Letters, Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

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The ethnic question in entertainment

MIDSOMER Murders has been on television for many years now. Suddenly there is a big controversy because someone has noticed there are no coloured faces on the programme. The producer is in trouble for saying there are no ethnic minorities in a fictional English country village.

Over at the BBC, in recent years, we’ve had a black Friar Tuck in Robin Hood, a black Nancy in Oliver Twist and black Guinevere in Merlin. Even a politically correct person, like myself, can see this is ridiculous. Children will grow up thinking there were black priests in medieval England.

The black actor Adrian Lester played Shakespeare’s Henry I on the London stage, yet no white actor dares put on make-up to play Othello. Alex Guinness gave a fine performance as an Arab prince of Lawrence of Arabia. Twenty years later he was embarrassing as an Indian professor in A Passage to India, and with so many Asian actors now in Britain, it was unacceptable.

In the 1960s, in the era of Martin Luther King and Civil Rights, the BBC thought it would be nice for the George Mitchell singers to put on blackface for the Black and White Minstrel Show. Twenty years later they took it off because of the offence it was giving minorities.

It Ain’t Half Hot Mum dares not to be shown on the main BBC channels any more for the same reason. Michael Bates was criticised for playing an Indian, yet he was the only member of the case who could speak Urdu.

Frank Seely, Cotswold Close, Washington

MPs’ good work

IT’S good to hear news from Westminster about the political report from Sharon Hodgson MP. Among the highlights was the approval of the planning application for a new Rolls-Royce site in Washington, which is expected to provide a real boost and continued employment for skilled workers in our area.

Sharon and fellow Sunderland MPs Julie Elliot and Bridget Phillipson all visited Rolls Royce to discuss their plans for growth. It’s wonderful to know the dedicated work our Labour MPs put into ensuring future employment for the people of Wearside.

Jimmy Chambers, Rickleton Village Centre, Washington

Anger over loss

I WROTE a while back about my father’s dog having diabetes.

Recently, she had to be put to sleep because of her liver and kidneys not working. It was absolutely devastating to have to let that beautiful little dog go, but she was very poorly.

I’m angry about the whole thing because this dog did not deserve this horrible illness all because she was fed on rubbish before my father got her.

She didn’t ever play with toys, which I found strange. It’s like a child not playing with toys.

She had a beautiful nature and I would never have passed her on to anyone else, no matter what happened.

Lucy had three years extra but over two years were blighted by the diabetes. We loved her, she was part of the family. Only true animal lovers know what that means.

I was pleased to be with her at the end. I would have had it no other way.

The vet she went to was marvellous and could not have done more. I only wish they could have taken the diabetes away.

Like I said in my previous letter, I wish I could name and shame, or tell people where the previous owners live, but it’s like everything in this horrible life – who cares?

B. Crute, Cleveland Road, High Barnes, Sunderland

Squatters’ rights

WE all think that if we buy a house it belongs to us. Untrue. If squatters get into it, by whatever means, it belongs to them for the great amount of time the courts take to get them evicted.

Surely squatters are burglars. They will use electricity, gas and trash belongings at the owner’s expense. The courts know these people have no money so they do not bother to fine them. There are no prison places so they just go free.

Amazingly it seems the house owner has no power to evict these burglars. What does that tell you about the lawless, politically correct, stupid country we live in?

M. Matthews, Aiskell Street, Sunderland

Kind audiences

I WISH to express my deepest gratitude to the audiences at Sunderland Empire after I collected for Grace House on Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12.

It was my pleasure to hand over £243.08 on your behalf to Grace House. Also many thanks to Rachael Scurfield and her staff for their kindness and hospitality.

Jeff Coxon, Lawnside, Seaham

Funeral costs

I WOULD very much like to agree with the gentleman writing to express his concern about the extremely high cost of funerals and the lack of precise expense details.

I have rung every one of the funeral companies who advertise in the Echo and not one would give the cost of cremation, cars, vicar’s fees etc.

I am trying to sort my affairs and that of my father who has no money and am deeply worried as to the cost of a simple basic cremation – no cars etc, but to no avail. Is there a funeral company that would be brave enough to let us know or is it as that gentleman thinks, they are “closed shops” and grief pays them well?

Mrs A. Clarke, Atkinson Road, Fulwell

Fighting for town

HOUGHTON Independent councillors have come under repeated, and frequently anonymous, attack in recent weeks.

It is obvious that the snivelling nonsense written is coming from the same few people who believe only in dictatorship, not in democracy. It may come as a shock to this Mafia, but Independents are allowed to stand for election, and people are entitled to vote for them.

This area is not Labour’s personal possession to neglect and misuse at will, despite the wishes of the anonymous bunch.

Why did Independents stand in the first place? We stood because local Labour politicians and those on Sunderland Council connived to have a giant stinking rubbish dump slap bang in the middle of our town.

Air pollution was damaging people’s health and the water supply was being poisoned under the tip. No one in the council or in the Government Environment Agency would lift a finger to protect us. In fact an Agency Email said it couldn’t do anything because of fear of “political fall-out with Sunderland”.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Sunderland’s Labour Council rode rough-shod over everyone to dump its rubbish on Houghton, regardless of how many people it could poison.

We would not sit back and watch our beloved area suffer. We formed a group, Residents Against Toxic Site, under the able chairmanship of Colin Wakefield.

When Labour councillors scoffed at us, saying we had no support, we stood for election to prove we did. Later a market survey company measured over 99 per cent support for what we have tried to do.

Having been elected, we have fought to improve our area on many other matters. In my ward of Houghton, I have fought for toilets, unadopted streets, restoration of the Cenotaph and a memorial to Second World War victims, the Rectory Park, Conservation areas, history and heritage, shopping centres, road signs to put us on the map, decent play areas and activities for the young, against crime and antisocial behaviour, and a myriad of other matters of importance to people.

Independent councillors Colin Wakefield and Derrick Smith have fought just as hard on the many other issues throughout the entire Copt Hill Ward. They don’t just stay on their own doorsteps.

So you don’t like us, anonymous Labour people? Tough. You should have protected and fought for Houghton in the first place. I would travel far and wide to promote Houghton, and have done.

I was in Brussels with Coun Wakefield, having been invited to speak to the European Parliament. It was my great pleasure and privilege to promote Houghton in Europe. Colin and I received unanimous cross-party support from the many nations’ MEPs and the Head of the European Commission’s Environment Department.

Those who have dumped this filthy tip on us will now be taken to task on a European level. There will be a change in the law and likely legal action against the UK Government for the way Houghton people have been treated.

Not a bad achievement for a group falsely accused by small-minded anonymous people, of “doing Houghton down”. What have you ever done?

Coun Sheila Ellis

Unfair attack

THIS is an open letter to Mr S. Hardie.

The adverse publicity generated via your letter to the Sunderland Echo (February 15) was most unfair and derogatory to Mrs Freda Oyston and the rest of the committee.

Being a member of the Sunderland AFC Disabled and Escort Branch for three seasons, I have seen Mr S. Hardie and young Joshua on the coach for several away games but definitely not all away venues as he alleges.

Joshua is an extremely pleasant young boy and members on the coach (along with the driver) interact with him. He calls out the on-coming information from the road signs and tells how many miles it is to the next town/city. We all look out for each other.

Re the Newcastle v Sunderland game: my three grandsons, aged 12, 15 and 17, have season tickets but I refused to take them, as confrontations at this volatile game meant I feared for their safety.

Mrs Freda Oyston, Mrs Maureen Fenwick and Graham Anderson work well in unison for all the members all the time.

Shame on you, Stuart Hardie.

S. Convery, Alnwick, Northumberland

Pigeon problem

I SYMPATHISE with John Graham from Usworth about a hawk killing his pigeons. I have kept fancy tumbler pigeons for 28 years with very few problems. However, recently they have been ripped from the skies and eaten alive in our own garden with the remains scattered all over the lawn.

It’s heartbreaking having to pick up what is left of your much loved and often young pet on an alarmingly regular basis. The hawks can be seen flying around the garden waiting for the birds to come out.

Even when I open the door for a short while and stand on guard, the pigeons are a bag of nerves, watching the skies.

If the hawks were picking on people’s cats or pedigree dogs there would be an outcry, but no one cares about the humble pigeon. It’s not fair and it’s not right.

Marie Ashforth, Pimlico Road, Hetton

When will action be taken to develop Doxford House

WHEN is something going to be done about Doxford House, which is standing there, a wreck?

I understand this has been sold by the Lazarus Foundation to three local people. Why was this not offered back to the council or to Gentoo?

As this was sold by the council to the Lazarus Foundation at a reasonable price, I would have thought they would have offered the property back to the council, as it did belong to the people of Sunderland.

I understand a considerable donation was loaned to the Lazarus Foundation by the Sisters of Oak Lea Convent. Has this loan been paid back?

A profit must have been made on the sale of the property, Doxford House. The sister who passed this loan is now dead. I am sure there will have been good profit made as three developers purchased the property.

Could we have some information on what is happening?

JS, Sunderland