Letters, Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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What would Labour do to cut the deficit?

AT the Labour Party conference in September 2010, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling stated that “Labour cannot ignore the deficit” and must have a “credible economic plan”. He added that his “tough” measures to halve the deficit, were “measured”.

Nearly a year on and we are really none the wiser as to what Ed Miliband has as his economic policy other than meaningless platitudes. He really does look out of his depth like some past leaders from all political persuasions such as Duncan Smith, Campbell and Kinnock, while the presence of Balls as his Shadow Chancellor hardly helps.

So to try and make some progress I wonder, without resorting to the usual mantras about Margaret Thatcher, the mines, shipbuilding, Cameron going to Eton, the Conservative Party and the Coalition, if a supporter/activist of the Labour Party could give us some ideas as to the cuts Alistair Darling would have in mind.

To date the best we have heard from Labour after 13 years running the country and their apologists is that “we know the deficit has to be reduced but ...” and then a diatribe as to how a particular reduction in spending is unnecessary.

A few days later and the next proposal is also unfair. And so it goes on and on until it gets to the point, as of now, where Darling’s proposals to halve the deficit are totally meaningless and Labour offer absolutely nothing.

Or maybe we really are seeing a re-enactment of the past tensions which Darling is soon to lay bare in his keenly anticipated book, of great divisions within Labour as to their economic policy.

Every contribution begins with a blank sheet of paper. So just concentrating on the Labour Party, no one else, where would they cut to halve the deficit?

Michael Dixon, Sunderland

Noise complaints

THE example of the four-year-old boy from Hull whose family has been threatened with legal action and fines because of their son’s noisy play in the garden highlights the weakness of the law pertaining to noise nuisance.

A complaint was made against my family by a neighbour who anonymously accused us of disturbing the peace over a period of years.

The letter from Sunderland City Council informing us that a complaint had been made stated that if recording equipment failed to find any proof of this “noise” then legal advice could be given to the complainant to pursue their claims via the Civil Court. Not once were we asked for our opinion on these complaints.

After various periods when my home was subject to digital noise recordings, nothing was found to prove the validity of the complaint. Only after more complaints were made against us did council officials agree to visit our property and carry out yet more tests, this time regarding if any noise could carry through to the complainant. The complaints were shown to be unfounded and, I believe, were malicious in nature.

While councils are legally bound to investigate complaints of this kind, surely better initial investigation could save much heartache and money for all concerned.

Mark Stacey, Langley Street, Houghton

Classic day out

FOR many years I paid a visit to the Vintage Car and Bus Rally at the Seaburn Showfield in Sunderland every Bank Holiday Monday.

There were a lot of classic cars and buses over the years, including Minis, Ford Anglias, London Routemasters, Escorts, Daimler Fleetlines and Bristol REs.

The star is the 1966 Leyland Panther bus from Sunderland Corporation Transport.

Next year it will be my 20th year attending the rally, and my great thanks go to the North East Bus Preservation Trust for doing a wonderful job.

Well done indeed.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington, Sunderland

No kisses for me

I WISH to complain about the Echo’s coverage of the A-levels and GCSE results. Your photographers should go to every school and college and choose the loveliest girls to jump up in the air waving their exam results above their heads. Preferably they’d be wearing skintight jeans and high heels (the girls, not the photographers). Then you could publish a special supplement with the best pictures.

I’m always amazed at how many pretty students there are in Sunderland (and some of the girls are quite attractive too). The usual TV coverage of the exam results showed all the teenagers hugging and kissing one another.

I feel very resentful about this because when I passed my A-levels no beautiful girls rushed up to kiss me – and it was the so-called Swinging Sixties too. I couldn’t understand why. Some parts of my face were free of acne, I’d been in our tin bath on Friday night (life were grim up North in them days), and I’d thrown talc under my armpits, so there were no problems with my personal hygiene.

For years I had a complex about this until my psychoanalyst Dr Fassbender solved the mystery. He told me: “You went to a grammar school for boys. That’s why no girls were kissing you, dummkopf”.

As I had passed A-level German, I knew very well what “dummkopf” means.

Jim Ridler, Hylton Road, Sunderland

Joys of angling

REGARDING fishing and areas which are available to anglers, a lot of people would say what’s all the fuss? Why is fishing so important? Well, anyone who starts angling and enjoys the peace and quiet and the camaraderie of anglers gets hooked (pardon the quip).

To me, fishing is not a sport, it’s a way of getting fresh air and a way of stopping me feeling sorry for myself. It is a way of relaxing and gives time to work out a lot of problems. After a few hours angling, sometimes a problems is solved.

Then there is the camaraderie. There’s no class distinction, people help each other and talk about things which perhaps they wouldn’t dream of talking about in other circumstances. It creates a lot of friends.

I’ve been fishing all my life and it’s so important to me. It gets more and more difficult, but I won’t let anything come between my fishing and meeting up with similar dedicated anglers. This gives me something to look forward to.

Angling is one of the most popular recreational pastimes in the county and brings a lot of revenue to the city, but is less catered for in Sunderland.

The amenities asked are not excessive, just a little consideration if required to bring pleasure to so many, especially young ones. I’d rather see young people fishing than getting into trouble and wandering the streets.

So if you think fishing is unimportant, think again, and to those in power in Sunderland, give us a little thought. We don’t ask for very much and it is an important part of our lives.

Colin S. Wasey, Wayman Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

One law for some

WHEN David Cameron gave his knee-jerk reaction advocating tough sentences for rioters, he should have added silently: “There but for my privileged life go I.” Because in his younger days Cameron joined a gang which had the potential to start a riot.

The gang was called the Bullingham drinking and dining club. Membership was by invitation only and limited to young men from top public schools. They were notorious for routinely getting blotto and then causing chaos by smashing up restaurants.

This gang, however, never received tough sentences and weren’t even charged with public disorder. These yobboes were all born with a silver spoon in their mouth and were well able to pay for the damage.

This is just another example of why it’s believed there is one law for the rich and another, less favourable one, for the rest of us.

W. Quinn, Duke Street, Millfield

Bad timing

LAST Saturday I took my eight-year-old son to see the Queen Elizabeth sail past Seaburn – supposedly at about 7.45pm.

We arrived at 7.30 to be sure we didn’t miss her. The evening was bright, an ideal photo opportunity for my son, or so I thought.

About an hour and 45 minutes later she sailed past, without doubt gloriously illuminated, but as my son and I watched her disappear into the darkness, we sadly realised so had his photo opportunity.

Surely the people who estimate these time schedules can be little bit more accurate next time?

R. Irving, Hylton Castle

Search Party

I AM trying to trace relatives of Arnold Smith, born 4 Clarenden Street, Southwick, on October 23, 1915, to William Smith and Mary May Smith (formerly Cummings). Siblings of Arnold were Wilfred, Alfred, George, Leslie, Mary May, William H, and Richard.

Arnold married a Rita Coyles Moss in 1938 in Southwick and, I believe, they had Elsie in 1939, Arnold in 1942, Colin in 1945 and Ian in 1948.

I am particularly interested in obtaining information regarding my grandfather, Alfred, who married an Annie Phillips in 1925 who went to Australia in 1928 in search of work, leaving behind her husband and a son, my father (Alfred). Her husband chose not to join her and she was never heard of again.

In 1950 he remarried an Evelyn Meleta Barron (nee Barrett), but died suddenly in 1952.

Irene Bailey (nee Smith), 3 South View, Humberston, Grimsby, Lincs, DN36 4XA. e-mail: baileyirene@hotmail.co.uk Tel: 01472 813281

I AM trying to trace a friend of my wife’s from Sunderland. Her name is (or was, as she may now be married), Sandra Bevan and she and my wife, then known as Maria Sage (now Noonan), shared a cabin together in the 1980/90s and forged a really close friendship, as they worked as croupiers on a passenger ocean liner in the United States.

They last got together in Liverpool over 15 years ago.

Maria is 50 on October 28 and we are planning some celebrations in Liverpool, but it would be great to surprise her with a phone call or, even better, with a visit from Sandra.

I would be very grateful for any information.

Eddie Noonan, Email: Edward.Noonan2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Tel. 07717 151457

I AM trying to trace June Henderson. She was born in about 1958, possibly in Washington, and she may have lived in Concord.

I would be very grateful if June or anyone with any information about her could contact me via email.

Linda Rodham, Email: helitubby@hotmail.com