Letters, Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

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Ward party still waiting for reply

AS a member of the Labour Party in the Castle Ward I have been inspired to write this letter by events in the Arab world where people are seeking political openness, justice and democracy, as I believe recent political events in Castle Ward demonstrate that we could do with some of that here.

Castle Ward has repeatedly asked for clarification from Ed Miliband and the Labour Party National Executive Council (NEC), who are responsible for upholding the rules of the party and propriety of Labour selection processes, if any rules have been broken resulting in Coun Denny Wilson not being allowed on the 2011 candidates’ panel.

Labour Party rules are clear about the interviewing of sitting councillors – they should not be interviewed unless there is specific cause for concern raised by the ward secretary or chief whip. No concerns were raised. In fact Coun Wilson had excellent reports

Sitting councillors should not be interviewed on anyone’s initiative. The interviews took place on the initiative of Labour North’s regional director without any valid reason being given.

Unlike new candidates, who are interviewed to see if they have the potential to be good councillors, sitting councillors should not be interviewed, because there is a record of their performance in office which can be scrutinized.

Coun Wilson has an excellent record.

About 12 months ago he received an award in from Labour Government ministers as part of his Safer City portfolio. Sunderland was also proclaimed a “National Exemplar” and he was also presented with a cheque for £½million pounds to host visits to Sunderland for other councils to meet him and staff to share their knowledge of best practice.

Also in his brief tenure for the Culture portfolio he has envisaged, initiated and enabled many new events to take place in Sunderland such as Friday Night at the Air Show, 1644 Battle re-enactment at Hylton Castle, the Fishing Festival, and the lighting up of Mowbray Park with the Magic tree.

When he first became a councillor, he raised concerns that elderly/infirm residents around the city were being put to bed at unreasonable times against their wishes. This resulted in the council providing a nightshift to enable elderly/infirm residents to be helped to bed at a time of their own choosing.

Future projects that Coun Wilson is promoting will be jeopardised by his absence: the improving of Mowbray Park illuminations, events in Herrington Country Park, the restoration of Hylton Castle, the possibility of the Tall Ships coming to Sunderland and the developement of the East End as the city’s culture and heritage quarter with a ferry.

Castle Ward is still waiting for a reply about our concerns that Coun Wilson is a victim broken rules. So if the Labour Party supports openness, justice and democracy in the Arab states, can it set an example at home and give us some in the Castle Ward?

Labour Party member, Castle Ward

Help for display

I AM preparing a display for Houghton and District Local History Group on Kate Middleton’s mining ancestors in the North East and would like to appeal to readers for any mining memories, mining photos or old photos of Hetton and, in particular, Nicholas Street (now demolished) where her great-grandfather, Thomas Harrison, was born.

It is intended to have the display ready for the week of the Royal Wedding and to continue throughout May, which is History Month.

Anyone who wishes to get in touch with me could do so directly.

Brenda Graham, 20 Oak Avenue, Houghton. Tel. 584 1943

Wrong answers

ONE question contestants on The Weakest Link often get asked is which North East city stands on the River Wear? They all answer Newcastle. This proves two things. First, the people on Anne Robinson’s quiz are hardly Mastermind standard. Also, Geordies are clever at convincing the rest of the county that theirs is the only city up here.

But this week the Queen of Mean asked someone: which North East city has districts called Hendon, Southwick and Roker? He still answered Newcastle. Once upon a time most Englishmen with a knowledge of football knew that Roker was in Sunderland. Even Kevin Keegan would get that one right.

Frank Seely, Cotswold Close, Lambton

Pampered youth

IN reply to the irate mum who believes that her daughter is entitled to an EMA payment of £30 a week because she had decided after leaving school at 16 she wants to spend a further two years at college, I would suggest that if her daughter is not ready to enter the world of employment at the age of 16 she never will be.

As for the accusation that I am not of the real world, I would remind irate mum that after leaving school in the 1940s, I worked in the real world for almost 49 years. In material terms, I do not have a lot to show for it, but what I do have is the satisfaction for standing on my own feed as my parents did before me and as my own family did and are still doing.

I question the right of irate mum to claim that taxpayers have a duty to pay her daughter’s bus fares to school and to buy her lunches. That obligation is hers. I agree with what another person had to say on this matter – our youth are pampered as never before.

Mrs Lara Locket, Southwick, Sunderland

Club anniversary

THIS year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Sunderland Floral Art Club.

We are a small, friendly club and whether you are a complete beginner, an accomplished flower arranger or just want to sit back and enjoy watching a flower demonstration, you will be made very welcome.

If, however, you enjoy flowers and gardening we can offer you the opportunity to learn the art of flower arranging by watching experienced demonstrators.

Members also take part in local flower festivals and the floral display sponsored by the club and exhibited annually at Sunderland Horticultural Show.

Members who are not active flower arrangers can enjoy the social side of the club. We organise social events, outings and luncheons with a donation from each onegoing to our chairman’s chosen Charity of the Year, which this year is the Grace House Appeal

Last year we were able to donate more than £800 to the North East Ambulance Service.

We meet on the third Tuesday of every month at 2pm in the studio at the Royalty Theatre off Chester Road. Full membership for a year is £20, or you can come along as a visitor to a monthly meeting for just £4.

Our next meeting in the Studio will be on Tuesday, March 15, when we welcome Wendy Smith from Durham with her demonstration entitled Spring is in the Air.

We are looking for new members to help us celebrate our golden anniversary year. If you are interested, ring our chairman, Freda Caslaw, on 522 7536.

Mrs P. Jameson

Postbox blues

AS I went to post a letter to you about the crazy Government we have in power, to my great surprise the postbox had gone.

I spotted a postman opposite and asked him if he would be so kind as to post it for me as the next postbox was miles away.

Why have they taken the village postbox (Donwell)? I asked. Oh, it must be cutbacks to save petrol, said the postie.

A postbox can be a lifeline to elderly or disabled people who, like myself, don’t own a computer. Some elderly folk don’t even own a telephone as they are reliant on reduced pensions, and letters are their only contact with loved ones.

First it’s the post offices closing, now the postboxes. What’s next, one wonders – stamps on ration?

Anyway, after I spent three days fuming like Victor Meldrew, the box returned. The GPO must have heard me shouting “I don’t believe it.”

However, this is a negative Government which is collecting Brownie points for cost cutting in the most futile way imaginable. Cameron is just like Thatcher. Yes, Your Majesty, I’ll save you a few billion pounds for your country. Let’s start by increasing fees for old people’s care homes and then close down as many business ventures as we can, especially up North because they don’t vote for us anyway.

I’ve every confidence Labour will win the next General Election by a record high majority and I won’t be the only one breathing a sigh of relief.

Jimmy Chambers, Rickleton, Washington

Clocks change

THE argument about whether we should change the system by which we set our clocks comes up every year. This time there appears to be a more organised effort to make this happen.

I believe the present system should be retained as it gives a better balance over the year. Those wishing to abolish GMT always start their campaign in October by moaning about the dark evenings, and of course, no one likes the dark evenings. So the solution is simple, leave the clocks on BST. The next step is to advance one hour in March and we come into line with most of Europe. The whole process is wrapped up by calling it “Daylight Saving”.

The problem with that solution is you end up with even darker winter mornings. The school run with parents dropping children off as close to the school gates as possible is bad enough now. Think of the extra danger when they are doing it in the dark.

Forget about having more time for exercise. Winters are cold and wet. Uuse the indoor facilities if you feel the need. When people are arguing for change they never ask if you would be in favour of getting up an hour earlier on a frosty winter’s morning.

I would rather get up an hour earlier, by choice, in summer, than an hour earlier, by necessity in winter.

M. Trotter, Fulwell

Thanks for help

A BIG thank-you to all the Samaritans who came to my aid when I fell in Roker Baths Road on February 23 – the off-duty policeman who helped me to my feet and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived, the helpers at Roker Methodist Church hall who took me in and offered me a cup of tea and the paramedics who arrived swiftly and checked me over.

There is still much kindness in this world.

Thank you all again.

Miss Linda Mitchell, Marshall Street, Fulwell