Letters, Friday 11, 2013

Have your say

Poor are not really any better off

 The poor of Sunderland will no doubt be celebrating the benevolence of George Osborne as they queue up for their food parcels.

 I notice that Councillor Oliver conveniently omits to mention that Osborne increased VAT by 14 per cent on coming into office, despite Cameron denying any such intentions. VAT of course represents a much greater percentage of expenditure for the poor than for the wealthy, which is why the Tories introduced it and why they increase it after every election.

 The Councillor also omitted to mention the increase in National Insurance contributions imposed by Osborne on employees, but not, of course, on employers.

 The Councillor makes great play of the £275 taxpayers will receive with the increase in personal allowance. Great news if you are lucky enough to be working full time. Not so great if you are not working or are over 65. If you are working less than 28 hours a week and earning less than £9,250pa then not only will you be no better off, but you will also, from last April, have lost your working tax credits.

 A query in the Echo by a Sunderland woman to the “Benefits Expert” typifies the callousness of the brutal austerity cuts by this heartless Coalition:-

Q. I am single, aged 56, working 16 hours a week for £421 a month. I was receiving Working Tax Credit of £287 a month, but this has now stopped. I pay a mortgage and single person’s Council Tax. Is there anything I can claim to make up the loss?

A. About £9 a week off your Council Tax for low income, but that is all.

 I wonder if Coun Oliver has anything to say to this poor woman?

 Meanwhile a report by HMRC reveals that the wealthy, using aggressive tax avoidance tactics are reducing their income tax levels to 10 per cent.

 Yes we’re all in it together!

E Royal,

Hastings Hill

Novelty rubbish

I WAS listening to Britain’s favourite number twos in the charts and in the number one slot was Ultravox’s cheesy tribute to a sitcom cat on ITV, which, incidentally, was kept off the top spot by an insipid novelty song, Shaddap ya face by Joe Dolce.

 I also found out that legendary songs such as the Kink’s Waterloo Sunset was kept off the top by The Tremeloes’ Silence is Golden and the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane was kept off the top by Engelbert Humperdinck’s Release Me and many other greats such as the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, the Who etc were kept off the top spot by not so greats such as the likes of Dawn, little Jimmy Osmond and the Seekers.

 Coincidentally novelty songs such as Ernie by Benny Hill, Grandad by Clive Dunn, and Mouldy Old Dough by Leuitenant Pigeon kept T Rex from having six straight number ones in the early 1970s. These songs were: Ride A white Swan 1970, Jeepster 1971, Children Of The Revolution 1972 and Solid Gold Easy Action also in 1972.

 I find it sad that many more of these amazing songs were kept off the top spot by songs such as Mr Blobby, Bob The Builder ét all.

Alan ‘The Quill’ Vincent,

Old Penshaw

Free care advice

FOR many of us it can be difficult to make regular visits to our older relatives, especially if they live far away.

 For many, Christmas can be one of the few occasions when we do manage to get together.

 At this time of year, we get many calls from worried relatives who have noticed a deterioration of health or an increase in general frailty in older family members.

 If a Christmas visit has left you concerned about someone that you care about, but you’re unsure what to do, then we may be able to help.

 At the charity, Independent Age, we offer free and confidential advice and information for older people, their families and carers. Our team of trained, experienced advice workers can help you explore your, or a family member’s, situation and look at practical ways you can improve it.

 We offer advice on the range of care options – from what social services and the NHS provide, to coping with worsening health and getting help with things you struggle to do day to day.

 We can also advise you on benefits, support that is available to carers or even managing your money and affairs if you become too ill to do this yourself.

 We also produce information guides about the most common issues affecting older people. You can download these free from our website: www.independentage.org or order them by calling 020 7241 8522.

 If you would like to speak to a member of our advice team, ring 0845 262 1863 (local rates apply). Phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Victoria Richards,

Head of Advice and Support Services, Independent Age

Are fines illegal?

ACCORDING to several internet websites Parking Eye, which operates various car parks in Sunderland and Chester-le-Street has no legal right to impose parking charges (usually £85, but reduced to £50 for quick payment) for contravention of their regulations. Is this correct?

 Perhaps the Echo’s Legal Eagle or Sunderland’s own parking expert, Neil Herron, could advise.

Name withheld

No to standing

SAFC took the correct stand against the 38 supporters who refused to sit down during the match.

 In April of 1989 96 supporters died, Lord Taylor of Gosforth headed up the inquiry to find the causes of the tragedy and make recommendations regarding the provision of safety at sporting events in the future.

 He recommended that all major stadia convert to an all seater model and that all spectators should have seats.

 The Football League and the Scottish League introduced regulations that clubs in the highest divisions (top two in English system) must comply with this recommendation by August 1994. As a result most clubs either rebuilt or refurbished their stadia. Now more than 23 years later we have people who want to stand at football matches.

 Will they ever learn from what has happened?

 It is a legal obligation of all football clubs to have all seater stadiums and no football club can change it.

  I also dont agree with Mr McFadden’s line that football has become sanitised by all seater stadium. No forward thinking club should even think about putting any sort of standing room for specators to watch football matches. The all seater stadiums are no problem.

 So come on get a life and get on with supporting your team without bringing up standing room.

 Will people ever learn? From what I have read the answer must be no.

George Gibson,


Fight discrimination

I AM a passionate believer in the equality of individuals and fairness in our society.

 So I was shocked and saddened to learn from Macmillan Cancer Support that many older people are not getting the right cancer care because it is assumed they can’t cope with treatment because of their age.

 Growing evidence shows that age remains a dominant factor when treatment decisions are made and that many older people who could benefit from treatment, like surgery or radiotherapy, simply aren’t getting it. I find it hard to believe that this is happening in this day and age.

 I am sure health professionals are not being intentionally ageist, but it is clear that assessments of older people are not adequately measuring their fitness for treatment.

 I consider myself to be a pretty fit 72-year-old and would hope, should I be diagnosed with cancer, that I would be accurately assessed and given the best chance of a longer, productive life of work and leisure as a result.

 So to deny older patients treatment that could cure them due to age based assumptions is an unacceptable act of discrimination.

 We have a moral duty to treat people as individuals and give them the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age.

 I am writing to invite your readers to pledge their support for Macmillan’s Age Old Excuse campaign at macmillan.org.uk/ageoldexcuse. A new booklet, Cancer and Older People, which includes tips on how to ensure older people receive the best treatment for them is also available at be.macmillan.org.uk or by calling 0808 808 00 00.

 In a recent interview, I said I saw the world slowly becoming a better place. And it is steps like tackling age discrimination in healthcare that are so important in making this happen.

Sir Patrick Stewart

Leave voting age

IT comes as no surprise to learn that MP Julie Elliot, favours reducing the voting age to 16.

 Left wing influence is already strong in the classroom, and has been for many years. It’s only when children step out into the real world that they realise what life is about. Take away that knowledge and experience and Labour, via the teaching unions, would have a field day.

 Yes, 16 year olds are able to do certain things and yes they may well take on some responsibilities at that age, but does anyone really believe they want anything more than to enjoy life before the reality of adult life kicks in?

 Surely it would make more sense to raise the voting age rather than lowering it?

M Brown

Hendon Road

All scare tactics

AT the beginning of 2012, Labour leader Ed Miliband and his sidekick Balls claimed that unemployment in the UK would soar because of Government policy.

 This was often repeated by local Labour activists and politicians, in particular around election time.

 Well throughout 2012 we have seen unemployment fall quarter after quarter. In the last reported quarterly figures the number of people in employment rose to record levels.

 Unemployment fell overall. Youth unemployment fell by the highest number for 10 years. Unemployment in the North East showed one of the largest falls in the UK.

 Again at the beginning of 2012 Miliband and Yvette Cooper (Mrs Balls) forecast that crime would soar due to Government policies.

 Again something repeated over and over by local Labour Councillors and activists as they employed scare tactics.

 What did we see? Crime fell month on month with crime in the Northumbria area down by around 17 per cent.

 With this level of accuracy in their judgement is it any wonder Miliband and Balls were at the centre of the Government that drove the UK’s economy to the edge of disaster?

 Can they be trusted again?

Alan Wright,

High Barnes

Donation fury

I WAS furious to read that Asda had donated £10,000 towards a rundown comminity centre in washington, when the Asda ADC depot laid off about 40 workers on the same day.

 Some of us had worked hard there for two-and-a-half-year.

Name withheld