Letters, Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

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It’s time we had fairness for all

NOW is the time when ordinary people feel the real force of Tory capitalist ideology. The Thatcher privatisation ethos of creating “get rich and look after nothing but profit” entrepreneurs really hits hard this time of year.

All private gas and electric providers are boosting the profit they make from ordinary people now. Lots of confusing tariffs and unaffordable bills. These “higher than necessary” bills take what little money is left from honest working people in the new year.

Now is the time when our elderly get such a shock from profit-making fat-cat companies that they freeze and starve in order to keep the privatised energy wolves from the door.

Winter fuel bills and other debt is capitalist exploitation caused by the Conservative government privatisation of everything throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Yes, the gas and electric companies are now price-cutting to battle for custom, but financially they will always be the only winners. Ordinary people may pay slightly less temporarily, but it is still far too much for most UK consumers. Don’t be fooled by the energy companies now, it’s all about covering their years and years of price hikes that cause ordinary people such hardship.

Why should ordinary people pay so much to keep these wealthy shareholders increasingly richer? Why should our elderly people worry and freeze to death so the rich can be even richer? For years due to mass Tory privatisation ordinary people have been made to “feed the greed” of capitalist exploiters.

Unless you’re rich you should feel extra annoyed with the “we’re in this together” mock statement by our millionaire Prime Minister Cameron. We know him and his millionaire cabinet won’t be worrying about their jobs, pensions or fuel bills.

What we need is a cap on how much profit companies can make for themselves. If we are all in this together, then company bosses, bankers, managing directors and shareholders should have a pay cap just like ordinary working people have. Investment for improvement is always necessary for companies and services, but greed should be stopped. Let’s see all shareholders and other individual private income rise in line with other pay rises. If we having a pay freeze then we are all in this together – public, private and Prime Minister.

Let’s see fairness for all people.

Gordon Chalk, Millfield, Sunderland

Mosque plan

IN response to T. Featherstone (Letters, January 17), I totally disagree with her comments that it is a small minority of residents who wish to deny a place of worship legitimately.

Why are they using another building for prayers illegally? That means that I can start up an alternative religion and use a building illegally to pray, as that what is happening in the Millfield area. How can that be legal? Or can someone in the council explain to me the difference between legal/illegal use of buildings?

I do not think in our country today people have the democratic right to voice their opinion, which the Millfield residents are doing and, I must say, behaving in a correct manner. The council, as always, does not seem to listen to anyone else’s views.

The residents say turning this building into a mosque does not suit the locality. If they look around the city there are other buildings which could be used.

There needs to consultation between all parties and a common solution found that helps ethnic communities to come together.

George Gibson, Sunderland

Appeal thanks

ON behalf of Mr J. E. Knight, chairman of the Sunderland Orphanage and Educational Foundation, and Mr J. D. S. Brown, chairman of the George Hudson Charity, may I thank the Sunderland Echo and all the good people who gave so generously to the Echo Christmas Toy Appeal.

It was indeed a very great privilege to make sure your gifts were forwarded on to our young people, some of whom would not have received many gifts at this time. Also a thank-you to Tony and Stephen Sidney of the Sunderland Carpet Centre who gave the money to purchase 88 bags of confectionery.

At the time of writing a small number of applications could be considered for The George Hudson Charity. To qualify a young person’s father must be deceased or terminally ill and the applicant must be attending school. I can be contacted at 54 John Street, Sunderland, SR1 1QH.

David Goodfellow, Administrator, George Hudson’s Charity, Sunderland

Pass prize

MANY thanks, Sunderland Echo. I have just received a family pass, having entered your competition last week for tickets to the Centre for Life ice skating.

My husband and I read the Echo on a regular basis but this is the first competition I have entered. What a fab way to start the new year!

Thanks again.

Mrs Richardson

Cuts in benefits

CAMERON’S concerned that people earning £43,000 per year will lose out when the child benefit changes, and he has promised to compensate them.

This is in contrast to the atrocious benefit cuts being imposed on our most vulnerable. They were exposed recently when the House of Lords debated the Welfare Reform Bill. After some deliberation it was rejected by the peers. No, they said, to plans for means testing employment and support allowance (ESA) payments for cancer and stroke survivors after one year.

No again for plans to time-limit ESA for those undergoing cancer treatment, and no for the plans to restrict access to ESA for young people with disabilities. This would mean children born disabled would never receive benefits and therefore be means tested all their life.

Lord Petel, a former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians, summed up the contempt the Lords had for the Welfare Reform Bill by describing it as an attack on the sick, the vulnerable and the poor. He added: “If we are to rob the poor to pay the rich we enter into a different form of morality”.

Crafty Cameron sold the public an illusion that only work-shy wasters would be affected by benefit cuts. Decent people and indeed many Tory supporters will be appalled that our unelected Prime Minister has been found by the House of Lords to be crawling under the level of the nation’s decency by targeting children with multiple disabilities and cancer sufferers.

W. Quinn, Duke Street, Millfield

Lost to Alzheimer’s

MY wife died last January and I want to share my feelings, particularly with anyone who has to live with, and care for, victims of Alzheimer’s.

When did I say goodbye?

The slow slipping away – the off jolt.

The smile, the quick recognition,

The sweet acceptance of whatever was offered.

And how much did you know of the day?

The rousing from fitful sleep?

The need to respond to whomever?

The ever receding aware.

When did I say goodbye?

Mr M, Sunderland (Name and address supplied)

Plea to evacuees

I AM currently writing a dissertation on the evacuation of children from Sunderland and Newcastle during the Second World War and would be extremely grateful if any readers who took part in the process, or their relatives, would like to write to me and share their experiences.

I am particularly studying the journey from town to country, the reception from and attitude of people in the countryside towards their guests, the impact on education and the evacuees’ response to both their new setting and foster family.

If anyone is interested, could they please write to me at the address below.

Gemma Fowler, Josephine Butler College, South Road,Durham DH1 3DF

Very sad loss

EVERYONE at Age UK Sunderland was deeply saddened by the news that Sir Tom Cowie had passed away.

As our patron for many years, he was a great supporter of the work we do for older people and he very much valued the work of our volunteers to support older people across the city.

His generosity was unrivalled and he made a substantial and very real contribution to our charity and this city.

Sir Tom will be greatly missed and our sincere condolences go out to Lady Cowie and her family.

Alan Patchett, Director, Age UK Sunderland

Working for ward

I WISH to respond to the letter in last Wednesday’s Echo from A. Owen, Copt Hill Resident, to add substance to the points it makes.

Firstly I signed myself as Hetton and Houghton Independent as part of my ward (Copt Hill Ward) is in Hetton. The ward actually extends from Caroline Street in Hetton up to Herrington Burn YMCA, so I should really have signed myself as Hetton, Houghton, Newbottle and Success Independent, but as Hetton and Houghton forms the bulk of the ward I used this in the description.

She quite rightly mentions the disgrace of the unmade roads in the area but seems to forget that we have had a Labour council for over 40 years before I was elected and they have done nothing to bring these roads into the 21st century. They have only very recently considered looking at this problem since the Independents made it part of their election campaign and have since raised the profile of the unmade roads and the publics awareness.

She asks why I did not spend the one-off pot of money on the unmade roads. The answer is simple: I decided to spend the money on road safety which would save lives, injuries and improve the quality of life of the residents who live on or near the roads blighted by speeding traffic. Are these benefits less important to her?

If it had been left up to her labour colleague, the Copt Hill Labour councillor, we would have had no money as he tried to get the area committee to take the money off me and give it to his Labour colleagues in other wards.

She finishes by saying: “Should he not be getting the Copt Hill electorate’s voices heard instead (of Hetton and Houghton) as they elected him to the council?”

The writer knows this is not true as she attends the Independents’ regular community meetings, including our Newbottle meeting and the Friends of the Rectory Park meeting, another Independent-inspired initiative.

Since being elected in 2008 I have put out thousands of leaflets on a regular basis throughout the whole of the ward, advertising my regular community meetings and offering help and support and asking for peoples comments and views and, judging by the response I receive from this, I know exactly what people’s views are.

Coun Derrick Smith, Hetton and Houghton etc Independent

Hospital parking

THE disabled drivers are not the only ones having problems parking at the hospital. Since Parking Eye took over they decided to reduce the number of staff places by 90.

The nurses pay a monthly fee of £20 to use the car park but are usually unable to do so on a late shift due to lack of spaces. They drive around then have to park in the streets nearby. Of course consultants don’t have this problem – they have their own car park.

Mrs Donaldson, Roker