Letters, Friday, November 4th, 2011

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Surprised by funding for unions

IN these days of great financial pressures and the subsequent cutbacks, it is rather surprising that Sunderland City Council not only provides seven paid full-time union officials at the taxpayers’ expense but now has provided office space in the civic centre for the GMB union.

I thought that unions were supported financially by dues paid by their members. When one considers the very large salaries paid to general secretaries of the various unions, one wonders how these huge salaries can be paid when unions, who also subsidise the Labour Party to the tune of many millions of pounds, then get support from taxpayers to provide salaries and, presumably, rental for office space in local town halls.

It is also most surprising that all these forms of largesse do not prevent the unions from holding strikes that interfere with local government administration. For example, the next meeting of Sunderland City Council has had to be put back because the very unions that the taxpayer, through the council, subsidises have decided to have a day’s holiday on the original date set for the meeting.

Sunderland Labour Council boasts that they carry out their administrative duties under the title “The Sunderland Way”. A great many people are of the opinion that “The Sunderland Way” is one of mismanagement. For example, the continuing fiasco of the Vaux site, the deplorable rundown of the Holmeside Triangle, the over-use of the adjective “potential” in all the official reports issued by committees when talking about the seafront or the port.

Coun George Howe, Fulwell Ward

Shock at incident

IN relation to the story “Sunderland Olympic boxing hero Jeffries’ sister beaten up” (Echo, October 31), The Quayside Exchange would like to reassure the victim of the incident, her family and the public that we are shocked by a report of the alleged incident and are fully co-operating with Northumbria Police in their ongoing enquiries.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform the public that we operate a zero-tolerance policy on the purchase of alcohol by under-18s and that a full risk assessment was carried out prior to the event, which took place on October 29. Appropriate safeguards were put in place by the venue, the organisers (who were hosting the event as a fund-raiser trying to raise money for a school trip) and their parents to deal with any behaviour that may undermine the laws set out in the Licensing Act and compromise the safety of the guests and staff.

Luke Balcombe, General manager, The Quayside Exchange

Housing action

ISN’T it about time the Government sorted out our broken housing market in County Durham?

As chief executive of Cestria Community Housing, I know of many families who are being forced to wait years for social housing.

Most families simply can’t afford 25 per cent mortgage deposits on very high house prices.

Renting from private landlords is expensive and is predicted to rise between 15 per cent and 20 per cent over the next five years.

This all means that too many families are suffering the hardship of overcrowding. Some are even being forced to live apart.

Cestria Community Housing is doing its best to make a difference. We own 4,300 affordable homes in the Chester-le-Street area and are planning on building 47 desperately needed new homes in the near future, with plans for a further 600 also being discussed. Yet we know it’s not enough.

Our neighbours and their children simply need more affordable housing, so we’re supporting the National Housing Federation’s call for the Government to make sure many more new homes are built and more resources are available to deal with the lack of homes for families who are being forced out of the countryside.

I believe this will really help our hard-pressed communities as well as create more jobs.

Paul Fiddaman, Chief executive, Cestria Community Housing

Thanks for support

YOU may remember Echo story “Footy club cash theft probe” about an investigation into the alleged loss of funds at local team South Hylton Rangers FC. My son is on the team, so I agreed to the challenge of 10,000ft freefall sky-dive to raise money for the club and also Clic Sargent children’s cancer whose money was allegedly stolen.

I took to the sky on Sunday, October 23 and, wow, what an experience. I am so proud of myself.

Thank you to everybody who has sponsored and supported me. I don’t have full total yet but have raised more than £1,100 which I’m over moon with.

People can still donate at www.doitforcharity.com/lynsey and it’s very much apreciated. Thank you all again.

Lynsey Talbot, South Hylton

Eagle memories

AFTER reading Mr Whipple’s letter about the Classics Illustrated books, I wondered if, like me, he was a reader of the Eagle? Many Sunderland boys bought the Eagle in the 1950s and 60s.

I notice that an Eagle annual appears in the bookshops every Christmas now, and reprints many of the old features and comic strips. It must be targeted at old men like me, because surely the youngsters of today won’t be interested?

The most famous features in the Eagle were Dan Dare on the front page and the cross-section diagrams of new inventions across the centre pages. What set the Eagle apart from other comics was the brilliant art work, usually in vivid colour.

Frank Hampson, the creator of Dan Dare, went on to draw the story of Jesus, the Road of Courage. I remember the stories illustrated by the great comic artist Frank Bellamy: Winston Churchill, the Happy Warrior, Montgomery of Alamein, Fraser of Africa, painted in lavish browns and yellows, The Story of King David, Heros the Spartan.

It’s only recently I discovered the Eagle closed down in 1969 due to falling sales. I never knew about it at the time, but by then I’d grown up and stopped buying it. I got Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly instead.

Peter Thornton, Kestrel Close, Washington

Promote our city

WHEN are the people of Sunderland going to get a council with a back bone?

We see that the Seaburn Centre may have to close due to lack of interest. What’s there? It was a white elephant from the start, like a lot of other things.

We on the North East coast have some of the best beaches in the country. The people on the south coast would die for our beaches instead of the pebbles that they have.

The only two things lacking in Sunderland are the weather and a council with vision. The council should give residents and visitors alike some other attractions. A proper leisure centre should have been built, and still could be built with all the bells and whistles that go with it, not a leaky one, as the town leisure centre was, where this and that failed, the shut-down ice rink which cost too much to repair.

Advertise the town nationally. I have a group of 20 friends who come up every year from Newmarket and have done so for the past 19 years. It was only when one of the lads booked them into the Roker Hotel two years ago that they found out we have a seafront. We just took it for granted that they knew.

The vast majority of residents don’t want sculptures which are used as climbing frames, fountains which are now flower beds, or a floating sculpture which has never been heard of again. Well over a million squandered, and don’t get me started on the Vaux fiasco. Wasted money and time.

So come on, stop trying to promote yourselves and give a thought to the people you are supposed to represent.

R. Coffey

One of the greats

JIMMY Savile OBE, one of the original all-time great broadcasters, passed away at the age of 84.

He was a great worker for Stoke Mandeville Hospital over the years and at one time he used to be the manager of the Plaza Dance Hall in Manchester, as well as a disc jockey at Radio Luxembourg before moving on to BBC Radio One’s Savile’s Travels.

He was trained as a professional wrestler by Les Kellett and was a great tag partner with Jack Pallo.

He presented the first show of Top of the Pops in on the BBC in 1964, alongside David Jacobs, Alan Freeman and Pete Murray, introducing chart stars from the swinging 60s such as Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, The Who, Cilla Black, Manfred Mann, The Beatles, The Shadows and The Hollies.

He appeared on This Is Your Life twice, with Michael Aspel and Eamonn Andrews.

I shall miss the great disc jockey icon, the late, great Jimmy Savile OBE.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington, Sunderland

PEOPLE on my estate keep getting letters delivered to the wrong address.

One of my neighbours caught the postman and said: “You’ve just put letters through my door for another street”.

His answer was: “I thought you’d know where the right address was”.

Alan Ramsey, Hall Farm Estate

MAY we take this opportunity to congratulate Elizabeth’s restaurant in Sunderland for its excellent service.

The meals are sumptuous and the staff cannot do enough for you. Charmaine, Linda and all the other waitresses attend to your every need.

We visited Elizabeth’s last Sunday, followed by a visit to the nearby Empire cinema. It was memorable.

Well done.

Norman and Catherine Imms, Essex Place, Peterlee

I WOULD like to thank family, friends and neighbours for the lovely gifts, cards and best wishes on my recent 90th birthday. It made my day so special.

God bless you all.

Martha Wynn, Selby Square, Springwell

I REHOMED a cat from a lady named Joan Auty in October 1997, which apparently came from a nursing home in Whitburn.

I still have the cat and I am trying to find out her real age. She is a tortoishell cat and is quite timid and was fully grown when I took her in.

If anyone knows any details about her get in touch on 526 4196.

Catherine West