Letters, Saturday, June 25th, 2011

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Lessons from Stone Age man

WITH gas, electricity and food priced soaring, my thoughts keep turning to the lifestyle of our Stone Age ancestors. Ancient man knew he needed certain basics to survive: food, water, clothing, heat, shelter.

He had to hunt for food, and made clothes from animal hides. In the forests he found fuel for fires, and used wood or hides to construct a basic shelter.

He made his home near a river or lake, his fresh water supply.

If he and his family were hungry he could kill an animal, cook and eat it. You can’t do that now. We have evolved from hunter-gatherers into supermarket shoppers. Try telling the security man at the checkout your children are starving and you can’t afford the groceries, and see how much sympathy you get. But the human race needs food to sustain life. I believe food speculators are pushing up the prices of basic commodities to make a financial killing. Isn’t this a crime, with so many hungry people in the world?

Water is a precious resource, but we need to pay the bills Northumbrian Water sends us. There’s no alternative. Try getting your water supply from the Wear and fetching it home in a bucket.

As for keeping warm this winter, if only we could burn log fires like our ancestors. We have a serious energy crisis, and the Government needs to tackle this now.

Unlike prehistoric man, we are not allowed to build a house wherever we like. Instead we have the housing market. Property owners get excited as the price of houses rise, but young people can’t get mortgages, and the homeless sleep in shop doorways. Having a roof over your head is another of our basic needs. The homeless should be able to squat in properties deliberately left empty.

But was there ever a need to own your home? Convincing people they had to buy their own homes was the biggest con trick Government foisted on us. The decision to sell off council houses was plain daft. We should have had cheap rented accommodation to provide for everyone, not just those who can afford it. Housing is a basic right.

Does the Government care if pensioners die of cold and malnutrition this winter? People must not be priced out of the necessities of life.

William Crane, Langley Close, Washington

Centre’s decline

AGAIN the rumours and speculation grow about the future of the Seaburn Centre, and as usual when faced with a problem council officers’ first reaction is to call in the demolition sqaud and wash their hands of it.

The centre provides the only decent-sized covered exhibition area in the city centre, supported by good access and first-class parking facilities. Certainly it has been under used in recent years, but has that been part of a plan to run it down?

If the enthusiasm and commitment of the site staff had been matched by senior management we might have a different story. Lack of promotion and proactive development, coupled with the withdrawal of on-site management has presented an obstacle course for potential hirers, instead of a welcoming and business like environment.

Past successful events such as the RSC, sporting occassions and major history fairs have shown what can be achieved. Why not more of the same?

The existing catering facilities should be an asset, yet they have just been allowed to deteriorate through neglect and lack of maintenance, depriving users, including the public, of an added seafront attraction.

With just a little effort it could become the centre attraction on the seafront, possibly with the addition of a summer sub-Tourist Information Centre to support the downgraded main centre office.

There is no argument that it has declined in recent years, but whose fault is that? I would suggest not the facility’s.

Alastair Yule, Norfolk Street, Sunderland

Teachers’ action

IS there anyone out there who can find a spark of sympathy in their heart for the National Union of Teachers?

Along with 750,000 other public service workers they are to strike for one day on June 30, with more inaction promised. As to their moans about a proposed increase in pension contributions, the NUT need to be reminded that along with the rest of the public sector they are still members of unfunded final salary pension schemes. It means that taxpayers, be they rich or poor, are wholly responsible to fund every penny paid in and every penny paid out. I would suggest to the NUT that they count their blessings and appreciate what they have.

Out in the real world countless thousands of people employed in the private sector paid into funded occupational pension schemes all of their working lives only to be fleeced by ill-thought-out government legislation. Former Labour Minister Frank Field did not describe legislation enacted by Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown in 1997 as theft by government, but he came very close to it.

If the public sector had been fully funded schemes I believe the legislation that sounded the death knell to private sector final salary schemes would never have been enacted.

Ron Metcalfe, East Herrington

Fantastic event

I DID’NT know what publicity npower’s “No power for hour” day would get at Seaburn, Saturday, June 18, but how lucky I was to be there and what a great pleasure and experience it was.

I was there with my mam, 74, and grandson Aaron, four, who loves football. We got there about 11.45am on a drizzly day, but all the people from npower were friendly and cheerful. But the star man was Kevin Keegan – he was so cheerful and pleasant all day with such funny banter.

I noticed he was down to be there from noon to 1pm but he was already there when we got there. We only left after 2pm because my grandson was hungry. Kevin was still running around in the rain with kids.

It’s a day my family will not forget. I got plenty of photos of a great day. When you think what the great man has done in his life, he is a very humble man. I don’t know what age he is now, but he looked so fit and well.

No I don’t work for npower, I am not even a customer – might change now!

Roy Hammonds, Lyon Street, Hebburn