Letters, Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

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Labour treatment of Remploy

LAST Friday’s Echo saw yet another cheap shot at another political group when a Labour writer implied that Labour would support the Remploy workers while others would not.

He must have very a short memory as I clearly recall a planned demo and speech from Remploy staff at Bournemouth in October 2007 to embarrass the then Labour government for its scandalous treatment of Remploy factories causing many redundancies.

This was due to a rigid adherence by our public sector to EU procurement rules, preventing public purchasing being directed to them for good social reasons, causing less than 50 per cent loading of work.

If readers think harder, they may recall that Remploy workers won a very important partial victory from the government at that Labour Party conference. The Secretary of state for Work and Pensions, Peter Hain, announced a moratorium on Remploy factory closures. In return, the unions agreed to withdraw their motion to conference and the demo was scaled down to manage the media attention.

Before the election that never was, back in September 2007, employment minister Peter Hain backed down on the planned closure of 43 Remploy factories. Shop stewards at Remploy said at the time: “This is only a lull in the storm. They’ll be back for us.”

Just a very short while after, on November 12, 2007, Remploy workers heard that 17 of the factories were to close. How very convenient, just after the Labour party conference was over.

Peter Hain had said that everything would be done to secure public procurement contracts to keep Remploy factories open. All Remploy factories had been run down between 2002-2007 due to the EU constraints that other countries seem to ignore. Now, it seems that voluntary redundancy was to be be offered in all 83 factories – not just the 17 then up for closure.

Hardly the actions of a caring, sharing political party.

This blatant act of cynicism caused me to turn sharply away from the Labour Party. The phrase people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones springs to mind.

Kevin Leary, Cleadon Lea, Sunderland

Jackson image

RECENTLY there were two articles in the press about Michael Jackson.

First, in his last recording, he claimed he never had a childhood. His time was spent practising singing and dancing. There was no time for him to be a child. Michael alleged his father beat him and ridiculed him.

I understand. As a child, I was abused. Childhood, what childhood?

Then there was the piece about Michael sleeping with a doll and having lots of pictures of children in his house. So what? I sleep with a soft toy horse. It was my late brother Jude Keith’s toy. He died aged 16 months from a rare disease called Tay Sachs. He was only the 33rd child to due from it.

Why do I sleep with his toy? Simple – I feel close to him with it. My brother loved me. He was the only person in this world to really, really love me.

Pictures – I have lots of pictures of my children, grandchildren and their friends. When I look at them it brings back happy memories, just like with most parents.

Please stop making Michael out to be worse than he was. He was strange, certainly. So am I. Get used to it.

Ken Turton, Houghton

Another chance

SURPRISE! Surprise! Now it seems that our cousins down under couldn’t give a Castlemaine XXXX for our queen of the seas either. (Not the only “queen” they don’t want, apparently).

As well as once being a beautiful ship, she served her country during the Second World War (an A.A. battery) on the Clyde in Glasgow.

It seems to me that the morons in the “civic” have another chance to redeem themselves by putting party politics aside for once and do something for our city and the people who elected them in the first place.

With another severe winter forecast, which will cause more damage to Adelaide, wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas present for Sunderland if our “city fathers” acted now?

Unfortunately, I won’t hold my breath.

Brian Johnston, Rochdale Road, Redhouse

Watch the roads

NOW that the “nimbys” have got Brandy Lane in Albany, Washington, closed, I may start a campaign to get the road near my home in Sulgrave closed to traffic so that I don’t have to look both ways when I visit my local shop.

Children also cross to attend the nearby Usworth schools. I have never heard of any accidents on Brandy Lane, so why are these people not like the rest of us who have to cross busy roads?

If you dont want to cross roads, then why not move to the Outer Hebrides?

John Watson, Pensher View, Washington

Miserable Mick

WHAT is Mick “The Pen” Brown’s problem and what a kill-joy this sad man is.

Christmas cards have been going since 1843 and Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol about the same year, and it was about a sad old miser who was so miserable and went about saying “Bah humbug” roundabout Christmas time and he forgot to enjoy himself at Christmas.

Christmas carols were first published in 1521 and sung the same year, so why doesn’t that Mick get a life and stop knocking Christmas traditions and let people like myself enjoy Christmas. After all it’s about the birth of the son of God. So bring it on.

Joe Lennox, Park Gate, Roker

IN response to Mrs Askew, I couldn’t agree more. What a misery Mick “The Pen” Brown is. I wonder, Mick, have you ever considered changing your name to Victor Meldrew?

You may not like pantomimes, carol singers or Christmas cards or any of the other things you seem to insist on boring us with, but I think it’s about time you learn to keep your opinions to yourself.

Or as my mum used to say to me: “If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say it at all.”

Jemma Hutchinson, Sunderland

MICK the Pen doesn’t like pantomimes, carol singers or Christmas cards. Those of us who were forced to read Charles Dickens as children know what’s going to happen now.

On Christmas Eve Mick will eat his bowl of gruel, light his candle and climb up to his icy bedroom, then he’d better hide under the bedsheets because we all know who’s coming to visit.

“I am the ghost of Christmas 2011. You must stop being an old misery. Don’t wind up Echo readers with your letters.”

If Mick takes the Ghost’s advice, everyone at Ormonde Street Post Office should look forward to free turkey dinner.

Adrian Moran, Fordfield Road, Sunderland

MRS Askew (October 27) has joined the list of those who want Mick Brown banned from the Letters Page. I can’t agree. However, by now most of us know Mick’s views on chavs, women in pyjamas, blue rinses in the post office and old people in the Bridges.

What I’d like is a ban on tiresome replies to Mick’s wind-ups, when people have taken what he’s written oh so literally. Mick is not the only contributor who repeats himself on the same subjects ad nausean.

I also feel as there’s usually just enough space for four letters in the Echo, all letters about SAFC should be confined to the Football Echo instead.

Incidentally, Mrs Askew says the Echo is not Private Eye. Now there’s an idea. Can you get Ian Hislop up here to be guest editor for one week?

Roland Green, Avebury Drive, Washington

Leaf drawbacks

DESPITE being voted Car of the year 2011, it’s not surprising that sales of the Leaf are sluggish. Nissan took umbrage at a recent Top Gear show which, although exaggerated by the presenters, did show up some of the car’s failings.

Quoted range is 109 miles provided you travel on the flat, do not go uphill excessively, do not drive fast, drive “conventionally” and do not carry any passengers. The weather must be temperate so do not use the air conditioning or the heater or range will be severely reduced.

As the car has not been around for long, there are no firm indications of the whole life of the batteries.

Constant recharging of batteries that discharge to about 20 per cent of their capacity will reduce the number of available cycles leading to earlier replacement.

The Times disclosed that each of the 48 battery modules cost £404 or a grand total of £19,392 per car! These last from anything from a few years to 10 years, so a secondhand Leaf will have negligible trade-in value.

The Nissan website quotes Leaf depreciation at £412 per month, which is not cheap but does it include for eventual battery replacement?

Battery charging costing £1.38 presumably applies to a night-time electricity tariff which gives you a cheap night rate. If you are not already on that tariff and have to change you will notice that the day rates will increase leading to higher electricity bills for non-car charging use.

I think the Leaf is essentially a pricey second car for commuting only with a driver who wants to give an impression of green credentials.

Bill Scott, Stannington Grove, Sunderland

Search Party

I AM trying to trace Norman and David Hume, twins, who lived in Hylton Road but moved to Bristol.

It was 1992 when I last heard of them

I am in my late 80s and would very much like to know where they are. They used to write to me regularly. We were very good friends.

One of them used to work in Halfords in the town, the other in an office. As twins they always kept together.

Mrs D. Jones, 4 Martin Terrace, Sunderland, SR4 6JD. Tel. 565 6610

I AM trying to contact an old RAF mate who came from the Sunderland area.

His name is Kenneth (Kenny) Muldoon and he was a fireman.

He and I were both stationed at Finningley and Akrotiri(Cyprus) in the 70s.

Norman Turnbull, Tel: 07780 519960

I AM seeking information on family and relations of Tommy Wright, who was born in the 1920s.

His father was Thomas Frederick Wright, who was born 1903 in Sunderland. He moved to Gateshead and lived at 31 Farraday Grove and was a railway engine driver, but better known as “the clock man”.

Tommy’s mother was Anne and his brother was Walter (younger) and sister Joyce (deceased) and step-brother Edwin (my husband’s father). My husband Andrew Wright (Edwin’s son), aged 46, has dearly wanted to contact his cousins etc whom he has never met due to the family losing contact many, many years ago.

If anyone has any information please telephone me on 07929 041553 daytime or 01900 873020 after 3.30pm and evenings.

Jenny Wright, Cockermouth

I AM trying to locate my cousin Dennis Michael Rogers, last known address 15 Rosebank Close, Silksworth, Sunderland.

He is the son of Alice and James Rogers.

Anthony Atkin, 30 Roselea, Witton Gilbert, Co. Durham, DH7 6RG. Tel. 0191 3713387