Letters, Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

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Closure decision is disgraceful

AS a regular user of Newbottle and District Community Centre for almost 20 years, I wish to comment on the disgraceful decision by Sunderland Council to close the centre due to a reported wrangle over health and safety issues.

I wish to place on record my complaint at the way in which this unjust decision has been reached and, in particular, the treatment meted out to treasurer Michael Forbes and chairman Derek Hampton by the council.

The centre has been used by large numbers of the public for almost three decades, and over the years Derek and Michael have voluntarily devoted a great deal of their time and effort for the good of the community in the day-to-day running of the centre.

I understand one of the health and safety issues was a small hole in the tarmac of the centre car park. For goodness’ sake, Sunderland Council, spend 50 quid and repair it. How many extremely large potholes await repairs on main roads throughout the city, even after 12 months? Are they too not a safety issue, yet the council do not close the roads.

Another reported issue was minor repairs to electricals. We have council electricians – why not give them the job? One week’s work and job done.

I understand the roof needs some repair. For goodness’ sake, are we to close a sound building that has been totally safe for over one hundred years, for the sake of a few roofing tlies? Get the repairs carried out, Sunderland Council.

What cabinet secretary Mel Spedding should remember is that as a local councillor he should be trying his utmost to keep the centre open for the good of those people who rely on the centre, not simply throwing the towel in before any discussions have taken place.

Can someone please tell me: is our council tax solely used for council wages and councillors’ expenses or are there other uses to which a small proportion of the money can be allocated?

Any chance of having an accurate independent survey done as to the cost of repairs, or has the future use of the centre already been decided behind closed doors and it’s only a matter of time to allow the furore to calm down?

Bill Angus

Friends’ invitation

THE Friends of Sunderland Museums are looking forward to an exciting new year with a change of meeting day from Thursday evenings to Saturday afternoons. This will make it easier getting to and from the museum while it is daylight and before buses stop running in the evenings.

The Friends of Mowbray Park, which is a separate group, also face an exciting year as they raise money to provide a carpenter to accompany the walrus in Mowbray Park. Those of us who remember the museum from the 50s will recall the old entrance hall with the walrus standing at the bottom of the staircase. The head of the walrus is still on display in the museum.

Sunderland has many associations with Lewis Carroll so it will be fitting if funds can be raised to provide a carpenter. The Friends are few in number and they will need your support in their fund-raising efforts. The first event is a talk entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter” in Sunderland Museum on Sunday, February 26, at 2.30pm by Michael Bute of the Lewis Carroll Society. Tickets will be on sale at the museum and the price of £2.50 includes light refreshments. We hope to see you there.

E. Ronald, Fosums and Fomp

Good bus service

TO Councillor Errington: I use Go North East buses to get to and from work. Are they perfect? No they are not. But their smart passes and products are simple to use, flexible and cheaper than the inflexible Nexus Network One ticket.

The Nexus pass is great if I have to use the Metro and Shields ferry, but not so great for going to work in Washington on the bus. My pass also gives me access to a network of public transport outside Tyne and Wear for the same price as it costs to get me to Washington.

I quite like the colourful buses, which is an attempt to get passengers up against the ever rising car ownership of the North East.

Also, weren’t Labour in power for over a decade? What did they do with the buses? Nothing. Labour were the people in power that part-privatised the Metro.

Quality contracts sound great but they are expensive and require much more taxpayer subsidy than now, so where does the money come from?

Shaun Cudworth

‘Real’ Christmas

I AGREE with John Stott’s comments (Letters, December 30) about getting Christmas back to what it should be. Too many people are materialists and do not care or even know the true meaning of Christmas. This spoils it for the people who do know.

My motto is: if you haven’t got the money, don’t buy it. Don’t give to receive. Do remember the frail old or lonely people at this time, as it will come to all of us sooner or later.

Barbara Clark