Letters, Friday, February 24th, 2012

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Reasons for state of c ity centre

OVER the months and years there has been a body of opinion about the parlous state of the city centre. If there was a straightforward answer to the question of what needs to be done to solve the problem, every town and city in the land would be replicating it.

With Sunderland it comes down to several issues that have created the city that we have today. I’ll start with the obvious ones – the loss industry and major businesses in and around the city i.e. coalmines, shipyards and Vaux. The turgid response by the council in relation to these losses. The running-down of Crowtree Leisure Centre, which pulled a large number of people into the city during the day and evening.The council concentrating on the periphery of Sunderland instead of investing in the city centre and attracting businesses. The chaotic road system and parking, which deters rather than attracts people into the centre.

As someone pointed out, the council spent £50million on upgrading Sunniside, and the amount of business generated has been minimal.

It is sometimes difficult to see where our ever-present Labour councillors are leading the city after 40 years of being in charge. If Sunderland were a business it would have been in administration long ago.

The council have allowed a great many areas in the city to decline, while The Bridges reaps the rewards due to being (by default) the only truly viable shopping area in Sunderland.

Sunderland city centre is not overly large as it takes between 10-15 minutes to walk from one side of the city to the other.I feel sorry for the young people bemoaning the fact that they have to walk from John Street to Vine Place to go from one fashion shop to another. The poor bairns – it must take at least 10 minutes. I think the council ought to look to getting travellator pavements to save people having to walk.

Anyway I see the council are looking to invest millions in the city. I hope that they spend this wisely and that the citizens of Sunderland see something positive in the near future. Here’s hoping.

Bryan Foster

Time for change

RE the recent story about Coun Florence Anderson: the only time Sunderland is mentioned on TV and in the press it is for something shameful.

This is the second time Coun Anderson has done this sort of thing and it should be her last. She has brought shame on the city and herself.

It was said in Parliament the other week about a Labour MP: you do not have to take your children to a museum to see the dinosaurs, just take them there. It’s the same with this council – it is full of them. They now can go into a gold-lined pension scheme. Lucky them. Can anybody else join?

I note that they have not taked any steps to stop wasting £1million pounds on cars for the selected few or £200,000 on union officials. If they want full-time reps, let them pay for themselves they all are on good salaries. I also see that Sunderland Civic Centre is in the top 10 for sickies.

Remember when May comes round look back over the last 40 years and ask your self what has this council done for the city? Do not believe all the pie-in-the-sky stories. Just look at the Vaux site and do not forget £26,000 on bottled water.

In May we have a chance to come into the real world.

And may I thank Linda Colling for telling the truth about the city? I am glad she does.

G. Liddle, Roker, Sunderland

What band wagon?

HAVING read Councillor Wakefield’s letter of February 11, I am intrigued to know what he means by accusing prospective Labour councillors of “Jumping on his band wagon”.

First I would like to know what he means by “band wagon”. I was unable to find a definition in my Oxford English Dictionary. I can only assume he means a party of people moving forwards in progressive way.

Well from what I can see, after 11 years as an elected representative there has been no progress in his single aim of closing the waste site.

This as a single-issue party seems to be a very poor deal for the people of Houghton. Maybe he would prefer to accuse people of trying to jump on to his “stand wagon”.

Mrs Sandra Owens, Thirlmere, Shiney Row

Great night out

I WOULD just like to say what a brilliant night we had at the Sunderland Empire, going to see Marti Pellow in Blood Brothers on Tuesday, February 7.

To make the night even better was meeting the star himself, having photographs taken with him and getting his autograph. What a lovely person he is!

I would also like to thank the staff, especially the young usher boy who was so nice and helpful towards my sister who is disabled.  

Best night out.

Sheila Burnikell, Sunderland

Mosque plan

FOLLOWING on from the front page article “Mosque-bid building firm defends proposals” (Echo, February 17) and the comments from Anthony Watt, of AM Watt Design, firstly, can I say Mr Watt is going to defend his client and the proposed mosque, being the contractor of the possible building works.

The article refers to a survey carried out by his client on Fridays, but it does not state which Fridays and times the survey was carried out. If this has been done in the winter months, when prayer times are reduced due to shorter days, then possibly there would only be 16 vehicles parked outside the current illegal mosque.

However, with reference to those 16 cars parked outside, there are not 16 spaces available. At best you would be able to park six cars. So has Mr Watts client knocked on the doors of the residents in the surrounding streets to see if the car outside their house actually belongs to them?

There is also no mention that while conducting this survey it counted or noted the noise and congestion of taxis and minibuses dropping off people attending the mosque. This can be in the early hours of the summer months. Or was the survey maybe just collated from information taken from those attending the mosque rather than also gathering information from local residents too?

If the mosque is “for 45 families, giving an approximate population of 250, with the majority living within walking distance of the mosque”, as stated by Mr Watts, why do they currently choose to drive and leave their cars, or arrive by taxi, or minibus, causing excessive noise and congestion along with parking problems with residents of Millfield?

“In summer months a maximum of 10 people can be at prayer from 4.30am and these 10 will walk to the proposed site”. Again Mr Watts’ words. I can assure you this is not the case. Also if prayer can be from 4.30am, then why were plans submitted in December with opening hours only from 7am to 10pm?

With regards to the current use of the proposed site, yes it possibly does serve 30 vehicles, as its main purpose is a council depot/warehouse, for minibuses and mobile libraries. It may be open from 7.30am but this is only for the vehicles to be taken out for the day and then brought back at the end of the day.

As for the employees leaving up to 20 cars at the site while out with the council vehicles, the majority of these are actually parked inside the building once the council vehicles have been removed and this causes no parking or inconvenience to the residents.

Carolynn Murray

Thank you, Niall

I’M writing to congratulate and thank club legend Niall Quinn for his years of service to the club, which I suspect would be languishing in the doldrums of perhaps even League One without his timely intervention.

He deserves a great deal of thanks that can never truly be repaid by the people of Sunderland for his rescue mission back in 2006. Although, the club had retained its supporters’ passion and had averted major catastrophe under the previous chairman, Sir Bob Murray, it was bereft of direction or real investment on the pitch.

Everyone who has praised Quinn this week has spoken of his desire and ambition, something previously rather lacking. He leaves after a job well done, having restored faith that the future holds a great deal more for Sunderland Football Club.

It only struck me Monday night that the club virtually mirrors the city itself. However, we’re still under a rudderless and ambitionless regime. Perhaps one day we can have a council that reflects the current business-like and enterprising board of directors Niall Quinn helped install. Thank you, Niall, from all supporters. You’re a true gentleman, cult-hero and saviour.

G. Engel, Sunderland

Speed humps

I AM writing to attempt to reignite support for the removal of the speed bumps which run the length of Seaham seafront.

I have read the Highways Committee report from February 9, 2011, regarding the traffic calming and I have a few issues I would like to raise.

First, when consulting on the issue, the report states 90 per cent of those consulted were in favour but this was before their implementation. If you were to reassess the situation now I am sure it would be closer to 90 per cent against the measures. People did not know just how severe the bumps were going to be.

Second, the report claims pedestrian movement on the northern section of road is too little to call for a pedestrian crossing, so why does it call for traffic calming? If the council wanted to save money by not creating a formal crossing, they could have saved a chunk of the obscenely expensive £80,000 by leaving the sparsely populated area clear.

A third issue is why choose such harsh speed bumps? Out of all the roads I have ever driven on, this is the first time I have came across such harsh bumps. Why couldn’t bumps similar to those on East-Shore village be used? Or any other normal speed bump?

The report states again and again about drivers not sticking to the 20mph speed limit, so why not use speed cameras? Guaranteed to keep speed down, not as much of an eyesore, cheaper and would eventually pay for themselves by catching the odd driver who would still speed.

The seafront speed bumps have undoubtedly greatly increased traffic through East-Shore village and Ropery Walk as motorists avoid the seafront, cutting off businesses. There is a greater risk of accident as a lot of children play on these streets, endangering a far greater number than would be at risk on the seafront.

Matthew Thompson