Letters, Thursday, May 31st, 2012

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Another side to ‘pasty tax’ U-turn

ON the same day the Editorial in the Echo (May 29) stated that the Government “had its fingers burnt” relating to its U-turn on the so-called “pasty tax”, former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin was writing in a national newspaper that for “honour, morality, value for money and self-interest, the Government should not cut the (overseas) aid budget”.

Mr Mullin also said in his article: “Even the poorest of our citizens lead lives of unimaginable comfort compared with any one of a billion people in 20 or 30 countries that we could all name.”

Since the 2010 General Election the general mantra from the Sunderland Echo, among others, has been an acknowledgement that cuts were necessary to reduce the deficit, but then a steady stream of negative comments, articles or headlines of those groups, organisations, professions and citizens inevitably affected by a Coalition Government’s attempt to make inroads into the deficit inherited from Labour, with an annual interest payment of over £40billion.

If the Echo’s Editorial really thinks the most important conclusion on the U-turn about a pasty tax is that the Government had its fingers burnt, it is sadly mistaken. You can argue whether the tax was justified or not, you can argue about the U-turn, but the really important ones are the next group of people who will be affected by the shortfall from that tax. Indirectly or otherwise, this could include overseas aid for the impoverished, for whom Mr Mullin is making his plea.

Then, if a decision is made to cut the overseas aid budget, the Echo Editorial can sharpen its pencil and write a few words criticising that particular policy decision. And so it goes on in this delusionary world of finance from critics of the Coalition’s attempts to put right the Labour legacy.

The Editorial also states that the “so-called pasty tax controversy, has, unlike the snack itself, been hard to stomach”.

Perhaps Mr Mullin’s thoughtful article might give the Echo some cause for reflection that there are billions of people in the world who will never get that opportunity.

Michael Dixon, Sunderland

Online doctors

THE decision to provide online doctors is going to prove a complete waste of time and money.

The NHS has got to face facts that there are many reasons why this will not work.

The elderly have little or no knowledge of the internet, smartphones or computers. This is only one of the problems with the scheme.

Then there is the professional hypochondriac. You come across these people all the time, claiming that there is something wrong with them. They are always going to the health centre to tell the doctor what their problem is and can they have a bottle of pills. I find these folk extremely boring and I would suppose that the doctors find them a major interference with their work.

Sick note scroungers will have a field day with this daft idea. Every time you visit the doctor’s surgery there are queues of folk and you can see the relief on their faces when they leave the doctor’s room with the sick note.

The only benefit of the online doctor scheme would be that it would help the hard-working receptionists, but who is going to spend time showing OAPs how to learn the new system?

I say that this idea is a non-starter and, unfortunately, we will have to live with the queues at the the doctor’s waiting room unless a reader has a better” idea.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

A good omen?

SO the new kit sponsor for Sunderland AFC is the German company Adidas.

I believe the name comes from an abbreviation of the founder of the company Adi Dassler.

But every true Sunderland supporter will know that Adidas is really an acronym for All Day I Dream About Sunderland.

It is surely an omen for the great times ahead – here’s hoping.

Neville Pilkington, Sunderland

Such kindness

ON Saturday, May 26, my 82-year-old mam, a Mackem who has lived in York for the last four years, had her handbag stolen from her local club, St Clement’s, in York. She goes to this club three nights a week and is a committee member and it’s a first for anyone to have their bag stolenm there.

It was a race meet and mam had been chatting to some fellow Makems visiting from the Southwick and Monkwearmouth areas. When they heard that she had been the victim of a theft they clubbed together and gave her £50.

In the confusion of the police being called and locksmith, as her house had to be broken into, no one got the names and addresses to thank our fellow Sunderland folk.

So, can I just say thank you so much for doing this for my mam. In times that are hard for a lot of folk, it’s fantastic to know that people’s generosity and compassion remain true.

Jude Withers on behalf of Mena Clark

Essential reading

“HUMANITY is in the middle of a paradigm shift” – a short phrase, and one that I don’t mind saying had me reaching for the dictionary. “Paradigm” – the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time. Hmm, may still not be clear to the reader, so allow me to give you some background.

Our world is dying. Surely even the most cynical person cannot deny this fact. Climate change, human population growth, fish stocks collapsing, biodiversity declining massively, rain-forest destruction, pollution, acidification of the oceans, industrial countries on the face of it thriving, while others are starving. These and many more too numerous to mention in this short letter are the problems humanity faces.

Worries about all of the above and more have combined to create a movement for change within the global society. This movement is the aforementioned paradigm shift. Possibly beginning with people’s greater leisure time, allowing them to engage with, and grow to love the natural world, and perhaps culminating most recently with the Occupy Movement which began in Wall Street and went global within days.

The phrase is found in, and for me encapsulates this book:

Occupy the World – A Global Roadmap for Radial Economic and Political Reform by Ross Jackson

This book is one of the latest in a long line of books detailing the fears of many for our environment. While it briefly covers similar ground as its predecessors, it goes much further into the reasons for this decline, and bravely gives a damning indictment of the country that is fuelling this decline, whom we shall call The Empire.

I would advise anyone who loves their world and who fears for its future to read this book.

Allan Rowell, Wearside Friends of the Earth, The Green Party

Steadfast Queen

MY head tells me I should be a republican, but my heart says stand by the Queen.

Politicians may come and go, some are good, some are poor and some are terrible. We like some and do not like others, and some are loathed. They promise us lots and are going to change the world, yet they often deliver little.

Many have disappointed and let us down, not to mention having lied, cheated, fiddled their expenses, looked after their friends and cronies, feathered their own nests and and squandered our taxes. Not many can be relied upon or trusted.

But one person remains constant, honest, trustworthy and reliable. The Queen never lets us down and is always there to serve her country and people. Solid as the rock of Gibraltar, never embarrassing, ever present and always reliable. She is rightly respected and loved by the people of this country, respected and revered the world over as our Head of State and always impeccably represents the interests of the UK.

God bless HM Queen Elizabeth II and long may she reign.

John R. Anderson, Farnham Terrace, High Barnes

Search Party

IN the 1960s I met a girl called Jenny Cox at the Silver Blades ice skating rink in Birmingham. She was a groom at a local riding stable.

She moved back to Marley Pots in Sunderland and I used to visit her at her parents’ house where I met her sisters Winnie, Christine and Barbara. We all lost touch in the late 1960s and I often wonder about them.

Winnie was married with two daughters, Jenny got married to a police officer and, last I heard, was living with his parents in County Durham somewhere. Christine was living with a teacher called Budge who was also in property developement and Barbara was still living at home.

I am now 62 and have decided to stop just thinking about people I used to know and try and contact them before it is too late.

If anyone reading this knows any of the sisters, who should all be in their 60s now, I would appreciate them passing on my email address. Thanks.

Richard Shaw, email: dangermouse22@btinternet.com

I AM looking for information on the Riley/Hutchinson families living in Ryhope and nearby. My parents, Ken and Dorothy Riley, left for Australia in 1961.

I would also like info on dad’s brother John, born 1936, and his mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson, married to John Riley in 1930.

Karyn, email: karajago2007@ yahoo.comau