Letters, Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

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Unhappy dealings with city college

I AM writing to express disappointment at my experiences of City of Sunderland College.

A few years ago, I spent 18 months studying a counselling course. However, even though I did all the assignments and passed the exams, I was not permitted to progress on to the next step because the course co-ordinator believed I was “too reserved” to cope with the more intensive Foundation level.

I then went to an induction evening earlier this year, where a “re-access” course was recommended which would allow me to progress on to university to study psychology. Even though this would mean spending two years at college studying modules which had nothing to do with the subject I would be doing at university, I was willing to go ahead with it.

In order to be considered for this course, I had to hold a Level One qualification for maths and English. I then spent two months attending a Test the City course, where I put in a huge effort and got the grades required.

However, when I telephoned the college to arrange enrolment for September I was told that I needed to come in and do maths and English tests. When I told them I had already done this and had the certificates to provide it, the woman in charge of the course told me that I was still required to do their own in-house tests. She even ended up telling me that if I was unhappy with the course requirements, I should write to my MP. Feeling like my work had been for nothing and that I was going around in circles I decided not to enrol.

I have been involved with college, off and on for over 10 years and in that whole time have got nothing out of it. “We only take the best” seems to be their byword. If that’s the case, why are so many of today’s organisations, including theirs, run so incompetently?

Jamie Howey, Sunderland

Labour and NHS

I READ with some irony the comments of Dennis McDonald, regarding funding and lack of results for the NHS under Labour.

One wonders if he and I are talking about the same funding and same NHS? Does he think that a maximum 18-week waiting time is a lack of return for investment? Does he think that a 25 per cent reduction in mortality from heart disease and myocardial infarction is not value for money?

I remember, painfully, the last attempt of the Tories meddling in NHS reform with the GP Fundholding system. One of my unenviable and frequent duties as a student clinical physiologist in the late 90s was to inform patients by telephone in November that they would not have an outpatient’s appointment before the start of the financial year in April. This was due to their GP being unable to fund their referral to hospital.

A focal point of treatments and choice? I think not! Prepare for a new postcode lottery of cut services and massive waiting lists under this millionaire Government.

Sharon Hodgson is entirely correct. Good public services cost money. Well-meaning volunteers in Cameron’s Big Society will never deliver the level of services that we enjoyed between 1997 and 2010. I only hope that Mr McDonald has no need of the services provided by the “Chinese People’s Army” he demeans in his correspondence.

Neil Macknight, Bradwell Way, Philadelphia

Business costs

I HAVE recently opened my barber shop in the city opposite the Empire theatre. I tied a sign on the lamp down the road to let people know where my shop is.

A binman told me he had to remove it – orders from the council. So I thought I best to ask properly about planning permission to put up a sign near New Look and Brogans to encourage more customers. I was told to pay £42 for applying to begin with, and they sent me a booklet about advertisement rules.

I realised I had to apply about my shop fascia sign and barber’s pole too, so I thought I best tell them what I had already done along with what I want to do.

The lady I spoke to said this is a new system they doing. She told me I am going to have to pay for each item on display, which could cost about £100 or more for each one. I think this is far too much.

I thought I best let people know in case they have businesses and want to advertise. What are your thoughts and has anyone else came across this?

Nicola Macdonald, Highstreet Barber’s

Wages myth

WE should nail once and for all the myth that public sector pensions are higher to compensate for lower wages in comparison with the private sector.

The office for National Statistics has just published figures that show the average wage in the public sector is £3,802 higher than the average wage in the private sector.

Terrence Docherty, Zetland Square, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland