Letters, Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Have your say

Special memory of Mayor Tom’s year

WITH reference to the letter; Year as Mayor (Letters, July 17) by Councillor Tom Martin.

Tom fulfilled his mayoral duties admirably, ably supported by his wife Maureen. I had the priviledge to share their company during the term of office on several occasions – the plaque unveiling at Trafalgar Square and the Mayor’s charity evening at the Catholic Club to mention only two.

But for me the most memorable occasion occurred last summer when I was invited by Family Heritage International to escort the American descendants of Hylton Castle. The Hyltons at one time were spread all over northern England and as a group we toured as far south as Hull and north to the Scottish borders, visiting Hylton-related sites.

Back in Durham the group requested a photo of the Philadelphia signpost with Penshaw Monument in the background.

I thought it would be a good idea to have the city’s Mayor and Mayoress in the picture. I phoned Tom on the Friday afternoon when he was just to go off duty and told him of my request. Within 30 minutes Tom and Maureen arrived, much to the appreciation of our American guests.

The photo quickly went from coast to coast in the United States via the Hylton website, and by the time it hit the west coast Tom was billed as the Lord Mayor of Sunderland. The gesture was also highly appreciated by the British-American Chamber of Commerce. Well done, Tom.

At the far right of the photograph is “The American Earl”, directly descended from William Hylton of Biddick who sailed to America on The Fortune in 1621.

Michael Bute, Sunderland Antiquarian Society

Key to revival

AS anyone taking a walk down Holmeside past the rows of boarded-up shops will know, the revival of private sector investment in Sunderland cannot come soon enough.

Fortunately, new proposals to encourage business in the city, such as the retention of business rates, are on offer and need to be supported to aid our flagging retail sector.

Unfortunately, local representatives Councillor Paul Watson and Sharon Hodgson MP have been scaremongering rather than seizing on an incentive to encourage more business and benefit from the increase in business rates.

With currently a low base of business rates, Sunderland will continue to receive a subsidy to ensure it does not fall behind its present level of revenue and, in future, boost the financial independence of the local authority.

This measure, along with others such as Enterprise Zones, Tax Incremental Financing (borrowing against future revenues) and the New Homes Bonus (paid when new houses are built) signal a pro-growth agenda.

Already this approach is reaping rewards, with the Sunderland Enterprise Consortium seeing more business start-ups as we return to the successful policies that brought Nissan and Doxford International to Wearside.

Councillor Robert Oliver, Leader, Conservative Council Group

A real hero

I BELIEVE the Government is reluctant to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in case we offend the French. Sacre bleu! It’s every Englishman’s patriotic, nay historic duty to annoy, rile , exasperate, irritate, madden and provoke our neighbours across the Channel.

I am not a racist. I do not crack jokes about people who eat snails and frogs legs, but when Monsieur Gerard Houllier poached Sunderland’s star striker, I did wish I was one of King Hal’s longbowmen at Agincourt.

When I was a student in Durham, my favourite watering-hole was the Duke of Wellington on the Great North Road. I remember a mural on the wall of the Iron Duke winning one of his battles.

Of course, we knew who he was because history was taught properly in schools in those days. Wellington was a national hero, the man who thrashed Boney and the French. I believe he visited Sunderland in the 1820s when he was a guest of the corporation at a dinner in the Exchange Building on High Street East.

Then came the shock. I found out that Wellington was the most reactionary Tory Prime Minister, worse than Margaret Thatcher, more snooty and arrogant than David Cameron.

He opposed the Great Reform Bill, and the London mob would have lynched him if they’d got their hands on him. He once called his British soldiers the scum of the earth. He even said that common people shouldn’t be allowed on the railways.

Look at the film Waterloo, in which Christopher Plummer plays the Duke with a smug, haughty expression on his face. I can believe that.

The real hero of the age was Earl Grey, the Liberal reformer. Just because that small place up the road built a monument to him, don’t hold that against him. Wellington a hero? Earl Grey is more my cup of tea.

Jim Ridler, Hylton Road, Sunderland


Mondays are lonely days,

No people do I see.

Last week a tramp knocked on my door,

I made him toast and tea.

Tuesday I watched television,

“Soaps” were rather good,

Staff from “meals on wheels” spoke to me

Then brought me tasty food.

Wednesday my cat died,

It had growth upon its head.

Goldfish can’t communicate with me

Nor can I take it to my bed.

Postman rang this Thursday

To check all was well,

Brought me fashion magazines

So I may read and dwell.

Fridays the clock stands still,

Brain aches for talk,

Don’t mind my weakened body

But I’d really like to walk.

Saturday shadows are eternal,

Watching dewdrops on grass,

Wonder if life is worth living

Wish it were my last.

Sundays warble to “Hymns of Praise”,

Pray for my fellow men

Praise my Lord for allowing me

To live three score years and ten.

Alex Branthwaite, Chapelgarth West, Sunderland