Letters, Friday, February 11th, 2011

Have your say

Pollution problems along our coast

BOB Latimer’s persistent vigilance at Sunderland, and at Whitburn in particular, is greatly to be commended as a service to the community in and beyond Sunderland.

Seawater along our coast is polluted, not just by untreated sewage from untreated discharges that break the “Consents to Discharge” regulations, but also by the massive deposits of dangerously-corrosive pollutants from the Tyne that wash southwards from off Souter Point.

At Seaham’s beaches, one can find rock pools in which children used to enjoy exploring, now barren. Even seaweed is being poisoned.

Over many years, Bob Latimer has been accompanied by others who have voiced genuine complaints to Government departments of Defra and Ofwat, only to be fobbed off by referral to the Environment Agency (EA).

Both the EA and Northumbrian Water have long stated that higher standards, already set by the European Union, will be adopted in due course. That being so, why should the EA effectively mislead a trusting public by declaring that all now is largely well, when improvements are yet to come and, indeed, be enforced?

More recently, the EA has authorised pumping to sea pollutants from the shaft of the old Whitburn Colliery, the pollutants added to by the dumping, over many years, into the shaft, other hazardous substances.

At the old mine shafts at and adjacent to Dawdon (Seaham), the same problem arose. Indeed Seaham Environmental Association (SEA) asked the Coal Authority: “Have pollutants and corrosives already breached the limestone aquifer, from which our drinking water is abstracted?” Nobody knew, not even the Coal Authority.

Ultimately, at Dawdon, a mine water treatment plant, said to be the best in the country, now functions.

Is there not wisdom to be acquired in learning from others who have “gone before”?

An important, incidental gain resulting from Bob Latimer’s vigilance and actions is a welcome decision by the European Commission which effectively indicates that no longer should lack of personal finance deprive any citizen from bringing to court any environmentally-based case. Here is an achievement well worthy of widespread acclaim; one that yet may well have more extensive effect in other spheres.

Harry Clark, Executive Vice-president, Seaham Environmental Association

Labour silence

IT would be a welcome change if, one day, we were to hear from the local Labour MPs, councillors and active supporters, a little bit of information about how their party would impose cuts to implement Alistair Darling’s forecast, reported in The Guardian on March 25, 2010, that planned cuts by Labour would be “deeper and tougher” than under Mrs Thatcher.

Petitions are gathered, articles are written with an almost daily diet of complaints about the cuts, the never-ending feeble mantra from Labour and friendly editorials stating: “We know there has to be cuts but ...” Then just nothing.

All meaningless sloganism until the public gets a list, a long list, from Miliband and Balls as to the practical, specific examples that would explain the “deeper and tougher” cuts from Labour than under Thatcher, according to their last Chancellor.

The Labour Party was in power for 13 years during which the deficit grew to the current level. It was Brown, Balls, Milband and their bankers who ran the country, not Cameron or Clegg. Even allowing for their own incompetence in the latter stages of government, Labour must surely have a rough idea as to what went wrong and yet have slipped into Opposition mode as though it had absolutely nothing to do with them.

Labour not only abdicated economic responsibilty when in power, it has now abdicated any responsibility in providing a viable set of proposals when in Opposition.

Their policy reviews are to be published in 2012. Until then Labour, policy-wise, is a blank piece of paper. This is not remotely good enough for a party that had plans to cut government spending by £53billion.

Unless totally useless, they must have some idea as to how they would have done it as Balls and Miliband helped run the show. Yet still they will not tell us.

Coun Michael Dixon, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

First-class show

ON Saturday, February 5, myself and my family had the privilege of seeing the Northern Star Theatre Children perform “Stars on Stage” at the Sunderland Empire.

The show was fantastic. The dedication, enthusiasm and hard work by everyone involved in the show resulted in a first-class performance.

Very proud grandmother

Shopping shock

HOW can a supermarket, namely Sainsbury’s at Silksworth, employ a car park attendant and not inform customers?

I went into the store and spent £20.47, coming out of the self-service counter which I am learning to use.

I was informed by the attendant that I had been fined £50 for being over my 10-minute stay at the pick-up point.

I am feeling the pinch with expenses and that made it a very expensive day.


It’s too expensive

ON the front page of Saturday’s Echo you published a complaint by Niall Quinn, a man I admire both as a player and chairman of our club, but I must take issue with his remarks.

Sunderland AFC has been and still is my club for over 60 years. My footprints were embedded in the Roker End.

Since the move to the new stadium I have been only a few times and only for special games at a very low concessionary price. I was used to standing in the crowd where you could feel you were part of the match and soak up the atmosphere. All-seater stadia are soulless places and are far too expensive.

I understand that the expense of running a football club is extreme but that is at the door of the football administration at all levels running a ridiculously escalating transfer system and consequently senseless demands for players’ wages.

Time was teams managed to play season after season wearing the same strip. Now this is regarded as another way for clubs to put their hands into fans’ pockets.

Even if we could afford to go to the match, those draughty plastic seats were enough to persuade my wife and I to listen on the radio, but now we can see the game legally in our local club.

Contrary to what Mr Quinn alleges, my wife and I have three, perhaps four, drinks each (beer, that is, not champagne) at a cost of £10-£13, not enough to get one of us into the stadium even at a concessionary price. The people his spies saw were probably in the same position as we are.

The legality of these match screenings has been challenged by the football authorities but not yet resolved. If it proves to be illegal then we shall have to go back to the radio.

If Mr Quinn wants my money, I suggest he turns the bottom tier of the seats into terraces at an affordable price.

J. Jones, Coxon Street, Hendon, Sunderland

Apologise, Niall

I WAS really surprised to see a chairman of a football club telling supporters not to watch football on TV being beamed illegally.

What he should do is get around the clubs and see for himself how certain people just can’t afford to go to football matches and have a drink at the same time and, by the way, I have a season ticket. I know all about this as I am a member of Mill View Club.

I just hope he will give some kind of an apology to all those who support Sunderland in all times. By the way, if Sunderland were at the top of the league you would not have enough room in the ground. So I hope the team will keep us at the top.

J. Shields, Thornbrake, Leam Lane, Gateshead

Seafront mess

ON a recent trip to the seafront (Blockyard/Marina) with my two children, one on a bike and one pushing a pram, the amount of dog poo was disgraceful, thanks to so-called animal lovers who do not clean up after their pets.

Are we not trying to promote our city and make it a more enjoyable place to visit?

Well, we won’t at this rate.

G. Finley, Pallion, Sunderland