Letters, Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have your say

Confusion over bedroom tax

REGARDING W Quinn (Sunderland Echo, March 8), the letter is incredibly partisan, and in fact riddled with half-truths and spin.

 The bedroom tax, as it has been called, is in fact an important incentive to solving the housing crisis. The examples given in W Quinn’s letter are extreme, and they would, in fact, be eligible to apply for a government grant, set up for exactly these circumstances.

 As for the lack of one-bedroom properties, why don’t those who are able move into house shares, maybe with four or five other people, as I did a few years ago?

 The availablity of one-bedroom properties is, I’m afraid, a red herring designed to paint the Government as out of touch.

 I’m sick and tired of people demanding their “rights”, while not living up to their “responsibilities” to society.

 Nobody wants to see vulnerable people penalised by taxation. I don’t think this legislation does that.

Daniel Smith,


Low pay victory will impact everyone

IT was interesting to see a Newcastle-based solicitor is up for an award for his work on equal pay rights that will see more than £1billion paid to low-paid women.

 It is also interesting to understand where this £1billion is coming from. The money is coming from schools and local authorities, which ultimately means that cuts have to be made from other areas of these organisations to meet the claims.  

 This will impact on everyone.

In my children’s school alone the claims could pay for five more teachers.

 In these times of budget cuts, it would be reasonable to assume that cuts will be made in these organisations and people could possibly be made redundant as a result of these claims.

 The solicitor referred to his clients as “brave”. How brave do you have to be to have a solicitor working for you on a no-win, no-fee basis?

 Lastly, the solicitor referred to receiving the award as “enormously satisfying”. Was that when he worked out his cut of the £1billion?

Stewart Ferguson,


Who benefits from charity treks?

WE’RE often hearing stories about people seeking sponsorship so they can head off on an exotic trip in the name of charity, often to the tune of thousands of pounds.

 It’s always great to see someone making an effort for a good cause, but here’s an even better idea: If you can manage to raise £3,000 to go trekking in the Andes or along the Great Wall of China, why not forego the adventure portion of your ‘challenge’ and donate the whole amount to charity?

 You won’t get to go on holiday, but the charity will receive a lot more than it would after your airfare, acommodation and food etc have been deducted, which is the most important thing, isn’t it?

Stuart Nattrass.

Animal antibiotics are big danger

THE Government’s chief medical officer for England, professor Dame Sally Davies, has warned that serious action must be taken to prevent antibiotic resistance in bacteria becoming a ‘catastrophic’ threat to public health.

 Incredibly, more antibiotics worldwide are fed to animals than to people, according to Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO (March 14, 2012).

 This provides huge potential for drug resistant diseases to develop in farmed animals and for them to jump species to humans.

 Throughout much of the world it is common practice to give farmed animals sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics because this has a growth-promoting effect.  

 The practice was banned in the European Union in 1999.  

 However, many EU farmers are still using huge quantities of antibiotics, via a legal loophole that permits the use of drugs prescribed by vets.

 In October 2011, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament said that ‘despite the ban of the use of antibiotics as growth promoters, there seems to be no significant decrease in the consumption of antibiotics in the veterinary sector, which continue to be used systematically for “prophylactic” purposes due to unsustainable agricultural practices.’

 This was a reference to the crowded and squalid conditions in which pigs, chickens, cows and other animals are being increasingly kept.

 These intensive regimes provide the perfect breeding grounds for numerous diseases and result in the administration of huge quantities of antibiotics to ensure animals survive long enough to make it to slaughter.

Ben Martin,

Animal Aid.

Can you help find old school photos?

I AM trying find class photographs of Hendon Board school girls classes from 1950 to 1956.

 I especially want the school years of pupils who left in 1954, 1955 and 1956. I can be contacted by email on annmackem@optusnet.com.au or Mrs Ann Hansen, 1/24 Casuarina Drive, Banora Point, NSW 2486. Australia.

 My name at school was Ann Pike and I’m trying to make up a folder of all the classes while I attended Hendon Board school.

 Many Thanks and hi to all my friends in the town.

Ann Hansen,


Costly mistakes of Vaux site saga

THE banner headlines of the Echo (March 7) announced the good news of a £2¼ million Euro cash investment towards development of the Vaux site.

 A short paragraph on Page 5 summarised a brief history of the site, from Vaux’s closure to Tesco’s purchase, stating that the Council were in discussion with the owners Whitbread, who sold the site before cash could be raised.

 My understanding is that there was a three-year time frame between Vaux closing and the sale of land, time enough to raise capital. Why then, was the money not found and how much was required?

 I believe Tesco paid £12 million for the site and the Council eventually purchased it for £22 million. Not good economics there then.

 There are many ways to raise capital. Banks back companies with millions of pounds of loan facilities at set rates of interest. In the overall scheme of things, £14 million was not an insurmountable total to raise for a city the size of Sunderland.

 Consider the revenue lost in trade and rates had the site been developed years ago.

 Instead, the site has become a blot on the Council’s reputation and their costly mistakes should not be so easily overlooked by a short paragraph in the Echo.

A Grimes,



Come along chaps, speak properly!

A HEADMISTRESS was recently quoted as saying that she wanted her pupils to be taught to speak correct English.

 I would have thought that this was the main aim of all schooling.

 Nowhere is it more necessary than in Sunderland.

 Our local lingo must run a close second to that of Birmingham in its merciless massacre of the English language.

 If I ruled the world I would make elocution a basic ingredient of the curriculum.

 Should this come about, I would look forward to the Stadium of Light resounding not the raucous raw of ‘Ha’way The Lads’ but to the much decorous intoning ‘Come Along You Chaps’.

B McGill,

South Bents.