Letters, Thursday, May 2, 2013

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Time to honour merchant seamen

THIS month, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic will be marked in London (from May 8 to 13), Londonderry and Liverpool. The battle lasted nearly six years but the tide turned in favour of the Allies in May 1943.

 A significant feature of the Battle of the Atlantic was the convoy, protected by warship escorts and sometimes aircraft against U-boats and surface raiders. From 1943, the Atlantic Ocean afforded safer passage for the vast amount of shipping that brought men and supplies for the invasions of occupied Europe.

 Central to the Battle of the Atlantic were the ships and men of the British Merchant Navy, and of other allied nations, often making no more than eight knots in convoy, bringing essential food and supplies to our islands. Some 5,000 merchant ships, and more than 30,000 British merchant seamen, were lost.

 Our nation rightly salutes the armed forces’ contribution to victory. Rather less is made of the hugely important contribution of the Merchant Navy, its part in our economy still significant today, with over 90 per cent of our trade carried in ships.

 BOA 70 affords an opportunity for the UK to salute the Merchant Navy and its seafarers and I trust we will see the Red Ensign, the flag of British merchant ships since 1674, flown from public buildings.

Lester May (Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy – retired)

Flooding fears

THE look of bewilderment on the faces of the panel hosting the State of the Area Event last Thursday at the Bethany Centre when the public made their feelings known, regarding the surface water drainage problem at the Grove and their opposition to new homes development on green field, green belt and former senior citizens social housing sites, prompted me to write this letter.

 Don’t Hetton Town Councillors get it? Don’t they pass the feelings of the people of Hetton onto the Coalfield Area Committee and Sunderland City Council? Or have they done so and we are being ignored?

 For years, members of the community have expressed concerns over proposed housing development on greenfield and green belt sites such as North Road and Broomhill because this will exacerbate the problem and have a catastrophic effect on our wildlife and its corridors.

 Hetton has many brownfield and derelict sites. Easington Lane High Street looks like a war zone with so many boarded up and derelict homes and businesses.

 A total moratorium on new housing and strict enforcement of existing developments’ drainage planning conditions until the flooding problem is solved, while encouraging the regeneration of empty and derelict homes in the area, is needed.

 Thereafter, only brownfield sites should be given new housing planning permission and there should be no truck with the new localism bill being used as a handy excuse to allow greedy developers to make obscene profits by building on our green and pleasant countryside.

 Surely our councillors and chief executive can see the logic in this?

Kay Rowham

Standard packaging

LAST year every council and Primary Care Trust in the North East, alongside over 130 other organisations and over 13,500 members of the public in our region, signed up to support the plain, standardised packaging of tobacco to reduce the appeal of smoking to children.

 On March 5 the Secretary of State for Health published his call to action on reducing premature death. It identified smoking as the biggest single behavioural risk factor and had a commitment to decide whether to introduce standardised packaging, as recommended by health organisations. But with the Queen’s speech less than a week away, we are deeply worried no decision has been announced yet.

 The evidence for standardised packaging is compelling and we have yet to see any credible evidence from the tobacco industry against legislation.

 The public health minister Anna Soubry MP made very clear her support for standardised packaging of tobacco products on the BBC 4 Today programme.

 Australia has introduced standardised tobacco packaging and it’s time the UK follow this lead. The North East public and key organisations are in favour of this and only three per cent of the North East public strongly opposes the move.

 Tobacco, unlike other causes of disease, has a global and powerful industry promoting its interests. JTI Gallaher, maker of Camel, is spending over £2million on its campaign against standard packs, running ads that have been ruled misleading by advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority. With nearly 9,000 young people taking up smoking every year in the North East and 5,000 people dying every year in our region as a result of their addiction, we urgently need assurances from the secretary of state that he will listen to public health experts.

 We ask him to stand firm against this industry and introduce standardised, plain packaging of tobacco products.

Supported by North East public health professionals

The people chose

TO Messrs Hopper and Cummings: Harold Wilson and James Callaghan closed more coal mines than Margaret Thatcher.

 Those two misogynistic dinosaurs have demonstrated exactly why the British people voted her in time after time – they did not want their lives run by men like Arthur Scargill.

 Incidentally, can anyone explain what Labour did for Easington between 1997 and 2010?

J Watson,

Washington

A matter of faith

IN response to Stuart Nattress’ letter, April 15, perhaps my view on his question about God might help.

True Life

When I was a child I believed in God

It helped me in so many ways

I loved my afternoon Sunday School

It helped me behave in those days.

Then my logical mind took over

Something good happened God was praised

But when a catastrophe occurred

Then God’s name was never raised

I knew that something was amiss

But I loved the ten commandments

I decided to try to live by them

A happy life has been my recompense.

Majorie Matthews,

Sunderland

Ban the barbecue

AS the warm summer weather approaches people’s thoughts will turn to barbecues and garden parties.Personally, I think that barbecues are dangerous in the wrong hands and should be banned.

 Many of them are gas produced and the purchasers and users have no knowledge of how to install them, which is poor in comparison to commercial buyers who have to use a registered engineer to set them up.

 I always dread being asked to a barbecue. Every one I have been to has been similar. The husband or boyfriend appears in a chef’s hat and a apron that has the word cook emblazoned across the front, and he generally produces a vast amount of burnt sausages and burgers.

 On some occasions he does not even use a probe and they aren’t even cooked through, leading to food poisoning.

 Then his wife or girlfriend appears, covered in fake tan, wearing a bright pair of hot pants, telling everyone the cold lager is in the fridge.

 Unfortunately, this is a graphic but true account of the barbecues I have visited, where as if you were invited to an organised event the stringent public health issues would prevent many of the issues listed above.

Mick The Pen Brown