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Sheep treated better than holidaymakers.

I see the animal rights campaigners have come out of the woodwork again recently.

This time they are putting a stop to the legitimate live export of store lambs from Berwick. Using various tactics, including threats, they managed to persuade Berwick port authority to capitulate.

What I wonder is where the animal rights lobby was throughout foot-and-mouth, when atrocious acts of cruelty were committed against poor, healthy farm animals.

Unfortunately, these people believe they have the moral high ground.

However, the travelling conditions of sheep and cattle are far superior to that of the average person on a package holiday flight.

Name and address supplied

Not-so-magical mystery tour

LIKE many other rail commuters I am well used to late trains, but it seems GNER now offers a mystery ride - with trains not stopping at designated stations.

On Monday morning I caught the 8.32 service from Newcastle bound for London Kings Cross. First scheduled stop was Durham, my destination.

To my dismay, no sooner had the imminent stop at Durham been announced than I saw the station sign flash by.

Evidently the driver had more important things in mind and neglected to stop.

Eventually the mistake was acknowledged by an announcement apologising for the "inconvenience" to customers and advising that a northbound service stopping at Durham could be caught at Darlington.

This service (again GNER) was standing at Darlington station on our arrival and the "inconvenienced" passengers made way to it in haste.

By the time I had boarded at the end of the economy section the carriage was brimming - no apparent seats and cramped standing room.

Remembering the apology for inconvenience and deciding to prevail upon its goodwill I made my way into the adjoining dining car, occupied by only a few people, and sat in an empty seat.

Within a second I was approached by a member of the cabin staff and asked to leave the carriage. Having expressed disinclination to do so I earned the wrath of the train manager, who was unsympathetic to the idea that allowing me to occupy a vacant seat (among several) in the dining car for the 20-minute trip to Durham might go some way to assuaging the "inconvenience" caused by the previous mistake.

Being a good citizen, I took my leave and returned to the extremely crowded economy section.

May I suggest that, as well investing in the refurbishment of their rolling stock, the GNER executive give thought to spending further money on customer relations training and some sort of alarm to remind their drivers when the next stop on a service is approaching.

John Hughson

Thanks for truth about asylum

WITH regard to the article about asylum in The Journal today, can I just thank you and your newspaper for yet again printing the truth about asylum, instead of the usual mixture of distortions and myths.

Much appreciated!

Peter Sagar,

by e-mail.

Devolution is good, irrespective of Europe

ANTI-EUROPEANS should desist from trying to hitch their political caravans to the regional devolution debate (Drive for No vote boosted, September 5).

Regional devolution is about bringing decision-making closer to the people that it affects and would be a good idea whether or not the UK was in Europe.

Roger Knapman, of the UK Independence Party, bemoans the lack of a political force opposing an elected regional assembly in the North-East.

Of course, this may simply reflect broad support for an assembly in the region. The reality is that most people in the North-East choose to vote for parties that support regional devolution.

A Manning

Student gap years a huge industry now

RE: Students insulted by `too much fun' jibe (Sep 6). While Kate Simpson's report may have caused offence to hard-working gap year students, I am sure it nevertheless raises some very important questions about a multi-million-pound industry that still goes relatively unchecked.

I have only read extracts from the report, but when I read it in full I will be interested to see to what extent it criticises gap year students (which I agree would be largely unacceptable) and to what extent it is directed at the 50 or so organisations in this country that send volunteers on projects both home and abroad.

I am sure that most organisations operate in a responsible way, but as the emphasis is often placed on the personal and career benefits for the individual (Ucas having trumpeted the value of gap years), it is possible to see how less attention can be paid to the impact that such volunteering programmes have, and indeed should have, on the communities that volunteers serve.

This flags up the need for an intelligent and open debate about the value of gap years and the establishment of an independent gap-year "watchdog" to maintain a watchful eye over this huge industry.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2003
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