Letters, Monday, July 23rd, 2012

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Bridge plan will fade away in time

THIS letter is addressed to all those Echo readers who can only afford the time for just a casual glance at the pretty paintings and both models, which are supposed to be the true appearance of the iconic bridge across the Wear.

If people would use a rule to measure these images, and the distances from the water surfaces to the underneath level of the carriageways compared with the twisted stainless-steel pylons (designed to be about 600 feet high), they would realise that they are not drawn to scale but are optical illusions.

Are the imaginary images portrayed at high or low tide?

Do they take into consideration costs and the degrees of difficulty embodied in the iconic bridge plan? How much will it cost to build a pier (half a Wear barrage) from which to lower the caissons into fast-moving tidal water so that workmen can lay the foundations capable of bearing most of the weight of the absurd structure, at an absurd location, chosen in secrecy where members of the public were not invited due to what was, in July, 2006, an illegal presentation of a public notice of a Unitary Development Plan Amendment (UDP).

The iconic bridge, only a small part of the planned Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) will, if the council have their way, by-pass the south side ring roads with a massive and permanent traffic diversion, so how on earth can they claim to be improving transport connectivity?

Even more serious is the threat that the SSTC and the Vaux site plans will obstruct access to a much needed bridge to the Stadium of Light area to act as a relief to the congested Wearmouth Bridge. Where is the council’s foresight and vision?

The appropriate use of cable stay and suspension bridges is well described via Google at “Zakim Bridge” and “ The Hoover Dam by-pass Bridge.” A comparative study of these recent projects is just one of the ways in which proponents of the Sunderland Iconic bridge may be disillusioned.

Dr Thurlbeck says that my accusations are inaccurate, baseless and offensive (Letters, June 26). Can it be denied that the design of a cable stay bridge exists to obviate the need for extremely high support columns when ravines need bridging, or when a large expanse of water is to be bridged without obstructing navigation?

The most likely scenario is that the iconic bridge will never materialise as the concept disappears over time in the same way as the consultants R. Travers Morgan’s red route bridge option was recommended for adoption by the city council in 1976.

Ron McQuillan

Country’s decline

IT is frightening what is happening to Britain regarding the exposing of mass corruption by the “elite”.

We were once regarded as the most respected, honest, reliable, decent, free country in the world. Now look at it. Parliament is a web of deceit, liars and thieves for MPs, corrupt law-breaking journalists and newspapers, banks robbing the working class by fraudulently “fixing” interest rates, police taking illic1t payments from reporters, most of the aforementioned appearing in front of “Commons committees” which are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Yet ... I still love this country. But how long for?

Stephen Hanratty

Inspiring school

WHAT a truly inspirational day I had at Shotton Hall School in Peterlee, meeting the young people and teachers involved in Sky Sports Living for Sport.

My heartfelt thanks go to the many staff and pupils who welcomed me so warmly and shared their thoughts, experiences, aspirations and learnings from this initiative.

It was wonderful to see what a positive impact Sky Sports Living for Sport, which uses sport stars and sport skills to improve the lives of thousands of young people, has had on pupils in Shotton Hall School.

The pupils I met were a credit to Shotton Hall School and were full of enthusiasm, commitment and energy. My role as an Athlete Mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport, which is delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, is to inspire pupils, by drawing upon my own experiences of sport, the obstacles I overcame and the life lessons I have gleaned through sport.

As is so often the case on these visits, I came away feeling incredibly inspired myself.

During my time with the pupils at Shotton Hall School I encouraged them to think about the skills we learn through sport and how these can be applied to improve their lives. After all, sport is not just about fitness – sport helps people think, helps people listen, helps people to speak up and helps people work together.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the students for their achievements, and encourage them to keep focused on reaching their goals. Sport is not only about talent or winning medals; it brings together all the life skills needed to succeed, including hard work, self-belief, determination and passion. Initiatives like Sky Sports Living for Sport are about teaching young people to strive to be the best that they can be.

Charlotte Hartley, Commonwealth hockey bronze medallist

End animal experiments

I WAS shocked to read the Government’s new figures for animal experiments in the UK. They show that the number of experiments rose last year by 68,100 to nearly four million. That’s more than 10,000 animals every single day.

Animals in laboratories are poisoned to death. They have chemicals rubbed into their skin or dripped into their eyes and they are made to inhale smoke or toxic fumes. Others are surgically damaged, given cancer and infected with viruses. Most are given no anaesthetic at all.

As well as being cruel, animal experiments are unreliable and even dangerously misleading when researchers try to relate the results to treating human disease. Therefore, we need to end vivisection, and focus instead on non-animal techniques, including epidemiology, microdosing, computer modelling and the use of tissue cultures. The results are directly applicable to human patients.

One way in which all of us can show our support for humane non-animal research is by donating to medical research charities that exclusively fund those techniques – and avoiding charities that also fund vivisection.

A list of both types of charity can be obtained free of charge from Animal Aid by calling 01732 364546 or emailing info@animalaid.org.uk.

Richard Mountford, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent

Group’s thanks

ON behalf of Silksworth Banner Group I would like to thank the following for their help and support:

Bridget Phillipson MP, the Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillors Peter and Betty Gibson, Philip Tye, Pat Smith, Christine Martin and David Errington, Shepherd Brass Band, Gentoo, Thompson Solicitors, Durham Miners’ Association, Alan Patterson and drivers of M and N Travel, Scollen and Wright Funeral Directors, Road Traffic Management, Silksworth Comrades’ Club, George Armstrong, Mrs Lacey, Pat Burn and members of Silksworth Banner Group.

Also thanks to everyone who attended the concert in the Comrades on Friday, July 13, and all who came with us to Durham on Gala day, July 14.

A great weekend was had by all. Hope to see you again next year.

Peter Shields, Silksworth Banner Group Secretary, Athol Grove, Silksworth

Nuisance calls

I AM over 80. Sometimes I have a lie down then the phone rings.

I pick it up and there’s no one there.

This goes on three times a day now.

BT has a nuisance call number. I have rung this number until I’m sick, but they won’t answer.

It’s as bad as the nuisance calls. Why?

E. Coltman, Station Road, Seaham

Road system fears

I READ with interest the letter from Ron McQuillan headlined “No change to road planning disaster” (Letters, July 18).

My interest was a result of having experienced the recent alterations of the Toll Bar junction, which was a complete shambles when it first opened, causing mayhem and confusion to drivers.

It had to be modified three times, at an additional cost of £76,000 funded by the council tax payers of this city, before it was a satisfactory improvement.

Are we going to see a repetition of this at the Wheatsheaf?

Bearing in mind the Wheatsheaf handles a lot more traffic than the Toll Bar, I can foresee a far worse situation developing if it is not carefully thought out.

Gridlock comes to mind.

No doubt the plans are available for public viewing at the civic centre, which I for one will be going to see.

Mr P. S. Thompson