Letters, Thursday, March 24th, 2011

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EU’s a burden we can do without

R.D. Hepplewhite believes that if the UK left the European Union it would be a disaster for the UK economy (Letters, March 21).  He claims that foreign companies such as Nissan, Toyota, Honda and others would pack up and leave as they would face barriers in trading with Europe.

 Given that we buy more from EU countries than we export to them, common sense dictates that it would not be in the interest of the EU to impose any trade barriers whatsoever. Perhaps, before writing to the Echo, he should have consulted BMW, Mercedes Benz, VW and countless other European industrial giants who find the UK such a lucrative market. You don’t need a PhD in economics to grasp what their answer would have been.

He must know as well as the rest us that it is the regulatory cost of our membership of the EU that is slowly but surely bringing this country to its knees. This year our net contributions will increase from £4,800million to £6,000million, outweighing the volume of trade it facilitates by many millions.

To be blunt, we are being ripped off by a useless, corrupt organisation which is out to do us down by every means possible. At a time when our own infrastructure is disintegrating and rotting all around us, we are obliged to provide the wherewithal for a new underground system in Warsaw and many other huge construction projects in former eastern block countries. How stupid is it possible to be?

Our withdrawal from the EU would free us from such economic madness and allow us to forge our own future, be it in trade with nations outside of the EU and facilitate the obvious need of improving our own social well-being here in the UK. If ever there was a burden we don’t need, it is the European Union. 

R. Metcalfe, East Herrington

Children’s Centres

COUNCILLOR Oliver needs to glance up from his Tory cribsheet for a moment to see for himself the reality of the cuts his Government are making (Letters, March 16).

He is right that Sure Start and other early-intervention programmes benefit those from the poorest backgrounds the most. How then can he possibly justify the fact that his colleagues have given Sunderland a real-terms cut of almost 22 per cent to early-intervention funding over three years, while Surrey receives less than 16 per cent?

Durham University’s reports on Sure Start are regularly criticised for measuring the wrong things at the wrong time, and fly in the face of what any parent who has used a good Children’s Centre will tell you.

There is scope for improvement, though, which is why we introduced the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and Ofsted inspections, but rarely can you improve something at the same time as cutting it so drastically.

The fact is Children’s Centres are closing or being hollowed out up and down the country. Parents and children from all walks of life are losing valuable services. Committed professionals are losing their jobs.

Is this progress? Or just more broken promises from an incompetent Education Secretary, and from a Government going out of their way to punish children and young people for a situation they did nothing to cause?

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Children’s Minister

Another defeat

WELL, another weekend and yet another sickening result. Does Mr Quinn think this is the recipe which will bring back the missing fans? No home win since January 1 is hardly inspiring stuff.

In the meantime I have found a pub that does not screen live matches and I am afraid I’ll be staying there.

J. Forster, Roker

UN protection?

PICTURE the scene ... after 10 or more years of the same government people in northern England (Libya) believe the North-South divide is growing.

They are becoming poorer in the North while southern fat cats thrive in the London capital (Tripoli).

An organised protest is arranged at cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland (Benghazi).As we all know from the old miners’ protest and more recent student protests, violence always erupts.

The Government send in the riot police who are totally outnumbered and pushed aside by the protesters (rebels) sick of painful economic cuts.

The success of the protesters brings in more sympathisers and the numbers swell. Loyal government supporters feel threatened and demand back-up. The local army is deployed, obviously with weapons, but again is outnumbered and ineffectual. Lives are lost on both sides.

The Government sends in the big guns to crush the protesters before they get any further south and threaten the capital.

The country is virtually in civil war. What does the UN do – back the Government or protect the protesters? Does it depend on whether they like the present Government or would the likes of France, Germany or whoever prefer to to have a say in the running of England (Libya) and have someone on the inside?

In Libya Col Gaddafi has ruled with an iron rod for umpteen years and was not liked by the western countries and the UN did nothing.

The present uprising by rebels is a step forward for democracy, but since when did the UN protect rebels?

B.D.

Going backwards

BERNARD Garner, Director General of Nexus, said (Echo, March 18): “We set out to transform Sunderland Railway Station into a world-class city gateway”.

This station has no toilets. As for the ghostly figures of light mimicking passengers doing what people do while waiting for a train, how come that there isn’t one of a child doing the wee-wee dance?

Sunderland Railway Station cannot be termed a world-class city gateway – it has no toilets. The world has moved on into the modern age but Sunderland is going backwards. The people of this city deserve better.

R. Tomlinson, Seaham

Ghost of the past

RECENTLY there was a real pea-souper of a fog in Cockfield, which reminded me of when I was about 16 or 17.

My sister Mavis married a childhood sweetheart called Derek Lindsey Lodge. Derek had a practice at 1 West Mount in Chester Road.

My mates and I were house-minding accompanied by a couple of cans and some cheap sherry. My mates departed in good spirits at about 1am, slightly inebriated but not drunk.

One of them, Terry Gooch, was walking home when he saw a white spectre approaching him from the cemetery gates! Panic! Fright! Run!

However, the ghost turned out to be a page of a newspaper drifting through the fog. Enough to make you sign the pledge.

Little Billy Craggs, Front Street, Cockfield

Value for money?

LAST year, the Echo reported that the council were creating six new posts the the civic centre at a cost of £1million per year for their salaries.

The Sunderland North Community News has arrived with a welcome for and a job description of Andrew Old ... the north area response manager.

Coun Cecilia Gofton waxes lyrical about our new grass cutting, graffiti removal and fly-tipping departmental supremos.

With a salary of £166,666.66, I wonder if the new managerial posts will be effective in making the workers of the city cleansing department redundant as part of the “cuts” programme.

The new area response manager for Houghton is destined to be given a hard time re. the environmental impact of the city’s waste disposal site ... by the Rats group.

Ron McQuillan

Economic boost

MORE great news on the economic front, this time from the car industry. Figures announced on March 17 showed car manufacturing increased dramatically in February, up 15 per cent on the same period in 2010.

This helped push manufacturing in January and February to record production and job creation levels.

Tracy Young, Washington

Two Parliaments

WHEN Tony Blair, leader of the Labour Party, became Prime Minister he said he had had a vision with Jesus and after getting advice from Alistair Campbell he introduced a new three-way vote to politics and he decided to get rid of Clause Four of the Labour Party and create the New Labour Party.

Tony introduced the Minimum Wage saying it would stabilise our economy but he never said who was to be paid £3.50 an hour going into the 21st century.

Tony also promised the public he would give them a vote on if we went into the EU but Tony got one of his stooges to ratify the Lisbon Treaty behind closed doors. I think it was the Sand Dancer who voted away Englishmen’s sovereignty and made them citizens of the EU.

From 1997-2010 there were many political and council elections and at the local polling stations there was a lot of council candidates claiming to be Labour Party members throughout Durham, Sunderland and Seaham.

I believe our heritage is important and I think a record of all our Mayor and Mayoresses, who had the honour of wearing the council chain of office from 1997-2010, should be named and I think we will find out they were all members of the New Labour Party who voted to get rid of Clause Four.

At the time there were no Labour Party MPs in our Queen’s Parliament.

At the moment our country is being ruled by two Parliaments and, thinking of elections, who elected the EU Parliament?

I don’t recall ever having a vote to elect an EU MP. I would like to know if MEP members are not elected, who do they represent? Are they a voluntary group. Who pays their wages?

As far as I can remember England joined Europe to sort out trade sanctions, not for a European Parliament to overrule our Queen’s elected Parliament.

In the Second World war Churchill said that never in our history had so much been owed by so many to so few. History is repeating itself, but now we have a case of so many sacrificing so much for so few.

I think bankers and MPs will struggle through the recession with the billions of pounds they are claiming for their wages, expenses, homes and gold-plated pensions.

P. Haswell, Deneside, Seaham

Helping heroes

WE all should appreciate what Richie Fox from Peterlee is doing under the project Homeless Heroes with the vision in the Easington Colliery area for veterans and the proposed £250,000 project Norcare.

In our city, apart from finding two homeless veterans recently in two tower blocks, and appreciating as well the army of volunteers Richie has, I do get worried now about the number of groups that have been set up since the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Are there too many in view of the fact that the Royal British Legion nationally distributes £1¼million a week for serving and ex-serving comrades’ welfare?

I hold a letter from Major General Sir Evelyn Webb Carter, chief executive of the Soldiers Charity, where he touches on this.

Besides, under our new Washington Poppy Appeal organiser for 2010, he has apologised to Sainsbury’s and the Galleries management for not being able to man the positions they gave him due to lack of collectors for the period.

As a result we did not beat the 2009 total collected for the Poppy Appeal.

We certainly welcome more offers for 2011.

Time will tell.

B. Craddock, Donvale Road, Washington

Family’s thanks

WE, the family of the late Edith Rutter (Edie), wife of Edward (Eddy), would like to thank all medical staff of Sunderland Royal Hospital but most of all the Stroke Unit, E58.

We would also like to thank all family, friends and neighbours for cards, flowers and kind donations, £350 was raised which was shared equally between the Grace House Appeal and E58 Stroke Unit.

We would also like to thank the Reverend Olaf Eriksson and John Hogg, funeral directors, especially Claire.

Grateful thanks to you all.

Shirley Robinson, (Edith’s daughter), Cossack Terrace, Pallion, Sunderland

Fight for radio

I TOTALLY agree with Jennifer Morgan about saving our local radio BBC Radio Newcastle.

She is very eloquent in support of a very much needed public service, and states we should be more pro-active rather than reactive.

As suggested I will be writing in support to Radio Newcastle. Having read this article, I turned to Page 29 of my Echo, only to find every radio station listed except Radio Newcastle, which we all know is on 95.4 FM

Perhaps our local newspaper could be pro-active and begin to include Radio Newcastle.

David Laws