Letters, Monday, December 26th, 2011

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Coincidence over jobless figures?

CONCERNING the latest statement by the Government of 2,600,000 unemployed and the number of public employees losing their jobs (in the long run about 700,000), is it not a coincidence that this is roughly the same figure (800,000) of new positions created by the last government in the early noughties?

The latter, I suggest, were, in fact, not jobs but positions created by Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and their cohorts to shrink the unemployment figures and create a feeling in the country of well-being. This is proved as these jobs are lost, the Civil Service, and other departments are still running efficiently. The present government is stuck with this over-employment and the huge cost of that action.

Talking of Gordon Brown, does anyone know what has happened to him? Where is he? Apparently he has spoken in the Commons once since resigning as Prime Minister, and this on some obscure subject. Surely supporters in his constituency are entitled to more?

I feel the ear-wigging he received on camera by a lady questioner in the street before the election did for him. Come on, Gordon, come to the surface again. Your country needs you, I think.

Allan Wilkinson, Ferrand Drive, Houghton

Capitalist system

AS the pressure of Christmas subsides, and we have more time to reflect, you might like to spend some time giving thought to the system which we all live in.

A system which allows millions of people around the world, to suffer from famine and disease. A system which allows the top one per cent of the world population to become rich beyond belief.

A system that is destroying the worlds habitats and biodiversity at an alarming rate. A system that increasingly allows cruelty to the livestock we keep, in an attempt to reduce costs.

A system that is allowing climate change to develop, even though 95 per cent of the world’s climate scientists agree that it is caused by Man.

This system is called capitalism, and each one of us is a part of, and so individually responsible for it. Capitalism – generally viewed as encouraging economic growth – has been both the saviour and the enemy of human society. If left to itself, it is the greatest danger the Earth faces, promoting, as it does, unsustainable economic growth.

There are many ways we can encourage checks and balances to the system – from buying free range eggs to sourcing our meat from well-managed ethical producers, from volunteering to help a conservation group to joining as many environmental/conservation groups as we can afford.

In the coming months, I hope to share with you my thoughts on how we can place these checks and balances on the system and introduce you to some of these groups. I hope others will join in this discussion with their own ideas of which groups help to achieve this balance.

Allan Rowell, Wearside Friends of the Earth

Tories’ record

YOUR correspondent David Huntley (Letters, December 14) claims it to be common knowledge that Conservative governments do not care about the North East and Sunderland.

Is this the same party in government which has just announced funding of £83million for the new bridge in the city across the river? Is this the same party in government which has included parts of the city in a new enterprise zone and, previously, supported development at Doxford International and the North Hylton riverside?

Is this the same party in government which brought Nissan to Sunderland and, way back in the 1960s, sponsored the Hailsham Plan which did so much to aid development of the region’s infrastructure?

Conservative governments have done a great deal for both the region and our city. We need to take full advantage of the opportunites presented to us.

Coun Peter Wood, Deputy Conservative leader, Sunderland City Council

Charity’s thanks

ON Saturday, December 17, the Sunderland branch of the British Heart Foundation held a fund raising collection in the Bridges.

The total raised on the day was a truly magnificent £762.86, and we would like to say a very big thank-you to the shoppers in the Bridges on the day for their superb generosity and support for the charity and the branch.

The BHF is wholly committed in its quest in fighting heart disease, and February 2012 sees the Red For Heart appeal launched.

R4H day is on Friday, February 24, which is when we ask the community, schools, colleges, companies and individuals to help raise funds by wearing red or by organising events. For a fund-raising pack, email red@bhf.org.uk.

Thanks to you all once again for your continued support.

Sunderland branch, British Heart Foundation

Fantastic grotto

THE Friends of Houghton Rectory Park recently held a Santa grotto in the park. The grotto was beautifully presented and it was evident that a lot of time, effort and enthusiasm had been put into this venture.

The grotto was visited and enjoyed by many families from Houghton, which must be very rewarding for the Friends after all their hard work.

Events such as this are important because they enrich the community spirit in Houghton and also because they contribute to retaining Houghton’s rich and unique heritage.

Well done, Friends of Rectory Park. I look forward to your next venture.

D. Scott, Finchale Close, Dairy Lane, Houghton

Bowling memories

SO sad to read about the closure of the bowling alley. My late husband and I joined when it first opened.

We played in the mixed doubles and Clifford in the men’s league, in which he rolled 10 strikes. I still have his badge awarded to him.

I was in the ladies’ team and played at Wembley where we were beaten by the Americans. I was also in the housewives’ morning league.

We met some lovely people and had a great time. Unfortunately, I had to give up with back trouble and was very disappointed. I often wonder where all the older members are. At the moment I am only in touch with Billy and Rita Lee. They certainly were good days.

I wish all the best to the owners and hope you open again.

Margaret Hirst, Blyth Street, Town End Farm

Gift from India

MAN of the people, role model, even guru are some of the plaudits I have received as a letter writer. I believe that this is because I have always been direct and straight to the point. Readers love honesty.

However, I feel I must divulge a secret I have carried in my bosom for several years. It all happened in the winter of 2003.

I had suffered a bout of man flu and decided to get away from it all for a break and headed to India. I thought I would hitchhike around the country for a month or so, almost as a ambassador for Wearside.

However, my trip was beset with problems after only a few days when I visited the western Indian town of Portbander.

I had intended to live off the land, but I suffered horrendous problems with the heat, the flies and malnutrition, so much so that on the fifth day I collapsed in a deserted area among a few garbage cans.

I must have been there for hours when I was revived by an elderly man with a beard. This man brought me food and water and led me to a wooden shack which was his home.

I remained there for a number of days until I was well enough to travel.

I discovered that this lifesaver was a 103-year-old Indian fakir, a holy man who possessed miraculous powers. Although he could barely speak English, he listened with fascination as I described my home city and how scantily-clad females and shaven-headed men in vests went drinking till all hours on a Friday evening in sub-zero conditions.

I also covered in great detail how overweight men and women wearing tracksuits strolled through Bridges scoffing pies and pasties.

He had no desire to come to Sunderland for a visit, but when I was fit enough to travel he gave me a souvenir, a simple but very old flip-flop similar to those worn by the bingo-playing woman of Southwick. Brown in colour, left foot, size nine and covered in dust and sand, but he claimed that it did belong to the special one.

You see, readers, Portbander is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, a pivotal figure of the 20th century, a legend and an icon, a man who was an inspiration to millions, a man who shaped India’s history up until its independence in 1947, and I believe that I own his flip-flop.

Mick The Pen Brown

Tourism is key

I APPRECIATE the object of having a new bridge over the Wear to further the developement of the south side, thus creating many jobs for the future, plus immediate work in civil engineering and construction. An iconic bridge of this nature will generate massive national publicity, putting Sunderland firmly in the spotlight.

All of this is very welcome. However, it must not overshadow the earlier possible growth of the world’s greatest industry: international tourism. If the UK’s single nomination for a World Heritage Site, St Peter’s Church, is sucessful in 2012, then all tourists will aim for the north side of the Wear, at some stage also visiting the city centre and other attractions on the opposite bank.

To make a success of tourism, adequate parking facilities for coaches and others are essential at the site and in the city centre as are clear route direction signs and lane markings.

On all of these counts the city centre and St Peter’s fall miserably short of acceptable. There is nothing to compare with tourism for job creation and opportunity for all, whatever their standards of education, and also for uplifting retail outlets, hotels, restauraunts, plus city tours, taxis, photography etc.

If St Peter’s achieves Word Heritage status and we fail to capitalise on it, then be sure the Tyne will make Jarrow Monastery a massive success.

Sunderland has very many historical and other attractions to offer, so let us not let the opportunity slip.

Ken Spencer, Sunderland

Search Party

MY family and I are researching our family tree and would if possible like to hear from Clive Chell who used to live in Burnley, Lancashire. We believe moved up to the North East a number of years ago, but we’re not sure of the exact area

His mother was Sylvia Chell, his great-aunt was Mary Ann (Polly) Chell, who married Arthur Forrest.

We’d just like to know if he holds any photos and information regarding the Forrest family and if so could he email them to us.

Mrs. M. Almond

Email: h15t0ry@btinternet.com

TO anyone who was at The Elms Nursery in 1987 with me. I can remember John, Alex, Bernadette, Christopher.

Anyone at The Elms Nursery can get me on Emma-Masson-4@hotmail.co.uk. Maybe we could meet up for lunch.

Emma Masson

I HOPE someone will be able to help me find my friend of 50 years as I lost her address when I moved house.

Her name is Mary Finlay, married name is Braidwood. She used to live at Red House but moved to Scotland to live when she got married. She had three brothers: George, Robert and David.

If anyone can help please call me on 0191 565 4237.

M. Fowler, Roker