Letters, Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

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Seafront spoiled by dog fouling

WE keep hearing our council saying that Seaburn and Roker are the jewel in the crown for Sunderland. Surely this should read dog fouling capital of Britain?

Every time you walk along the beaches or the promenade you have to dodge the dog mess. The walk from the marina up the stairs to the Co-op garage is the worst. Do we have any dog wardens in Sunderland? I have never seen one or heard of anyone getting caught.

We have a great set of litter pickers who keep the beaches and promenade free from litter. Why does the council not regrade the litter pickers and give them the authority to fine people who let their dogs foul? If they were fined £60 it would pay the extra cost of the regrading.

Every time I go out I see at least one person letting their dog do it. I have seen people with up to five dogs running wild on the beach and not bothering to clean any mess up or kicking sand over it or walking 30 metres in front of the dog, taking no notice when it fouls.

Come on, council, take some action as this is turning people away from walking on the beaches. Everybody I speak to is fed up with this. I have been all over this country and Europe and nowhere is as bad as here. Please note, I am a dog lover and the majority of dog owners are responsible, but it is getting worse.

Alan Williamson, Dykelands Road,Seaburn

SoL crowds

THANK you to Stephen Price from Coventry (Letters, January 27) for pointing out that Newcastle are regularly attracting 50,000-plus crowds while Sunderland “struggle” in the high 30,000s.

Sunderland are in fact attracting higher average crowds than Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and Everton, so I don’t think we are doing too badly.

He points to the Roy Keane era of 2007-08 when we were watched by an average of 43,344. Well, four years ago we weren’t in recession, and let’s face it 2,000 of those fans were probably Roy Keane fans rather than the Sunderland faithful.

Newcastle as a city has enjoyed millions of pounds of investment over the years and for years has been run by forward-thinking councillors who have developed and marketed pockets of industry of all types across their city. Sunderland has not. Look at any jobs website and see where there are the most vacancies.

Because Newcastle’s fans are more likely to have the financial resource to turn up and back their team than Sunderland’s do, it does not make them a bigger or better club.

Can we please stop comparing the two until we have comparable councils?

Karen Coates

Labour and NHS

GEMMA Taylor (Letters, January 26), calls on us to “fight” for the NHS? Like all Labour supporters she conveniently ignores the fact that Labour, through PFI, has left the NHS with an enormous debt and saddled it with extortionate maintenance payments to private companies for many years to come.

Nor does she, seemingly, have any regrets that Labour turned the NHS into an overburdened bureaucratic dinosaur. Far too many chiefs and not enough Indians!

Thanks to Labour, doctors and nurses spend as much time filling in paperwork as they do treating patients.

It’s about time we let them get on with the jobs they were trained for and put an end to the ideological claptrap once and for all. Perhaps then we might have the NHS we all hope for.

M. Brown, Hendon Road, Sunderland

Park friends

I WOULD like to respond to a letter in the Echo on January 25 from Councillor Derrick Smith, Hetton and Houghton etc Independent.

Councillor Smith stated in his letter that the Friends of Rectory Park were another Independent-inspired initiative. Friends of Rectory Park in fact were formed and brought together by our chairman Sheila Ellis at the suggestion of Ian Cockburn of Sunderland City Council.

Friends of Rectory Park is not a political group. People have different political and religious views, none of which are discussed at the Friends’ meeting. It has nothing to do with Friends’ attempt to make Houghton Rectory Park a better place for the people of Houghton and surrounding areas.

Councillor Smith has attended our meetings but is not a paid-up member of the Friends of Rectory Park.

John Corney, vice-chairman, Edith Corney, treasurer, Friends of Rectory Park

Club thank-you

BEAMISH Under-13s and Beamish Community Football Club would like to thank Sunderland AFC and the city council for allowing us to collect outside the Stadium of Light on December 26, 2011, before the Sunderland v Everton Game.

The total collected was £3,339.84

Beamish Community FC

Bus service cash

IN response to Huw Lewis’s letter (January 9) proposing the benefits of Quality Contracts for the region’s bus services, Nexus alleges that currently £62million annually is “given” to bus operators without Nexus (and therefore the taxpayer) having control over it.

Yet it is only if readers are allowed to see a breakdown of these figures that they will come to understand that this figure is so misleading. The 2010/11 figures are broken down as follows (in 000’s):

Concessionary payments: £39,222. To say that Nexus has no control over this is misleading. It simply gets what it pays for here because it buys free travel (after 0930) for OAPs and disabled passengers. In fact, it gets a lot more than it pays for. Typically for every £1-worth of commercial adult fare, the equivalent journey made by a concessionary traveller card holder provides about 50 pence to the operator.

Secured service contracts: £6,856. These are the services paid for by Nexus because while they are deemed necessary they are not commercially viable. Nexus, has total control over these services and, as a result, gets exactly what it pays for. That is, it specifies what service it requires during a competitive tender process and bus operators that bid for and subsequently win the contracts must deliver the prescribed services to the letter, or risk being in breach of contract.

To put this figure into perspective, it represents less than 10 per cent of all services bus operators’ provide in Tyne and Wear. Since when, in a democracy, does paying for 10 per cent of something entitle you to control the other 90 per cent?

BSOG: £15,500. This figure is nothing to do with Nexus. It comes direct from the Government, and bus operators have paid it to the Government in the first place as fuel duty.

They simply give some of it back again to reduce the fuel duty paid on fuel used in running registered local bus services and thus provide a beneficial effect for the end user by enabling lower fares or keeping service levels higher than they otherwise would be if the duty had all had to be paid in full. Trains and planes pay no fuel duty.

Total: £61,578,000.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

Martin Harris, Commercial director, Go North East

Appeal thanks

I JUST wanted to convey my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the Echo Toy Appeal. As a single parent to three children it is often a struggle to meet the costs of general living expenses throughout the year but this pressure is magnified around Christmas.

The emotional and financial strain of providing toys for my children and managing all my other outgoings is very stressful and at times overwhelming.

However, thanks to the help I have received from Wearside Women in Need and the Echo Toy Appeal the burden was eased. Knowing that my children would have toys to open on Christmas morning was a huge relief (and the kids were overjoyed with what they received).

Thanks to people’s kindness and selflessness, myself and my children were able to have a very merry Christmas!

Thank you again to all involved.

A very grateful mam

Engine makers

S. WAKE’S remark that all Wear-built SD14s were fitted with Sulzer engines is quite correct. I did put “with a Doxford engine” in brackets”.

I know that SD14s were built elsewhere that were fitted with Doxford 76J4 engines. So, it would be possible (though highly unfeasible) during the refit mentioned, to achieve the preferred configuration.

Alternatively, a Wear-built SD14, along with any Doxford engine on an adjacent quayside site (or indeed any site in town) would also be a fine thing.

However, in the present financial climate, and under the present town council, most ideas that are put forward by people in the town/for the town are highly unlikely to be acted upon and so can truly be considered “pie in the sky”.

Ray Findlay

Behind the times

REGARDING the article in the Echo on December 29 about clocks working but mostly not working, time seems to be irrelevant in this city with village people in charge.

This city has hardly moved with the times. What with a new iconic bridge being given the go-ahead, let’s hope the time has arrived to go forward now with our city centre wastelands. Otherwise a new bridge may end up being a bypass bridge like the Hylton bridge. How ironic that would be. (Is the clock ticking?)

J. Harding, Red House

Strictly Dippers

THE Wilson family from Hastings Hill and friends from Sunderland raised nearly £3,000 for Macmillan Nurses by doing Strictly Come Dipping in the 2011 Boxing Day Dip.

Thank you to all that took part. It was a fab day.

Thank you to all of the sponsors.

Graham Wilson and family