Letters, Friday, February 6, 2015

Have your say

Parents have the right to be heard

HUNDREDS of worried parents attended a public meeting at Grindon Hall School to protest against the ‘special measures’ imposed upon the school by Ofsted inspectors.

 The school was criticised from all angles of the educational spectrum as being inadequate. Parents spoke about the concerns they were having because they believe the report to be inaccurate.

 The school has had problems since it became a Free School, but according to the headteacher recommendations were being put into place following a critical report earlier in the year. These changes of management and application were being introduced, but two months after these had been put into force Ofsted placed the school in special measures.

 The public meeting, following the closure of the Durham School, created a great deal of anguish among parents.

 The bottom line expressed by parents was that they wanted an explanation from Ofsted and re-examination of the report by the Secretary of State for Education, basing their request that as citizens living the UK that they were not only entitled to ask for but to have their democratic right to question that which they believe to be unjust.

 It was interesting to read the comments of the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who said it was sad but necessary that the school was put into measures but that was the decision of the inspectorate – fair enough but later she added that “parents should have full confidence in the review processes that maintain our schools” and that she would be making sure the “investigation was fair and professional”.

 She could have, according to the parents, said this in the beginning.

 She was obviously reminded of the importance of understanding the concerns of parents of the children attending the school especially as the General Election is but four months away.

 According to a report in the Sunday Times, the two Christian Schools may mount a legal challenge over claims that they are failing to teach tolerance towards other faiths and gay people.

Coun George Howe,

Fulwell Ward

Join the march to save fire station

TOMORROW at 11.30am a march will take place from Sunderland Central Fire Station in Railway Row, behind the university in Millfield to the market square.

 This march and rally in the market square is to send a message to Tyne and Wear Fire Authority to change its mind on closing our vital city centre fire station.

 The event has been planned to take place just before the Fire Authority budget meeting on Monday, February 16. It only costs £170,000 per year from the budget to keep the fire station open.

 The idea of this fire station march to change the fire service budget originated from Sunderland’s TUC. All the planning and organising was done by Sunderland TUC.

 To have a voice and get help at work, join a trade union. For a trade union to have a voice in your community, join your local TUC.

 Please show your support and let this be one of many future events to help workers and communities everywhere .

Gordon Chalk,

Secretary of Sunderland Trade Union Council

Mystery of two mayors, same job

IN these times of austerity, when our council keeps telling us how desperately it needs to save money (for vital necessities like Dutch trees, pods and bridges), perhaps someone could explain to me why Sunderland pays for not one, but two mayors?

 Not only do we give our distinguished mayor, Coun Porthouse, an allowance of £17,205, but we are also paying the less well known Mayor of Hetton, Coun Wilkinson, an allowance of £3,500.

 Now I’m puzzled, because Hetton elects three councillors to Sunderland Council, who get paid a basic allowance of £8,369 each plus considerable allowances, which come to a total of £59,692 last year.

 You might therefore assume that it comes under our mayoral umbrella. Apparently not. Further searching found Hetton Town Council’s website.

 Yes indeed, it has a separate council, with a separate group of people, some of whom do double duty at Sunderland as well. And, of course, a separate budget, though Hetton is happy to take Sunderland Council money for things like road improvements.

 Isn’t it confusing? Why do we need two groups to do the same job? Why not get rid of the more expensive set of politicians, and keep the cheaper.

Meg Crosby

Benefits puzzle

ONE of the early actions of the Conservative-led coalition was to cap benefits at £26,000 per annum, a policy that was to prove very popular with the general public and remains so.

 Labour opposed this when it was first mentioned, then eventually accepted it when Mr Miliband realised that he was, not the first or last time, completely on the wrong side of public opinion.

 However, judging by comments at the recent full meeting of Sunderland City Council, the comrades are still unhappy, criticising the cap as it is and then warning of dire consequences if this was reduced to the £23,000 after the next General Election. This was recently proposed by the Conservatives to be used to fund three million new apprenticeships. I have never understood why Labour positioned itself as the champions of families that receive benefits in excess of these amounts when you consider the struggle that many working people/pensioners face in their daily lives, as the country gradually recovers from the international recession and the economic mismanagement of the previous Labour Government.

Coun Michael Dixon,

St Michael’s Ward

A missing star

WHILE pursuing my hobby of archiving The Sunderland Empire (shows, artists and events from 1907), I have come across the name of Miss Christine Cassell.

 She was a pupil of St Anthony’s, and she was in the Echo on Tuesday August 9, 1966, having just won the role of Maid Marion in the Pantomime Robin Hood as well as appearing on television.

 I have come across her name a few times in my research and I am wondering what happened to her.

 Did she go on to greater things, get married or retired from show business or what? She would now be in her 60s and it would be nice to know what happened. If anyone can help I would be grateful. I can be contacted on 551 0314.

George McCarthy,