Letters, Friday, March 18th, 2011

Have your say

Independents work for good of area

ANYONE would think there was an election coming up in May, with the number of anti-Independent letters that are appearing in the Echo.

Colin Wakefield is standing for re-election in the Copt Hill ward this May and he is the real target. He is the last person the Labour Party wants to see re-elected. His crimes? To support vigorously the residents of Copt Hill at all levels in the council and to pull together a large group of residents of all political persuasions from Houghton to form Rats with the sole purpose to stop the toxic landfill that is poisoning our drinking water.

I refer particularly to the two letters in the Echo where we, as Independents, were accused of running the area down in our leaflets. We are proud of the people and the area but are disheartened to see how money is diverted by Sunderland Council away from Houghton and money that is allocated for the area goes to fill the “black holes” in the council’s budget.

There is much left to do to get the area the way we all want, and to list and comment on this is not negative or deriding the area – it is being honest and having an agenda to discuss with residents and to work to.

Ratcatcher perpetuates the Labour lies about the Independents cosying up to the Tories. Her logic deduces that the proof is where we sit in relation to the Tories in the council chamber. For her information, the arrangements in the chamber are decided by council officers and are such that we actually sit closer to the Labour councillors than the Conservatives.

I am on two committees and find myself working with and supporting Labour councillors both in the committees and in the working parties and am pleased to do so. I will support anyone and any party that is going to get the best for the residents (both sides of the Board Inn).

The combined voting record of the Independents in full council shows that the Independents vote about 50-50. The others (Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors) have already been told how to vote before they go in to the meeting. We vote for what is best for our residents.

We are what we say we are – Independents.

Coun Derrick Smith, Houghton Independent

Fighting for town

J. HALL of Whitehaven has no idea what goes on in Houghton judging by his recent letter of March 4.

The Independent councillors of Houghton have fought more for Houghton than any other party has ever done.

For instance, this is what the Labour councillors think of Houghton: when recently asked by residents, pensioners’ groups and the Independent councillors if we could have public toilets, their reply was: “There are plenty of cafes and public houses where anyone can go into” and they refused to fight for public toilets in Houghton.

So, Mr Hall, next time you come to Houghton and get caught short, do not blame the Independents.

He states that he visited Houghton Feast. Did he not see the decline of the festivities due to the Labour council’s cutbacks, and if he visited at Christmas did he not see that the same lights that were at Houghton Feast were the same ones left up for Christmas?

These Independent councillors are always pulled down by Sunderland Labour councillors, including the two Labour members of Houghton, every time they try to do something good for Houghton.

So I say to Mr Hall: it is not the Independents that are putting us Houghtonians down, it is the controlling Labour Party.

The Original Old Houghtonian

Feeling let down

IN reply to recent letters from Rats’ supporters and the Independent councillors in the Copt Hill ward, I have realised that they are not aware of the whole ward they are supposed to represent.

These people have only spoken about Houghton and the only issue that they were elected on – namely Houghton Quarry.

Yet all of us people in Hetton Downs, Philadelphia and Success – also part of the Copt Hill ward – are very much ignored by them.

As a resident of Hetton Downs ward, I have never seen or heard anything from the Independent councillors, and I presume that this is the same for the Philadephia and Success parts of the Copt Hill ward.

As far as I am concerned, we only have one councillor – the Labour councillor who works damned hard across the whole of the Copt Hill ward.

I, for one, feel very let down by these Independent councillors. We deserve much better than this.

Disgusted Hetton Downs Resident

Negative message

I READ the letter from K. Dobson about the Independent councillors who seem to be hell-bent on running down Houghton and surrounding areas. I have some sympathy with her views. At a time when we need to pull together to promote our town as a commercially attractive centre for business and therefore employment, we can do without the narrow-minded, negative and damaging message that this minority continue to spout.

They are selling our town as a slum and not exploring or promoting the potential that exists.

Our forward-thinking council has attracted huge investment in Rainton Bridge as well as other significant developments. We have hard-working, reliable and resilient people in our town and its surrounding villages looking for jobs.

If company bosses looking to invest in us take any notice of these serial complainers, our workforce-in-waiting will always be just that.


Get online, OAPs

PENSIONERS, don’t sit around soaking your feet in a bucket while watching Emmerdale Farm, the exciting news is that Sunderland libaries offer free computer and internet acccess in libaries across the city. That’s right, it’s free – something all the OAPs are wanting, something for nothing.

You can go on the computer for up to one hour, sometimes two, and although there is no formal training the staff will advise you where you can find courses. You can even request a free one-to-one session to learn the basic skills.

I think this is great news. For years now OAPs have been moaning that things have moved on. Well, of course they have – this is the digital age – but no one has to be left behind. So what are they complaining about? The internet will open a great new world for them. I really don’t know what the big deal is and why some OAPs call it the Tinternet. It’s simple to use and a great tool to have in the house.

Just look at the benefits: not only can you do your banking online and order a Max Bygraves CD from Amazon, you can actually play bingo.  

This could be great news for the silver surfers. Cyber bingo could change things for ever.Imagine not having to put the headscarf and trainers on. No more dragging a tartan shopping trolley through the streets to the bingo hall – it’s all in your front room. So instead of moaning and complaining that you have been on the planet longer than everyone else if you are over 65, get surfing.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

City misses out

NISSAN’S test track and plant is being leased for the next 20 years to Gateshead College, when Nissan is based in Sunderland and we have a great and up-to-date university here on our doorstep.

Can someone on our council explain why no one spoke up to have it stay here, or again was it too much trouble for them?

They already ship Nissan cars from the Port of Newcastle, which is 12 miles from the sea. Here they could sail straight in between the piers to the Quayside, probably for less cost and bring money to the Port.

What is proposed may be a unique asset for regional and national companies, but sadly not for Sunderland, as usual.

See no evil, hear no evil and keep your mouth shut. Don’t rock the boat where Newcastle is concerned.

Our councillors should speak out and fight for the people of Sunderland who elected them, or some of them may be facing cuts themselves.

D. J. Wright, Appleby Terrace, Roker

Lifesaving staff

I WISH to thank all the emergency staff, doctors and nurses of our Sunderland Royal for their dedication and sheer hard work in saving the life of my wife. They worked liked Trojans all night long. We have so many to thank but remembering all their names is proving impossible.

We must thank all those whom we do recall: NHS Direct, paramedics, ambulance paramedics, doctors and nurses in resuscitation, all the staff on wards C40, ICCU and E54, Doctor Murphy and his team who worked all night to save her, and Doctor Logan and their staff who continued the excellent work to get Pat well.

Again may we both express or deepest sincere love and thanks to you all. We are both so grateful for what was done. You were all marvellous. Thank you and God bless you all.

Pat and Tom Lawrence, Solar House, Sunderland

Stay-away fans

AS one of those persons who are despised by Niall Quinn, I would like to defend myself and hundreds of others who, while being fans of Sunderland AFC, have no wish to throw money away on the hope that the team will turn up on the day.

I am 64 and supported the Lads through thick and thin since I was was seven. Football in my infancy was a “working man’s game”. Vast areas of support came from those who had worked a Saturday overtime shift until noon, a couple of pints in the pub and away to the match.

Football was affordable. It cost me, as a lad, a bob (5p). My 1973 cup final ticket was £1. Footballers were paid sensible money .

I never had a season ticket until my son became interested, which incidentally coincided with the time when Quinn and Phillips were motivated.

I held a season ticket until we were nearly relegated, having drawn at home to Derby County. My son continues to have a season ticket and goes to most away games.

My son pays his way now, but does Mr Quinn realise when sitting in his ivory seat how much it costs the average person to attend even a home game? If you have a couple of kids who attend, it’s a king’s ransom.

To my main point. I view most games in a pub, as do a variable of between 30 and 70 people. In the crowd that I drink with there is not one that would attend the stadium, so there is no point Mr Quinn despising us.

Has Mr Quinn given one thought to the poor publican who has acquired a satellite dish (these are normally leased from a local company)? Most pubs cannot afford to pay for Sky (over £3k pa) and the satellite dish is a blessing.

The added revenue brought in on a televised match could be the difference between solvency and insolvency.

Mr Quinn, I think your heart is in the right place but you should have spent a few quid and hired a few undergraduates to do primitive market research to determine that of those that watch via the pub, on a Sunderland home game, how many would attend the game if the television was blanked.

Methinks very few. To further endorse my personal feelings this is my expenditure on the Arsenal game: petrol (wife dropped me off) £2, plus two orange and sodas, £1.20. Total: £3.20. I did have three pints of lager from 5pm.

Doug, Washington

He got it wrong

BEING the best chaiman in the Premiership, Niall Quinn has a better grip on reality than most in football today, but he is holding the wrong end of the stick when he campaigns against so-called disloyal Mackems for watching the match on television at the pub.

Thank goodness there is an inexpensive alternative way to watch our team and good luck to the landlady taking on Sky for the right to provide the service.

Why must the little man support the massive burden of Premiership footballers and Sky television’s insatiable greed? It is a Robin Hood Tax in reverse – “take from the poor and give to the rich”.

When Sky came into existence the Sunderland team comprised a blend of Scottish lads and locals who, to some extent, quickly became part of the local community, many of whom stayed for years and generated loyalty among the fans. Crowds of 60,0000 were not unknown. Admission would be about a hundredth of the national average wage. Now some spectators pay more than a tenth of their weekly income to watch a mercenary group who are paid more in a week than many of the fans take home in two years, but it does not end there.

In the beginning Sky out-bid BBC and ITV for the right to screen football and other sports by using the fees they charged the poor old public who now had to pay for that which hitherto they had watched merely for the licence fee. Later we had to pay more for the Premiership and boxing and so on until a monthly Sky package almost matched the annual licence fee.

Our cash cascaded, via Sky and other channels, down to the clubs. Surely there would be some pay-back to us – lower admission charges perhaps. Oh no! Now we pay licence fees, Sky, “Pay to view” and over 20 quid to watch the match live, not to mention withering bar prices.

How I long to hear again the thunderous Roker Roar and to see again the likes of Charlie Hurley, Stan Anderson or Willie McFeat and watch again the panic of Tottenham Hotspur, our sixth-round cup opponents, as 60,000 Mackems bellowed “Ha’way the lads”.

Most of all, how I long to feel again the jingle of change from a ten-bob note in my pocket as I leg it merrily homeward.

D. Gillon, Sunderland

Niall for PM

NIALL for Prime Minister.

Realistic, sensible views at a time when all but the fat cats are struggling.

How straight forward and simple his ideas to generate interest and wealth within the club. Just a shame it will take an age to introduce, if at all.

If only there was a few more Niall Quinns in this world.

Ian Pattison