Letters, Monday, June 20th, 2011

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Battling against rogue landlords

It was interesting to read the recent article in the Sunderland Echo regarding the increasing number of private landlords joining the council’s accreditation scheme.

However there still remains a serious problem of ‘out-of-city’ landlords who appoint agents to rent out properties at high rental costs and pay very little attention to repairs to the properties being rented.

Indeed, one property in particular was inspected by city housing and enforcement officers who made several recommendations that essential repairs were to be undertaken by the landlord and if not the council would step in and do what was necessary to bring the property up to scratch and make safe other conditions that needed immediate attention.

A date was set by which the repairs should have been completed. This was ignored by the landlord’s agent and it was only through the persistence of ward councillors that council officials were made aware that the work proposed was not being carried out to the required standard by the builder.

During this period of time, which started in October until now, the tenant has lived in an unheated flat with crumbling walls, sagging door frames, gaps in walls, which were hidden by wallpaper.

The tenant had been promised that all the necessary repairs would be completed to his satisfaction. However, despite meetings between the landlord, his agent and the builder, the situation has not been put to rights.

Meanwhile council officials remain silent despite the lack of progress in the repairs to the flat. Indeed their promise to rid the city of rogue landlords seems to have been forgotten.

George Howe, Bob Francis, John Wiper, Conservative councillors, Fulwell Ward

National disaster

IS there a more discredited political philosophy than nationalism?

You’d think after the defeat of the dictators in 1945, it would have been too ashamed to raise its ugly head again. But there are too many idiots on the far right for that. When General Mladic was arrested, Serb nationalists marched in support of their hero. Have they taken leave of their senses? By what twisted logic does an alleged mass murderer become a national hero?

The main idea behind nationalism is that society is under threat and the nation must rally together on an ethic or racial basis. So it identifies external enemies (other national states) or internal ones (other ethnic groups). This leads to wars, or the persecution of minorities.

Yet in the beginning, nationalism was a truly liberating force, born of the French Revolution. It told the French: you are France, you are the nation, not the King.

Nationalism spread to all the peoples of Europe. Idealistic liberals with their heads in the clouds dreamed of a brave new world. So what went wrong? The Prussian army unified Germany, not the dreamers. Nationalism became firmly linked to militarism and the far right.

When the First World War broke out, Socialist parties everywhere should have told the masses: Don’t go killing working-class lads from other countries just to uphold the capitalist system. However, fired up by nationalism, they all marched off to war.

In our time the big threat to peace is the Arab-Israeli conflict. Again, it’s nationalism that caused the trouble. Zionists looked around and said: Everyone else has their own nation state, why not us? Where should we have it? Why, in Palestine of course, the land God gave us. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t lived there for 2,000 years and it’s now an Arab homeland.

Henry Whipple, Coach Road Estate, Washington

Royal treatment

ON Friday, June 3, I was quite poorly and had to get the paramedics to attend to me. The service and kindness shown to me was absolutely first class and compassionate.

I was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital for treatment and once more received nothing but kindness and treatment for a very nasty chest infection.

The A&E staff and nurses, from triage to the very professional young doctor could not have done more for me and sent me home at ease, with medication.

God bless you all.

Mr P. Warner, Hetton

Whose capital idea?

NOW the new football season fixture lists have been released, I can’t help but wonder if the financial and logistical sensitivities of the fans have been taken into account.

Take, for example, four days in December. On the 17th, SAFC fans must travel to Tottenham. Three days later, on the 20th, they must return to the capital to see Sunderland play QPR. That’s a very expensive few days, not to mention 1,000 miles of travel.

Thomas Moir, Middle Herrington