Letters, Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Keep children safe from exploitation

AS a parent you love your child and want to protect them. You want them to be happy and safe as they grow up and make friends.

 But imagine how you would feel if you discovered your child was being sexually exploited. You would want them to trust you so that you could help make it stop.

 Barnardo’s is trying to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation. We want parents to recognise the tell-tale signs that their children may be vulnerable to abuse.

 Our latest survey of Barnardo’s specialist services has shown that many children are being groomed and exploited online – in fact, over a third of the children we work with in the North East.

 Young people are being targeted by perpetrators through a variety of mediums including social networks like Facebook, instant messaging apps, dating apps, photo sharing apps such as Snapchat and online gaming.

 We want all parents and carers to feel comfortable talking to their children about this difficult subject.

 Barnardo’s has identified three questions that parents should be asking their children:

 How much do you know about the people you spend time/chat with online?

 Has one of your friends ever given you a gift or bought something for you and you didn’t know why?

 Has anyone ever asked you to do something that made you feel uncomfortable?

 Barnardo’s is here to help. If you are concerned that your child is at risk of sexual exploitation you may want to contact one of Barnardo’s services for advice. Please call our supporter careline on 0800 008 7005.

 For more information on this subject and about Barnado’s, you can visit www.barnardos.org.uk/donate

Steve Oversby,

Director of Barnardo’s in the North East

Farage not a friend

DENIS Gillon recently praised the integrity of UKIP.

 He urged readers to support them and use their vote to “sweep away the complacent, self-serving group, most of whom, are unscrupulous in their pursuit for personal gain, often to the detriment of the electorate”.

 I can quite understand how some members of the public see the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, with his friendly rhetoric, a fag in one hand and a pint in the other, mistaking him for the workers’ friend – not so.

 In fact, Mr Farage has been around for a long time riding on the EU gravy train.

 He is an MEP with a wife on the public payroll and an anti-workers agenda.

 For example he wants to scrap legislation on weekly working hours, holiday leave, overtime, redundancy, sick pay and employers NI obligation.

 Mr Farage may want to leave the EU, but meanwhile, he is apparently receiving all his entitled expenses.

 Talking about personal gain, Mr Farage is currently defending an accusation in a national newspaper that almost £60,000 of European Union funds have been paid into his personal bank account.

 This claim centres around an allowance of £3,800 per month. The allowance can not be used to cover personal expenses or to finance subsidies or gifts of a political nature.

W Quinn

A lack of training

WE elect people from our communities to govern us, and manage a £500million budget as part of their duties – something whose effectiveness is controversial, judging from the many letters of complaint the Echo publishes.

 I asked the council in a freedom of information request about what training is given to perform this role?

 The answer came as a surprise. Although nine of our 75 councillors have taken the time to study independently for a certificate in government, the rest had on the job training. Or as the council puts it: “Members have responded to a coordinated range of less formal, less structured opportunities to develop their capacity as councillors. Our approach has less ‘classroom’ training and more personal development through exposure to relevant, practical learning situations.”

 It further adds: “Delivery is therefore largely via ‘tell, show, do’ practical exercises, briefings, workshops and through buddies.”

 Or as some might put it: “Monkey see, monkey do.”

 Since I believe that every penny should be accounted for, I also inquired about the financial nouse required to control the finances that are so vital to our local services and economy.

 The council “provides them with an overview, although it does not provide training in how to read a balance sheet/accountancy procedures etc”.

 Astonishingly, our leaders don’t need to know how to check that a set of figures is added up correctly, but never fear, the civil servants have expertise that can help them.

 The council comments about its elected councillors: “Their main issue is not so much to analyse the fine detail of accounts but rather to draw conclusions and make the right decisions from the material provided.”

 No wonder we’re in such a mess!

Meg Crosby,

East Herrington

Norman cared

AS a resident of Seaburn since 1956, I agree with Mr and Mrs Hunter’s recent letter regarding the hard work carried out by the Seaburn councillors.

  I feel that I must make mention of Councillor Norman Bohill, who passed away recently.

 I don’t think anyone worked harder than Mr Bohill for the residents of Seaburn over many years.

 I believe the present councillors would agree.

 RIP Norman.

James Otterson (Snr),

Seaburn Dene

We need democracy

MR Quinn and Euan Tipe talk about double standards, and how wrong David Cameron was to defend one of his ministers caught fiddling her expenses.

 Conveniently, they didn’t mention the number of Labour MPs who committed the same offence, or that the Labour leadership initially defended them to the hilt.

 Truth is, the whole system is rotten to the core, and as recent events have shown, it’s not only rich politicians who abuse the system, but also local councillors.

 The allowances for local councillors should be scrapped. MPs who have to have a second home, should only be allowed to claim a flat rate payment equivalent to the average weekly rent, and perhaps a season ticket for return railfare to the capital – that is all.

 Of course, nothing is ever going to change while the politicians view Westminster as a chance to feather their own nests, that’s why Parliamentary careers should be restricted to three terms, and second jobs should be banned until they step down.

 We need real democracy, not elected dictatorship!

M Brown