Letters, Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

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Show concern for elderly and disabled

THE people of Sunderland like to regard themselves as helpful and happy-go-lucky folks. Sadly, if you are a disabled member of the public you do not feel this is the case.

People who are not elderly or disabled tend to purposely sit in the disabled seats on buses, even when the bus is empty. They do not move if a disabled person gets on the bus, even though it states the seats are specifically for the disabled or elderly.

I heard a woman on one bus even proudly state to her friend she would not move out of the disabled seat, and when an old person with a walking stick sat next to her, she called to her friend when the lady got off the bus.

People who are not disabled do not realise how difficult it is to go to the back of the bus, and get up and down the steps when the bus is moving. Some of the drivers do not even bother to lower the step when a disabled person is getting on to the bus. I frequently have to ask them to do this.

People frequently knock into you in shops, and I have been in shops where I have dropped my stick and people haven’t helped me pick it up and I have practically had to crawl on the floor to get it, and customers and shop assistants have just watched me.

I have also met some really helpful people who are kind and will offer to help if you are having difficulty with things.

I would just like to remind people to consider the disabled and elderly because you don’t know what is round the corner. You may be disabled one day.

D. Kell, Sunderland

Origin of group

I WISH to respond to the recent letter from the vice-chairman and treasurer of the Friends of Rectory Park.

Shortly after Independent councillors Sheila Ellis and myself were first elected, we sat with Coun Colin Wakefield, who had been elected the previous year as an Independent, to discuss what we could do as a group to take the problems that the area (referred to by the council etc. as the “Coalfields”) faced.

One of the suggestions was that we needed to look at forming an umbrella group that would represent the local community centre, Twag (fighting to save Newbottle Wood) and of course Rats (fighting to close toxic landfill). It was felt that such a group would give the Coalfields a stronger voice when seeking help from the council, trusts and other government bodies.

Out of this discussion Coun Ellis voiced her concerns about the poor state of Houghton Rectory Park and eventually formed the Friends of Rectory Park group.

So, as I stated in my letter, the initiative was initially from the Independents but I understand the need for the group to distance themselves from any political association, hence their letter.

As far as being a non-paid-up member, I was of the opinion that this was because, as a councillor, I was a non-voting member which would enable me in my councillor role to retain my vote on allocating money for the park. If there has been a misunderstanding I will rectify this at the next meeting.

Coun Derrick Smith, Copt Hill Independent

No magic result

WELL, I’ve done what I could about a magic shop in the Bridges, Sunderland. About a month ago I wrote to Davenports Magic Shop in London, asking them to set up a magic shop here. But the reply that I’ve got was disappointing. Sad to say, no magic shop in Sunderland.

About a week ago, well before the International Magic Gala show at the Customs House in South Shields, I wrote to the powers that be there to ask the magicians to visit the Bridges shopping cente to put on a magic show for the kids.

The other day I got my letter back from South Shields. There was no letter with it to give me a reason why they returned my letter. The only thing I can think of is that they did not want me to ask them.

Well that’s it, no more trying. I’ve kept the powers that be at the Bridges informed of all I’ve tried to do and I’ve also written to them.

The idea behind asking the Customs House was that the magicians might have stayed to set up a magic shop in Sunderland.

Edwin Robinson, Zetland Square, Sunderland

Spelling mistake

I HAVE just opened your website and the first thing I noticed is your spelling of “Makem”. There is no “c” in it. Surely Echo staff must know the origin of the local name for someone from Sunderland?

I repeatedly see this spelling in one of the Newcastle papers, which can be expected, and to which I often reply in an attempt to educate the paper’s staff.

This spelling, however, should never be seen in the Echo or on its website.

Derek Lewis

Housing cash rethink

AS usual, professional politicians have missed the point by reducing housing benefit. The failure of the housing market to meet the needs of the unemployed, the working poor and the vulnerable is the result of inflated rents and house prices brought about by buy-to-let landlords.

There are a number of proposals which could alleviate this strain. The most obvious is to increase investment in social housing. As well as creating affordable homes, this would provide much needed employment for trades people such as builders, plumbers and electricians. It is unlikely the Government will see sense and invest rather then cut, so let us look at practical alternatives.

At present the council receives government funding to offer financial support to landlords who own properties that are empty and in disrepair. It would make more sense to direct money currently aimed at landlords towards those identified at risk of homelessness who are struggling to maintain their own homes and keep up with their rent or mortgage. There are legal avenues of ensuring property owners maintain their houses at a minimum standard without these grants such as Empty Dwellings Management Orders.

The Green Party believes Government and local authorities should base the decision-making process for new housing proposals on independently conducted housing needs surveys instead of favouring the needs of developers.

Furthermore, we encourage programmes to insulate homes and promote sustainable provision of energy, such as solar panels, to reduce the cost gas and electricity. We recently ran a petition in Park Lane, in conjunction with Friends of the Earth, on the issue of energy bills and received a very positive response from the public.

While pushing these ideas, we do not lose sight of the bigger picture. We condemn attacks by politicians on benefit claimants, which include the unemployed and those who work on low incomes. More people are becoming unemployed and having their pay cut due to a crisis that was caused by poor regulation of the financial sector. It is wrong to punish them yet again.

Jack McGlen, Sunderland Green Party

Messy workout

REGARDING dog dirt at the beach, it doesn’t sound so bad using that terminology, does it?

It is well known that a stroll along the seafront is invigorating. What better way to get the old circulation going than to get larded with the stuff. I find it mentally stimulating too, as one has to work out how to get it off without it spreading about. It is also of benefit physically because you have to reach down to places you’d forgotten about. All in all, a mini workout.

The dog walkers nearly always try to defend themselves by quoting the litter that is dropped by humans. I have a theory that far from being “litter louts” they are providing a service. If it weren’t for their placing of unwanted paper in the vicinity, there would be nothing to clean our footwear on.

Research would probably reveal that dog walkers came along first, and litter louts later by evolution.

This in turn leads us to the local pastime of “plodging.” Some circles accept that “plodging” stems from early days when a large proportion of people who were barefooted immersed their feet in the sea to get the dog muck from between their toes. This of course was before the Echo was founded, and was unavailable to be spread around. Perhaps some local historian could enlighten us.

Stan Taylor

Unfounded criticism

STEVE Stores slates Niall Quinn for trying to get people out of the pubs and into the Stadium of Light, then complains that he couldn’t buy a ticket for the Middlesbrough game. If he did his homework or, better still, attended a few more home games, he would know that the ticket office is closed on the day of a derby game by the police as a measure of crowd control.

Please get your facts straight.

Neil Salt, Parkside Crescent, Seaham

Search Party

I AM researching my family history and I was wondering if anyone could give me some help and advice.

I come from the Hendon area (Percy Terrace) and I understand my grandma was born at Downeys Yard in Ryhope.

Could someone please tell me where Downeys Yard was and what sort of place it was?

My mother and her two sisters were born in Vane Terrace, Hendon, in the 1920s. Again I would just like any info on what kind of buildings Vane Terrace was (lodging houses or whatever).

Finally, I found out that my mother was with a modelling agency. I think it was in the late 1940s or early 1950s, in Bookes Fashions in Vine Place (I understand it’s not there now). Unfortunately, I didn’t know my mother and was wondering if there’s any chance I could obtain any photographs.

Also she was on the North East news back in 1965 with other residents about the condition of Roker flats at the time.

If anyone could give me any info on these subjects it would be very much appreciated.

Anthony Atkin, Tel. 0191 3713387

I AM tracing my family tree and I am wondering if there are any relations or anyone who may have known them from the Castletown area.

My mother was Edith Davis. Her father was William Davis who was killed in the Second World War.

His father was George Henry Davis who was killed in the First World War.

Both were miners at Castletown Colliery before joining up.

George Henry lived at 21 Castle Street South. His son William (my mother’s father) lived at 11 Sheppard Terrace.

William had three brothers, Joseph, Ralph and Reuben, and a sister called Elizabeth.

If there is anybody who knows of George Henry or William Davis, please contact me. I would be very grateful.

Graeme Robson, 109 Holborn Road, Sunderland. Tel. 528 3460