Letters, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Mediation is now a must for families

I WANTED to draw people’s attention to a change in the law which came into effect yesterday, April 22.

 It will now be compulsory for divorcing and separating couples to attend a mediation meeting before they are able to make an application to court.

 Courts will be required to know that mediation has been considered before they are able to proceed with an application. So a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) will become a must.

 This meeting will give families an opportunity to find out if there is an easier and quicker way of settling their separation than heading straight off to court.

 Family mediation does not try to keep couples together, but instead helps them find solutions that are in their own interests, rather than those of solicitors.

 Mediation has many benefits. Its timescales are quicker than court, for example. It allows families to stay in control of their destiny, their finances and their new family relationships, because decisions are made by you, rather than about you. It is less confrontational than a court battle, and it has fixed costs with flexible payment terms – it remains free if you are eligible for Legal Aid.

 The current divorce ‘mindset’ is to head straight to court, for what is often a long, drawn-out battle which can cost the earth and do irreparable damage to family relationships.

 This is one of the most significant changes in the law affecting divorcing and separating couples, but one that as yet the man and woman in the street knows little or nothing about.

 Anyone wanting to find their local mediation service can do so by entering their postcode at www.nfm.org.uk/local

Jane Robey,

Chief executive, National Family Mediation

Deal with top floor

AFTER my letter to the Sunderland Echo was published (October 12) regarding our city centre library being run into the ground, it has now been refurbished.

 I wonder when the top floor will be dealt with. The pitted, scratched and worn floor tiles look bad but white was never a good choice of colour for a public building and they look really discoloured around the lift. Black tape between the stairs and the tiles looks cheap and nasty.

 The toilets also need a makeover. We should have toilets with lids so they can be put down prior to flushing. This would then avoid thousands of germs being released into the air (this was on a television programme years ago) and avoid someone walking into a really smelly cubicle.

 The ancient hand dryer has been fixed again but is very slow. We need a paper towel dispenser for when it is not working and for when there is a queue.

 Three cubicles for women and children seem inadequate, considering the size of the building and number of visitors.

Name and address supplied

Not really quality

I REFER to Coun Peter Wood’s recent letter regarding the grab for bus operations by Nexus.

 If proof was needed that the Quality Contract being proposed by Nexus, and supported by Labour MPs, is nothing more than a bureaucratic push by left wing politicians and power-hungry pen-pushers, you only need to look at the proposals produced by Nexus.

 One of its priorities is to repaint all the vehicles operating in Tyne and Wear in a common livery. That’s around 1,100 vehicles repainted, which would cost in the region of £1.6million.

 That’s before a single extra vehicle is provided, an extra driver is employed or even a wheel turned. That’s some “great deal” for the travelling public and council tax payers of Tyne and Wear.

 The Quality Partnership proposed by the operators would provide what Nexus claims it wants without risk to the taxpayer.

 On another point, passenger satisfaction is growing among bus passengers.

 What about Metro? Should Nexus not get that house in order before pursuing a power grab for bus operation?

Alan Wright,

High Barnes

Need clean sweep

REGARDING Bob Stothard’s letter on the absence of socialists in the Labour PLP, it mirrors exactly local parties constitute.

 I tried really hard to shed crocodile tears for the allowance takers who were hurt to have to inflict the cuts on the people, but the tears would not come.

 Nobody is asking anyone to set an illegal budget but if the allowance-takers had a scintilla of socialism or civic conscience they would step aside and let the unelected coalition send in the commissioners to carry out the coalition’s dirty work, but that would mean them giving up their allowances – no chance of that.

 Maybe they should open one of the libraries they have closed and borrow a book on socialism.

 I propose that the Civic should be renamed the “Smolny Institute 2”, where officials lived a life of luxury while millions starved to death in the city of Leningrad with more than 600,000 buried in the Piskaryov cemetery alone.

 Our leader fits the role of Zhdanov perfectly and any of his officers running round bedecked with gold chains can play the role of Peter Popkov

 People need to get off their chairs and into the Labour Party to sweep these pseudo socialists out from local and parliamentary power.

 Remember they are few, we are many.

Michael Dodds,

High Barnes

Great opportunity

WHAT a great opportunity the Scottish people have to finally take charge of their destiny and rule their own country.

 It’s pretty obvious the Conservatives are going to win the next election, so that

would be another six-plus years of rule by old Etonians to benefit a few privileged people in the south of England.

 These Conservatives now only look after one per cent of the country, which the majority of the cabinet are part of.

 Now and again they throw a bone to the middle classes – like the recent budget showed – to keep them in power.

 The Labour Party will never win an election as it lost its backbone 30 odd years ago.

 So if Scotland votes, as I hope it does, for independence, you will see a mass migration up there.

Ged Taylor


Secular society

WHY has David Cameron been going on for quite some time now about Britain being a Christian country?

 To whom is he pandering?

 Britain is a secular society. We have many different religions and some people have no religion whatsoever and that’s fine.

 Tony Blair has decided that he’s Catholic, Cameron is a Christian.

 What I would like to know is: Have they read the biblical parable about the camel and the eye of the needle, whereby the camel must shed its load before entering the city, and that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter into heaven than it is for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle with its load?

 I admit to having a plank in my eye, but not millions in the bank.

Lesley Aitch

Join our team

CALLING Great North Runners: Could you be part of Team RNIB?

 Did you get your own place in this year’s Great North Run?

 If so, you can still be part of Team RNIB on September 7.

 It doesn’t matter if you’re giving the elite field a run for their money or jogging near the back, we would love to have you on board to raise funds for RNIB.

 There’s no sponsorship target. But rest assured, whatever you can raise will help the charity provide vital services to local blind and partially sighted adults and children.

 In return, the Team RNIB cheering point will keep your spirits up as you tackle the 13.1 mile course – and you can join us at our post race reception for free food, drinks and sports massage.

 To find out more, please call me, Helen Rogers, area fund-raising manager (North East) RNIB, on 263 8939, or email helen.rogers@rnib.org.uk.

 We’d love you to join our team.

Helen Rogers

Area fund-raising manager (North East) RNIB

A long way to go

RYHOPE residents, bus drivers, delivery vans and various shops may be interested to know the most recent information from Fastflow, the contractors for Northumbria Water.

 The work currently being carried out will be completed in the next eight weeks.

 It has been a very long job but all worthwhile and will virtually last forever – so they say, anyway.

Phil Fairclough