Letters, Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Have your say

DIY way to organise an alternative 10k

So the BUPA Great North 10k is moving on to Gateshead and Sunderland will have its own replacement 10k road race.

The BUPA race, organised by Brendan Foster’s Newcastle-based company, Nova International, is believed to have cost the City Council over £100,000 to stage and the new event, I understand, is being arranged by Foster’s BBC commentary associate, Steve Cram.

The cost of the new event has not yet been announced, but it will not be inconsiderable.

I cannot understand why Sunderland City Council must employ an outside agency – at great cost – to organise an event which could easily be staged with the help of the two main athletics clubs in the city, Sunderland Harriers and Sunderland Strollers, which already host their own highly-successful events.

Sunderland Strollers organise the popular Pier to Pier race between South Shields and Roker, while Sunderland Harriers host the Penshaw Hill races and the Sunderland 5k, which incorporates the North-East Championships.

Many other local authorities in the region enlist the assistance of local athletics clubs to stage road races without incurring huge costs employing outside agencies and keeping the entry fees down to £6 or £8 for club athletes.

One of the main gripes among local athletes is the huge entry fees being charged by the BUPA Great North Run (£44) and BUPA Great North 10k (£22), and while a lot of money is raised for charity in both events, a lot of money also goes to the companies organising the races.

If the new Sunderland 10k was organised by Sunderland City Council’s recreation department (surely it has suitably-qualified personel available?), with the generous assistance of Sunderland Harriers and Sunderland Strollers without employing outside consultants, the only costs incurred would be for policing and the modest expenses charged by timekeepers and race officials supplied by the North Eastern Counties Athletic Association.

The cost of policing would be reduced if it was decided to stage the race completely off-road as a multi-terrain event in the Herrington Country Park, which recently staged the North of England Cross Country Championships and has been the venue for the English National Championships.

An off-road event on a sunny June afternoon under the shadow of the landmark Penshaw Monument could be a real family day out with a carnival atmosphere and would save all the traffic disruption in Sunderland City centre for hours on a Sunday.

There can be no objection to Sunderland deciding to stage its own 10k race but in these austere times, when every penny of public money should be properly accounted for there should be absolutely no need to pay out huge sums of money to an outside company.

Perhaps Coun Denny Wilson, portfolio holder for Safer City and Culture, could answer two questions: Exactly how much did the City Council pay Nova International to stage the Great North 10k and how much is being allocated to host the new event?


Moving concerns

IT was with a sense of anger and dismay that I read about the Sunderland 10k run being lost and moved to Gateshead – or should that be NewcastleGateshead?

Dismay that Sunderland is, yet again, being pushed aside by its “bigger” neighbour and anger that it seems that our council has merely accepted this without a fight.

The official reasoning that it was always envisaged that the run would be moved around the region makes me smile when it has been moved to Tyneside, where they already stage the Great North Run, the Blaydon Races, and the Quayside runs.

What odds that it doesn’t move any further than that? If it did have to move then why not somewhere like Durham that doesn’t already have anything similar?

Call me cynical, but I think the talked about new event for Sunderland will be a much lower profile event that will quickly fizzle out.

Bob Cook, Haininghead, Fatfield, Washington

Send in the Army

WE are all fed up with hearing David Cameron saying cuts, cuts and more cuts.

David Cameron was described by the BBCs political editor Nick Robinson as Margaret Thatcher all over again.

Why, indeed, doesn’t David Cameron and Nick Clegg take large cuts in their own salaries to then lead by example.

Also, as far as job creation is concerned, the honourable gentlemen should be investing, in many business areas to create future jobs and wealth to reduce the high number of people suffering from out-of-work depression.

Higher unemployment means a higher crime rate and with their reduction of police officers, we will end up like the crazy USA.

It would be my dream to come true to see all our lads and lasses back safe and in one piece from Afghanistan which is futile war costing billions and young lives, limbs and many broken hearts.

The soldiers could be re-engaged tackling antisocial behaviour, which they would be brilliant at. It would save millions and make our towns and villages safer, happier places.

I really believe to nip in the bud antisocial behaviour would prevent many future crimes. Crime within the Army is almost zero because immaturity is swiftly dealt with.

The British Army has had to eliminate crime from within their establishments for hundreds of years now and we can use this special authority on our streets today.

No guns or any form of violence is needed, just using skilled soldiers to regain our streets back from the yobs.

Most peoples dream is to win big on the lottery, whilst mine is a dream of peace in every corner of the Earth, and it would have to start here right on our doorsteps, but I am just an OAP so who in this dictorial Government will listen to me?

Jimmy Chambers, Rickleton Village, Washington

No more soft soap

There is no doubt it can be a tough life for some living on Wearside.

Unemployment is high and many folk suffer from a poor quality of life through no fault of their own. However a minority are letting the image of the city down. They just don’t seem to have any pride in their appearance whatsoever and it doesnt have to be like this.

One of the lowest-priced items on the market is a bar of soap, so why is there a element of dirty-looking people walking about, especially in The Bridges and the Market Square.

I think its a disgrace. The way they go around with a couldn’t-care-less attitude, I mean some really do look like the folks who travelled third class on the Titanic. Have they got no standards? Just take a look around the next time you visit our luxurious city centre there is plenty evidence.

It never used to be like this in Sunderland. The city was known as a hardworking shipbuilding town. The folk were proud of its reputation and took pride in what they did and the way they looked.

For example you could walk down any city street and see a woman kneeling down and scrubbing her steps with a silver bucket next to her. When was the last time you saw that?

Unfortunatley since the closure of the shipyards and the mines, there has been a massive decline and the image now is of a 18stone guy in a tracksuit eating a pasty from Greggs. Is this really what we want to portray? I don’t think so.

There are many measures that can be taken to improve things. One would be to employ a couple of commisionairs and place them at the entrances of The Bridges, politely turning away any one who was not properly dressed and tugging a forlock at folk who made a extra effort, for example someone who was wearing an Armani suit and walking around with a Harrods carrier. I would also like to see reprimands for those who scratch themselves in inappropriate places in public, fines for spitting and swearing.

These may be draconian measures. However, it is no crime to be skint but it certainly is a crime to look skint .

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Get set to toddle

Barnardo’s would like to say a big thank-you to all the under-fives on Wearside who took part in the Big Toddle.

These amazing toddlers took part in a short sponsored walk last summer and helped to raise a fantastic £11,000 for vulnerable under-fives in the North East.

These funds are vital for supporting local children, including those with physical and learning disabilities, autism and behavioural problems.

Barnardo’s would love to see more local tots registering for the Big Toddle in 2011. It’s a great day out and this year is set to be a roaring success – as toddlers are being encouraged to dress up as their favourite safari animals!

Registrants can attend a local Big Toddle held by Barnardo’s, encourage their local pre-school, playgroup or nursery to organise their own Toddle.

To register and find out more, visit www.bigtoddle.co.uk or call 0845 270 9900.

Suzi Campbell, Barnardo’s North East Fundraiser