Letters, Friday, September 26, 2014

Have your say

We need help to change drink laws

AS leaders of the 12 councils in the North East of England with a responsibility for the public health of our communities we are increasingly concerned about the damage caused by the widespread availability of cheap alcohol.

 In the North East one child is admitted to hospital every day because of alcohol; alcohol-related hospital admissions in the over 65s have doubled in the past 10 years; more than 570 alcohol-related crimes are recorded in the region every day; and it costs £3million a day to clean up the problems caused by cheap booze.

 Together with our partners, councils are working hard to address these problems, but this is not about a handful of people who can’t control their drinking. This is caused by a marketplace which encourages and makes it easy to consume too much alcohol.

 The result is that a significant proportion of the population is consuming above the recommended guidelines – and it’s the most vulnerable who suffer as people in our most deprived communities are 45 per cent more likely to suffer an alcohol related death.

 It is clear local action is not enough. We need help. We urge MPs to include in their election manifestos plans to address these problems. In particular to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol set at a minimum of 50p per unit. Evidence from Canada shows that it will save money, cut crime and save lives.

 This is a targeted measure which will leave moderate drinkers virtually unaffected and will help protect our community pub.

 Take measures to protect our children from the influence of alcohol marketing, including an end to alcohol advertising in cinemas unless an 18 certificate film is being shown and a commitment to seriously consider the withdrawal of alcohol sponsorship from professional sport.

 We also need a review of the licensing act, turning it into a strategic tool to be used by localities to minimise harm in their communities. We need legislation which will enable us to protect the vulnerable while ensuring the alcohol industry can play an appropriate role in regenerating our local economies.

 In the UK we are consuming twice as much alcohol as we did in the middle of the last century. The fact that it is more affordable than it was in 1980; that we have seen a 25 per cent increase in off licensed premises selling alcohol; and that the industry is spending £800 million a year promoting its products is no coincidence.

 These are the things we need to address.

Coun Paul Watson

Chairman ANEC (Association of North East Councils)

Waterslide will be popular attraction

I HAVE been following the stories on waterslides in the Echo recently and I feel certain that they would prove a success.

 Waterslides of all descriptions have always been popular, and I am surprised that it is felt necessary to obtain ‘rights’ to the idea and the necessity to raise funds for the project.

 My wife and I were introduced to temporary structures on our 2010 visit to the Island of Scilly, where we attended the annual fete of the St Martin’s island.

 The fete takes place fairly near to the shoreline and the slide was set on the sandy bankside, using sheets of a rubber-type material.

 It is organised by the local fire service, the water being supplied by the sea from which it is pumped by a fire appliance.

 It is certainly a very popular part of the event – and no doubt a money -spinner.

 Could we not do something along the same lines? If so, perhaps Roker or Seaburn would prove the ideal venue – and what an attraction it would be.

David Herring,


We have already had our say on devolution

NOW that the Scots have voted No, devolution for the English cities looks to be on the agenda.

 Let’s not forget we’ve already voted against devolution for the North East.

 Last time John Hall, Bobby Robson, Sting and other famous Tynesiders jumped on the bandwagon and said how great devolution would be. But all over Wearside, in fact, all the way from Berwick down to Middlesbrough people were suspicious.

 So, why were all these Geordies so keen on it?

 One lady interviewed outside The Bridges said: “Aar’d rather be ruled from London than Newcastle.” She expressed the majority view. Geordies think Tyneside is the North East.

  John Prescott got lumbered with the thankless task for assuring us the assembly would be in Durham.

 But we still voted No – losing the financial packages we might have received.

 Surprise, surprise, the only area to vote Yes was Newcastle.

 Maybe certain people should have asked themselves: Will it be counter-productive if I speak out in favour of devolution? For instance, because John Hall built the MetroCentre and was NUFC chairman, it was believed he was popular figure all over our region.

H Whipple,


Not impressed with the keel line idea

I WAS most impressed by the article When Sunderland ruled the waves (September 16).

 Sunderland had the title the biggest shipbuilding town in the world. The first recorded shipbuilder was Thomas Menvill who started building boats in 1346.

 However, I am not impressed by the way Sunderland’s maritime past is to be celebrated, in the form of a black line (keel line) on the ground. To me it smacks of cheapness – is that the best they can come up with?

 I just cannot see people coming from the four corners of the world to have their photo taken standing on a black line. The shipyard workers deserve better. Who will know where the keel line is in the winter when it is covered with snow? Will the “money is no object” council put electrically heated wires underneath, so that the line will be visible even in the snow?

 Perhaps there will be a man with a shovel to keep it snow free? What happens in the summer when the line is covered in chewing gum, fag packets and fish and chip papers?

 The square will also have friendship benches, featuring the cities with which Sunderland enjoys international friendship agreements. Why not have benches with the names of every shipyard that operated on the Wear?  

 As for the name, how about something with Mack and Tack in it? I think that it epitomises Sunderland.

R Tomlinson,


Help was appreciated

I WOULD like to convey my gratitude to the people of Hylton Castle who assisted me when my Mini Cooper gearbox broke on September 8.

 The car seized in gear outside the Hylton Castle Arms and I was unable to move it from a hazardous location.

 The residents showed excellent community spirit in helping me move the car from the road until the RAC arrived.

 I was unable to thank you at the time, but your help was greatly appreciated.

 My car is back in operation now, thank you all.

Miss Vic Hall