Letters, Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

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Effect of BBC cuts will be felt locally

THE BBC is one of the things that define this country as a civilised nation and, despite its many flaws, programmes like Coast, news and classic comedies are worth the licence fee alone. That is before BBC radio stations are taken into account.

I’d like to know why BBC bosses are kowtowing to this reactionary Tory/Lib Dem government and carrying out swingeing cuts in BBC output.

Nationally the BBC Trust is proposing to make huge cuts (20 per cent) to meet the freezing of the licence fee. This equates to 2,000 jobs in a programme hypocritically entitled “Delivering Quality First”.

This isn’t just about seeing repeats on the television or cutting costs, it’s about devastating a service that is unique in the world. And the effects will be severely felt locally.

The BBC Trust is publicly committed to “offering high-quality news, current affairs, and coverage of politics for the English regions...national and local news and current affairs will promote informed debate and enable audiences to build their knowledge and understanding of their own, and other, communities.”

How can they do this with such draconian cuts?

Take for example, the excellent BBC Newcastle “Inside Out” programme. This is the one remaining regional current affairs programmes exclusively made about the North East and made in the North East. It is about to be culled. The loss will never be reversed.

ITV has already pulled out of such regional programmes because they are not profitable. Since when has the BBC been run for profit? It is paid for by the tax payer to be informative and educational. If you want to see where these cuts are leading listen to commercial radio – constantly interrupted by commercials, playing mindless X Factor songs (lowest common denominator stuff) – or bland television shows.

These shows are popular and obviously have a place and a right to exist. By the same token, so has something that allows you to think – that’s why I’m only too willing to pay my BBC licence fee.

Any licence fee payers of the same opinion should demand the BBC fulfills its public service broadcasting remit to reflect the North East properly.

It’s our responsibility to let the BBC Trust know how much we value programmes made in and for our region. Instead of cutting, the BBC should be increasing programmes made in and about the North East.

Ed Waugh

Tories’ new name

MARTIN Welbourne’s suggestion that Sunderland Conservatives have a name change has annoyed Councillor Wright (no surprise there then).

I believe our local Tories should follow the lead of my favourite TV character Reggie Perrin. Go to the beach, stage a fake disappearance then return with a new identity.

Here are some of my ideas for a name change:

The Nasty Party. Theresa May once admitted to the party faithful that this is what people called them.

The Compassionate Party. Compassionate Conservatism was a term used a lot by George Bush – what a joker!

The Blue Meanies. From the Beatles film Yellow Submarine.

Comas (an acronym meaning: Closed Our Mines and Shipyards).

Echo readers may be interested to know that the word Tory comes from the Gaelic “toraidhe”, which means “outlaw”. So you see, Mr Wright, your opponents were insulting your party way back in the 18th century.

Paul Manning, Norham Court, Washington

Events success

RE. Houghton Feast Queen of Eventide, Afternoon Tea Houghton Feast Tea Dance, International Day of Older People (Hetton), on behalf of Age UK Sunderland, Hetton and Houghton Area Offices, may I say a big thank-you to the funders, Gentoo, Community Chest, and Houghton Round Table.

Could I also sincerely thank and praise the brilliant fund-raising efforts and all the hard work of Age UK volunteers, in Hetton and Houghton

Also, grateful thanks to the staff of Houghton Sports Centre, the Hetton Centre and everyone else involved.

All the events were a great success, and were very well attended.

Janice Robson-Parmley, Area officer, Age UK Hetton and Houghton Offices

Town hall truth

IN response to G. Liddle, W Quinn tries to deflect attention away from the current council’s woeful record by criticising the Conservatives over the old town hall (Letters, October 10). Once again Mr Quinn is light on fact.

If he had bothered to check he would have seen that the disposal of the town hall site was discussed in council and had cross-party support.

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

U.S. Christian right

SOMEONE suggested the Echo should present an award for the longest right-wing rant on the Letters Page. This must go to D. Brookes (October 5).

I’m one of the bleeding heart left-wing numpties he dislikes, but I’ve sat in too many bars listening to deeply unpleasant and intolerant remarks from Christian right-wingers to have any time for them.

The most dangerous people in the USA are right-wing Christian fundamentalists. As I grow older, I get astonished at the awful views of ordinary Americans. The first shock came when I first heard the political opinions of that great hero John Wayne. What a bigot! How hypocritical to avoid military service in the war, then afterwards accuse socialists of being unpatriotic.

Remember, these people voted for Nixon, Reagan and Bush (both of them). They gave us cinema censorship, prohibition, the Ku Klux Klan and the McCarthy witch-hunts.

They won’t accept they lost the Vietnam war. They’re still angry at President Roosevelt for giving financial aid to schemes for the unemployed (socialism at the White House – shock, horror!) and at Lincoln for emancipating the slaves.

Bing Crosby sang about the “dear hearts and gentle people” who read the Bible all weekend. But don’t run for political office in the USA if you don’t go to church – no agnostics need apply.

Right-wing Christians are so deluded, because everybody knows Jesus was a socialist.

But at least we won’t have the awful prospect of Sarah Palin as the next President.

Frank Seely, Cotswold Close, Washington

Why no market?

CAN someone please explain to me why Sunderland Council has given permisson to Sunniside and Park Lane to have a market?

I asked why Sunderland city centre doesn’t have a weekly market and I was told that a 13th century by-law stopped the council having a weekly market because it states that the distance is less than a man and his donkey can walk in eight hours from South Shields market.

Surley a weekly market would benefit the city centre? It would bring people into the city and it would help the small shops. So answer my question, Sunderland Council: What’s the difference between Park Lane and Sunniside and having a weekly city centre market – because they are all breaking the by-law.

Scott Andrews, Wilkinson Terrace, Ryhope

Successful day

OUR Wearside U3A Open Day was a resounding success, generating a lot of interest and resulting in many new members, most of whom came as a result of the letter which you published for me.

Hopefully many more retired people are now aware of the opportunities that U3A can offer through its activity groups in encouraging both physical and mental well-being.

If any of your readers missed our open day but are still interested in finding out more they can visit our website www.u3asites.org.uk/wearside or telephone 0191 5212991 for futher information.

Thank you very much for your help.

Gwen Dawe, Chairman

Bridge folly

IT was with disappointment I read recently that the folly of the iconic bridge is still being pursued.

In times of austerity, surely there are better projects for the esteemed civic leaders of our once proud city to spend our hard-earned taxes on?

If they are convinced that such expense should be thrown at our transport infrastructure then shouldn’t they be looking at something that will provide a legacy for the future generations of the city?

I would suggest that a cross-city monorail system, as successfully used in Japan would be a more worthy project, or an urban underground system. Our neighbours in Newcastle have the Metro system, so why can’t we have something similar?

Michael Entler, Briardene Close, East Herrington

THANKS to the person and bus driver who found my wallet on the No. 11 bus on Friday afternoon, September 30, and handed it into the Stagecoach office.

J. Jones, Estuary Way, South Hylton, Sunderland

MY three-year-old great-granddaughter hurt her hand in a town centre toilet dryer.

If anyone has had a similar incident can they please contact me on 07796 174899.

Mrs Rowe, Sunderland

I WOULD be interested to find out if there are any groups of people who sing the kind of music called doo-wop, as I like the harmony and may want to join and learn to sing this sort of music myself.

Mr M. Bevan, Balmoral Court, Town End Farm, Sunderland

CAN I through your pages say thank you to A.C.T. Constructions. Alan Thompson and his team did a fantastic job building an extension for me.

The lads were hard working and friendly. Thank you so much once again.

Jean Barnes, Ryhope