'Did they not learn over free food?' - what you said about the row over councillors' free Sunderland Empire tickets

The row over the free Sunderland Empire tickets offered to councillors has rumbled on as readers aired their views on the issue.

By Ross Robertson
Thursday, 23 May, 2019, 11:25
Sunderland Empire

We reported how new Lib Dem councillor Heather Fagan called for the "perk" to be scrapped after being offered free tickets herself just after being elected - only for her to be panned by Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller, who accused the Doxford ward representative of pursuing her own interests.

Echo readers waded into the issue on our Facebook page, with 100+ comments - most of which supported Coun Fagan.

Gary Thompson said: "Not a Lib Dems fan. But well done heather. Scrap all freebies and expenses claims. Use your wages like the rest of us."

Rich Outterson said: "How about free tickets for under privileged children? Or OAPs? Makes you want to spew. I’ve been to a few events at the Empire lately. They won’t be getting my money again until this is put right."

Vicky Tinnion said: "Well done to this lady for speaking out!"

Graeme Collinson said: "I'd love to see a list of all the freebies and perks this lot get. Theatre tickets are probably minuscule compared to what they get over a calendar year."

Denise Nicholson said: "More freebies, there are plenty of charities that could use the tickets, lots of schools could offer the appropriate tickets as enrichment for our deprived city children."

Ann Errington said: "I have known for some time about the freebies.Sometimes the seats are unused,why can't they give them to people who will appreciate them or raffle them for a good cause?"

Donna Watson agreed. She said: "Wouldn't it be nice if these freebies were raffled off and the money raised going to good causes in Sunderland."

Lorna Carty said: "Good on her for having the guts to speak out and shame on him for not acknowledging that it's so wrong for councillors to take what should be given to less fortunate people.its disgusting that councillors would take unfairly from the communities they are supposed to be helping."

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Others were unhappy about the tone of Coun Miller's response, with some pointing out he should choose his words carefully after the row over free meals earlier this month.

As well as criticising Coun Fagan for raising the ticket issue, he also slated her for complaining about a rise in Tyne Tunnel tolls.

He said: “First it was her using her position on the council to save herself a couple of quid by complaining about paying Tyne Tunnel tolls, which she pays to commute to work, and this week she is complaining about tickets to the Empire."

Gavin Brown said: "Lovely reply from Councillor Miller! I’m sure that this new councillor wasn’t campaigning for Tyne Tunnel fees to be stopped for her personally but for all motorists who use the tunnel and pay an extortionate fee"As for the Empire tickets - why am I not surprised ?? Wondering now about hospitality at air show, football, concerts etc etc

Dan Willis said: "(He) thinks everything is a joke doesn’t he? Did he not learn nothing from the mauling they recently suffered due to free food?"

Not everyone was in support of Coun Fagan, however.

Steve O Sunderland said: "Well done to the Lib Dems for crying like bairns again."