Letters, Friday, July 29th, 2011

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Money wasted as city declines

WITH reference to a previous letter relating to the standard of Sunderland city shopping experience compared to Washington, this can only be related to the mismanagement by Sunderland’s councillors.

May I be about the millionth person to raise the question about the Vaux site? In days when we are told that cutbacks must be made, how come our council can come up with £22million to buy this land from Tesco? This purchase has gone through even though a plan for its development has not been concluded. Even more money is to be wasted on its upkeep.

How much rates revenue has been lost on this land? How much has been lost on other planning fiascos? Also the forthcoming sports development on the Sheepfolds has cost us dearly, with companies such as Cottom moving out of the city. This site could be vacant even longer than the Vaux site.

It is clear that the city must attract new shoppers. This could have been done with Tesco. To go ahead with the council’s concept of offices and hotels, along with the type of shop which is vacant in the city in great numbers, will not attract people into the city. The proposed new store at the retail park at the bottom of Newcastle Road will cause shoppers to not enter the city. This was an opportunity to have a major store in the heart of our shopping area, for free. Durham has seen the effects of Tesco at Dragonsville on its city shops.

Money (our rates) is being wasted, yet services like meals at home are being cut, even though the council announced it would not be – just before the local elections! Money is being wasted taking an equal rights pay award to yet another appeal, even though about every council in the land has bowed to the court’s ruling and logic to pay its workers their duly sanctioned equal pay.

What era do our councillors live in? Do they shop in places like the MetroCentre or Newcastle’s Eldon Square? The Bridges is not in the same league. We keep seeing fantastic development headlines in the Echo, but never see any light at the end of the tunnel.

If any more money is wasted and services cut, yet more money will have to be spent on yet another vehicle logo change. Sunderland Council could be taken to task regarding the logo on its vehicles: “Delivering Services for a Better Future”. What services? What future?

Marshall Normington, Sunderland

The Iron Duke

JIM Ridler writes amusing letters, but to put the boot into Wellington really takes the cake (and you can have that cake with your Earl Grey tea, Jim). After all, it’s only 180 years since Wellington was Prime Minister, so Jim obviously feels his criticisms are really topical and up to date. Which Tory PM will he attack next? Eden over Suez? Chamberlain over appeasement? Echo readers will be racing to their newsagents with anticipation.

Incidentally, if the Duke believed that common people shouldn’t be allowed on the railways, he might finally get his way soon if rail companies keep raising their fares.

Keep taking the tablets, Jim. If you really want to give Wellington the boot, just remind everyone he only won his greatest victory with the late arrival of his German allies on the battlefield. Remember what Christopher Plummer says in the film: “Give me night, or give me Blucher.”

Frank Seely, Cotswold Close, Lambton

Seaside sights

SEABURN on a hot day can be an inspirational place for a man of the people and a writer of my calibre.

When the hot weather brought them all out it was a good job I had my pen and notepad at the ready. Some of the sights I witnessed were really X rated and not for the easily offended, so it’s a good job I am open minded.

I spotted overweight men in Speedos who had obviously indulged in a KFC family bucket a few too many times. Then there were women who looked like they had been dipped in fake tan and, worst of all, the dreadful sight of older men in socks with sandals.

I really thought that this fashion had left us in the flower-power era of the 60s but no it’s still all the rage on our coastline.

What a great venue Seaburn is. Folk can knock it, but you wouldn’t spot sights like this anywhere else I think.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Misguided Greens

WOULDN’T it be great if the “Green Party” disbanded? We cannot affect the climate. The floods, tsunamis etc are the result of things beyond our control.

It would be good if the Government stopped taxing the electorate with false “green taxes”. We were given brains and we invented cars, planes etc.

One day in the far future we will be able to redirect floods and rainfalls to famine problem countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, or at least help them more effectively with water supplies.

Wind farms are useless, money-wasting disgusting ruinations of the countryside. The answer to our need for electricity is nuclear – something we invented with our brains.

Marjorie Matthews, Aiskell Street, Sunderland

Park projects

ON Thursday, July 21, the judges from Britain in Bloom arrived to inspect Houghton’s Rectory Park.

The Friends of Rectory Park were there to greet them and we introduced ourselves to the judges and, along with the park officers, we all took a walk around the park, which is one of the oldest gardens in the country, dating back to at least 1120 AD.

The park was originally the garden of the former church rector Bernard Gilpin, also known as the Aspostle of the North. He also provided food and roasted an ox for the poor of the parish. This work is still commemorated hundreds of years on, each October at Houghton Feast.

The Friends told the judges how the group had worked closely with the parks department to make vast improvements to the area, which the judges acknowledged and congratulated all for their hard work.

We showed the judges two areas that the Friends and schoolchildren had planted with crocus bulbs and an area, where the day previous the Friends had planted bluebells which had been donated by a lady from Low Moorsley.

The Britain in Bloom judges gave the Friends some advice on areas where they would like to see further improvements, and expressed a great deal of support for the Friends’ future plans for the Rectory Park.

They said our idea to build a new play area, where the rose garden was located, and to turn the medieval tithe barn, which is the only one in the North East of England, into a coffee shop, ice cream parlour and heritage centre would be perfect additions to the park as these would not destroy the historic importance of the medieval tithe barn.

Both ventures would complement each other, giving children somewhere new to play and their parents or guardians somewhere to relax and enjoy some refreshment while they supervise the youngsters having fun.

We are seeking to form a closer partnership with disabled adult services to run these ventures and some of the Friends have also expressed an interest to help out on a voluntary basis.

Hopefully, the Britain in Bloom judges will award Rectory Park an award that acknowledges the Friends’ and parks department’s hard work.

We are a group of 40+ volunteers who have taken up the challenge to give the people of Houghton a park to be proud of and one our ancient town deserve.

Edith Corney, Treasurer, Friends of Houghton Park, Dunelm Drive, Houghton

New venue

I WOULD like to announce that the Sunderland Motor Neurone Disease Support Group has moved to a new venue.

We will be meeting at Sunderland Central Library, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, between 2pm and 4pm on the third Wednesday of each month. The next group will meet on Wednesday, August 17.

This is an informal, friendly and supportive meeting open to anyone diagnosed with motor neurone disease or their family, friends and carers.

There is full disabled access and free refreshments provided.

We hope to see you there.

Helen Ward, Regional Care Development Adviser (North East), Motor Neurone Disease Association, Newcastle