Letters, Monday, March 31, 2014

Have your say

Food poverty not an envious state

RACHEL Johnson, former editor of the up-market The Lady magazine, but better known as the sister of London Mayor, Boris, spent some time living with a family in Deptford of more modest means, for a television show.

 Johnson claimed her friends were now envious of her as many of them have never encountered poor people.

 “Bizarrely, I think there’s a lot of envy. ‘Lucky old Rachel, she went on poverty safari!’ An experience they can never have, even with all the money they’ve got,” she said.

 Johnson told the Radio Times: “There’s this terrible sense of human waste. They’re existing, rather than living, like battery hens. Apart from the telly and the cigarettes, they are living like animals.”

 A report last year from the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that at least 4.7million Brits could be described as being in food poverty.

 Food poverty is defined as having no choice but to spend 10 per cent or more of your household income on food.

 According to the report, the average household food bill will rocket by a whopping £357 by 2017.

 Twenty-seven Anglican bishops have criticised David Cameron for creating a “national crisis” which has led to 500,000 Britons visiting food banks.

 Are Rachel Johnson’s words really how our betters see us?

Steve Colborn

Not the wisest way to spend money

I WISH I could be surprised at the current poor decision-making at the heart of Sunderland’s local government, but anyone who lives here knows it’s been like this for years.

 Why should the current crop of administrators be any different? It’s what my old university professor would call a culture of incompetence. Take one example of historical folly: The signing up of our city to a hugely expensive 25-year PFI contract to replace and maintain streetlights, in 2003.

 Who could dream among our leaders, that one day we would have to scrabble around for every single penny?

 Meanwhile, Sunderland is legally obliged to pay around £450,000 every single month of the year, until 2028, to maintain our streetlights, electricity costs not included.

 In its wisdom, the council of 2003 omitted to replace a certain percentage of lights, whose renewal cost is an additional expense the council now faces.

 It was also deemed appropriate in 2003 to negotiate a renewal of lightbulbs on a rolling basis, so they get replaced before they burn out, even when they’re still okay. Not exactly the most cost effective or environmentally friendly option, but that’s what the council wanted, so that’s what they got.

 I just hope that when the present council comes to nominate its aldermen for “services to the city”, it doesn’t put forward the names of the losers who burdened us with this huge debt.

Meg Crosby,

East Herrington