Letters, Saturday, February 11th, 2012

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Labour jumping on the bandwagon

THE Rats group has fought the abomination that is Houghton Quarry Landfill since landfilling began in 1997. The fight has been a long and difficult one on which the Rats committee have expended thousands of hours of work and significant quantities of donated and personal monies.

We hold weekly committee meetings and regular meetings with the Environment Agency as well as other official bodies and contacts we believe may be able to help Rats rid Houghton and the surrounding area of this environmental madness.

Myself and Councillor Sheila Ellis have made two trips to the European Parliament to address the Petitions Committee and the outcome of that is likely to be the prosecution of the British Government for failure to properly implement the landfill legislation that is supposed to protect residents.

Biffa Waste Services have recently submitted a planning application to Sunderland City Council to extend the life of the landfill by a further 17 years.  

Rats have distributed 11,000 leaflets over the last two weeks to encourage residents to lodge objections with Sunderland City Council urging them to reject this application.

On Saturday, January 28, in Houghton town centre, the recently selected Labour candidates for the Houghton and Copt Hill wards for next May’s local elections set up a petition table to gather names to stop the planning extension, claiming to attend Rats meetings, which they do not. They have not shown the slightest interest in helping Rats and the people of Houghton and district until now after they have been selected as Labour candidates.

They, like the rest of their Labour Party colleagues have done nothing to stop this madness, which their party imposed on Houghton all those years ago.

Rats welcome help to assist us in ridding our town of this abomination and receive significant help from residents to deliver our many leaflets. But after 15 years of inactivity for Labour to jump on the bandwagon is incredible. Do the residents of the Copt Hill and Houghton wards want to be represented by such people as these? I certainly hope not.

Coun Colin Wakefield, Houghton

Hospital fines

MY wife and myself are 76-year-old pensioners. We are also diabetics. We have a son who is disabled and has a blue badge for parking as we have to visit Sunderland Royal regularly.

I was reading in the Echo on February 4 that someone got a fine from Parking Eye. I was parked in the hospital car park (Chester Wing) on December 6, 2011, at 4.42pm. I got a fine which I paid two days later by cheque.

I received three letter from Parking Eye saying that my fine was still outstanding. So I went to my bank, got a statement and sent it to Parking Eye showing them the cash had been taken out of my account. Then I got a letter from Parking Eye saying my cheque had been received and the charge had been closed.

Further down the letter Parking Eye states that I owe another fine from December 29 at 5.26pm. From now on I may be travelling to the hospital by bus.

I forgot to say that I was at the hospital to pick my son up and I was parked in a short-stay for 20 minutes outside the main entrance.

Mr T. McKitten, Burnmoor

Free bus service

MY husband and I use the free bus frequently from the Stadium of Light, and as Stan Temple says, there’s no hassle, no panic attacks trying to find somewhere to park your car. Courteous drivers, friendly and very helpful.

May I suggest to the editor that it would be useful to all readers if he could include a timetable and pick-up points once a week, perhaps in the “In Brief” column.

It would be a shame to lose this service through lack of use.

Elizabeth Crosby, Castletown

Right punishment

AT long last I noticed a significant difference in Court roundup (February 3). Magistrates punished correctly for “no insurance” cases.

For years it has annoyed me seeing people let off with a slapped wrist for the offence. If you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford the car.

A Pollitt, Sunderland

Atos Healthcare statement

IN response to the Bridget Phillipson MP comment piece in the Sunderland Echo last week, Atos Healthcare has contacted the editor to request a clarification in relation to references made in the article to Atos’s work on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in relation to the Work Capability Assessments.

In the article it stated that “40 per cent of its (Atos Healthcare) decisions are overturned at tribunal”. Atos Healthcare would like to clarify that decisions on anyone’s fitness to work are taken by the Department for Work and Pensions, with the report from a Work Capability Assessment forming only part of the information the DWP use to make a decision.

Atos Healthcare would also like to point out that independently verified studies confirm that it is actually less than nine per cent of all assessments that are overturned at appeal.