Letters, Thursday, March 1st, 2012

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Ending tip should be common goal

I WISH to comment on the petitions against the application of extension of lease for the tip in Houghton.

While I am happy to support any group or party who are fighting against the extension of a facility that has caused distress and discomfort to residents for many years, I do not see any reason for animosity from the Rats/Independents towards anyone else choosing to actively campaign against this proposal.

I have signed the petition presented by the Labour candidates as they were friendly, approachable and publicly accessible, whereas I have yet to receive a Rats leaflet to inform me of when and where their meetings are held despite living in my current residence for over two years.

It would appear to an outsider that they are selective as to who participates in their campaign. Surely this is the common goal? And may I highlight a statement from the homepage of the Rats website: “We need as many people as possible to complain. The future of our town, your quality of life and, possibly your health is at stake here.”

Maybe it’s not just me that didn’t get the information.

Claire Smith, Houghton

Action needed

THE Government has been lucky. This winter has been mild so far. Should the next winter be as severe as that of 2010-11, David Cameron will lose the next election if he has not helped people on low incomes like pensioners whose standard of living has fallen.

Mr Cameron must be brave and take the UK out of the European Union. Britain puts more into Europe than it gets out. In its dying convulsions the EU is putting Greece through torment and humiliation.

Forget wind farms. What we urgently need are atomic, gas and coal-powered power stations. Also we could turn to hydro-electric schemes like Ardnacrusha on the Shannon in Ireland.

Britain’s borders must be protected. The Olympic Games will be a security nightmare.

Interest rates must be allowed to creep up to five per cent so that people who are encouraged to save can get a decent return on their capital.

There must be more houses to rent. Workers who are made redundant are usually given reduced rates of rent. Home owners who are made redundant lose their homes as well if they can’t pay their mortgages.

The Ministry of Defence is not fit for purpose. How many soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan because they didn’t have body-proof vehicles or body armour?

Michael Highton, Ewesley Road, Sunderland

State of the city

THE report by Centre for Cities on the condition of Sunderland’s city centre has hit a raw nerve by exposing the reasons why this city has not progressed at the same pace as other places.

This, and a previous report in 2009, make it clear that both the revitalisation of the city centre and the creation of a culture of entrepreurship are essential to the future success of Sunderland.

Noting one of the lowest levels of new business creation and patents in the whole of the UK, the report points the finger at low levels of skills among the population and a consequent lack of business start-ups.

The Sunderland-born author blames poor English and maths as the reason for the higher than average level of youth unemployment due to failings in local schools maintained by the Labour council.

It is true that Sunderland has enjoyed peripheral prosperity located at Doxford International and Nissan, both of which arrived during and due to the conditions fostered by Conservative governments.

But this cannot be used as a reason for the stagnation of the city centre, as other cities have managed to improve both the micro-centre and the suburbs, the one lifting the other in a virtuous circle of growth.

Education therefore remains at the heart of the city’s revival, first by failing to produce enough people to fill the highly skilled jobs which make a city more resilient when faced with an economic downturn.

Second, the lack of outstanding secondary schools is a factor in the continuing loss of population to neighbouring local authorities in particular high-income groups who could spend in the city centre.

These two points need to change by making education and the economy work in tandem, the one supporting the other, through a focus on skills which match the opportunities of the modern global economy.

Councillor Robert Oliver, Leader, Conservative Council Group

Best treatment

I WISH to praise Grindon Primary Care Centre. The treatment I received was the best. Dr Norton, the cardiologist, explained all I needed to know and gave me confidence about my health.

Also I would like to thank Mr Dixon, orthopaedic surgeon, and all the staff at Grindon and the Royal Hospital.

Mrs D. Oliver, Cotswold Road, Hylton Castle

Road traffic

ST MARK’S Road is a busy, narrow link-road between Chester Road and Hylton Road. Both roads run parallel past the Royal Hospital and are very busy and congested.

The Echo last year named Hylton Road as the third most dangerous road in Sunderland. Local residents have complained about the amount and speed of traffic using St Mark’s Road for years and yet the council has done nothing.

St Mark’s Road has a history of young and old being knocked over. Some have even been killed. Only last year two kids were knocked over trying to cross it. A few years ago a speeding car smashed into the front of one house. I also know of another two which have come close to being hit by vehicles in the past.

Many of the homes on St Mark’s Road are terraced cottages with attics as not many have dormers built on to them. Families, therefore, have to sleep downstairs with just a house wall and a path between them and all the vehicles going past daily.

The council now plans to build a chicane outside the council garage on St Mark’s Road, which I feel will not help. All sorts of vehicles whizz past, from cars and trucks to double-decker buses ,and if it is going to be wide enough for buses then other vehicles will be able to speed through the gap without losing too much speed, day or night.

Problems will also mount up when vehicles are going in or out of side roads either side of the council garage or going in or out of the Aldi store and St Mark’s Nursing Home.

Now I know they are not very popular but I feel a suitable-sized speed bump outside the council garage would be safer for residents and homes. It will make all vehicles slow down day and night. Both sides of the road could be used at the same time and so, hopefully, reduce any queuing.

The proposed Pakistani Islamic Centre will not help the traffic problems either. It will just add more and more vehicles as Muslims will travel in from all over the North East at all times of the day. It will be a nightmare for residents living next to this. They must be able to find a more suitable spot to have this centre in Sunderland.

Councillors Ian Kay/Lynda Scanlan’s Labour leaflet with the slogan “Your local councillors – working hard for you in Millfield” that came through letter boxes last week is a slap in the face for every resident worried about this centre.

Philip Thompson, Sunderland

Parking injustice

MAY I use your page to advise those readers when attending Sunderland Royal Hospital and purchasing a parking ticket to retain it as proof.

My daughter attended on February 13, purchased and displayed as per instructed. Her stay was for one hour minimum and well within the two hours paid for. However, eight days later a penalty notice for the sum of £60 was received from Parking Eye, the company which oversees the parking.

Why this notice was sent we don’t know. Needless to say, an appeal has been sent as you can’t contact the company by phone, only if you are calling to pay up. Everything has to be in writing. I wonder why.

I really think this an injustice as there was no logical reason to receive this penalty.

I would say to the readers that retaining your ticket is not normal practice. However, in my daughter’s case it has been a good thing she did.

M. O’Neill, Newriggs, Fatfield Village, Washington

Well said, Mick

FOR once I agree with Mick “The Pen” Brown re. the possible closure of the Barnes Park Post Office.

The store has been the hub of the community for many years and there is always a great atmosphere with the regulars as we stand and wait to be served by the happy staff. It will not be the same if it is moved into the Spar shop and I would like to know the reasons for change.

One good thing that could come out of this is that Mick The Pen will have to find another subject to write about. His letters are always discussed among the locals who at times take great offence at his remarks.

I sometimes wonder if Mick The Pen is writing with his tongue in cheek or if he likes stirring up controversy, but on this occasion he was right.

Mr F. Fairweather, Colchester Terrace, Sunderland

Negative column

REGARDING Chris Pratt’s letter on Linda Colling’s article about the City of Sunderland, I couldn’t agree more. But sadly, this is not the first time by any stretch the woman has shown herself up this way.

I have no idea how an otherwise decent newspaper like the Echo still has someone as narrow-minded as her in charge of a weekly column, let alone as Women’s Editor. If she speaks for the women of Sunderland, the future of the city sure does look bleak.

If it isn’t the city itself she trashes, it’s young people. I often wonder if she’s forgotten how it was to be young. She very rarely has anything positive to say – on anything.

The Echo would be a much better read without her insulting weekly inputs.

Alexander Nielsen, Tømmerpladsen 12, DK-6800 Varde, Denmark

Linda’s response: I see from Mr Nielsen’s address in Denmark that he is as far away from Sunderland as he is out of touch with what is happening here.