Letters, Friday, September 9th, 2011

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City’s 40 years of Labour misrule

THANKFULLY J. Thompson (Letters, September 1) added a touch of reality about the state of the city after the flight of fancy by Bob Price on August 31.

Bob Price tries to blame the current Government of 16 months for the state of the city. When will he recognise that Labour have run the city for 40 years and they still can’t get it right?

There are many examples of this 40 years of failure, but one that typifies this ruling Labour group’s incompetence and inaction is the leisure centre. Starved of funding over many years, it has seen the ice rink then the family pools, along with many smaller facilities, closed.

Now the decay is almost terminal, with casual use stopped. Neglect and incompetence, like everything else about the Labour group’s 40 years of misrule. A great facility with marvellous staff going to waste.

Perhaps the most shameful action to come to light is how Labour are managing the funds in Sunderland. The Labour group in charge recklessly and wastefully spent £800,000 a year on cars but happily stood by as the voluntary sector lost almost the same amount from various sources. This is typical of the choices Labour are making in Sunderland. Yes, these are Labour’s choices.

Bob Price mocks what he claims are “grandiose proposals” put forward by Tories. What is wrong with ambition and passion for the city? Would he rather see the Vaux site, Fawcett Street and the rest of the run-down city centre as permanent features? I know many people feel like they are.

One final question of Bob Price: What on earth is wrong about asking the Labour council to dip into its £7million reserve to help the people?

His strange questioning of this is typical of what has driven the city down over the last wasted 40 years.

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

Leisure cuts

I AM moved to write to you concerning the article entitled “Anger over axed sauna” (Echo August 18). I have known Mr Lamb for many, many years and I believe your article does not portray sufficiently the passion he has for his home city.

It is not only the closure of the sauna which has angered him, but the lack of facilities generally throughout the city. For example, how many football pitches have been lost in recent years or are due to be lost?

Ms Gray, of Sunderland Council, appears to agree with Mr Lamb about the locations of other saunas. Presumably she believes they are adequate and are suitably located for access by the elderly and, possibly in some cases, the disabled or partially disabled?

Also Ms Gray mentions privately run facilities, but the majority of us don’t have the luxury of using such establishments.

I am not so naive as to believe that the city has a bottomless pit of money to spend on leisure services, but it seems to me that Mr Lamb has highlighted the fact that we are losing more than we are gaining and, for some of us, access to the new facilities is problematical due to location and travel distance.

I join with Mr Lamb in voicing my concerns over cuts to leisure services in Sunderland and, like him, I hope that others will come forward and be heard.

Michael Crew, Cressbourne Avenue, Fulwell

Boxers’ thanks

SUNDERLAND Amateur Boxing Club Elite would like to thank the Millview Workingmen’s Club, Fulwell, the committee and members and guests for the collection they held on August 20. They raised £210, which will go towards sending the boxers from Sunderland abroad next year.

We are also running events throughout the year to raise the rent for our headquarters. The rent is £2,100 per year.

Come on, Sunderland Council, is it not time that you recognised all the hard work that Joe Pervis, Jimmy Richardson and John “Pasty” Brown and their team do in not just keeping the kids off Sunderland streets three nights a week at the gym but also two nights up the running track at Silksworth?

They’re all volunteers and all Sunderland ex-boxers.

How do they qualify to get funding and help in these hard times? They have produced no fewer than 20 British champions and area champions.

Andy Parkin, Secretary, Sunderland and District Ex-Boxers

Beating recession

RECESSION is not a Sunderland thing. Recession is a national thing.

Places down south have shops that have shut down. Places like Margate in Kent have shops that have closed.

The best way to give our city economic growth is to shop local. I used to go to other places myself and spend money, but not any more.

John Metcalf, Premier Road, Plains Farm, Sunderland

Outdated council

AT 30 years old I have lived in Sunderland all my life and own and run a new-start business here.

I simply do not understand this sorry excuse of a council. Reading Friday’s article on the Vaux site infuriated me.

After more than a decade of protracted delays, the site is now back in the hands of the council and guess what? They still don’t know what to do with it. So in their infinite wisdom to attract £21million of funding from elsewhere (as usual) and put in £1million themselves, they intend to create a “wild flower” meadow, other grassed areas and car parking spaces until, a report reads “prior to bringing forward new plans of the redevelopment of the site”. I mean, what planet is this outdated council on?

A leisure centre stands almost derelict, costing money to run. Why? Pull it down now and extend the shopping facilities thus attracting big-brand names into a city that’s gone to the dogs.

All the money spent on a railway station and it looks worse than ever. The old supermarket adjacent to the interchange sits derelict and has done for years. The seafront illuminations, which did and could again attract so much revenue and identity into the city, have long gone.

The council enjoy publishing pie-in-the-sky ventures (such as a massive redevelopment of Holmeside with a – get this – Spirit of Sunderland Tower at the end of the drag) and nothing will ever materialise. It’s all just hot air emerging from unimaginative mouths.

What this city needs is forward-thinking, wealth-creating innovators, preferably within a vibrant council.

D. Watson, Ormonde Street, High Barnes, Sunderland

Great museum

AS an ex-Sunderland shipyard worker (Doxfords) I had the good fortune to visit the Dock Museum in Barrow-in-Furness last week.

The dry dock had been retained and the museum built inside it. The history of shipbuilding was second to none: projected wall films showing building stages and royal launches, also the mad dash of workers at the gates going home.

The attendants knew of Sunderland’s title as the biggest shipbuilding town in the world, but were surprised that no such museum existed.

The main purpose of this letter is to get any ex-yard worker to visit this museum and I am sure when you return the Echo Letters Page will find space for your expected comments.

By the way, admission and parking are free.

Alan Winter, Darlington

Fitting tribute

I RECENTLY visited Mowbray Park to have a look at the completed Brothers in Arms Memorial Wall.

I was very impressed and congratulate all the people concerned who raised the funds and the people who supplied the labour.

It’s truly a magnificent construction, fitting around the cenotaph, giving all the information about conflicts in which our armed servicemen have been involved since the Second World War.

During that time, many very brave soldiers, sailors and airmen gave their lives to protect all people in this land.

In recent years several servicemen have lost their lives, either in action or training for action, and their parents have had to go through the trauma of losing their sons. It was they who decided to raise funds for the wall.

Huge funds were required so they decided to approach the people of Sunderland and the districts, the businesses, the social and workingmen’s clubs and the pubs for help.

Now I can only speak for Grangetown WMC. One of the soldiers killed was Tony Carr of the Coldstream Guards, when his armoured vehicle overturned while he was training to go to Iraq. His family were obviously deeply traumatised, but later his father Brian approached the club to raise funds for the memorial wall.

He was given the full backing of the committee and he organised entertainment shows, raffles, bingo and collections and later the sale of Brothers in Arms wristbands. He had the help of bar staff, Jolly Girls, committee men and members to raise a sizeable sum.

I know other clubs and pubs did similar things to help, businesses gave tremendous help, and finally the people of Sunderland and districts made sure the target was reached. We were dismayed that Mr/Mrs Carr were not on the marble stones because Brian was one of the founder members of the Brothers in Arms committee and we would hope this could be rectified.

Now we have a superb remembrance cenotaph and memorial wall which will be officially opened on November 11 and will be seen nationwide. People will see how parents and relations of servicemen, together with the people of Sunderland and the surrounding area, businesses, clubs and pubs can raise funds for a project of remembrance, where all can go and share special moments with their bereaved.

“We will remember them”.

Alan Stuart, Grangetown WMC, Windsor Terrace, Sunderland

Flawed cable car

I DON’T know what all the fuss is about the Nissan electric car. My dad made one back in the 50s.

The only trouble was it took 300 miles of electric cable from here to London.

Ms Simson, Nelson Court, Hendon

Dangerous dogs

IN the Echo (August 24) readers saw the horrific facial injuries to five-year-old Karl Morson after being mauled by a Rottweiler which is not, but should be, defined as a dangerous dog under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

Having been attacked many times in a public place by dogs while their owners look on, I have been informed by dog owners that the Act does not apply to their dogs.

Make no mistake, the Act applies to all dogs in a public place. The Act says that “if a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place – the owner and, if different, the person being in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence, if the dog is so out of control that it injures any person an aggravated offence”.

Almost at the end of the act is an important section usually overlooked by the police/CPS.

“For the purpose of this Act a dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person whether or not it actually does so.”

The Act of 1991provided for the destruction of a dog that had injured someone. The courts had no choice – it was mandatory. However, dog owners lobbied MPs to have this withdrawn and they were partially successful. The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997 allowed courts to decide the dog’s fate and many have avoided destruction, some of which have gone on to attack people again.

After a dog injury the police hold the dog/s for a court’s decision and this creates significant kennelling costs that can go on for months as dog owners appeal a court’s destruction verdict, all being paid for by the taxpayer.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 should have provided that any dog in a public place must be on a lead and muzzled. Dog owners should be given a written test so they understand the DDA 1991 and 1997 Acts, which would in effect be a licence to have a dog.

Sunderland Council allows dogs to run loose in all but two council parks. The council has a duty of care to the public and should make all parks have dogs on leads. Why should members of the public who have been mauled by dogs avoid these parks?

G. White, Sunderland

Wogan’s remarks

AS one of the many who condemned Terry Wogan because he had the courage to speak ill of Sunderland, could I suggest to Tom Lynn and the rest of the apologists that they do themselves a good turn and open their eyes to reality.

Sunderland, is a crime-ridden dump with a massive unemployable underclass who display a level of ignorance and irresponsibility unmatched anywhere else in the UK.

If anyone doubts my observation, they need do no more than travel on public transport or simply meander in the city centre where they will meet with a considerable number who give every indication of having recently swung down from the trees.

Robert Graves, The Croft, Sunderland

I DON’T think Terry Wogan merits the “Sir” he’s known by. I love Sunderland. I’m a Yorkshire lass and can never call Sunderland my home, but I won’t have it run down.

What does he know about being poor? Could he live one week like some poor people have to? I don’t think his comments will ever be forgotten by the lovely people of Sunderland.

Mrs B. Whelan, Pearl Road, Plains Farm

LET Terry Wogan walk around Sunderland. Let him walk down Homeside, let him look at all the nice shops, then let him look around Vaux site, then let him look at Crowtree Leisure Centre. He might help Gentoo to paint it.

E. Jenkins, Solar House, Sunderland

I HAVE to say I agree with Sir Terry Wogan re the state of Sunderland’s streets. Here is a list of some of the things I have seen: vomit, dog dirt, human urine, sanitary towels, condoms, panties, beer bottles and cans, used food containers, rats, rubbish thrown into people’s gardens, backyards and hedges, people spitting, broken glass and the odd shoe.

Surely these things create mean streets?

M. Coxon, High Barnes, Sunderland

Excavate site

WHEN the Vaux Brewery closed in 1999, the Tyne and Wear archaeologist commented on the possible presence of a Roman fort or fortlet on the site and said the site should be excavated.

When Tesco submitted plans to build a supermarket here, the need for an urgent excavation became crucial to those interested in a possible Roman presence in Sunderland and a small trench was dug on the site, which failed to find Roman remains.

The late Raymond Selkirk, former secretary of the Northern Archaeology Group (Nag), expressed concerns that the trench had not been taken to a sufficient depth that would reveal possible Roman remains.

Previous investigations carried out by Nag at the site of “Briggstones” at Hylton and at areas around Sunderland harbour, where most of these ancient stones were relocated, prompted Mr Selkirk to say “this discovery has changed Sunderland from a town with little Roman history into the forefront for investigation”.

The City of Sunderland now owns the Vaux site and except for some cleaning up of the area, no building work is likely to take place in the near future.

Surely this is the time to allow archaeologists on to the site to carry out a thorough and examination of the area?

Sunderland has not always paid due respect to its historical past. The archaeological excavation of the Vaux site would not require a great financial outlay and would give the city an opportunity to explore its links with the ancient history of the North East.

Keith Cockerill, Sherwood Close, Washington