Letters, Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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Mow money, mow problems ...

I READ yesterday about the closure of some of our libraries, so that the council could save an estimated £850,000.

 All of the libraries near me have closed – East Herrington, Doxford Park, Silksworth – so I’m not exactly sure where I’d have to go to now.

 I went onto the council’s website to read their justification for this appalling cultural vandalism, and I was surprised to see the following item in the October 9 Cabinet meeting minutes, on the same day that they decided to close the libraries: a request for the City Cabinet to approve the purchase of £600,000 worth of grass cutting and street sweeping machines because, at five years old, they “become uneconomic to maintain and operate,” and pose “health and safety” risks, due to their age.

 Now I don’t doubt that the city needs such vehicles at some point, but really, in their defence for their library cuts, our leaders claimed they had to make cuts due to the Government.  

 Apparently, they were not referring to their civic lawns! If they can find the money for this, they seem to have their priorities skewed.

 What a fatuous decision. This plus those stupid £330,000 pods would have paid for the libraries!

 Don’t buy the lawnmowers. Keep a couple of libraries open, it’s not too late!

 And if your old lawnmowers break down, I have an 80-year-old one in my shed you can use – it still works.

Meg Crosby,

East Herrington.

Limited options for education

IT IS not a new problem that our children are facing a lack of opportunities when they leave school at 16.

 Many youngsters, including my child, will look for a job, apprenticeship scheme or stay on in further education. Some will inevitably fall into a bottomless pit and rely on state support. However, the relentless cost-cutting from our Government creates a bleak future for those who are leaving school next summer.

 In Sunderland, Bede College has traditionally provided the next stage in our children’s education.

 It has expanded to meet growing demand with impressive, new redevelopment, but results still fluctuate, which is worrying for a parent.

 Is it because more people stay in education because of a lack of opportunities who don’t really want to be there?

 St Aidan’s and St Anthony’s achieve excellent results, however, they are difficult to access from the north of the city and the demand for places is understandably high.

 Our head has been turned by the new venture at Southmoor Academy. However, the thought of my child becoming a guinea pig at an important stage of their schooling is not an option.  

 Current staff will be inexperienced and new staff will need time to settle. Good results will not happen overnight. I also have my reservations over a school who promotes their sixth form by focusing on the beliefs and religion on neighbouring schools.

 Like many other parents, we look for the best for our children but options north of the city are limited. Perhaps best results come from established sixth forms and, of course, privately-funded education.

Name and address provided.

Terry’s passionate

IN reply to Paul Manning’s letter about Terry Christie, isn’t it obvious that Terry is passionate about music and stars of the 
’50s and ’60s, and reads up on them? From a young age he has listened to the records and seen the pictures. He even has his mam and dad’s memories. He’s a lovely friend.

Sheila and Angie.

Some people can’t take a joke

HAS anyone noticed the war on humour that’s taking place at the moment?

 Rarely a day goes by without some group or other (backed by the sheep on Twitter, of course) claiming to be offended by a joke or quip someone has made. In one recent example, Miley Cyrus was slammed by the Stroke Association after saying the reason she keeps sticking her tongue out is because she’s having ‘mini-strokes’.

 Apparently mini-strokes are “no laughing matter”.

 Well, I’ve had a stroke, and so have at least three other members of my family and I wasn’t offended in the slightest by Miley’s joke, because that’s all it was ... a joke (she’s no Groucho Marx, but still).

 These constantly-offended groups need to realise that they don’t speak for everyone and that not everything has to be taken seriously (especially Miley Cyrus!).

 It’s almost as if there’s competition to see who can get the most outraged at the most trifling thing.

 Soon the only acceptable jokes will be those of the ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ variety – until the Crocked Chicken Confederacy points out how offensive it is to chickens who have been injured while crossing the road.

Gregg Mitchell,

Sunderland.

What’s going on at SAFC club store?

TO Ellis Short, Margaret Byrne and all the other commercial departments and staff at SAFC, can someone please sort out the absolute mess that is being made of the Sunderland store? As a life-long fan of the club and a season ticket holder with my grandson, I find it amazing the commercial opportunities that are being passed up at the club, especially with Mr Short’s business acumen.

 My grandson eats, sleeps and drinks football and in particular SAFC, and I was delighted to see him become part of the next generation of supporters of our beloved club.

 So on release of the new home and away strips prior to the start of the season, I felt proud to be able to kit him out in our team colours in anticipation of a new and exciting future under the now-removed Paolo di Canio.

 However, having got the full home strip at a shocking cost of £81, you can imagine the boy’s shock to find I was unable to buy him the away shorts or socks as they were out of stock.

 Enquiring as to when they would be back in stock, I was told to check online for a new delivery date. I have done this for three months now, called at the store every match day and countless times in between, only to be told Adidas isn’t supplying them and it’s down to them, not the club.

 Come on SAFC, there are thousands of fans who follow you religiously – surely you can make Adidas aware of the stock required and insist an order be delivered.

 But lo and behold, it doesn’t end with strips. A double quilt to complete my boy’s bedroom is not in stock and the staff have no idea when it will come in, nor can they offer to order one for me. The assistant even advised me to look on Amazon as it has lots of SAFC stuff! Is this due to a total lack of a business plan, leadership, management failure, or worse still, a crass belief that the supporters coming through the turnstiles don’t matter other than on match day?

 Well, believe me, it’s a sure-fire way to lose the life blood of the club for years to come.

 Come on SAFC, in this day and age, supplying what your supporters want surely can’t be that difficult and if we end up in the Championship, God forbid, lost season ticket sales, decreased league payments and much lower gates mean every penny gleaned from commercial activity will be vital.

Steve Smith,

via email.

Shirt was a lovely gesture from club

I WOULD like to say a big thank you to Sunderland Football Club, especially chairman Ellis Short and chief executive Margaret Byrne, for making my 10-year-old grandson a very happy supporter by replacing the home shirt which he’d had Di Canio’s name printed on with a new one. He lives in Scotland with my son Joe (an Ex-Houghton lad).

 The new shirt arrived just in time for the game with Manchester United. They all came down to stay with me – his mam, dad and two brothers – as they had tickets for the match.

 Once again, thank you so much, what a lovely gesture. Ha-way the lads.

Christina Winter,

Shiney Row.