Letters, Monday, November 11, 2013

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Kindness made me proud of Sunderland

I’M a Sunderland expat living in Canada for the past 36 years. My wife’s mam passed away a year gone February.

 We had flown over for the funeral, settled the affairs and 10 days later were on our way back to the airport early in the morning to catch our flight back to Canada.

 We went down to the Metro station in Pallion and were surprised and quite alarmed to find there was no way, other than exact money, to buy a ticket.

 We were rather panic-stricken because we didn’t have the right money and had to get this train or risk missing our flight.

 Just then, a man, likely going to work, seeing our dilemma stepped forward and gave us the money out of his own pocket. I think it was around a fiver.

 He may have forgotten, but we certainly haven’t. I should have written before now, and I confess that many times I have meant to.

 Now I am doing it, and it will be a relief to do so, because I want to say that his generosity was greatly appreciated. That act of kindness blew me away.

 I hope that some time I can do the same and “pay it forward”, as the expression goes.

 Sir, if you do read this, thank you for your kindness, thank you for being that sort of person.

 You are the salt of the earth and made me feel so good about my heritage, about Sunderland, and about being British.

David Coates,

via email.

Price freeze won’t stop fuel poverty

WHEN the executives of the six biggest energy companies appeared before the Energy and Climate Change Committee, they failed to give a logical explanation for the increase in fuel prices.

 However, the owner of a small independent energy firm told the committee he had no idea why the big six were increasing bills, bearing in mind wholesale prices were falling. This is a clear indication that disingenuous practices are taking place and may have been occurring since the ’80s.

 Before that, these public utilities (which are natural monopolies) were best kept in control by the authorities in the best interest of the public.

 Nevertheless the Tories – fully committed to their thoughtless privatisation ideology – took the public utilities from the tax payer and sacrificed them to the altar of free market capitalism, which is only accountable to the shareholder.

 Since then it’s been misery all the way for the customer, while the energy firms have happily squeezed excessive profits out of them.

 The Tories have learned nothing from this disaster and are still selling the State to the highest bidder. Yet the lessons are quite elementary. You can’t control what you don’t own and privatisation has failed. So step forward Ed Milliband, whose pledge of a price freeze is worthy but won’t solve the problem of fuel poverty. The only way forward is permanently removing the iron grip privatisation has on our essential services.

 To bring them back into public ownership should get top priority in Miliband’s election manifesto.  

 This would give hope to millions of suffering people and just might help him to a Labour victory.

W Quinn,


Labour policy hit most vulnerable

IN his letter “we are chasing insane policies” (November 6), Denis Gillon claims that the energy regulator put in place at the time of energy privatisation was “unfit for purpose”. The fact is, this regulation worked well.

 It was the last Labour Government which removed all remaining price controls over gas and electricity in April, 2002.

 Under the rules in place until April 2002, energy prices could not be increased beyond a “cap” imposed by the regulator.

 When the energy supply industry was de-regulated by Labour, consumer groups expressed concern that this would have a “detrimental effect on low income families” and the UK’s 4-6 million deemed “fuel poor”.

 This was another Labour policy to hit the most vulnerable.

Alan Wright,