Letters, Friday, June 24th, 2011

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We must make more of seafront

THE Echo headlines on June 20 filled me with despair regarding our seafront. It’s the same old story: no money to spend to make the most of a facility that would be the envy of many towns.

I believe there are already some facilities that could be used for leisure. The Seaburn Centre should never have had its cafeteria closed and the children’s play area and Lambton Worm Park, at the rear of the building, have probably not been used because a lot of people won’t even know they are there. I believe there was also a pitch and putt area at one time, also hidden away from the seafront.

These facilities should have been accessible from the main road, then maybe people passing through may have been attracted to spend some time and money at Seaburn.

The Lambton Worm Park could have been adapted to make a good crazy golf facility. Note how popular the same facility is at South Shields.

Speaking of which, how can their council afford to spend so much on making it such a good place to spend the day?

There is also a small but lovely caravan park at South Shields. Why can the old Seaburn Camp not be made into a static caravan park? This would bring in more visitors to generate more revenue. You must speculate to accumulate!

On a visit to Torquay just a few weeks ago, I noticed that there were, in fact, a few similarities to Seaburn in that there was no funfair, there was a large park with tennis courts and bowling greens and there was a marina.

The two main differences were that they had a large leisure centre in the park, with a swimming pool (with waves) and plenty of cafes, which is lacking here in Sunderland, but they only had a small beach area which was only available at low tide, and we, of course have three great beaches between Whitburn and Roker.

Needless to say, Torquay is a very popular holiday area and not just because it’s called the English Riviera. They can get some bad weather there, just like the rest of us. The difference is that they appear to do all they can to make people want to go back there.

There is so much that could be done to bring Seaburn and Roker back to the places they used to be and not necessarily at a huge cost.

Forget iconic bridges and fancy sculptures, we don’t need them. Let’s have something done to bring some cheer and pride back to Sunderland and let’s not have to wait 10 to15 years for it.

I want to be able to enjoy it in my lifetime.

Mrs J. Ingram, Newhaven Avenue, Sunderland

Thefts from mail

ON May 27 I did not receive my birthday cards from my mother-in-law from Bishop Auckland. She is 82 and had put a £20 note in one of the cards. This has never happened before and I did not think it would ever happen again.

On June 16 my son received five cards in the post from Bishop Auckland (for his 18th birthday) and one of the cards was opened at the back down the side. It again was from my mother-in-law and the £50 cash had again been stolen.

On Saturday, June 18, I discussed this with my lovely post lady. We put the card back into the envelope and from the front whoever opened the card and took the cash knew exactly what they were doing. My post lady would normally put a sticker on the letter saying it had been opened but on this occasion it was hard for her to tell as she lays the envelopes on the crook of her left arm.

I am really disappointed with the service I and others seem to be receiving from the Royal Mail and I have informed my mother-in-law never to put cash into the post again.

I am sure I am not the only victim of this kind of theft, but unfortunately I still have to use the Royal Mail as there is no alternative.

Kim Oughton, Haggerstone Drive, Sunderland

Great neighbours

ON May 16, 1973, my family and I moved to East Herrington from Monkwearmouth and I got on very well with the neighbours and friends over the years.

There have been a lot of changes in the street. We had a street party in Woodside Grove and it was packed. We also had a great time as well.

We played football and cricket on the green and some of the people included Jeffrey Fenton, Ian Curtis, Simon Jones, Karen Hall, Tracy Maughan and Jimmy Carlin.

Happy memories of times at East Herrington and the best neighbours and friends – hopefully for a very long time to come.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington

City’s long wait

PETER Smith (Letters, June 10) tells letter writers to stop criticising the council cabinet over the appalling state of the city centre.

He ends by stating “Rome was not built in a day”. He is quite correct, but the city council has been run by Labour for 40 years. Surely in 40 years we should have had better than the wasteland we now have?

Bob Francis, Conservative councillor, Fulwell Ward

Same old story?

A CAUTIONARY tale for SAFC fans. Over the last 60 years various owners have been custodians of the club and have presided over several false dawns as well as some unmitigated disasters – and one outstanding FA Cup win in 1973.

Last season we achieved a rare top 10 finish to consolidate the club’s progress over the five years of the “Quinn Ascendency.” But here’s the rub: weekend press headlines “Cash squeeze forces Bruce to bargain hunt”. Surprise, surprise!

So, following the pattern of the last 60 years, the next step beckons but the extra investment doesn’t. Best players are sold off. Transfer targets are journeymen, Bosmans and loans.

According to the press, Ellis is “now enforcing a strict business plan, having splashed out millions to establish the club in the Premier League”. Sorry, he’s invested millions to increase the value of his investment.

This is fine if we were Stoke, Bolton, Fulham, West Brom, Wolves etc. They don’t get an average gate of 40,000 at their stadium. We are Sunderland, in the hotbed of football, and we have the poorest achievement record over 70 years of any football club in the world with a comparable following.

Comment must be made now before the same mistakes are made again. Are we apathetic? Why is more pressure not put on the club from the local press and fans?

Manchester City were where we are and their board went out and found the further investment needed. What chance, Niall?

Peter Graham, Topcliff, Roker, Sunderland

Shop in your city

THERE has been a rash of letters recently with writers bemoaning the state of Sunderland city centre, especially the empty shops and lack of certain prestige shops and hotels. The suggestion from some seems to be that the council must put this right. Is that the role of the council, though? I would say not.

Since when has the council operated shops or hotels? That is the role of private enterprise. However, private enterprise will only operate shops and hotels where there is custom. It will close them when custom falls away. I wonder how many of the “moaning minnies” shop in Newcastle, the MetroCentre or Durham and are therefore responsible in part for the empty shops in Sunderland?

If you want the shopping experience of Sunderland city centre to improve, then shop there. Word soon gets about. Where shops are perceived to over-trade, new shops will open to mop up the extra custom that is being generated. The answer is in your hands. As Alexander the meerkat would say, “Simples!”.

There are, of course, some things the council could do. For example, Crowtree Leisure Centre, once the biggest and best in the country, should never have been allowed to deteriorate into its present state. I would suggest that a new leisure centre should be built on that part of the Vaux site nearest to the St Mary’s Way car park with the current site sold the Land Securities to redevelop as an extension to the Bridges. This could act as a springboard for developer interest in the remainder of the site, possibly from a hotel operator such as Holiday Inns.

Rod Hepplewhite, Sevenoaks Drive, Hastings Hill, Sunderland