Letters, Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

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Vet charity can’t give free care for all

ON Thursday, January 27, a letter from “DB” questioned the eligibility rules for pet owners using vet charity PDSA.

As a charity with limited resources (no Government or Lottery funding), PDSA simply cannot provide free veterinary care for all pet owners. So our service has to be targeted at those households considered to be in greatest need. The rule we use is that the pet owner must be in receipt of council tax benefit or housing benefit.

Pet owners using PDSA must provide documentary proof that they receive the relevant benefit, and also provide proof of their identity. We always investigate cases where we suspect the service is being misused.

Our means-tested criteria result in PDSA care being available to hundreds of thousands of UK households including those in low-paid employment, people with disabilities, retired people and the unemployed.

We wish we could help all pet owners who seek our support, but sadly this is not possible. And after 94 years as a veterinary charity we sincerely believe our eligibility criteria to be the fairest available. As a result we have received wonderful support for our work from the people of Wearside for generations.

We do hope that this goodwill is maintained into the future, allowing us to treat as many sick and injured pets as we possibly can.

Ian McClive, Senior veterinary surgeon, Sunderland PDSA PetAid Hospital

The right to write

THERE seem to be two similarities to some recent occasional contributions to the Letters Page. One is an obvious irritation that letters, (on a wide range of issues), from Conservative councillors are being written and then published. Secondly, the writers who submit these views are, without fail, anonymous. The Citizen (January 29) is the latest example.

The Citizen, in fact, has its links with the French Revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was based on political principles in the Age of Enlightenment, such as individualism.

We cannot think of a more individual act for any person than to write a letter expressing a certain point of view on whatever subject. We find it very disappointing that someone would bother to go into print to discourage any contribution to openly expressed views in the democratic process. And if some letters, from whichever contributor, are longer than others, then so be it. The Letters Editors, both past and present, are perfectly capable of reducing its size if they so wish and have often done so. The Echo certainly does need need any help from The Citizen in that regard.

One of the main aspects of the Age of Enlightenment was freedom of speech. We think The Citizen, whoever he or she may be, should be thankful that opinions freely given are part of our everyday life in this country and the Letters Page of the Sunderland Echo is a small, but significant continuation of that tradition.

Certainly plenty of people seem to enjoy this section of their evening newspaper. Is that the problem for The Citizen and others perhaps?

Coun Peter Wood, St Michael’s Ward, Coun Michael Dixon, St Chad’s Ward

Who’s in denial?

IT appears that Malcolm Vardy (“Writer in denial”, January 27) didn’t bother to read my original letter. If he had, he would have seen that the condemnation of the Coalition’s failure to meet its pledge to hire more midwives came from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), not the Labour Party, and it was the Tory Home Secretary Theresa May who announced back in May that over 3,000 of the most experienced police offices could be forced to take early retirement.

As for job losses, it was actually The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Europe’s largest HR and development professional body, which estimated 1.6million job losses. This figure was subsequently defended at the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee by the CIPD’s chief economist.

Even as I write, it is being reported, again not by the Labour Party, that the monthly GfKNOP consumer confidence index dropped to eight points to 29, its lowest level for a year and the biggest fall since the middle of the 1992 recession.

If writing or talking about this is being naive or scaremongering, then I’m in very good company, looking at the recent comments made by people and organisations such as Northumbria Police, The NHS Confederation, Steve Finnigan, Lancashire’s Chief Constable, Sir Richard Lambert, the former head of the CBI, and economist John Philpott and many more, all of whom I would have quoted here, but I prefer to keep this letter concise and about 250 words.

Bob Price, Rydal Mount, Fulwell, Sunderland

Tales of kindness

HOW touching it was to read the letters of those grateful women, whose lives had been transformed by WWIN and the great generosity of the people of Sunderland who, as always, give so generously to those in need.

These women, who have lost everything and were in the depths of despair, were transformed to hope in the future because of other people’s kindness. May it be the first rung of the ladder to a better life for them.

Echo reader

Better educated

“NO need for EMA”, according to a letter from Shaun Cudworth (January 26).

You state that you, and your siblings, never received the EMA. So what? Are you jealous of those who did and do?

You further state that those who go on to further education, have the ability to have a better job, with better prospects later, than those who did not. And?

There is another side to this. Those who are “better educated” provide better value for employers who have an ability to generate more profits from their employees.

Let’s have a little quid pro quo in this. Workers, whether higher or degree-level educated, should take a statement of the cost of their “higher” education. They should state, quite simply:I will benefit finacially from my increased education, but so, however, will you.

There is the bill for my education. I want some recompense for my outlay, as you will benefit from my “better education” as much, if not more, than I will.

The bosses and their lickspittles, the Government, want to use this specious and unfounded argument. We should too.

Finally, how many of this and the previous governments’ ministers paid tuition fees?

I’ll tell you, not one.

Blair, Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Osborne etc, etc, etc, never paid a penny in tuition fees at university. So, I ask you, why the hell should the kids pay today?

I will expect the answer on the back of a postage stamp. Or, as is more likely, I will not get an answer at all – except, as is more likely, from their sycophants trying to justify the unjustifiable nature of this odious, obscene, and inequitable social system, capitalism.

Steve Colborn, Ivy Avenue, Deneside, Seaham

Allowance axed

I FEEL compelled to write regarding the – in my opinion, necessary – decision to scrap EMA for students aged 16 to 19.

At a time when the Government is trying to reduce a huge national deficit, tough decisions have to be made.

The National Foundation for Education Research cites that 90 per cent of students would continue their education even without the help of EMA. Furthermore, as someone employed in education who deals with EMA claim forms each day, I know there are many students out there who do not need it. For those who are in genuine and clear need of financial help, the learner support fund will be available.

The EMA system is run at a cost of £590million year and as the UK is currently paying £120million per day in debt repayments, everyone has to do their bit to help.

Coun Robert Oliver was absolutely right in his recent letter when he stated that there “are far better ways to spend money on education”.

As for the EMA, Michael Gove has pointed out to MPs during the recent EMA debate that “you can’t spend money you don’t have”.

Tracy Young, Washington

Cut the council

TO start with, this council should be halved – there are too many councillors.

Sunderland is in a mess, and has been for the past few years. We need a change in the balance of our councillors to represent the people in a much fairer way.

Our newspaper is supposed to be accurate and balanced, not always siding with Labour in their reporting.

The council should hand over the Vaux site to Tesco (which owns it anyway). Tesco will build shops, leisure centres and a badly needed first-class hotel, creating hundreds of jobs.

The council has spent over £30million of taxpayers’ money on PR meetings and advisers, telling us what they would do with the site (so far nothing).

Things are going to get harder and we can’t afford to waste taxpayers’ money on hairbrained schemes like these or Sunderland will never change for the better.

D. J. Wright, Appleby Terrace, Roker

Council foul-up

ON a recent visit to Sunderland seafront, round the Marina area and Roker seafront, I was totally amazed by the amount of dog poo and owners who are blatantly not cleaning up after their dogs.

I appreciate cuts have to be made by the council, but I am totally disgusted at the amount of dog poo there is and the council don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

Do they realise what sort of diseases dog mess carries? It makes for uncomfortable viewing for local residents and visiting families.

I would be obliged if someone from the council would like to go on record on this matter because when I telephoned I was told there were regular patrols at the Marina.

The seafront is one of the biggest attractions to Sunderland, so come on, Sunderland Council, clean up your act.

Name and address supplied

Memories of Our Air Raid Shelter 1940s

A PEBBLE, a memento,

Some thought for you and me,

Memories of our childhood

And things that used to be,

Picked up from the rubble

Against the railway wall,

What’s left of the air raid shelter

That stood so proud and tall?

I was used by air raid wardens

During World Ward Two

That represented safety

While enemy aircraft flew.

But once the war was over

I stood there all alone,

A shell of what I used to be

And aid that I had shown.

The children climbed upon my roof

And fun was had by all.

Again I stood there proudly

Against the railway wall.

And then the children all grew up,

Their families moved away

Left alone, still standing

I faced another day.

Many, many years passed by

When a young woman visited me.

She stood with tears in her eyes,

Thinking of what used to be.

She picked up my little pebbles

And held them in her hand.

She took me home and cherished me

And once again “I’m grand”

Ann R. Hansen