Letters, Thursday, September 15th, 2011

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Company’s plans for waste site

I WOULD like to alert readers about further intentions at Houghton tip.

The owner, Biffa, has applied to alter its permit to dump waste an extra 20 to 30 feet high – a total of about 230ft thickness of waste towering over our landscape. They would no longer be responsible for clearing mud or litter from our environment. They want to dump more medical waste.

Biffa would no longer be responsible for much of the gas and water pollution coming out of the tip or even have to measure how much is coming out. Indeed, they have even had the nerve to put in writing that if people can smell stench, it’s coming from their own homes.

Biffa intend that Houghton should be a rubbish dump, with all the smell and pollution we suffer, for a further 25 years.

Biffa still plan to blow up part of the quarry wall on Houghton Hill, although now it’s not just one block, but over 100 feet length of cliff in one explosion.

There is even a plan for a 250-foot high windmill on the site. Why stick at one when a whole forest of these monsters could spring up to make our lives even more of a misery?

Biffa’s planning permission runs out next February. Why are all these plans being made when they are nearly out of planning permission?

In its application to vary its permit Biffa confidently refers to how it intends to continue dumping for years.

Labour councillors gave us this mountain of leaking poisons in our town by giving it planning permission in the first place.

In the meantime the Residents Against Toxic Site’s (Rats) case at the European Court of Justice has reached stage two of the proceedings.

However, it is vital that we keep up the fight here, ourselves, for our ancient home town of Houghton-le-Spring, the home of our ancestors, for the sake of the health and well-being of our children and those generations which come after us.

Sheila Ellis, Secretary, Rats

Matter of balance

IN response to H. Whipple and W. Crane I would like to set the record straight. I have no desire to silence Bridget Philipson, as I respect her as a person and respect her opinion.

I do take exception to scaremongering over crime and making unsupported claims that are contrary to what Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “The government cuts will have no effect on response teams answering emergency calls across the city” and has pledged to keep the same number of bobbies on the beat.

I respect the Echo but feel that if we are given a regular Labour column then why not redress the balance and give a Conservative-focused columnist a chance?

I agree that the press is well known for leaning to one side or another, though I’m sure H. Whipple would not have complained about the 13 years that saw Murdoch’s press support Labour, but why not make the Echo a fair paper and create some real debate in the city? God knows we need it

Dominic McDonough

Blame Labour

COLIN Vasey (Letters, September 12) asks why, if we are one nation, do the elderly and infirm get better treatment in other parts of the UK compared to England? The answer is that it is a result of the policies introduced by Labour, which make the English taxpayer liable for funding a better standard of healthcare and education implemented by the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales.

England was of course shamefully denied its own parliament by the Labour Party, so I suggest he takes it up with them before condemning anyone else.

M. Brown, Hendon Road, Sunderland

Dogs menace

RE the letter about Dangerous Dogs (Letters, September 9), in the past year I’ve had three unpleasant confrontations with different dog owners.

First, there was a man whose dog pushed me off the path. When I uttered a mild protest, I got a mouthful of foul language and threats of violence.

On another occasion a dog ran up to me and I brushed its head away, so I got more obscene abuse and a threat to punch my face in. What a hero, threatening a pensioner!

There was also the owner of two snarling Alsatians who saw no need to apologise.

We are more important than animals. People matter, dogs don’t. Not all of us are dog lovers, and we resent having to dodge lumps of excrement whenever we go for a walk.

Some dog owners strut about as if they own the pavements. Their pets leave faeces on footpaths, beaches, grass verges, parks and gardens.

Some owners get so angry and aggressive with normal people that giving them a dog is like handing them a lethal weapon.

Roland Green, Avebury Drive, Washington

Pay players more

GYAN’S departure from SAFC does leave a bitter taste in the mouth, and while I do not blame Steve Bruce one bit it’s quite obvious that there is something wrong with the club’s wage structure.

When players like Gyan,Bent and Jones leave for smaller clubs like Stoke, Villa and Al-Ain it can only be for one reason: that the players are not getting sufficient wages. Let’s face facts, footballers only have a short career so they have got to earn as much as possible in a short space of time.

Unfortunately, loyalty does not come into it these days with very few players stopping more than a couple of years at a club. Most of the current squad have arrived from smaller clubs to receive a bigger wage at Sunderland so why has everyone got a problem with players leaving for even more?

The club must up the ante by increasing the cost of tickets and attracting better players by offering more money. I am sure that if they doubled the cost of season tickets and invested the money in better players no one would complain.

Everyone says that SAFC is a big club, but are they really? I don’t think so.

We buy Man Utd cast-offs and are now a feeder club. This is a fact. Can anyone deny that Alex Ferguson, the greatest manager of all time, would sell his best plays to Sunderland? No chance.

Unfortunately, since the 50s it has always been this way and it will not change until we attract the best by offering players more money.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Special signature

RE. Katy Wheeler’s feature on the calligraphy exhibition at the National Glass Centre where the works of five international calligraphers are on display. Katy mentions the writing technique developed at the twin monastry of Wearmouth-Jarrow.

However, on Saturday, September 3, I discovered a lesser-known example when I was invited to give a talk to the Alston History Society.

The occasion was the 400th anniversary of the signing of 1,000 year leases for land on Alston Moor by the then Lord of the Manor, Henry Hylton of Hylton Castle.

Henry was a minor when he inherited Hylton Castle and estates and was sent to be educated in the wardship of the Bishop of Carlisle until he reached the age of majority when he could take charge his inheritance.

Two leases were on display at Alston Masonic Hall and Henry’s signature on them reveals that he appears to have had some instruction in the noble art form of calligraphy.

Michael Bute, Sunderland Antiquarian Society

Some democracy

IT says something for our democracy when we are to lose dozens of elected MPs yet dozens of unelected peers have been elected by the Coalition.

Malcolm Pratt, Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham

Accident appeal

MY white dog was knocked down on Brunswick Road, Town End Farm, on Monday, September 5, at about 6.50pm. The car involved was silver.

If there are witnesses to the accident please contact me on 07929 600241.

Thank you.

Dianne Kell, Sunderland