that we have a voice that we want to be heard and represented in Parliament.

Marc Hydleman via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/mossmissives

No matter what the government does next in dementia care, it will have the full approval of most charities that supposedly represent carers.  These supposedly independent bodies are funded by councils, big business and the National Lottery.  Their main function is just to rubber stamp any new government policy.

Doris Bishop

The Labour candidate featured on your programme this weekend talks about education. But her party did away with assisted places which were aimed at helping people from deprived backgrounds. Why did Labour abolish this if her party is all for education?

Paul Tweddle, Sunderland

The Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate's reference to her party's aim to restore fairness with and between communities was ironic. The Lib Dem-controlled Newcastle Council has been granted almost £5m by the Lottery Fund to establish and manage a city centre youth project. The site chosen without any public consultation, necessitates the annexation of the Grade II Listed City Baths and the destruction of its second pool. Objections from Newcastle's MPs together with public petitions and a Council-commissioned opinion poll have been ignored. This issue has reinforced territorialism, created generational conflict and has been influential in the resignations of two Lib Dem Councillors.

J.C. Edwards

The more the top dogs put the BNP down, the more people are going to vote for them. It's not nothing to do with Hope Not Hate, it's survival. I'm not racist, I'm just sick to death of living here. I can't move, so I'll vote BNP.

Steven Richardson, Cleveland

CORUS

Gordon Thompson, Blyth

Corus should've been nationalised straightaway. That would've helped preserve the jobs and keep the workforce going, but we have a system that just wants to carry on a north south divide. The North East has always been over-reliant on manufacturing and that's the sad reality. I'm concerned about the Tories gaining power and cutting everything right back.

John Garratt, Catterick Garrison
I used to work for British Steel at the Teesside works. It's the same now with this one as it was then. The first thing started with the Tory government. Maggie Thatcher, she killed the coal mines, she killed the ship building and now we have the Labour party who are killing the steelworks in Redcar. I think it's a damned disgrace and Brown should get his arse into gear and stop British steel coming from India. Make these people pay for the the ten year contract money that they got and honour the agreement that they made. Make them pay the full contract money and get the steelworks back again.

Howard Legg, Berwick
Labour will not bother bailing out Corus because it expects Redcar and Middlesbrough to vote Labour as it has done for years. Look at the last election when Rover was about to go bust and loads of West Midlands marginal seats may have turned Tory. It was quick enough to bail them out. But it won the election and allowed Rover to fail anyway. I think we can draw our own conclusions from that. Also did you notice how the whole cabinet apart from David Miliband was up in the North east on Thursday but not one of them was prepared to appear on Question Time and face the angry steelworkers. Doesn't that say a lot about the cynicism of this government?

Richard Vardy via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss
Couldn't agree more with Vera Baird. However, isn't it a bit late as some of us recognised this in the 1990's? Short sightedness has been one of the major problems of the New Labour Government. Gordon Brown and his cabinet cannot suddenly say they are Old Labour and this goes for the MPs also.

Karen Rowell, Corus Worker, Redcar
In your programme today (Sunday 20th Feb 10), Gordon Brown stated that 'the government has given money to Tata to help his business' - How much was he given and what has Mr Tata done with that money?

M J Roberts
A question you might like put to our government ministers: with two massive aircraft carriers being planned - requiring huge amounts of high grade steel, where is the material coming from? Will it be low grade inferior quality steel from India or elsewhere overseas?

Very Upset Pensioner
What are Labour doing? It is OK saying the plant is being 'moth balled' but it will cost a fortune to get it going again. Surely we should help to keep the plant open, save jobs and also have our own steel making plant for the future? If we don't we will end up buying steel from abroad and they will be able to charge what they want!

I cannot believe what Gordon Brown is doing, he is still allowing the Banks to get huge bonus payments, money which could help to save the steel industry!

The people in the North of England should forget Labour at the next election unless they change their ways.

Lynn Cox, Redcar
I work for Corus and we'll soon be losing 1700 jobs while the European Union is providing 50 million Euros and the Dutch government's given 5 million Euros to build a 20 million Ero new steel plant in Holland. So not only do Corus get a free mill, they also get the carbon credits because we haven't actually been shut down, we've been mothballed. It'll be worth around 600 million pounds under the carbon trading credit scheme. It's just ridiculous. It seems that we're being sold in order for Corus to profit both ways. Our government seemingly isn't allowed to do anything to help us and yet the Dutch government's been subsidising their workers' wages for 2 days a week. They say there's no demand for steel and yet Tata has just opened two new steel mills in India, so there obviously is demand for steel.

Michael Cameron, Redcar
It's all right the politicians talking about what's happening, but why don't they pressure this government, the most useless Labour government there's ever been. And it's all right Lord Bates taking about steel on Teesside, but it's his party that put the first nail into the coffin. And Gordon Brown's Labour party put the final nail in the coffin of the steel works. Something needs to be done around here or this area will become a ghost town. You may as well bulldoze Redcar.

Suzanne Horton, Middlesbrough
I have been watching the politics show and feel I need to have my say. My dad has worked at Corus for 37 years and is going to be made redundant. From what I understand, Corus have done all they can to save jobs, but will only sell up if a buyer offers a decent price, which has yet to materialise. Neither the Tory or the Lib Dem on your show offered any actual solution to the closure of Corus, and merely suggested that whatever Gordon Brown and Labour do is not enough. I feel that if the Tories come to power, the North East will be forgotten. The unemployment figures would be blamed on Labour, but nothing would be done to try to resolve this problem. This is a very poor region and the cash injection that Gordon Brown has invested in this area can only be a good thing. I think that Labour are the only party that would support the people in this area, as the Tories are too concerned with making rich people richer; poor people are not part of the equation.

Prudeboy via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss
Re Corus: Very sad, but inevitable. Ever since Mrs T cajoled us into partaking in the property owning democracy this country's developed economy has guaranteed that industries that rely on a skilled indigenous workforce will slowly wither and die. Just like coal mining and ship building. Outpriced by other less developed countries. The raw materials for steel making all come from overseas. Even with a smart and efficient workforce it is cheaper to have those raw materials processed abroad. What will we end up doing in Britain? Perhaps we will all build houses and conservatories for everyone to take loans out on. Then there will be the roads. The roads will be needed to take the goods to the shops from the Import Centre being built at Redcar. How do we pay for the imports though?

Err, I haven't worked that one out either.

Marie Bridon, Middlesbrough
Where is the country going to buy steel when the only company in the county is closed? We have no faith that the government is going to provide anything for Teesside at all.

Beryl Dunning
Talking is cheap by the Tories and Lib Dems. The Tories privatised steel in 1988 after Labour nationalised it, so have nothing to shout about.

Christopher Bennin, Darlington
At Corus, we're trying to make prefabricated steel. Why for God's sake haven't we got a clause in all contracts, with army equipment and everything, that they should be built with British steel? The Germans and French have been doing this for years.

Douglas Allcock
Gordon Brown seems to be so naive - he doesn't realise that the gold wealth that he gave away some years ago was created by manufacturing. This county is now haemorrhaging its most important industry. If it doesn't stop soon it'll be pointless training apprentices and this country will have nothing to turn back to. They must stop this specialised steel company from going out of business. I am an engineer who was involved in the installation of multimillion pound plants in the south of this country some years ago. Most of this was manufactured in other countries. This has to stop or there will be no more gold in this country.

Audrey Hoss
Everyone can solve the problem of Corus when they are not in power to do anything. Typical of the Liberals and Tories. If Mr. Brown gave all the steel workers thousands of pounds, that would be wrong!

Don Robertson, Washington
Gordon Brown says that steelmaking capacity is causing these difficulties for Redcar, YET, why is TATA STEEL building and opening very soon TWO very large steel plants in India? If - IF - there is overcapacity, why are these two plants even considered? Also, all the Carbon Credits for closing Redcar go to TATA Steel, not our treasury'. Travelling by car from Washington Services to Perth, the quickest way is via Hexham and Carlisle!! When is the A1 going to be upgraded? I am CONVINCED that Ashington and Blyth and Berwick are losing out on trade from the south which takes the A66 detour from Scots Corner or indeed from further South who travel by the M6 to Scotland.

James Macdonald, High Harrington, Workington
Regarding the floods in Cumbria, local tradesmen and the local labour force haven't seen the benefit of the big insurance companies paying out to tenants and homeowners, in work or materials from this area. The other point is compulsory funding for care. I'm a pensioner and the compulsory funding for care, which I haven't decided on because i haven't had a lot of information on. It's all very well but for us pensioners it was compulsory to go into a pension scheme yet this generation doesn't seem to have to do it. I can't see it working if that doesn't come into effect.

Terri McCorkin
I think the Prime Minister is talking a lot of jargon. I've been a Labour supporter all my life. Yes, the youngsters may go to university but they're left with a massive debt afterwards. Also One NorthEast was voted against by the populous and we're now governed by Durham County Council. This has happened against our agreement. Why did we vote in the first place? The decision was made by the government. I'm very, very disgusted by this present Labour Government.

Leslie Foster, Morpeth
How anyone could vote Labour at the next election? When Gordon Brown said they've done everything they could since 1997, they've done nothing for pensioners. How he and his cronies can sleep at night, I don't know. It's going to take years to clear up the mess this government's made.

Margaret Garrett
I think Gordon Brown is the biggest hypocrite going. He said he was helping the North East. Him and his party don't give a damn about the north. All they think about is the banks and the motor industry. He should go back to Scotland where he belongs.

Peter Freeman
I would have asked Mr Brown, what has the Labour Party done for the NE in the last 12 years as we have: the highest level of unemployment in the country and the worst infrastructure in the country. They are spending 16 billion on a new rail link across London and talking about a high speed link to Glasgow. On the west coast, there is a three lane dual carriageway already to Glasgow but on the east coast you cannot drive between Newcastle and Edinburgh on a dual carriageway. The trouble is, most of the people of the NE always vote for Labour - were this a marginal area, perhaps we would be better off.

Liz Maddison, Spennymoor, County Durham
It is all very well Gordon Brown saying the investment in the North East will be in low carbon industries including electric motor cars. I have asked but not yet had an answer: what is the strategic thinking on disposal of batteries for electric cars when they need to be replaced? All I have heard is that they will last for a long time. Also, no strategy is yet in place to have electric points across the country. Surely these issues need to be fully investigated before the event, not after?

OTHER TOPICS

Tony Marshall, North Yorkshire
The government have done nothing to help the building industry, its biggest employer. They've not tried to kick start it or anything and once you get your building industry going, you'll get your steel works going. They've just left it to rot. They say one thing and do the opposite. I'm sick to death of this government and I can't wait to get it out. I think Mr Brown should have gone six months ago so the country could sort itself out. Instead he's just lingered on, keeping power. He's not interested in this country or the people in this country.

Cllr Steve Walmsley, Teesside
Lord Bates is on about doing away with the regional development agency. I wonder if he'd replace these things with something like the TDC which they had in the Teesside area. That seemed to go out of existence under a cloud, under accusations of millions of pounds going missing. I also think he's got selective amnesia when he talks about manufacturing. It was the Tories that privatised steel and actually butchered that industry and he wants to take a tour up the road to some of the pit villages still recovering after the Tories absolutely smashed them into the ground. Absolutely amazing, these people. And when they talk about unemployment, I don't know if they realise that officially there was over three million unemployed when they were in power and it was probably nearer the five million.

Colin Parker, Bedlington
I'm absolutely incensed by the Conservative Lord Bates. The Labour party is trying. How he has the audacity to come on and criticise what they've done with industry. I was a miner for 35 years and I saw what the Thatcher government did to my industry. I'm disgusted. If the Tory party ever get into power, then God help us.

Peter Smith, Durham
The government hasn't got a strategy for the North East, it just hung us out to dry. The development agency One NorthEast hasn't created any jobs. It's spent billions trying to do this and that. All the heavy industry has gone down the tubes. We're not producing anything, we're doing absolutely zero. People are out of work. You can't create jobs out of nothing. It's just a disaster.

Marc Hydleman via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss
The current climate is one where you would hope that the electorate will be so angry about the way our country has been run and mismanaged that they will be determined to vote for change. The other reaction could be that they will say there is no point in voting as all politicians are the same, and so apathy will take hold.

It is up to the PPCs to show that they care and are not corrupt. They should show that they will put the electorate first and not work on being elected and keeping their current job - as this just shows that they care for themselves. Another source of income and they don't need to do much for it - guaranteed pay till the next election.

There are candidates who have retired to give their constituents their full attention (eg Dr Steven Ford who will stand as an Independent in Hexham) and I would encourage all voters to look closely at what is on offer for the election. Do we want to elect a person who will turn up when the party whips tell them to and vote the way their party expects, or someone who will put their constituency first at all times?

The farce over the unitary authority being created for Northumberland, although hardly any of the citizens of the County were in favour is just one example of what we see as our politicians failing to represent us. The disgrace over the loss of income by the County Council in Icelandic banks has angered many and yet it is us who have to pay for it!! Why? £23million pounds lost and NCC say they have to make cut backs of £30million. Next year would not be so hard if the invested money had not been lost. We do not expect our civil servants to gamble our money away, but to safeguard it for the wellbeing of the County.

If we can get the electorate out of their state of apathy, then we can make a difference, but it is up to the PPCs, and possibly the media, to let the voters know that they can make a difference. I hope for a large turnout and that we see true, caring and honest local MPs elected.

Sunday 14 February 2010

INDEPENDENT POLITICIANS

Marc Hydleman via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss
I enjoyed your Politics Show on Sunday, but was surprised that the Independents you spoke to weren't given more time. This election will see a growth in support for the Independents who will work for their constituency and not their party leader. The electorate are not happy with the current choice offered by the 3 main parties, and when you saw the bickering and disrespect that was shown by the participants on the earlier debate in the programme, you can understand why.

Tim Michaels, Middlesbrough
Regarding independent politicians: I have an issue with where they stand on their views towards certain parties like the BNP. I've had no reply from these Independents about it. How are we meant to vote for Independents when they don't have any manifesto, we don't know what they stand for or what hidden agendas they've got. And for me, until they're out in the open, I wouldn't vote for them.

GiMeABreak via Moss Missives at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss
Like you Richard, I applaud anyone who wants to engage in the political process. But is standing as, campaigning or voting for, an Independent the most effective engagement? People generally do wish to see a change in our politics. But how many are actually willing to take part in that change? How can we encourage more people to take part?

The Politics Show does help - but does it not concentrate upon the parties and their politicians, rather than the general membership of those parties? How many people actually select the candidates on each party shortlist?

How many actually select their candidate? These numbers are important - and should be compared with the number of voters in the General Election. If people wish to be empowered in politics - to have their vote really count - then they need to know just how powerful their single vote can be in the right place. If we can show how much an individual can actually influence politics, might we not achieve so much more by increasing the number of people who join a party - ANY party! - and take an active role in their future?

Cllr Dierdre Campbell, Blyth
I've worked alongside independent councillors for 20 years on Blyth valley council and Northumberland County Council. They're all over the place. They never have a policy themselves to pursue. Just last week, they didn't present a budget to Northumberland County Council but they criticised the other parties.

Noel McGivern
One thing that the piece on Independents did not not reflect is that in the case of Dr Steven Ford in the Hexham seat, there is a real head of steam behind him. He is a highly respected and popular local figure and is tapping into a deep well of discontent not just over expenses but with the whole state of politics. In many seats, this is going to be the most unpredictable election since the 1832 Reform Act. There will be surprises and prominent local figures may well come through. There is a strong desire for change in the whole political system. People like Steven Ford who have build up a good reputation in their community offer a fresh start. In the Hexham constituency the groundswell of support for a new approach is unquestionable.

ROBIN HOOD TAX

Mr Richardson, Whickham
The banks and bankers should be paying money to small business to get businesses up and running again and we need more manufacturing in the country. We're losing jobs because too many people are buying things from abroad.

SOCIAL CLASS AND POLITICS

Cllr Joan McTigue, Middlesbrough
Is Tony Blair a toff? He was educated privately and is now a multi-milllionaire, thanks to being a Labour MP. Is Gordon Brown a toff? He was educated privately. If somebody is born into a wealthy family through no fault of their own, are they a toff? And do these labour MPs think these people should give all their money away? If a poor person wins the lottery are they then considered a toff and expected to give their money away to charity? 'Toff' is a ridiculous word. Most real aristocrats are up to their eyes in debt thanks to death duties. That's why they have to open their stately homes to the public.

Mr C Atherton, Whitley Bay
Would you be interested in approaching the three major parties and asking them their politics on the free bus passes? There's a large 'grey vote' in the in the North East of England in particular and I'm sure most of them appreciate the facility of the free bus pass. Perhaps it might be enlightening to find the major parties view on this.


Sunday 7 February 2010

CLARKE vs CLEGG

Grace Cassidy, Ryhope
Ken Clarke has just been on your programme saying he's come up to the North East to solve our problems. But when you think that they were the lot that were in power for 18 years and caused all the problems in the North East, closing the shipyards, the mines and the factories. So he's got a nerve coming up here and telling us what to do. I think he must have a very short memory. He must think people are thick up north - but we're not.

Cllr G Waddle, Independent, South Tyneside Council
Kenneth Clarke was a cabinet member & Chancellor in the Thatcher years that closed profitable pits, destroyed shipbuilding & thereby destabilised the apprenticeship schemes and the opportunity to learn craft skills that could have alleviated youth unemployment in the North East. How dare he lecture us on the North East divide & how he sees a way to reverse it? Creep back to the back benches, Ken - or better still resign.

Steve Walmsley, Thornaby
I find it absolutely astonishing that despite the presence of Prime Minister Blair and senior ministers Mandelson, Milburn, Byers, Armstrong, Nick Brown etc, that the North East lags so far behind the rest of the country. In my opinion all we've had in 13 years is gimmicks, no thought-out policies. Regional Government was rejected and in effect brought in by stealth and rather than unity and cohesion, it's created disharmony and suspicions. We've had a government for 13 years that's done everything by slight of hand and that's why were in the position were in now. We are now too dependent on the bankers and celebrity and not enough on the Labour core vote which is why I left the Labour Party.

Peter Smith, Durham
The Labour party has had 12 years to do something with the country. They've done nothing to help anyone, Iraq was a disaster, the battle with the banks was a disaster, the 10p tax was a disaster. They just stumble from one crisis to another. We haven't got anyone to replace the Labour Party because the Conservatives are a bunch of idiots. The party system is wrong. You should have totally independent MPs and you shouldn't vote in a block for things you don't believe in.

EXPENSES

Michael Orange, Durham
On the expenses scandal, I think what stands out is these people are the very people that imposed a massive tax rise on the poorest people in society and they're filling their own pockets. I think all that fraudulently claim should be prosecuted. I used to work in the public service, I would have been sacked. I would have lost my pension and I would have had a criminal record. MP's shouldn't be treated differently. They're greedy thieves and they should be prosecuted.

Colin Walker, Whitehaven
On expenses, what baffles me is why our parliamentarians can't come up with a system that states what is allowed, what isn't and then implement it. Most major companies in this country have to introduce such a system, operate it and stick by the rules. But the government seems incapable of coming up with a system for 650 employees. It doesn't make sense. They're a shambles. How can we trust them to run the country when they can't even run the expenses scheme?

TW Beatie, Lockerbie
On MPs expenses, the taxpayer pays for their houses and mortgages. After ten years when the house price has doubled and it's sold, does the taxpayer get the profit?

Peter Curtis, Teesside
My opinion is about the expenses and the MPs who are going to court, if they're going to be tried by a jury, where will they find 12 members of the public who would treat them fairly as I think 95% of the British working people think they're guilty now?

Margaret Keenan, Middlesbrough
Why is it that when politicians have been told to pay a certain amount of money back because they've wrongly claimed it, they can appeal and get away with it?

Tony Brennan
One question which does not seem to have been addressed concerns the number of MPs standing down at the next election. Could it be that because they will not be able to bolster their salaries by fiddling their expenses, they are hanging on solely because they will benefit from what I understand to be generous "resettlement grants" and an index-linked pension? We the electorate paid their salaries, financed their fiddles, and are now expected to pay for those grants and pensions! If employees of a private company had been found to be on the fiddle to the same extent, they would have been guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed without notice. Parliamentary privilege? What price public service? Will I trust the next lot to be any better? Not likely!

Margaret Young
I believe that all those who overclaimed should be prosecuted, not just a chosen few. If anyone overclaims benefits, they are classed as benefit cheats and are prosecuted. Whatever happened to justice? I think in today's economy, all expenses for MPs should be scrapped. After all, they know where Parliament is when they put themselves up for election. I also think they get a good enough salary to be able to pay their own expenses and i do not think second homes are a necessity.

We the British public have been robbed right, left and centre for years but apparently, the inquiry only went back 5 years. Conveniently for some MPs, I believe.

I think a better idea would be for the government to build some tower blocks, these could be kept for all MPs to live in when they visit London, that way all their second homes could be sold and the money returned to the treasury and maybe used to give us pensioners a decent standard of living. The tower block homes could also be rented out to tourists when the MP's are not occupying them. Then perhaps we will only get MP's who believe passionately in working to make Britain "great" again and not just to feather their own nests.

PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS

Mr Scott, Sunderland
When the public sector cuts have come, they've always hit the lowest members of staff - the auxiliary staff. Which party are going to ensure that the cuts are going to be fair and proportionate and we start looking at the top levels instead of the easy to hit auxiliaries?

OTHER ISSUES

Mr Messenger, Whitehaven
When there's so much unemployment amongst young people, why does the government think we all have to work till we're 70? Is it so they can save money on the pensions?

Grahame Robertson, Billingham
With the cuts to deal with the budget deficit- much of this, over a hundred billion, has been caused by the banks. Yet we're seeing nothing from any of the main parties to get any of that money back. They're just relying on the economy improving in the future and getting their investment in the form of shares. There should be some concerted action. Not just taxes on bankers budgets, but taxes on banks profits to get tens of billions of this back and not make the public and private sector pay.

Geoff Miles, Leeds
I'm commenting about people not voting. The reason people don't vote is not because they apathetic it's because their vote is wasted; where they can't vote for anyone they feel fits their point of view. The main parties don't always fit the bill if the voting system changes, if there was proportional representation, if people's vote would count -people would vote. You'd get more than the 50% turn out you get now and there wouldn't be the apparent apathy. When they do exit polls after the elections, no one asks people why they haven't voted. 1st past the post is for horse racing.

Sunday 31 January 2010

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Cllr Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Newcastle North and Councillor for Low Fell
We took control in Newcastle in 2004 and so you are right about the honeymoon period being over. Nevertheless our percentage vote in local elections has grown consistently since then and we also topped the poll across Newcastle in last year's Euro elections. Part of the reason for this is that we believe that every vote has to be earned and that no-one should be taken for granted - so we have worked hard to keep our promises in office and people have rewarded us by continuing to vote Liberal Democrat in Newcastle.

In terms of national policy, the easy thing would be to pretend that we can afford to do everything we want to, but the public finances simply will not allow any government to keep spending and taxing as they have. So we have made the decision to be straight with people about this - it's simply the right thing to do. And speaking personally, I'm not going to lie to win votes, that's not who I am, not the sort of MP I would be. In any case the issue that should concentrate the minds of responsible journalists is not the impact of policy changes on opinion polls but whether those changes stand up to scrutiny in terms of their impact on people, their affordability, their effectiveness and their coherence. That is what really matters.

HEATING ALLOWANCES

Derek Edwards
I tuned onto the Politics Show and was interested in your piece concerning winter allowances. What particularly struck me was the fact that the young woman with a child who was featured as being in receipt of benefits and a special weekly fuel allowance funded by the taxpayers was, in the depths of winter, wearing only a tiny summer dress with bare arms. I was brought up to know that in winter, one simply added further layers of clothing if one happened to be either in or out of the house. Interesting and food for thought as to where such monies are directed and then how they are used.

Kathy Fish, Northumberland
I just wanted to comment on heating - I totally sympathise that everyone has to keep warm and it is essential, but has that young woman on your programme not heard of winter clothes? To say how expensive it is when she's dressed for a hot summer's day and the child's dressed the same, there has to be some element of common sense.

Margaret Whedon, Heighington near Darlington
You're on about poverty for heating, but the people that you show are wearing T-shirts in houses. Why cant they dress more sensibly? It is winter after all, you don't have to go around in a T-shirt. And likewise some of them very improperly dressed outside as well. They'll finish off with hypothermia.

John, Richmond
I'd just like to say, that woman that was complaining about keeping the house warm - if she bought the kid a vest and a cardigan and got properly dressed herself, she'd be a lot warmer, like us old folk who have to put on another cardigan to keep warm.

Moira Shorton, Denton
Wouldn't it be helpful if Michelle, who was feeling cold, put a jumper on and some socks and shoes on the child rather than whingeing that her house wasn't insulated properly?

Margaret Hall, Guisborough
There was a lady and little girl complaining about the cost of heating and they were sitting there in thin tops and a summery dress. Why can't they put on a jumper and a cardigan?

Les Clark, Wearhead, County Durham
Regarding Warm Front, we're in a rural location and we're on LPG gas. LPG seems to be excluded from all the government schemes on the grounds that someone forgot to put it in. They included ordinary gas, mains gas, electricity and oil but they didn't include LPG. So we're prevented from getting boilers under the scheme, heating systems and so on. In our case, our gas supplier actually left us with no gas at all at one point this winter in the cold with temperatures down to -15 in the area. For us it's a serious problem. We're also prevented from getting things like dual fuel discounts because most companies don't do two fuels, so we're disadvantaged.

Robert Giles, Shildon
About Warm Front, I've been 4 or 5 years getting heating done by them and it's still not finished. They want sacking.

Michael English, Darlington
The heating allowance doesn't go to all pensioners at 60 because of a ruling that anyone that turns 60 after September 27th doesn't get that heating allowance - they have to wait until they're sixty one. The reason given was so they can get the cheques out, well they no longer give cheques. Most pensioners have to have their benefits paid into a bank account, so that wipes that argument out. And also an announcement this week by the Human Rights Commission recommends that the retirement age of 65 should be abolished. It's wrong - most people look forward to retiring at 65. And already the government is phasing out the retirement age and David Cameron wants the retirement age to be above 70.

Anne Cane, Stockton-On-Tees
On fuel poverty, I couldn't believe that people are trying to live in a house in the middle of winter wearing no more clothes than they would in the middle of summer. I'm not poor at all but I'm wearing two jumpers and a vest to keep warm and I've just had to pop the heating on again. There is no reason on earth that someone would have to keep their house warm enough as though they were in the middle of summer. People should be expected to dress for the weather inside and outside. They are their own worst enemies.

Anne Fielding, Newcastle
There was an old lady saying she was quite content with her allowance but I couldn't help but notice that she was wrapped up in warm clothing. The silly young woman with a child, they were sitting there in summer outfits. I'm a pensioner and I'm happy with my heating allowance and if I feel cold, I put on an extra layer.

Patricia Stoneman, Blyth
On heating, I'm 63 years old a pensioner, arthritis in the spine and we live in a large Victorian town house. We have adequate income and are on Staywarm. But in the house I wear fleeces and thermal vests and I can't help but notice that the young woman with the child was wearing a summer cotton t-shirt and the elderly lady in Sunderland wearing a lightweight blouse. I would die of hypothermia if I walked around my house dressed like that.

Andy Patterson, Newton Aycliffe
I'm visually impaired and have kidney disease and am on dialysis. I've been refused Warm Front payments because I live in a council bungalow. NPower were going to do it for free for me but then I was refused. So all this thing about the Warm Front payments is a load of rubbish.

Yvonne Stanniforth, Middlesbrough
I'm tired of seeing pictures on TV of people wearing skimpy clothes and complaining about the heating. They should wear jumpers and cardigans. I'm 80 and I don't get the fuel allowance and don't claim any other benefits, but I'm well.

Beryl Huntington, Durham
I've been watching your latest Politics Show about fuel poverty. I noticed that the young lady and her daughter were both wearing T-shirts if they are cold what's wrong with wearing a woollen jumpers. The lady interviewing was wearing a polo jumper.

J.Phillips, Stockton on Tees
Your example of those who are having problems keeping warm should be helping themselves by wearing some warm clothing The mother and her young daughter were wearing what appeared to be short-sleeved t-shirts. What happened to woolly jumpers and fleeces?

T.W Beatie, Dumfries
The local Politics Show gives a number, but the national programme won't give you a number to call, it's only an email. So you can't leave a message. They should also have a phone number. Also, on the national programme, it's very biased; the interviewer was interrupting David Cameron and shouting questions at him. When interviewing Mandelson, he did so very nicely. Regarding pensions, the benefits system is very bureaucratic. I'm 70 years old, I've still got a mortgage. I know a friend who owns his own house, but receives cold weather payments, council tax payments. My income goes on my mortgage. I know another person who inherited 40 thousand pounds - he's on benefits. The benefits system is rubbish. The pensioners should all have the same amount of money. Regarding single people, they have a lot more tax allowances than a married couple which is totally wrong. Married people should have the same as single people

William Ericson, Burradon
I watched today's show. I think you've done a service of being very impartial with your comments and I'd like to say thank you very much. I enjoy the show and I think it's fair and it always seems a good debate, not like the national one.

Sunday 24 January 2010

1NG, CITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

John Dunn, Gateshead
Lord Falconer is on about priorities. They're starting on a site in Newcastle, the old brewery site. Surely Gateshead town centre has been crying out for redevelopment for years now and I would have thought that was the top priority in the area.

Eileen Hopkins, Corbridge
I do have quite strong opinions about this NewcastleGateshead issue. If only you put a little 'and' between the two names, I think people would be a lot happier.

John Gustard, Blaydon
Isn't there more to Gateshead and Newcastle than the inner city? They are actually metropolitan boroughs. What about the west and east of the boroughs?

Barry Davison, Durham
Regarding 1NG, it's another quango that we can do without. The people of the North East don't need this and it's another waste of money.

Marjorie Matthews, Sunderland
Newcastle want to pretend that the Metrocentre, Angel of the North, Baltic, Sage etc are in Newcastle rather than Gateshead. Also, Sunderland is the largest city between here and Edinbrough. Newcastle would like to claim that instead. NewcastleGateshead is a mouthful that should never be mouthed.

Grace, Sunderland
I'm not fond of the NewcastleGateshead indicatives way of talking about the two places as though they are the same. I do think it comes across as Newcastle trying to swallow up the best bits of Gateshead, probably to the rest of Gateshead's detriment. However I have to admit there may be an element of parochiality to this opinion, being from Sunderland and being annoyed at the focus it draws away from my city. I won't deny this is more than a little childish really, but it comes from my gut instinct. I wish Sunderland broadcasted and promoted itself as much and as successfully as Newcastle does.

Linda Hudson, Washington
It is time to quash the myth once and for all that Thatcher's government closed shipyards, coalmines and steelworks. What government in their right mind would do that to their country, even if they had the power to do so? The truth is the rules of market forces and globalization commanded that businesses would send their manufacturing to foreign countries that provided them with a much cheaper workforce and whose people didn't enjoy workers welfare and fair wages as it is in the western world. Some shipbuilding was sent to India, a country that had never built ships for export in their history. No matter what political party manages to become the next government, market forces will still prevail. Even the Labour Party hasn't been able to stop our core manufacturing and other businesses going abroad or being sold to foreign companies all the years they have been in government. And it won't stop our once iconic Cadbury's being sent abroad in the future. Only a new world financial system can stop this.


Sunday 17 January 2010

NICK BROWN AND THE LABOUR PARTY

Norman Lancaster, Powfoot, Scotland
Nick Brown, one of Mr Gordon Brown's best friends, told Richard Moss that our financial woes began in America. Do you think he would have the courage to appear on this subject in open debate with one of the Americans to find the truth of his remarks? I doubt it. The Prime Minister would run and hide - after consulting Mr Mandelson.

Mrs Warden, Gateshead
In this country, with the recession, Gordon Brown has not penalised the ordinary people. People like me who depend on reduced rent. Also my daughter has mental health problems - thanks to him, she can keep her dignity. So I would like to thank the Labour party and Gordon Brown for not penalising us. But I'm afraid that whoever gets in that would be taken from us.

CONSERVATIVES IN SUNDERLAND

Grace Cassidy, Ryhope, Sunderland
About the the girls on your programme working in Sunderland who think we should have a change and have a Tory MP in Sunderland. I think they've all got short memories. Sunderland's shipyards were the best in the world. Margaret Thatcher and the Tories closed that. They closed nearly every pit in the North East. And they're talking about voting for Tories? All these young girls were all going to school when they the Tories were in. I'm a pensioner. We've never been so well off with all the heating allowance, pension credits, free bus trips and free television license. Come on - what's matter with you in Sunderland? You've all got short memories. You think you're going to have an easy life when the Tories get in?

John Casey, Fife (originally from Sunderland)
It was a Conservative Government that shut all the shipyards where I served my apprenticeship and worked for many years. I think Nick Brown makes a very good point when he talks about brining new industry to Sunderland.

Bob Price
I don't believe that the Tories will win in Sunderland Central. Julie Elliott is much more experienced and committed to Sunderland than the opposition and will make a first rate MP, a pity we didn't see and hear her on your film. The posters that are being put up are an insult to the miners and shipyard workers who suffered under the last Tory Government. Those young floating voters don't realise what the last Tory Government did to our region. One complained about the NHS, but it was the Tories that starved it of investment. I believe that if elected, the NHS will be farmed out to the private sector and we will see the breakup of the NHS that we know and love. Their poster campaign will be the biggest waste of money they've ever spent when a Labour MP is elected on the first result of the night.

UNIVERSITY FUNDING CUTS

Charlotte Carelotte, Brunswick Village, Newcastle
No government should cut spending on university. It is an investment in our future. I've lived in the US and seen the effect funding on universities has. It is critical for our future as a nation, for research, for jobs, for attracting other capital. And how are they going to reach the target of 50 percent being able to have that university education if they make these cuts? British universities already do far more with much less than US ones. I am absolutely strongly against any cuts.


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