Letters, Saturday, May 28th, 2011

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Closing this loophole in littering law

IT seems the battle to keep our roadsides clear of litter is never ending. This situation is not helped by the current legal loophole that lets litter louts get away with it scot-free.

Currently our council can’t take effective action against people who throw litter out of their cars because the existing law requires the council to prove the identity of the individual who threw the litter, rather than just proving that litter was thrown from the car in the first place.

I support the work being done by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Local Government Association and Keep Britain Tidy to amend the existing law, so that whoever owns the vehicle is responsible for what is thrown out of it. Similar to the way laws on speeding, wearing seat belts and fly-tipping work.

The websites currently set up to report these people really do nothing. It is just paying lip service. There is no power. Those of us who do report fly-tipping and who have evidence of the perpetrators hear nothing back from the council and so wonder “why bother?”

There is so little education regarding litter. Years ago public service adverts on TV regularly made fun of litter bugs. This doesn’t happen any more. The latest generation of kids has no idea how much it costs to clean up and how the cost is deducted from the council’s budget and so can’t be better spent elsewhere. As far as most people are concerned, the “litter fairy” will clean it up.

I’m sure there are hundreds of councils, citizens and motorists who are sick of roadside litter. Clearing up this litter is expensive and dangerous and this simple change to the law would provide our council with an effective deterrent against the careless and thoughtless behaviour of litterers.

I would like to encourage Echo readers to write to their MP about the issue. There is a draft letter available at www.cpre.org.uk.

Denise Rand, Spartylea, Fatfield, Washington

Couple’s thanks

MY wife and I would like to offer our appreciation to our family and friends for making our Golden Wedding celebrations such a success.

We were humbled by the many who attended and the gifts received including donations of £376 which will be shared between the RNLI and Sunderland Cancer Patients Support at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

For the organisation and catering our thanks go to our daughter Janet, sons Stephen and Ian, along with Maurice, Sharon, Debra and grandchildren who did a wonderful job along with many friends.

Thanks also go to the officials and staff of the South Hylton Workingmen’s Club for the venue and service provided.

All told it was a fantastic night which will be remembered forever.

J. and L. Bell, Chatsworth Crescent, Sunderland

Off the map

WHEN did you last see Sunderland appearing on a BBC weather map?

That’s right, hardly ever. The BBC doesn’t recognise that we are the largest city between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Little surprise, therefore, that we have been excluded from the route of the Olympic Flame next year.

That flame is a symbol of hope and ambition. So perhaps the organisers have looked at potential route stops for those cities or towns who have demonstrated, or are demonstrating, that they are improving the environment and driving a programme of development.

If they looked at Sunderland what would they find? A derelict ex-Vaux 12-year-old wilderness, a failed port, a neglected seafront and a run-down city centre.

But hopefully, they will have a re-think, ignore our failings and give us a few Brownie points for coming ahead of Newcastle in the Premier League!

J. Walton, Ravine Terrace, Sunderland

Grave shortage

ONCE more your readers have been notified about the shortage of burial space in Washington, the worst place in the city.

But the comments by Coun Graeme Miller are sound for those who wish to grieve with a headstone, though as an example, a magnificent headstone and area in black marble stands neglected in Holy Trinity Churchyard after the immediate family have gone.

Apart from a green burial somewhere, another means may have to be looked at, such as a Scottish company’s invention known as resomatiom which was/is being looked at by a Cambridge City Council crematorium officer.

This system certainly is not cheap and means, in simple terms, cool the corpse in liquid nitrogen, then sink the bag in potassium hydroxide, freeze dried.

The corpse turns to powder, and can then be used as compost, all in about four hours.

Is it forward-looking, gruesome, good value or investment? I don’t know. But somehow, sometime, it will have to be debated.

A total of 573lb of carbon dioxide is released by every cremated corpse, so environmental concerns have to be considered as well.

Bill Craddock, Washington

Young heroines

A WORD of praise for two teenage girls that spotted a fire in a house in Church Street, Houghton, on Wednesday, May 25, at about 10pm.

They had the presence of mind to call the fire brigade on their mobile phones and then made attempts to alert the elderly owner.

It turned out to be a chimney fire, but without the prompt action of these two girls it could have turned to tragedy.

The heroines left without being thanked. They set an example for all of us.

The Fire and Rescue Service arrived in minutes and displayed the efficiency that we should all be grateful for.

Alex Scullion