Letters, Saturday, October 4, 2014

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Control centres were great folly

THERE has been lots of coverage about the fire authority’s move to close Sunderland Central Fire Station.

 Perhaps they would not have had to take this step if the last Labour Government had not played fast and loose with the UK’s finances.

 It is living proof that it is not only Sunderland’s Labour council that is good at wasting taxpayers’ money. The last Labour Government was good at it too.

 One of its follies was the project to set up nine regional control centres for fire and rescue services in England against the advice of Fire Authorities, Fire Unions and the opposition.

 This project turned out to be a complete failure and wasted £469m, according to MPs.

 The public accounts committee said the Fire Control scheme had not achieved any of its objectives and that eight of the centres were empty “white elephants”.

 The Fire Minister and Labour must be held accountable for the “comprehensive failure”.

 Labour’s Margaret Hodge, who chairs the MPs’ committee, said the project had been “flawed from the outset” and one of the worst wastes of public money for many years.

 She added:“The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants.”.

 She also said the project, launched in 2004 by the Labour Government, had been terminated in 2010 “with none of the original objectives achieved and a minimum of £469m being wasted”.

 This has been an extraordinary failure and sends out a clear signal that Labour cannot be trusted with our money.

 We must prevent more Labour waste and incompetence.

Keith O’Brien,

Middle Herrington

People are selfless

IF only life was as simple as M McArdle seems to think (September 24), when he urges people not to visit countries like Afghanistan,Syria and Iraq.

 Criticising the mental state of these brave people is not only insulting to the dead, it’s disrespectful to the brave volunteers still over there.

 These volunteers see all the injustices, death and starvation, and feel compelled to go and help.

 The journalists go there to report on the atrocities, so the world can see and read what is really going on.

 Sadly, the soldiers have no choice. They are sent by politicians who only care about getting re-elected, and again, sadly, human life seems to be a small price to pay.

Ged Taylor

Help is available

I READ the letter regarding probate services (September 30) with interest.

 My husband left everything in his will to me. Solicitors wanted £500 to complete the probate for me.

 I went to the probate office and got the necessary forms. It took some time to complete them – researching relatives, money in banks, pension details etc.

 I did all this myself and people at the probate office were very helpful and I saved £500.

 Most people would be able to do this themselves and save a lot of money.

Name and address supplied