Letters, Friday, December 13, 2013

Have your say

I NEVER in my wildest dreams imagined that I would agree with a statement from Councillor Peter Wood.

I NEVER in my wildest dreams imagined that I would agree with a statement from Councillor Peter Wood.

 However, I would like to endorse his comments regarding the proposed increase in the expenses of the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Stuart Porthouse (December 3).

 Councillor Porthouse does not have a convincing case for the 49.8 per cent increase in his allowance. His pictures in the Echo shows that he has a perfectly respectable suit and also some very presentable casual wear when he is playing golf.

 Does he have to have a new suit if he goes to functions in Newcastle, Stockton and South Shields?

 If he is at a function in South Shields, do people come to him and say you wore that suit last month at a function in Newcastle?

 I would surmise that many of the functions which he attends could be black tie events. He should be able to manage with one suit and bow tie for these occasions.

 With regard to his comments about drinks at these functions. I know from personal experience of attending functions in Town Halls and Civic Centres throughout the North East that drinks in these establishments are relatively cheap. He could solve this problem by refusing to buy any drinks.

 I would like to offer a couple of solutions for the Deputy Mayor.

 He could visit the numerous charity shops in the city centre where he will find a full range of clothing for himself and the deputy mayoress. Secondly, he could say that he cannot go to these functions because he cannot afford them like a great many of the people of Sunderland.

M Brennan,


Closures defy logic

TONY Carty’s letter was right on the money. I remember back at the time, I witnessed Mr Carty speak on the issue of yard closures several times.

 He was well-supported by colleagues. Their anger and frustration at Tory ministers’ double-dealing was vivid.

 That an island nation should choose, effectively, to close shipbulding yards and divest itself of a merchant marine, defied logic then as it does now.

 As always, the myopic Tories thought only in the short term and of financial gain for their big business friends.

 Then, as now, Labour was cowed, bloodless and completely ineffective in terms of opposition.

 Sunderland has a long and proud history of returning Labour MPs. This fact was not lost on the Conservatives.

 Had our yards been situated in a Tory-voting area, I dare say they may well be still in existence.

Bob Stothard,


Figures are correct

IN his letter on zero-hour contracts (December 5), R Scott states that the figures I previously quoted did not exist.

 I would point out that the figures I quoted from 2004 and 2009 were in fact true and came from the same source he used (Labour Force Survey).

 The figures clearly show that the number of people on zero-hour contracts in 2004 was 108,000 and in 2009 was 190,000. An increase of 76 per cent.

 If R Scott wants his opinions to be given respect, he should extend that same courtesy to others, instead of claiming they invent figures.

 For his information, the number of people on zero-hour contracts stood at 168,000 in 2010 and Labour did nothing to end this during its 13 years in office. The current Government has put in place an investigation into the use of these contracts.

Alan Wright

School debacle

MICHAEL Brown (December 6, no relation) has encapsulated the causes of poor school standards of the last 50 years: The doctrinaire obsessives have a great deal for which to answer.

 It is something of a mystery as to why the United Kingdom, possessed of the finest world universities (Oxbridge, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and a dozen more), should perform so badly at secondary level. It is surely beyond question that five decades of comprehensive education have damaged our secondary schooling, almost irreparably.

 If the negative trend is to be reversed, salary prospects, especially for the young, bright graduates of our best universities, must be improved (graduates in teaching begin working on salaries 25 per cent lower than other professions). Greater resources must be made available too for our academically gifted pupils who currently are suffering from severe intellectual malnutrition.

 Lord Denning exhorted us to “choose your parents well”.

 That grammar school boy, a distinguished jurist, knew that after good parents, good teachers are a prerequisite.

 Michael Gove has shown imagination and courage, with appropriate fine-tuning. It is not tool late to rescue secondary education from the discredited comprehensive debacle.

George E Brown,


Best to keep quiet

PAUL Manning mentioned Mr Robinson, the chemistry master at Bede School (December 7). Let me tell you a true story from 50 years ago.

 Mr Robinson did an experiment using a Pyrex dish. He told us Pyrex had a worldwide reputation for its glass, then asked: “Does anyone know where Pyrex is made?”

 Remarkably, nobody put their hand up to answer. You might find that hard to believe – after all, it was a grammar school.

 We were the elite. – but no one could say where Pyrex was made.

 I knew the answer, of course. I was a Millfield lad and used to take the bus along Trimdon Street past the factory. So why didn’t I put my hand up?

 I never answered any questions in chemistry lessons. But there’s another reason: Nobody likes a smart ass.

 Answer questions correctly – even at a grammar school – and there were a couple of thugs in the class who’d give you a smack in the mouth afterwards. Nobody, not even Michael Gove, will ever change that.

 But the teacher must have thought what a bunch of thickheads I’ve got here.

Peter Thornton,


Inconsiderate driver

I’VE got a question for the bosses at Gentoo: Do you go out of your way to only employ careless, aggressive drivers who love to tailgate other motorists, or is it just coincidence?

 Also, where do you get those vans, the one that don’t seem to have indictors or speedometers? I’d look for a different supplier if I were you.

Richard Elliott,


Where’s The Doc?

MANY years ago, lots of lads used to kick a ball about on Barnes Park playing field.

 Colin Carr, Happy Thompson and Peter Crouch were there, I recall.

 I’m going back to the late 1960s and early 1970s.

 No one ever made it as a professional, but one such character was Peter Holliday, known as Doc or The Cat, because he modelled himself on the Chelsea keeper Peter Bonetti. The Doc was a tremendous goalkeeper, who played for Wycliffe Wanderers.

 Everyone looked up to him.Athletically built and with movie star looks, he was the envy of everyone.

 I truly thought that he would go on and play for Wolves – that was the talk at the time.

 I haven’t seen him for many years and wondered what happened to him, does anyone know?

Mick, The Pen, Brown