Letters, Friday, September 6, 2013

Have your say

Fire centres were a complete failure

THE recent story in the Echo regarding the mothballed Fire Control Centre in Durham shows that it is not only Sunderland’s Labour council that is good at wasting taxpayers’ money. The last Labour Government was good at it too.

 One of its follies was the project to set up nine regional control centres for fire and rescue services in England against the advice of fire authorities, fire unions and the opposition. This project turned out to be a complete failure and wasted £469m, according to MPs.

 The public accounts committee said the Fire Control scheme has not achieved any of its objectives and that eight of the centres were empty “white elephants”.

 Fire Minister Bob Neill said Labour must be held accountable for the “comprehensive failure”.

 Labour’s Margaret Hodge, who chairs the MPs’ committee, said the project had been “flawed from the outset” and one of the worst wastes of public money for many years. “The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants.”

 She said the project – launched in 2004 by the Labour government – had been terminated in 2010 “with none of the original objectives achieved and a minimum of £469m being wasted.”

 This has been an extraordinary failure and sends out a clear signal that Labour cannot be trusted with our money.

Terence Docherty,


Scandalous waste

WELL done to Dr T (Mick Thurlbeck) for bringing to light the fact that no one at the City of Sunderland Council has been brought to account for the disgusting, nay scandalous, waste of £11.1m in fees relating to the so-called iconic bridge.

 A bridge that will now not go ahead after years of trumpet blowing by our civic leaders, chief executive Dave Smith and council leader Paul Watson, both of whom have hidden behind pathetically written council public relations drivel.

 Why don’t they make themselves available for public scrutiny by way of a talk-in with an invited audience to question these losses and other issues connected with current and future plans for the city, say at the Sunderland Empire?

 The fact is that these people, in my mind, are highly accountable and should be brought out into the public arena so that the citizens, they laughingly purport to represent, can question them face-to-face. Or do they just hope that everything will blow over and that those many thousands of us who are concerned at the lack of leadership, pride and eloquence in the character make-up of these public servants will not ask the questions that must be asked... and answered.

 I would like to know what formal academic qualifications do any of our councillors have that justify their fancy titles as portfolio holders for whatever area it might be?

 How many of them hold full-time jobs outside their civic duties?

 How many of them have been successful in any area of business and working life?

 How many of them have useful business contacts or influences or expertise in the areas they represent? I would suggest that in many cases, this city is being led by amateur councillors, who often seem absolutely unaccountable for their actions.

 Walk round our city centre to see how grossly incompetent they are for starters.

 As a parting shot, the council is shedding workers. The £11.1m would have saved a lot of vital jobs within the council.

 Do Smith, Watson and company care as long as their positions of influence are safe?

 Come on everyone, ask them.

Patrick Lathan,


Ill-judged scheme

THERE have been several letters in the Echo recently attacking the Government over the NHS.

 It is worth remembering the damage that was done to the NHS and its funding by the ill-judged NHS computer scheme planned, and ordered, by Labour.

 This system was scrapped before it had even worked due to soaring costs and increasing operational plans.

 The Conservative Government cut its losses and called a halt to years of wasting taxpayers’ money on the National Programme for IT – a monument to Whitehall folly during Labour’s 13 years in power that never worked.

 The biggest civilian IT project of its kind in the world, it squandered at least £12.7billion. Some estimates put the cost far higher.

 Analysts say the money wasted by Labour would have paid the salaries of more than 60,000 nurses for a decade.

Keith O’Brien,

Middle Herrington

Great evening

WE would like to thank family, friends and football team mates who attended the 10th anniversary event held in memory of our son, Steven Purvis, who died after a long battle against cancer.

 Special thanks to Sharon and Will for organising the evening in aid of Cancer Research and to all the staff at the Mountain Daisy for a great night.

Alex and Eileen Purvis,

East Herrington

Healthier future

HUNDREDS of pubs have closed and many more will continue to do so, but what is the cause of their downfall?

 There are many reasons of course.

 It’s cheaper to buy booze at the supermarket, the smoking ban or maybe the modern pub has changed so much from the spit and sawdust type that was around years ago.

 Personally, I think that the public has seen the error of its ways and that drink is now the demon.

 The Government has told us repeatedly how alcohol is worse for us than smoking and I predict in a few years, only city centre wine bars will exist.

 This will be a good thing and we will see a lot more healthy people on the streets.

 There is no doubt in my mind that the demon drink is the scourge of our society.

Mick The Pen Brown

Petition ignored

WE started a petition to stop the proposed increase to taxi fares.

 More than 200 signatures were collected but at the council meeting it was decided not to listen to what people thought, even though many are struggling with rising food and fuel costs, and increase the tarrifs.

 Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and Mr Wharton for starting it.

Kev Stoker