Take care with your e-mail

IT MAY be one of the finest communication devices of the last 20 years, but e-mail can also be one of the most dangerous, as Judy Terry has discovered.

IT MAY be one of the finest communication devices of the last 20 years, but e-mail can also be one of the most dangerous, as Judy Terry has discovered.

The problem with e-mail is that it is too easy to use - and too permanent.

So if you have a tendency to blow your top, then e-mail can record your explosion in the minute that it happened - even if you do regret it just a few seconds later.

Borough leisure spokeswoman and enthusiastic Tory Mrs Terry clearly blew her top in e-mails to Labour's John Cook.

In the exchange of e-mails which were published, Mrs Terry was very angry about the Labour opposition raising the issue that former mayor Bill Wright remained on the council's e-mail lists after he retired from the authority.

The published e-mails clearly show Mr Cook to be in the right. His points are well-made and show up an oversight that should be corrected by the council bureaucrats.

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Mrs Terry, on the other hand, appears to have over-reacted, missed the point of his concern, and ends up sending him personal abuse.

Now I don't know what Messrs Cook and Terry had said to each other, and I do think it is a bit rich to suggest Mr Cook was being bullied.

He's a vastly experienced politician who can give as good as he gets in the rough-and-tumble of political debate. I really can't see him being intimidated by anyone.

But that doesn't alter the fact that he was on the receiving end of a very unpleasant e-mail.

It is one thing to tell someone they are odious in the heat of an argument - once you have cooled down you can apologise and it will quickly be forgotten.

Once you have sent it in an e-mail it is there for ever - and it can continue to embarrass you long after the original argument is forgotten.

Mrs Terry has done a great deal for the town over the last few years - helping to save and develop the Regent, pushing on with the restoration of Christchurch Park, and helping to boost sports facilities.

But in future she would be well advised to pause for a few minutes before putting her thoughts on e-mail!

ANY life-limiting disease is cruel for everyone concerned - the actual sufferer and their family and friends.

So the news that Lady Thatcher is suffering from a form of dementia will prompt a great deal of sadness.

As prime minister there was no more divisive figure that Mrs T. You either thought her policies were wonderful and transformed Britain in the 1980s . . . or you thought she was a disaster.

What was not in doubt was that she used the sheer force of her personality to drive through massive changes in this country.

Without her sharp mind and determination, she would never have achieved anything. So the news that she cannot even remember that her beloved husband Denis has died should sadden everyone.

Dementia is, of course, a condition that can strike at anyone - and the fact is that as more of us live into our 80s, 90s, and beyond, more of us are likely to suffer.

Of course Lady Thatcher is, in one way, very fortunate.

She can afford top class care in her London home and can afford the drugs that the government's NICE experts tell us are not cost-effective and are therefore not available on the NHS.

Her family will not have had to wonder whether their doctor could afford to treat her with Aricept.

And of course her family do at least have hours of film record of Lady Thatcher in her prime - when she really was the Iron Lady - to look back on.

The tragedy of this illness for many families is that it comes to define the victim, and it is too easy to forget what they were like in their prime. No one in this country will ever forget Mrs T in her prime!

I HOPE Caryl Jackson enjoys her life in Suffolk, but I still cannot work out why the county felt it was necessary to appoint someone on such a massive salary - £81,000 a year is a fortune to most people - when the future of the authority remains so unclear.

Most people, and organisations, share the view that whatever happens over the next few months Suffolk's local authorities will be changed dramatically.

I cannot see why the council has appointed someone now to do a job that is likely to only last for a maximum of another 20 months - in the spring of 2010 new authorities will be formed and there will be several existing communications chiefs looking for new jobs.

Until then, I can't help feeling the communications department at Endeavour House could quite well keep us informed about what is happening in the county without the need for an expensive head.

After all, the county has promised us it won't be spending thousands on publicity campaigns to tell us how wonderful it is!

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