Letters, Saturday, February 26th, 2011

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Fears for safety on our streets

THE Northumbria Police chief’s remark (Echo, February 17) that she would “as far as we can, maintain front-line services” will still leave many people apprehensive.

The question is how much further can the force be stretched after losing 318 police officers and 825 civilians? The news there is still a £23million gap in the police budget could mean more jobs lost. The thin blue line is getting thinner and could be reaching a point where the manpower is unavailable to carry out the normal duties to the public.

At national level, in an apparent bout of insanity, the Government has kicked out 18,000 policemen, and 14,000 jobs will go from the Justice Department. Just when we thought our streets couldn’t be made any more dangerous the Government had another brainstorm. They have closed down magistrate and county courts all over the country and decided to fill the void made by police absence on the streets with criminals. Thousands of them will be spared jail and given community punishment instead.

At a time when the economy is scraping the bottom with zero levels of growth and increased joblessness, which makes crime more likely, the Government is treading a dangerous and reckless path with the safety of the public at risk.

W. Quinn, Millfield, Sunderland

PM won’t listen

I UNDERSTAND the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman has had to issue a humiliating apology in the House of Commons over plans to privatise England’s forests.

Mrs Spelman said: “I am sorry. We got this one wrong. But we have listened to people’s concerns.”

When is her boss, David Cameron, going to listen to people’s concerns about the farcical Human Rights Law, where the criminal has more rights than the victim?

When is he going to listen to people’s concerns about immigration, illegal or otherwise?

When is he going to listen to people’s concerns about the money the British Government (i.e. the British people) is pouring into that black hole known as the EU?

It appears that David Cameron does not give a damn about the people’s concerns.

B. Tasker, Neasham Road, Seaham

Anti-Catholicism

ANTI-CATHOLICISM, it has been said, is the last allowable prejudice. It is the anti-Semitism of the liberal.

The anti-Catholic BBC featured a meaningful debate on the motion: Would Jesus be a Catholic? Perhaps in future the studio audience will be invited to debate the motion: Would Mohammed be a Muslim? Somehow I don’t think so.

Two points call for attention. Someone contrasted the wealth of the Catholic Church with the poverty of the under-developed world. What was not said, and never is said, is that approximately 10,000 hospitals and clinics in the under-developed world are provided by the Catholic Church.

Nor did anyone point out that many third world children would grow up illiterate were it not for the 80,000 schools provided for them by the Catholic Church.

In itself, wealth is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It depends on how it is used, and it is an indisputable fact that the Catholic Church is the greatest provider of humanitarian relief in history.

Reasons of space allow no more than a cursory discussion of the second point, which concerns the role of the Church in wartime. The matter was raised by a humanist who, evidently, had read one or more of those scurrilous works that dishonour the memory of Pope Pius XII.

Thousands of Catholic priests died in concentration camps because of their opposition to Nazism. Resistance, mainly in the rescue of Jews in countries such as France and Belgium, was led by Catholic bishops.

As to the Pope, according to the most reliable Jewish estimate, Pius XII was instrumental in saving 860,000 Jewish lives, more than were saved by all the Western democracies and the Red Cross combined.

I hope the aforesaid will be of interest to readers, especially those who witnessed this so-called debate and may have been adversely influenced by it.

P.B., Ivy Avenue, Seaham

Travel bargain

IN reply to the letter from K. Rackstraw regarding the increase in the cost of the Gold Card. Some people don’t know a bargain when they see one, and the majority of pensioners, including my own mother, don’t think £25 per year to be excessive.

In the days when the free travel was first introduced many people were saddened to learn that the under-16s’ fares were increased. It costs each child 70p per journey or £1 for a day ticket if they hold an under-16 card – quite expensive for an adult and a couple of children taking a trip into town.

If K. Rackstraw is able to avoid using the Metro then it just proves they were only using it because it was free. As for the Metros running empty, I’m sure Nexus would remove some services if this was the case.

By the way, my bus pass costs £10.60 per week or, put another way, £551.20 per year.

Pinky, Sunderland

Scaremongering

I NOTICE Sandhill Labour chairman John Gallagher in his letter of February 19 states that front-line services “could” be under threat of “massive cutbacks”. This isn’t the first time Labour supporters have used words that cast doubt on the validity of their claims.

“Possible”, “potential”, “might”, “could” are all words that have been bandied about. We’ve heard how the Coalition “might” cut pensioners’ bus passes, TV licences, winter fuel payments etc, none of which have come to pass.

Is this letter not just another case of Labour scaremongering?

Debbie Lorraine, Hendon

Free supply?

SO Newcastle is to get free hot water from a hole drilled in the ground. Will it be as free as the North Sea gas we were all promised in the 60s?

Derek Robe