Sweets for kids, friendships for neighbours

BIT OF FUN: Halloween provides a fun opportunity to offer treats to the children for their efforts in dressing up, and is also a great way to get to know the neighbours.I HAVE never written to a newspaper previously but felt compelled to comment to Jan’s letter regarding the Halloweenfestivities (Letters, 1/11).I am a great grandmother and I participated on the night by putting out sweets for the children who went to the trouble to dress up for the occasion.

I did remind them to clean their teeth after all the sweets and was amused when one little fairy said that she never cleaned her teeth.The children were polite and some small ones were accompanied by their parents. This allowed my husband and I to meet some neighbours.We live in a small town and there is not a lot for the children so a night to have fun is welcome.

OK,so Jan had a bad experience years ago. Move on, life is too short.Google Halloween Jan, you might find the real story.

I anticipate making our Halloween bigger and better next year.

Jean Price,MerriwaRespect starts at the topARE the people who leave share bikes scattered about after use the same ones whose rubbish we see cluttering up the streets with wrinkled greasy adverts?

Some tell us share bikes are not respected because they are free. Then they tell us there is no such thing as a free lunch. But, I wonder, are these careless individuals simply imitating the government which tosses away soldiers after they have finished their service? If we realise the true cost of our actions, will we become more responsible? If governments are required to pay the full price of war will they become more inclined towards peace?

Peter Ronne,WoodberryA ‘departmental flaw’HOW can you blame an entire region boasting highly dedicated and experienced child protection workers in the Hunter New England District for not gaining accreditation (‘FACS failure puts cloud over care for Hunter’s at-risk children’, Newcastle Herald,3/11)?Many workers in this region have decades of experience, so this is obviously a departmental flaw.

The Public Service Association (PSA), which represents workers, is appalled the government failed to give them adequate time and resources to manage continual departmental changes so the district could pass the Office of Children’s Guardianship accreditation standards.

Unlike other Family and Community Service (FACS) workers across the state, Hunter New England workers were overburdened with caseloads and given no time off their normal duties to seek accreditation.

This is like getting them to mop up the water while the flood is still rushing in.

Many have been left highly distressed at this debacle and while the department has now given them six months to meet the Office of Children’s Guardian standards, they fear for the ongoing care of thousands of Hunter families.The Hunter New England team is chronically under-resourced. It monitors the most children in care (more than 3200) and the most children at risk of harm of any FACS office.

The PSA has written to secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services Michael Coutts-Trotterdemanding immediate action to fill vacant positions

Caseworkers and all other staff involved in accreditation have been pushed to the limit. Far too many have sacrificed their own time trying to meet what are unmanageable work demands.Our members are hardworking, loyal and committed – and need the NSW government to be the same.

Troy Wright, assistant general secretary, Public Service Association of NSW‘Transportageddon’IT is both hilarious and saddening watching the ramifications of the removal of the heavy gauge train line into Newcastle. The ongoing traffic congestion and parking issues which have forced the pay for park and ride plan out of Broadmeadow (‘Park plan’, Herald,1/11).

Then there is the crazy bus plan to move 150,000 people into and out of the Newcastle 500 event through the already congested streets(‘Shuttle bus to stop at Honeysuckle’,Herald, 2/11). I think I will just walk the 2.5 kilometresfrom the interchange to the Supercars. Let’s just hope there are enough police to manage the pedestrian flow trying to avoid Transportageddon that is to descend on Newcastle.If only we had a train into the heart of the city that would easily transport students and workers daily and be able to efficiently move the crowds from big events. For a smart city the stupidity of the decision to remove the rail line is truly coming home to roost.

Mark Ellis, Woy WoyQuestioning responseWHEN I agree with Allan Earl (Letters, 3/11) it’s probably time to pay attention.He is correct in questioning our capacity to deal with a serious terrorist incident. The Lindt siege was a disaster, with poor leadership and the death of a hostage at the hands of police, supposedly from “ricochets” – at least four of them.Victoria is no better – police spent a few hours trying to find their body armour while passengers had already subdued a suspected terrorist on the Malaysian Airlines plane.Compared to the swift and decisive actions of counter-terrorist forces overseas, events like these don’t do a great deal to inspire confidence.

Scott Hillard,New LambtonLane could be the answerTHE have done it again – inner city traffic congestion and confusion.

The closure of Hunter Street between Crown and Brown streets has sent another clear message that the Newcastle CBD east of Darby Street is a no-go area.With Scott Street also closed between Brown and Perkins streets all traffic is forced to use King Street.There are several aspects of the current Traffic Management Plan that need to be amended. There are 17 new parking spaces in Hunter Street but people cannot find them.A significant reduction in the congestion and confusion could be achieved by allowing one westbound lane to flow on Hunter Street between Brown Street and Crown Street.It is predicted that opening up this lane would result in at least a 60 per cent reduction in the disruption being caused. This will be particularly critical for businesses over the Christmas shopping period.

As a traffic engineer, I believe it is essential that one westbound lane be provided between Brown and Crown streets throughout November and December. It is considered that this arrangement would have little if any impact on the works being undertaken.

Ron Brown,Islington

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