Letters, Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

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Plan has nothing to recommend it

I REFER to the report in the Echo on March 2 stating that the vacant Vaux site is “too important to get wrong.” So says Janet Snaith, the council’s head of business investment team and Paul Finch, chairman of Sunderland Business Network.

This judgement is irrefutable … so the first requirement is an acknowledgment that the master planner (Piers Gough) appointed by the Sunderland Area Regeneration Corporation (Arc) has got everything wrong. How can a London-based sociologist, knowing nothing of the history of our town, be relied upon to get anything right?

The Arc plan’s worst feature is to disconnect the Vaux site from the city centre with a six-lane road, thereby blighting a potential improvement of the Blue Route new bridge to the SoL area. The demise of the Vaux brewery was an open invitation to connect Durham Road via St Michael’s Way (instead of Railway Row)to the SoL, ie an improved Blue Route.

Also, in considering that with the demise of the brewery, (this was 11 years ago), it was surely incumbent upon the city council’s planners to ensure that a direct link road from the east end of the town to the west end of European Way should be restored … and why not? It is after all, the only reasonable main road option available to conform with government planning policy guides to provide a direct route to the Metro railway underpass to Claxheugh.

Why, one may ask, do the planners wish to by-pass the south side central and outer ring roads?

The SSTC is a plan to create a massive traffic diversion to a useless high/low-level bridge where the only plausible motive is to enhance land values at the bridgeheads of an inappropriate and exceedingly expensive location.

The planned Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) does not have a solitary feature to commend it … and more to the point, as a product of secret Amendment No. 2 to the 1998 Sunderland Unitary Development Plan (UDP), it is contrary to the Town and Country planning law.

On June 7, 2006, the public notice of amendment of the UDP was announced in the Sunderland Echo in which no one was invited to make representations of support or objections to the proposals.

Such was the secrecy involved that the general public were not even made aware of them until years later.

Ron McQuillan

Helpers needed

I WORK for Independent Age, the charity which supports thousands of older people across the UK.

We tackle older people’s poverty and loneliness by offering information, advice and friendship. For those who need it, we also offer befriending and support from an Independent Age volunteer.

We support over 6000 people across the UK and Ireland and are in urgent need of new volunteers to join our dedicated team in Sunderland.

Whatever your talents, you can use them to help us with our work improving the lives of older people in your community.

So, whether you’re a good listener and would like to visit a lonely older person near you, or enjoy getting out and about and meeting new people, we have the volunteer roles to suit you.

All new volunteers receive a full induction, and, of course, we’ll pay for your expenses.

To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area and to request an application pack, please contact Kay White, area manager for North East and Cumbria, on 07595 201 436 or kay.white@independentage.org.uk

Kay White

Ban the buskers

IF Sunderland is ever going to be a major music force we must get rid of the buskers.

It appears that there are more of them frequenting our city centre every week and that there is no law to stop them.

I have never heard so much rubbish. They can’t sing and have no musical qualities whatsoever. It’s just an almighty racket.

Surely there is some by-law that would prevent buskers from appearing?

I think that if we have to allow buskers on the streets they should at least be made to sit some sort of examination or music test. It really is getting beyond a joke.

There is a bagpipe player standing on the bridge on match days, a woman playing the accordion outside Greggs and a one man band en route to the banks in Fawcett Street and they are all rubbish. Quite honestly I would pay them to stop playing.

I say ban them all.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Tattoo memories

I WAS reading about the letter which Jack Robinson wrote about the tattoo at Ashbooke Sports Field. Yes, he is right because I was in the RAMC TA. We took part. Those who took part were 3-7 HAA Gunta RAF, Regt Army Cadets, DLI.

I think it was in 1951. We went straight into the tattoo two weeks after we came back from Salisbury Plains training with 50th Division.

R. Martin, Tudor Grove, Humbledon

Water testing

ALTHOUGH I doubt whether the Echo will publish this or Sunderland Council accept, these are the true facts concerning the Marine Conservation Society, our beaches and the EU “row”.

The MCS includes “good” beaches in its guide solely on the basis of the bathing water testing carried out by the Environment Agency, not themselves. The MCS is mainly funded by the donations that come from this guide, so you would have thought they would have ensured that the testing is accurate and true before they go to print.

The tests of the bathing waters are done at a time and a position at the discretion of the Agency, on only 20 occasions between May and September. The samples are then sent to for analysis and tested within 24 hours (it used to be six hours). Failed tests can be discarded on a “weather waver” basis, ie when it has been raining, but I have evidence to show this is not always the case.

There is no “EU row”. The European Commission has taken the British Government to court because it has allowed too many discharges of raw sewage to be discharged into the sea and this has been admitted by HMG. The Inspector told the Public Inquiry that in 2000 the Whitburn PS discharged sewage to sea an unbelievable amount (487 times -1.200,000 cu meters) when it was expected even 20 times would be in excess and 220,000cu meters would be the maximum in any one year. NWL have reduced these discharges by diverting flows to St Peters, where they are now discharged, untreated, directly into the river and, worst of all, they are unmeasured so, like the EA, no one has a clue what is being discharged.

There are many reports of beach pollution, 18 this year so far made by Sunderland Council, but they choose to close their eyes to it. On April 19 the report I hold shows 200 sewage-related debris items were collected from Seaburn and 150 + from Roker. We have to assume the MCS programme manager Dr Robert Keirle when he visited the area took the time to look at these reports. What surprises me is that such low standards must be acceptable so that any beach with this amount of sewage coming ashore is more than good enough to be included in the MCS Good Beach Guide.

Surely local people’s health is more important than painting a false picture to encourage tourism. After all it is the local people who are paying to have their sewage treated when in reality they might as well just dump it in the river and sea themselves. At least it will be free and the effects will be the same.

I wonder if anyone can remember the Jaws film when, although the shark was still close to shore, the Mayor instructed the beach manager to enter the sea in the hope it would encourage the tourists to bathe. This is not unlike the situation here where the MCS, who are based in Ross on Wye, – claiming the BW are safe in the hope the tourists may also enter the water.

Bob Latimer, Whitburn

Thanks to voters

I WRITE to thank everyone who voted for me in the 2012 local elections. It is a great privilege to be re-elected as the Labour councillor for Washington Central Ward.

I will work hard with my ward colleagues Coun Linda Williams and Coun Len Lauchan to ensure Washington Central is well represented within the Sunderland City Council.

Thank you.

Coun Dianne Snowdon, Washington Central Ward

MAY I thank all the people of Millfield Ward who voted for me in the local elections on May 3.

Together with my two ward colleagues, Coun Lynda Scanlan and Coun Iain Kay, I will continue to work hard for the people of Millfield, both on the streets and within the civic centre.

During our campaign we talked to many people and they told us of their concerns. We have a large list of issues and will continue working our way through them. We will make street surgeries a regular feature of our work and monitor closely the progress of any case work.

May I thank my opponents for the spirit in which they ran their campaigns and send Paul Dixon my best wishes for the future.

Bob Price, Millfield Ward Labour and

Co-operative Councillor, Fulwell, Sunderland

I WOULD like to take this opportunity and thank all residents in Houghton, Chilton Moor, Fence Houses and Newbottle who supported and voted for me in the local elections.

Although the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, I would like to assure everyone I will continue to have the best interests of the Houghton community at heart and I will continue to work to that end championing the issues important for the local community.

Gemma Taylor, Houghton

AS the unsuccessful Labour candidate for Fulwell, I would like to say thank you to all the people who voted for me in the recent council elections.

I feel privileged to have received such an endorsement, reducing the Conservative majority to a total of only 101 votes. I especially enjoyed visiting people and hearing their views first hand.

As a Fulwell resident I am deeply concerned with issues in the area and hoped to bring some fresh thinking into these problems, some of which date back for some years.

I will still be working as part of the ward Labour group and will hopefully be around subject to selection to fight again in the next election.

Again I thank you all.

Margaret Beck, Deepdene Road, Seaburn, Sunderland

Search Party

I AM trying to research my family history (father’s side).

My father, David Davidson, was born in Sunderland in the early 1900s. He came south around 1925-30.

If by any chance the name David Davidson also occurs in any readers’ family history, perhaps they would like to contact me with details and we can compare notes.

Any information that they may be able to give, no matter how small a detail, would be most appreciated.

Who knows, we may well be long lost relatives. How wonderful would that be?

I really hope that someone will have some good news for me.

Email: valdatimmis@hotmail.co.u