Letters, Monday, March 19th, 2012

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Don’t send clipper to a wasteland

Having attended the Scarf open public meeting at St Mary’s Church Hall Bridge Street, I now feel very positive about the possibility of the City of Adelaide returning to the place of its birth the Wear to make the city’s citizens proud of their rich outstanding and world-renowned shipbuilding heritage.

Peter Madison’s brave and courageous self-sacrificing current occupation of Sunderland’s beautiful Clipper ship in Irving should be used as an inspiration to us all.

Sunderland City Council has pledged a berth on the Wear and this is a crucial factor in her return. The indications are that the people of Sunderland want our ship back home, as a recent gathering of signatures for a petition for the return of the Adelaide reflects.

Of the 2,000 people that Scarf members spoke to, there was only a single voice refusing to sign. A recent echo website poll showed that 69 per cent of people wanted the Adelaide back in our city. Scarf has financial pledges and other financial bids in the offing which will hopefully bear fruit when the Adelaide is back on Wearside.

On the other hand, the South Australian government is on record as saying in December 2011 that they will not come up with the funds to finance the Adelaide. It seems unlikely that there are the huge finances needed from their private sector to export her back to Australia.

Even if they pull that off, she would be going to the outpost of Port Adelaide, which is 12 miles from the city and is an industrial wasteland which does not attract tourists.

The Scarf campaign is going to involve further public meetings and fundraising events. It’s now up to the people of Sunderland to support Scarf’s worthy cause to bring our ship home and create work for the future generations of Wearsiders.

Tony Ratton, Eden Vale, Sunderland

Museum call

READING your article about the Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde who has recorded a track in support of Scarf, I am quite puzzled as to why Sunderland does not have a maritime museum of which the Adelaide could be part with the rest of the maritime heritage that exists in Sunderland.

For instance, historically significant are the Seaman’s Orphanage, the River Wear Commissions, Trafalgar Arms House and many more that are reminders of the days when Sunderland had the biggest shipyard in the world where the men built the ships and sailed in them too.

Sunderland has a great maritime heritage and still has men with the skills to keep that heritage alive.

Good luck and best wishes to Peter Maddison and everyone involved in this endeavour.

Winnie Davis, Churchill Street, Hendon

It had to be said

I thank Mr McDonald of Fulwell (Letters, March 9) for his feedback on my recent question to the Prime Minister.

Firstly, my congratulations to Nissan UK for repeatedly winning contracts to boost production and jobs in Sunderland are a matter of record and there was no way that I would use PMQs to hand the PM an opportunity to take credit for a decision which owed more to the hard-working and highly-skilled North-East workforce, coupled with the longstanding support of labour-led Sunderland City Council, than anything Mr Cameron has done.

With regard to Mr McDonald’s other point, Parliamentary convention dictates that tributes to fallen servicemen are given by the PM, Leader of the Opposition and the first questioner.

It may help your readers if I explained that I was asking Mr Cameron – by quoting one of his own Tory backbenchers – whether it was right for her to say that the problem with this Government is that it “is being run by two public school boys who don’t know what it’s like to go to the supermarket and have to put things back on the shelves because they can’t afford it for their children’s lunchboxes. What’s worse, they don’t care either.”.

The Prime Minister did indeed ignore my question, but in doing so he proved the point being made.

In April, more than 350 families on low incomes in my constituency will be hit in the pocket by changes to tax credits, with many finding that they’d be hundreds of pounds a year better off on benefits as a result, and just this week, hundreds of people with learning difficulties were told they would be out of a job when Remploy factories are closed, with those surviving facing an uncertain future.

The fact David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne are allowing this to happen demonstrates that they either have no idea how those who are not from their privileged backgrounds are being affected by their policies, or in the words of his own Tory backbencher “they don’t care either”.

Whichever it is, this is no way to run a country, and I make no apologies for highlighting this in Parliament.

Sharon Hodgson MP