Letters, Friday, March 25th, 2011

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Delighted to back work of Rats group

I WAS delighted to welcome the Houghton Residents Against Toxic Site (Rats) group to the European Parliament in Brussels last week.

As many Echo readers will know, the Rats group are concerned residents who oppose a landfill site in Houghton and they have two simple aims: to protect the health of residents in the area and to protect the environment and water supply. I fully support these aims.

This is not nimbyism. While most people may not welcome a landfill site on their doorstep, everyone accepts that waste needs to be disposed of responsibly and in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Had the UK Government complied with an EU directive in 2002, many of the problems which local people have with Houghton Quarry could have been resolved or indeed prevented from ever arising. The decision not to do so has prolonged the misery for many local residents and may result in the UK incurring a fine from Brussels.

There have been many unwelcome, fussy EU directives which have simply increased bureaucracy and I have argued strongly against them as they arose. However, I do believe that this particular directive ought to have been followed in full.

I was particularly pleased that MEPs from many different countries, including Italy, Spain, Denmark and Germany, agreed that we must ensure the site meets all necessary safety and environmental requirements and that any necessary alterations to the site in order to comply with EU law are carried out quickly and efficiently.

I will continue to support and work with the Houghton Rats as well as the UK Government and the Environment Agency to ensure this happens.

Martin Callanan, North East Conservative MEP

Thanks for help

MAY I thank the many people who came to my assistance when I fell down the steps of the Pennywell Shopping Centre on Friday, March 4. They were quite brilliant and gave the lie to the commonly held view that nowadays most people are reluctant to involve themselves in other people’s troubles.

I should also like to thank the paramedics who arrived in an ambulance that my Samaritans had, despite my protests, insisted on calling.

These young medics displayed competence and kindness in equal measure.

I’m sure that everyone who helped will be pleased to know that I am quite recovered.

G. Reed, Sunderland

Painful memory

RE W.E. Higson’s letter “Bully teacher” (Letter’s Page, March 17), I know how he must have felt.

Like him I was whipped. It was during the war days. I played truant. How the headmaster found out, I don’t know.

One morning, before he dismissed the classes after assembly, he said there was a boy in the hall who he was going to make an example of so others would not play truant.

He shouted my name to come up on the platform. He gave me eight strokes of the cane over my right hand, then eight over my left.

He then told me to get over the table and he lashed me till his arm ached.

The pain was terrible. When I went home my mother knew there was something wrong. I showed her my hands, then my bottom.

On telling her what had happened, she put on her coat and to the school she went. She walked into the master’s room and told him she could get him jailed for what he had done to me. He apologised and said he had gone too far with the punishment and to send me back to school when I was able.

Like W.E. Higson says, how things have changed from our school days. I never forgot that hiding.

It left an unseen scar, for when I grew up and married I was walking along Crowtree Road with my wife. I told her to take our first child I was carrying.

She asked me what was wrong. I told her the headmaster that had whipped me like a slave was over on the other side of the road.

I was about the go over to him when she grabbed my arm. She stood in front of me and said: “He’s retired now and getting on in years”.

At the time I did not think. It was like the pain and punishment flashed before me when I saw him.

All I can say is spare the rod for it breeds hatred. Okay, I deserved punishment, but not like the way it was done.

It left an unseen scar, as I’ve said.

N. Dixon, Church Street North, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Forgotten hero

THE article about Homeless Heroes (Echo, March 16) prompted me to send you this poem.

It was written after talking to two young men collecting for the charity at Seaham.

A Forgotten Fallen Hero

Can you spare a copper for a cup of tea?

Can you spare a thought for the likes of me?

I was once a soldier in an army strong and true

Till I was left in limbo wondering what to do.

Now I sit on the pavement begging for a coin.

Is there an army out there now that I can join?

Please can you spare a quid? Help ease my pain,

Then maybe I’ll get my life back on track again.

M. Llewellyn, Mariville West, Ryhope, Sunderland

True Christians?

NO doubt may of your readers agreed with much that Debra Waller had to say on the subject of discriminaton against Christians and no doubt she was sincere when she referred to “Christian values, whether or not we attend church”.

I take issue with this latter phrase.

There are so many folk who say that they come into this category, but I cannot see how such folk can expect to be taken seriously if they are not prepared to “put their money where their mouth is” by attending a church or other Christian place of worship and thus demonstrating their total commitment to the Christian religion.

This is where Muslims and adherents of other religions have the advantage over Christians. They actively promote and obey their religious precepts and customs – and are to be admired for their diligence, which puts the average Christian to shame.

It really is not surprising that so many folk believe that this is not truly a Christian country when the majority of us do not attend religious services on other than an infrequent basis – birth, marriage and death, for example – certainly not regularly enough to confirm us as committed Christians and thus convince the media and politicians that we really do value the religion that we claim to espouse.

And, of course, in this present day there are a great many non-believers whose lives are filled with good works, and who are known to be generally living by what would otherwise normally be accepted to be true Christian standards.

Therefore, it is not sufficient for us to adopt standards expected of Christians and expect it to be sufficient to declare our Christian motivation. This can only be clearly shown by regular church attendance.

The question is If you were to be prosecuted for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

David Herring, Chatsworth Street, High Barnes, Sunderland

Get all the facts

I WOULD like to reply to B. Smart’s letter in the Letters Page on March 16.

Once again we have someone decrying someone else without being in full possession of the true and complete facts about Mr Allen’s cases.

Get smart, Mr Smart, get all the true facts about someone before you put pen to paper then maybe you could stop hiding and print your proper name and even your address.

Something for you to ponder over, Mr Smart: why, after being in the Firearms Department of Durham Constabulary for five years, did neither the Chief Constable or head of the Firearms Department do any checks on Mr Allen in this time to see if he was carrying out his duties correctly?

No, instead, they decided to bring charges just before Mr Allen was about to retire.

Smells of payback time to me and guess who the scapegoat was?

Alan Bilton, New Herrington

What do they do?

COULD anyone please explain what these chiefs do?

It appears that when any major plans or decisions arise, a consultancy company is commissioned to do the work that the appropriate department should be capable of doing.

So what do the so-called chief executives do?

I travelled the world doing a highly skilled job and never needed a consultant.

It’s obvious to any idiot that if you pay millions to hire these people, you will have to accept their recommendations.

I would like to spend a week alongside these chief executives observing exactly what they do for these inflated salaries.

I don’t think it will happen somehow.

Norman McMahon