Letters, Friday, March 30th, 2012

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Questions for Society to answer

RE. “Please don’t cut lifeline” front page article in the Echo:As a founder member and former chairman of the Sunderland branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, I would suggest that the explanation given by the Society for the reduction of its services in Sunderland needs close examination and the Society has questions to answer.

In April 2012 the Society disbanded the Sunderland branch and all 267 of its local branches, along with their locally elected branch committees, and created a structure whereby branches, branch money and other assets were merged into so-called “localities”. The justification was that this was necessary to “fill gaps” nationally. Well there is not much talk of “filling gaps” now.

At the time of these mergers, Sunderland branch had good cash reserves and “owned”’ a valuable property, The Prince of Wales Centre, (bought with money raised entirely by the people of Sunderland).

So questions the Society needs to answer include: What has become of these cash reserves? Have they all been spent in Sunderland? Why are member and donors experiencing difficulty in obtaining the final annual accounts of the Sunderland branch? What funding have they been offered, and how does this compare to previous years? Are former branches still being charged 15 per cent to cover the costs of “central management”? Have any senior managers lost their jobs, or is it just local care staff who are being made redundant? What became of the two minibuses the branch owned? What plans has the Society got for the Prince of Wales Centre? Has the society changed its “strategy” and decided to withdraw from the direct provision of care services?

Even if the Society’s explanation for the reduction in Sunderland’s care services was valid, it would beg the question:Why is an organisation that claims to be the leading care and research charity for dementia having its funding cut so substantially, at a time when dementia has never had such a high profile?”

Perhaps in these difficult financial times, funders no longer consider the AS to be providing good value for money. They may also prefer to support organisations that are under local control and have local accountability. The way these closures/reductions have been handled amply illustrates that this is no longer the case as far the Alzheimer’s Society concerned.

E. Thompson, Sunderland

Not so incredible

I’M sick of C-list celebs using the words “incredible journey” when describing a reality show

they have been on, such as Dancing on Ice, Come Dancing, X Factor etc.(Chico used the phrase

at least three times when appearing as a guest on Loose Women).

An incredible journey in my eyes is crossing the Alps with a herd of elephants, or skiing naked across Antarctica, or running across the Sahara Sesert dressed in a duffle coat while wearing wellingtons.

I once went on an incredible journey. I had the misfortune of a 10-hour flight to Las Vegas, sitting next to a 20-stone man who was snoring like the mating call of a bull elk.

John Watson, Pensher View, Washington

Dazzle’s faded

WHAT has happened to the “dazzling” new £75,000 pier gates which we were promised?

They did “dazzle” for a day – the day on which they were installed. Since then they have, gradually, become discoloured and stained, and now look sad and dirty.

It would appear that Sunderland Council has shot itself in the foot again – Ambit, fountain and, now, pier gates.

Margaret Alexander, Fairlands West, Sunderland

Threat from EU

BRITAIN’S economy is on the mend. The economies of Brazil, a country that is increasing bi-lateral trade with the UK, together with Asia and China are expanding and buying British goods.

Everything points to the ending of the feared “double dip”. However, there is a cloud on the horizon as EU financial regulations, if implemented, could force the Prudential and Standard Life to move abroad, thus weakening the City of London.

Prudential and Standard Life are successful companies. As such, they are targets for EU commisioners who have long planned to take away the power of the finacial institutions that have made London the finacial capital of Europe if not the world.

The City of London earns billions of pounds and pours much of it into the British economy. Should the interfering EU commisioners have their way, then Britain will lose yet another of our world-beating businesses because we are still up to our necks in the straight-jacket imposed by our membership of the failing EU.

If Britain is to survive, then it should be out of Europe. Give the people a referendum based upon “in” or “out”.

Councillor George Howe, Fulwell Ward