Letters, Thursday, February 24th, 2011

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Gentoo staff deserve apology from MPs

THE workers at Gentoo should take with a large pinch of salt the expressions of sorrow and regret offered to them by the three Wearside MPs over the impending job losses. What they should be receiving from these MPs is a collective act of contrition for the calamitous state of the economy which was the disastrous legacy of the last Labour Government and is the main reason for these job losses.

It is also time to explode the myth about Labour, social housing and the construction industry. In the last Parliament the number of social housing units built was the lowest for any Parliament since records began. In the year 2009/10, the last year of the Labour Government, the number of social housing units built was the lowest since 1923. The boom in the construction industry from 1999 to 2008 was built on a quagmire of debt overseen by light-touch regulation which was a recipe for the disaster which ensued.

The conditions that prevailed in 2001, when Gentoo came into being, have long since gone and will never return. The housing market is in stagnation and will remain in that state for some considerable time – indeed, the price of houses and land will fall in real terms this year. It means that the core business of Gentoo, as a social landlord, will become its main revenue stream.

What the Coalition must ensure is a cap on unreasonable rent rises, and this applies particularly in Sunderland, where the liability for such rent rises lies with the taxpayer through the means of housing benefit. It would be grotesquely unfair to owner-occupiers, themselves faced with the probability of increased mortgage costs, to be hit with a double whammy of increased taxation to subsidise social housing rents.

D. McDonald, Winifred Street, Fulwell, Sunderland

Firm’s lay-offs

IT does not surprise me that Gentoo is to make nearly 300 employees redundant this year. This was to be expected. Gentoo has expanded too quickly, building new properties all over the North East instead of concentrating on the many housing estates with problems in Sunderland.

Take Doxford Park for instance. New houses are being built which everyone thought were for the residents of this estate, which is very run down, but seemingly not. Anyone can apply for these new homes.

What with fancy offices, hundreds of vans running around all day, burning fuel at a terrible cost, I am not surprised they are having difficulties.

Disgusted OAP

Synagogue radio?

AL, from Seaham, asked why a city the size of Sunderland does not have its own BBC local radio station? I would like to ask why are there no toilets in the city’s central railway station?

The railway station is used by two million people annually. Hartlepool railway station has toilets. Hartlepool managed, not so long ago, to resurrect an old ship called the HMS Warrior, the world’s first iron-clad battleship. Not like Sunderland with the City of Adelaide.

Not so long since, there was talk of an outdoor/open market opening in Sunderland, but nothing came of it. Some 800-year-old bylaw is holding things up.

Sunderland is being treated like some third world, one-horse town of little or no significance, and it is high time something was done about putting Sunderland/Wearside back on the map. I think a radio station or even perhaps a television station would do just that. What about using the old synagogue in Grangetown as a TV/radio station?

R. Tomlinson, Seaham

Stop negativity

THE Independent councillors are again talking down Houghton. I’m getting a little fed up with their remarks. On their leaflets they continue to talk down our local area. That’s wrong. Having lived in the area for over 50 years I am proud of what Houghton has achieved and so are my family.

Why be so negative? Do something positive for a change. We have new schools, the building of a new health centre and more. It’s no good just complaining about our area. If it was so bad I certainly wouldn’t have lived here so long. Come on, get a grip.

K. Dobson, Houghton

Thanks for help

THANK you to the kind people who stopped to help after my fall at the junction of Allendale Road and Silksworth Road on Friday morning, February 4.

It is nice to know that there are decent, caring people still out there.

M. Anderson

Knowledge is vital

I AM writing regarding the cuts to our council in Sunderland. They have me and my family worried.

I saw a leaflet from one of the Independent councillors, Colin Wakefield, saying that he “certainly cannot claim to understand the complexities of world economics”.

At a time when the whole world has suffered because of the bankers, I don’t want councillors who do not understand the economy, especially when the Tory-led Government has cut our council’s budget.

The Independent councillors have a lot to answer for. It’s time we had councillors who actually know about the hard challenges facing us locally.

Concerned resident

Big decisions

AFTER all the letters of doom and gloom, perhaps some ideas ought to be thought over. Everyone, not just one party, should be involved in making so many very serious and life-changing decisions.

Decisions so far have been controversial and have created anger and splits even among parties like the Lib Dems. After all the pre-election promises, the lies are coming to light.

There are controversial decisions to be made that will affect all citizens in the future and in my view they are far too important to be decided so quickly with cuts so deep. The foundation of our way of life and our security is in jeopardy.

Re. cuts in the NHS and privatising health care: remember, all workers pay contributions and so are shareholders. Surely before any decisions are made a referendum should be organised.

The cuts in the armed forces are bound to weaken our national security. Perfectly serviceable aircraft and naval vessels are to be scrapped. Why? Surely it makes more sense to mothball these fighting machines in case they are needed in the future. One day we may remember the saying we need “the few”, but it seems sacking pilots who have cost millions to train is sensible as are cuts in Army personnel.

Cuts in the police and the councils, plus the restrictions placed on both regarding bringing to justice any wrongdoers, are surely disgraceful. Can we depend on our security as it is going to be a lottery as regards safety and peace of mind?

Re. the care of the elderly: remember, we will all be elderly at some time. When you are young the twilight years of life seem so far away, they are out of sight. The trouble is it comes round very fast so thought should be put into this subject and whether cuts will make life less tolerable.

Mr Cameron and company ask everyone to volunteer to fill vacancies and says we should all do our duty during these hard times. How will this go down with bosses, MPs and the upper crust? Will they sweep our streets, police their areas or do any other menial job? Not much chance, eh?

C. S. Wasey, Wayman Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

EMA is deserved

RE L. Locket (Letters, February 16), I feel I must write in answer to the letter written regarding EMA. I am the mother of a teenage daughter who is at college. I cannot work through ill health but my parents and family have put enough into the system, so I think she is perfectly entitled to this money.

You must think they get bus passes and lunches for nothing, as you obviously don’t live in the real world. By the time she pays for these she has nothing left, but goes every day as she want to get a job and better herself.

It’s you that needs to get the reality check. Education is important. It isn’t bribery.

Angry mum, Sunderland

Residents’ views

FULWELL councillors have carried out a survey throughout the ward asking residents their opinions as to what they would like to have provided at the two resorts.

After the consultation, in which over 4,500 residents were given the opportunity to express their views on the seafront, the majority of returns expressed a desire for a swimming pool and an ice skating facility, both of which ward councillors have campaigned for over the past few years.

Other survey returns focused on the problem of potholes, rat-runs in the Kirkstone Avenue and other areas. Among the leading viewpoints were the need for more grit/salt bins after the chaos of two severe winters.

Grass verges were mentioned, but the majority of views expressed were that the seafront needed more practical leisure provisions, especially the acquisition of a swimming pool and an ice skating facility as, many say, the Aqua Centre is not filling the need of parents taking their children as they find it is too expensive and parking facilities are poor. Indeed many parents take their young ones to Temple Park Leisure Centre in South Shields.

The Blue Bell junction in Fulwell was a target for criticism because of the lack of priority lighting allowing right turn into Station Road from Dene Lane as many drivers get frustrated at the delays.

Ward councillors attended a meeting with the leader of the council and senior officers two years ago when complaints and concerns were expressed – for example, irregular and poor bus services along Dykelands Road.

Councillors George Howe, John Walton, Bob Francis

Appeal thanks

ON BEHALF of Silksworth Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, we would like to thank Asda at Grangetown, Morrison’s at Doxford Park, Sainsbury’s at Silksworth, Sunderland Royal Hospital and all the other businesses and public who gave so generously to our appeal.

The sum raised was £21,208.24.

Robert Newton, Edward Street, Silksworth, Sunderland