Letters, Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Have your say

Time to join forces with our neighbours

DURHAM is setting out plans for its city’s future, which include thousands of opportunities for jobs and the building of new homes. Meanwhile, figures released recently from last year’s census told a very bleak story that Newcastle had yet again surpassed Sunderland, this time in population.

It also seems to me that in these economic times the talented young are leaving Sunderland at the first opportunity. I really can’t blame them. It’s funny, though – while many of the country’s formerly bustling regional or city-based economies are struggling – hence Britain PLCs negative balance sheet – Sunderland has three large businesses which are defying the recession. These have all been mentioned in as many months. Just as I always suspected, manufacturing could still be the country’s future – especially true, if to buy British is based upon quality over quantity.

However, what about the other sectors with non-existent growth? Anyone coming out of university looking to use their qualifications will have to look for employment usually out of Sunderland, either north of the city or much further afield. Unfortunately I can’t really see that changing over the next decade, not even in an upturn.

In the long term, though, as Tyneside’s dominance in attracting new business and their expansion continues, I fully expect a scenario where we have to refer to the place as Newcastle/Gateshead. Or we could perhaps just refer to those who reside north of Wearside as being from Newcastle as the majority of them seem to do – never having consulted a map, obviously.

But while Sunderland may be located in the middle of the region of the planned regeneration, we are far from central to these ambitious plans. Certainly not where Newcastle or Durham are concerned, and if we aren’t to be completely left behind maybe we should take a leaf out of Tyneside’s book and join forces with our closest neighbours, particularly Durham, a part of the country which was picked out as “recession proof” as far as the housing market was concerned. Well, is their recent announcement that very proof?

G. Engel, High Barnes

Positive portrait

HOW great it was to see our city portrayed in a positive light on BBC 1 programme The Flowerpot Gang, where the team built a garden for Sunderlnd young carers.

Our beautiful beaches, leafy green suburbs and our lovely river and bridge looked wonderful.

I work for Sunderland Mind. mental health charity and it was great to hear our staff and service users saying they felt proud to live here.

It cheered us up – very important for everyone’s mental health.

The young carers were fantastic and the volunteers stars.

Thank you, BBC.

Norma Gowland, Groups facilitator

Dutch example

SO why not go Dutch? They are to scrap multiculturalism. There is a new integration bill which states that their government plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people.

Immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language and to obey Dutch laws. Sharia law and forced marriages will be banned and there will be a ban on burkas from January 1, 2013.

It would seem that the Dutch nation, unlike the soft-touch EU–ruled UK, has had enough. When will we have the guts to move in the same direction?

Marjorie Matthews, Aiskell Street, Millfield

Exams too easy

AS per usual this time of year, there is the hullabaloo about those who have just passed their GCSE. These exams are a lot easier than they were when I was at school and I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

In my day there were very few passes because the exams were so hard. These days it’s easier to pass than to fail.

I recently looked at what was required to pass a history GCSE and, quite frankly, I was amazed. It was a walk in the park for me and probably thousands of other mature students.

OK so I am above average intelligence and possess a high IQ, but the basic ingredient of any course work is simply to memorise the manuals and put as much effort into the course as possible. A grade C pass or higher should then be a doddle.

In the old days exams were much harder and a lot more effort was required, hence the fact there were fewer success stories. In many respects the new system is worthless. With so many students passing these exams, when they turn up for an interview a person with 10 GSCEs is a common occurrence.

Examinations should be made much harder. This will sort out the men from the boys. The system must revert back to basics as it did in my day when a qualification meant something.

Nowadays to many employers they are not worth the paper they are written on. That is why people cannot get a job.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Conflict of interests

THE U.S., UK, Russia, China and France have two things in common.Firstly, they are all permanent members of the UN security council. Secondly, they are the top five nations supplying weapons.

Does anyone see a conflict of interest here? On the one hand, the leading members of an organisation created to prevent, or solve conflicts. On the other hand, the top suppliers of the means to start and perpetuate these same conflicts.

The U.S. is the top supplier of military hardware to Israel and has continually used its status as a permanent member of the Security Council to veto any resolution brought before it to oppose the actions of Israel in their dealings with their neighbours.

Similarly, Russia and China have vetoed any attempt by the UN to rein in the actions of Al Assad in the ongoing conflict in Syria. That Russia is one of the main suppliers of arms to the Assad regime has, of course, no bearing on their actions or stance, does it? Nor does the U.S.’s supply of arms to Israel, in their decisions.

One more example, surely, of the obscene and insane nature of capitalism.

Steve Colborn, Ivy Avenue, Deneside, Seaham