Letters, Saturday, April 9th, 2011

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Life lived through years of progress

AS I approach my 83rd birthday, I feel fortunate that I was born in this country and at the beginning of the most progressive generation. I started life the year the franchise for women was lowered from 30 to 21. To get the vote suffragettes were sent to prison and were forcibly fed. Yet in 1928 the so-called working class were little more than menial servants of their masters and their wives were skivvies.

I was born the second child of a family of eight in a village that was built to house the families who worked the pits for their private owners. At two years old I was taken to live with my grandmother in an old farmhouse three miles from the village. The house had no electricity or gas. Water was got from a well through a steel pipe which poked out from the bank of the beck that flowed in front of the house. Milk was brought from a farm two miles away. There was no road to the house. Groceries came via a cart track, fortnightly, by horse and cart from the local Co-op. The school I went to was in the village.

Secondary education for me was playing games and digging the school garden as the staff had joined the forces for the Second World War. Leaving at 14 I worked on farms for six years. My first one was working 48 hours plus for a wage of £1. Then I joined the Royal Navy for 12 years.

It was after that we came, as a family, to Sunderland. Our first accommodation for a husband, wife and two boys was a tenement building in Hendon. It housed two other families. We had the three rooms at the top. We got water from a tap in the yard where there was a flush toilet that had been converted from a dry midden that we shared with the other families.

We were eventually allocated a council house in Farringdon.

My first job was at Hardy’s furniture shop as a salesman/van driver. Then I joined the Post Office where I became branch secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers. When one of my cases took me to the ward meeting of the Labour Party at Thorney Close only four members turned up so I joined to make up the quorum needed to carry out the business.

Three years later when a councillor of the ward died, I was asked to stand for the vacancy, which I did. To get better informed I joined the Fabian Society and took educational courses. Much of the rest of my life has been recorded in editions of the Echo.

Joe Hall, Grangetown

Berth for Adelaide

I AM afraid that I do not agree with G. M. Carlisle (Echo, April 6) about the Adelaide being installed on the Vaux site.

Why not install it just outside Sunderland’s super-duper state-of-the-art space age railway station?

The station is devoid of a public convenience, but I bet that the century-or-so-old Adelaide has toilets on board, even if they are in a state of disrepair.

After all, you know what they say – any port in a storm.

R. Tomlinson, Seaham

Political facts

I DOUBT if anybody in Sunderland or the North East generally will be surprised at anything the present Government will do.

Facts from the Tory Government of the 80s were the doubling of VAT, over three million unemployed (I was one of them), privatising all utilities – and I can’t think of anyone who benefited, apart from shareholders. Mining communities were shattered, shipyards closed etc.

Now to New Labour. The illegal Iraq war where thousands died with nobody held to account, the Afghan war, already years longer than the First World War and Second World War put together, and also supported by the Tory party. Banks bailed out to the tune of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money which caused economic problems along with other countries around the world like the United States, Spain, Greece etc.

On the good side new hospitals and schools were built, they gave free travel to pensioners, awarded heating allowances to over-60s and they introduced pension credit which benefits myself as a pensioner.

It would be interesting to know if any of your political correspondents can disagree with any of the facts detailed above.

K. Marsden, Southwick Road, Sunderland

Poor bus service

AS a regular user of the bus services in the North East, I would like to make a comment on the poor bus service between Washington and Sunderland. The bus I waited for two days ago was 15 minutes late. I also waited for the No. 50 to Durham which arrived 10 minutes before the next one was due, again 20 minutes late.

It is bad enough that we don’t have the Metro in Washington, but to have such an inefficient, slow bus service adds insult to injury.

There is an excellent service to Newcastle from Washington, so why can’t we have the same to Sunderland?

Mrs P. M. Jones

Wrong headline

I DID not propose putting up the council tax as printed in the Echo of April 4. Council tax is frozen anyway.

What I did say at the Attractive City Scrutiny Committee was in regards to their report “Sunderland the Place”, which contains references to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people of Sunderland, was this: ‘‘Has Sunderland Council’s aim of having the lowest council tax in the North East been detrimental to achieving the residents wish list?’’

I also said that we should be openly discussing these important issues in the council chambers, as they affect people’s lives, and not waste time with debates that are only there for political point-scoring, in the hope of getting a good headline in the Echo.

On April 4, I got a bad one as well as a wrong one.

Coun Denny Wilson