Letters Saturday, March 26th, 2011

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Have your say

Labour interest - just before election

I’M one of the many residents in Newbottle who attend the regular local community meetings which are organised, publicised and paid for by our Independent councillors. At these meetings we have the opportunity to discuss what’s happening in our area and can raise any concerns with the councillors and the police who then work to help resolve them.

Back when we only had Labour councillors, the only time we ever heard from them was just before an election when they wanted our vote. You can imagine my surprise when, just four weeks before the council election campaigning is due to begin, into the meeting walked two Houghton Labour councillors and a Labour woman from Hetton Town Council.

The community meetings have been going for two-and-a-half years and I’ve never seen a Labour councillor attend a single one, so why come now? Many residents didn’t even know who they were. What a nerve!

We were flabbergasted when one of the Labour councillors told us that we still have unmade roads in Newbottle, a conservation area, because we had a Conservative Government 21 years ago. She was quickly told that these meetings are not political and was asked not to make comments like this in the future. Interestingly, none of the Labour councillors had anything to say when Colin Wakefield updated us about the increasing pollution leaking out of Houghton Quarry landfill and into our drinking water.

Our Independent councillors have done lots of great work to help make our area a better place and, unlike the Labour councillors, they don’t wait until just before an election to do it.

I’m looking forward to the next community meeting when the Labour councillors come along for a free ride. I hope they bring a cushion though, because it might be a bumpy one.

Paul Marriner

Seafront dog dirt

ON another recent visit to the seafront at Roker, from the marina down to the promenade, my kids were playing dodgems with dog dirt. I am absolutely disgusted to find that a council that should pride itself on two beautiful beaches is just letting irresponsible dog walkers leave their dog dirt behind. What happened to the enforcement officers?

On a recent visit to South Shields I did not see one bit of dog dirt, so what’s the difference in Sunderland? I appreciate the cuts to local council budgets have to be implemented, but surely Sunderland City Council should be publicising one of its best attractions?

I would like to see this dog fouling on the seafront cleaned up, especially with the diseases it carries and young children playing nearby.

K. Stoker, Waterford Green, Pennywell, Sunderland

Tory NHS reforms

DAVID Cameron never had the popularity or trust to win enough votes to form a Tory Government in the past election. If the nation had twigged beforehand that he lied when he promised the NHS would remain safe in his hands, the total would have been considerably less. So obviously there was no people’s mandate for the dismantling of the health service.

This has not stopped him who lies running amok like a bull in a china shop, kicking dedicated staff in the teeth and stealthily contaminating the NHS with large doses of privatisation. Not content with that, Cameron is also withdrawing £20billion from hospital budgets. As a consequence all of our hospitals are struggling financially, which is affecting service to patients.

Across the country reports indicated that NHS Trusts have stopped non-emergency operations and wards are closing. Thousands of hospital workers are being made redundant, including 27,000 nurses. Suspicious minds might think the health service is being weakened by the Tories to make the road to privatisation easier for their friends and benefactors in the private sector and for this purpose they are pushing the Health and Social Care Bill through the Commons.

As I wrote previously, reforms in the Bill cleverly reinforce each other to create conditions for the irreversible marketisation of the NHS. The British Medical Association have rejected the reforms as “flawed and very risky” and few private firms will take over “vast swathes of the NHS”.

The Lib-Dem conference voted against the reforms. If Lib-Dem MPs support their rank and file they can stop the NHS Bill going through the Commons by voting against at the next reading. By doing so they would receive gratitude from the majority of the population who depend on a free health service.

W. Quinn, Millfield, Sunderland

Libya bombings

THE Coalition has a UN Resolution to impose a no-fly zone in Libya. The methods used seem grossly excessive. It is as though a police force, armed with a search warrant, proceeds to burn down the property.

To prove that we are anxious to avoid civilian casualties, our planes fly 3,000 miles but abort the strike because of the presence of civilians. At the same time a compound in Tripoli is bombed. Are there no civilians in Tripoli?

B. McGill, Weardale Avenue, South Bents, Sunderland

Idea for Vaux site

NOW that the city council own the old Vaux site wouldn’t it be a good idea if a really good family leisure centre was built there?

I mean one suitable for all the family, a good swimming pool suitable for all ages, an ice rink, a bowling green (indoor), a gym, a sports hall, a smaller hall suitable for keep fit etc, as well as a restaurant/dance floor suitable for council entertainment as well as for hire.

This new building should have a car park, and a bus turn-around. All you need are several buses to run to this centre from various districts.

Wouldn’t it be a good thing, suitable for all ages of the population?

Of course the immediate reply will be that there is no money. The present leisure centre could be demolished and in its place some decent shops built, maybe a department store. These would bring money into the city.

It might be possible if all high earners in the civic centre took a reduction in pay and all councillors gave their expenses – that would help.

D. Whitwell, Hurstwood Road, Sunderland