Letters, Thursday, June 9th, 2011

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Misinformation over Tesco changes

THE letter by Councillor Stuart Porthouse concerning changes to the Tesco Express in East Herrington misinforms St Chad’s Ward residents as to both the actions of Tesco and my role in them. A dedicated exit and entrance is to be introduced to improve traffic flow at the site and will be funded by Tesco, which owns the supermarket, on behalf of itself and Esso which owns the petrol pumps. Coun Porthouse claims a lack of consultation, but the views of residents expressed on several surveys organised by the St Chad’s Conservative councillors have been in favour of the measures outlined above. Of course, the whole issue could have been prevented had the Development Control Committee insisted on the introduction of such measures at the time the planning consent was granted in 2005.

Coun Porthouse sat on that committee and attended the relevant meeting, but the minutes show no record of him raising the issue of a one-way traffic system to help prevent what he is now complaining about six years later. My role was not, as he makes out, to remain “silent” on the issue, as all the residents of Herrington who received a consultation letter from me will remember, especially the three hundred-plus residents whose responses I submitted to planners. The measures now proposed are a result of both lengthy negotiations between Tesco and Esso and several meetings between myself, Coun Alan Wright and Tesco area management and have nothing to do with a newsletter from the Labour Party.

With Tesco a valued amenity in Herrington, providing convenience to shoppers as well as employment, the last thing we need is a relationship based on unfounded allegations that they will want something in return as Coun Porthouse claims in his letter.

Coun Robert Oliver, St Chad’s Ward

We need action

RE the recently announced measures to boost our ailing city centre – “£1 million for central perks” (Echo, June 6): Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the measures outlined but they don’t even scratch the surface of what is required to achieve the stated objectives of increasing business and public satisfaction with the centre.

Businesses and the public are deserting the city centre in their droves, and if the trend is to be reversed ambitious plans on a far grander scale will be needed.

In my view the £1million would have been better invested in weather coverage for Market Square or High Street West in the shape of the eye-catching white sails that we see at Dalton Park. It would attract attention and provide protection from the rain – far more effective than a riverside trail.

Incidentally, how much would it cost to fix the broken clock just outside the entrance to the so-called “central railway station”? It has been broken for three years and might be a good place to start.

However, council money is never going to address this problem. The answer clearly lies in the ability of those responsible to attract private investment. One wonders if the hotel chains, major retailers and leisure providers have actually been asked what it would take to bring them to our city.

The possibilities for a perception-changing catalyst are many. For example, there are enviable riverside sites that anywhere else would be perfect for hotel location. One of them, on the north bank of the river, next to the university and just below the Wear Bridge, is already cleared and has Marriott, Thistle or Holiday Inn written all over it.

In any event, our city centre needs major surgery, big ideas and a change of attitude from whoever is in charge.

Colin Chesborough

Call for town crier

THE plan for a Lord Mayor for our city is tremendous news.

Sunderland is the largest city between Leeds and Edinburgh, so why not indeed distinguish it as an important English city?

I also believe we cannot have a Lord Mayor without a town crier. If we are to put our great city on the map, we have to do it properly. Even little Chester-le-Street have their own town crier, so why not Sunderland?

All the senior councillors have to do is hold a competition and only the best will apply to toll their bells and cry out messages of goodwill in public to appoint the best of the best.

Jimmy Chambers, Rickleton Village Centre, Washington

Radio turn-off

I WOULD just like to say thank you to the bosses at NUFC for asking for more money for the Real Radio commentary on the Sunderland/Newcastle away games.

I can’t afford to go to away games, so listening to Real Radio was my fix. As for listening to BBC Radio Newcastle, we get enough Newcastle rammed down our throats through other media outlets so why can’t we have a BBC Radio Sunderland? After all we are the biggest city in the North East.

Fred Todd, Sunderland

Doing their job

I AM writing in response to a letter published from Pamela Quinn in which she complained about traffic wardens not using common sense!

The civil enforcement officers do not actually set out the laws in place. They are simply employed to ensure that the general public, who often don’t display any signs of common sense when they park vehicles in hazardous or obstructive places, abide by them.

While I appreciate that in all walks of life we come across people who enjoy being awkward and making life difficult for others, let’s not tar all of the officers with the same brush.

There is an abundance of parking facilities in and around Sunderland and we are all aware of where we should and shouldn’t be parking and the only way a fine can be issued is if the car has been parked unlawfully or sufficient payment hasn’t been make to park.

As a mother of four young boys I fully appreciate that sometimes people are in a hurry and it’s not convenient to park up and waste time walking to the shop you wish to visit. However, I’d rather park in an appropriate spot, pay a small fee and have the kids moan about having to walk everywhere rather than pay a huge fine!

To conclude, there are plenty of civil enforcement officers who would rather not issue parking fines but are left with no other option.

I would also just like to point out that I am not, nor have I ever been, a “traffic warden”.

Julie-Ann Shepherd, Farringdon Avenue, East Herrington

Load o’ blether

HOOTS mon! Yon sassenach bletherer Henry Whipple wrote tae the Echo aboot independence for Scotland, the ancient ancestral home o’ma ain folk.

He disnae ken what he’s talkin’ aboot. Some braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht he’ll get a friendly visit frae Mel Gibson in a wee kilt tae make him think again.

(In case you need a translation, I’ll continue in English. I only wrote this in Private Frazer-speak as an initiative test for the Echo typist).

It’s breathtaking how many targets Mr Whipple has a dig at, from Unionists to Scottish farmers and Alex Salmond.

His view that Scotland is kept going by English taxpayers amazes me. It’s Scottish oil revenues which have funded giros for the wasters and layabouts south of the border for over 30 years.

Mind you Hadrian’s Wall along the border sounds an attractive idea. So long as it has proper watchtowers, sentries with Alsatians, machine-gun posts and landmines along the River Tweed.

Och weel, as ma auld Dada used to say: Lang may your lummie reek (long may your chimney smoke).

By the way, Mel Gibson was a freedom fighter who beat proud Edward’s army at Stirling in 1995. Private Frazer was a Home Guard in the war.

I know they’re real Scots, I’ve seen them on the telly.

Jim Ridler, Hylton Road, Sunderland

Restore our park

IF anybody has happened to pass through Doxford Park at the back of Morrisons they’ll know it’s a mess.

It’s got to the point where I think it’s time we, as a community, work together to restore its former beauty.

I’m not suggesting we all go down with shovels and get our hands dirty.

I just believe that if we get the message across to the council, maybe the park can be the peaceful place it used to be.

Even adding a gate that can be locked on a night could be a possible start, keeping the troublemakers at bay.

I honestly think we’re fortunate to have this park. It’s just unfortunate that we’ve neglected it.

Bryan Beensen, aged 15