Letters, Friday, December 9th, 2011

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Sad demise of Children’s Centre

WATCHING the wonderful Children in Need appeal recently, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every other appeal was for a donation to help organisations that catered for children with special needs. It was made very clear just what a great help these organisations can offer both on a daily basis and with respite care.

As any parent of a child with special needs will agree, the service which is given is priceless and it is a great pity that appeals have to be made to keep these services running.

It all reminded me of back in 1979 when the Children’s Centre Day Nursery was set up in Durham Road by Sunderland Council. The centre catered for many children with special needs and very quickly became nationally known for the skill and care given to these children.

Many fund-raising events took place, especially from the customers of The Chesters pub and Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade, and enough money was raised to install a hydrotherapy pool and a light stimulation room, which once again put the centre in the forefront of child development.  

A great number of professional people were soon involved with the centre and very often “development profiles” were written, published and distributed to other organisations which were interested or were just starting up to offer the same facility.  

Many children in the Sunderland area attended the centre. By experiencing the expert care and education from a very early stage they were able to reach their best possible potential and transition to school was carefully managed. The centre ran very successfully for 17 years, then in 1997 Sunderland Council in decided to close it and integrate the children into mainstream settings all over the borough.

The parents and residents (taxpayers) of Sunderland signed a petition with 84,000 signatures to keep the centre open. The council did not take any notice and closed it down. Now we have nothing for very young children with disabilities.  

This disaster happened some 13 years ago and it still does not surprise me that the same council is in power and still making the same ridiculous decisions whether it’s the seafront, Vaux site etc. When will we have councillors who have the courage to express the opinions of the voters who put them in a position of trust and expectation to improve the facilities of Sunderland to enable it once again to lead the way as we did in the past?

Michael Harney, Barnes, Sunderland

Unemptied bins

MY domestic waste green bin and recycling blue bin were both due to be emptied on Wednesday, November 30, the day of the public sector strike.

The following day I, along with my neighbours on lower Ford Estate, put both bins out at 7.30am, as the green bin men start their day at 7.30am at the junction of Fordfield Road and Fordham Road.

As I passed through the estate about midday, it was obvious the bins at the Fordfield/Fordham Road junction had not been emptied, along with all the others on Lower Ford.

I rang the Cleansing Department and asked if the bins were going to be emptied, and I was told they were not sure but to wait a couple of hours and phone back if there was no sign of the binmen on the estate.

As the Cleansing Department are always in touch with their teams, and knew full well there were no binmen on the estate that day, they were just fobbing me off. Why? Surely it could not be because of Prime Minister David Cameron’s remark that the strike was a damp squib, and were looking to prolong the inconvenience to the public in retaliation.

This Labour council, along with others around the country, have been accused of deliberately cutting public services which will cause the most inconvenience to the public, to put more pressure on the Coalition, and they would be more than willing to go along with the striking binmen’s silly ploy to inconvenience the public.

Friday teatime, weekly bins still in road unemptied.

M. Carter, Fordfield Road, Ford Estate

Cathedral query

QUITE a few years ago I watched a programme on TV where a priest somewhere abroad was building a cathedral. I’m intrigued to know how far he got or, better still, if he is still building it

Is there a reader out there who knows anything about this priest and his dream? Thank you.

Mrs T. Swan, Chester Terrace North, Millfield

Special thanks

A HUGE thank-you to the porter who handed in my handbag. That will teach me not to leave the trolley behind the car.

It is so refreshing to know that we are in safe hands at Asda in Grangetown, Sunderland.

Pat Bulmer

Fans must be realistic

THE fans are delighted that Martin O’Neill has taken the job as Sunderland manager. He’s a great manager with an excellent record.

But will this be enough to satisfy them? Unless he leads us to the top six, I doubt it.

The Sunderland supporters must take a long, hard look at themselves and take a reality check. The fact is they have no patience and complain about the most trivial things.

The treatment of Steve Bruce was harsh and he had to endure a lot of flak. I don’t think that O’Neill will put up with that, and quite rightly so. He walked out of Aston Villa just before the start of one season.

Sunderland fans, and I am one of them, think that they have a divine right to success and go on about this sleeping giant tag that has been associated with the club for many years. This has put every manager under pressure.

The days of Sunderland winning the league have long gone. The Premiership is a different ball game. We simply have not got the money that the top few clubs have.

The likes of the Manchester clubs and the Spurs and Chelseas of this world are miles ahead of us and we will never match them.

I wish Martin O’Neill well, but I am a realist. All I want is a top-10 finish and some good football

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Confused Labour

ON Monday, September 26, at the Labour Party Conference, Ed Balls said he would increase corporation tax. That was repeated by Ed Miliband on September 27.

On September 28 Ed Miliband denied he would increase corporation tax. How absurd that they cannot agree and these are the people criticising George Osbourne.

This is conclusive proof that whatever Ed Balls says, Balls’ plan B stands for “botched”. It proves that Labour can’t form a policy and can’t agree. No wonder the country is in a mess left by them.

Ed Balls is now saying we should lower national insurance. Was it not he and Miliband who proposed an increase in their manifesto?

As Ken Clark said: “Labour can’t make policy as they don’t understand how to make policy.”

Terrence Docherty, Zetland Square, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Tax troubles

LIKE the gentleman who wrote to the Letters Page recently, I have a tale of woe about HM Inspector of Taxes.

Having been retired for 18 years, I was informed that I owed £1,700 unpaid tax for 2010/2011, the reason being I was working for two employers at the same time and claiming tax against both jobs.

After spending 25 minutes waiting to speak to an adviser, I returned the letter advising them that I have been retired since 1993 and, never having worked for two employers at the same time, how did they arrive at this conclusion?

The letter was sent Recorded Delivery, but to date they have not responded.

So much for computers – or is it incompetent staff?

Mrs A. Brown, Arlington Close, Bournmoor

Wear memories

MY father was a pitman at Wearmouth Colliery. It is therefore a profound understatement to say that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching at Castletown Junior School from September 1958 to December 1968.

I was a choirboy at the Church of St Columba the Abbot from 1945 to 1948. I like to think that the heart of the village beats in local churches.

I know from personal experience that round pegs fit snugly into round holes. Pupils who stayed behind for primary French, in those idyllic days before homework clubs had been invented, will now be in their early 60s.

I continue to hold you all in high esteem. May good fortune accompany you now and for ever.

George Henry Hamilton, Westfield Road, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Great service

I WOULD like to tell you about my experience after a phone call I made on Friday, November 25.

On finding a foreign body in my mouth I rang ENT at Sunderland Royal Hospital and explained to a nurse what was wrong. The nurse told me to go to Ward C33. I arrived at 1.55pm and was seen by a doctor within three minutes. The doctor took a biopsy, stitched the cut and I was discharged at 2.10pm. How’s that for speed?

I could not have got better attention with private health care. I cannot thank the hospital enough for a great service.

Yvonne Ramshaw, Coalbank Square, Hetton