Threat to our security

As neighbours of Peter Mandelson, we felt it was only fair to present a balanced picture of the situation in Hutton Avenue, which Peter Dunn did not do ("The perils of Peter", 23 April). When Mandelson took up the role of secretary of state for Northern Ireland, we were approached by the police, who discussed the proposed security arrangements, giving us ample opportunity to voice any objections or concerns, and follow-up visits have been made for the same purposes. The police have been both approachable and sensitive to our needs. The security arrangements have been made because Mandelson is a potential target for a terrorist attack, and in this event, as his neighbours, we are also at risk.

With regard to Steve Leslie, the neighbour who instigated a complaint against Mandelson, you should be aware by now that he is a director of Gus Robinson Developments Ltd and thus a colleague of Gus Robinson, who just happens to be the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool. It is perhaps significant that Leslie has had a complaint only since his close friend and employer announced his intention to stand in the election, and also that he took the unusual step of discussing his concerns directly with the press, instead of walking across the road to discuss them with Mandelson, or bringing them to the attention of the police.

If someone does not agree with Mandelson's politics, let him attack his politics, but not his private life, because this has an unfair effect on us, his neighbours - and, quite frankly, this issue has caused us more disruption than all of Mandelson's security arrangements ever could have.

J Cummins, C Carter, J and S Rasul P Horsley, J Gettings
Hartlepool, Cleveland

This article first appeared in the 07 May 2001 issue of the New Statesman, John Prescott: sinking fast