Is the first priority of local government the maintenance of safe infrastructure? How far has City of Newcastle strayed from basic maintenance of roads, footpaths, and drainage, to instead focus expenditure on what I consider to be extravagant and over-budget projects such as South Newcastle's skate park? In Cooks Hill there seems virtually no maintenance of footpaths and basic drainage, while similar heritage suburbs like Sydney's Paddington enjoy regular, thorough cleans. Gutters have had so many years without cleaning that the thick muddy mulch filling them prevents dispersal of storm water, resulting in localised flooding. For pedestrians, I find it is often safer to walk on roads, since footpaths are in such appalling condition that trip incidents are commonplace. Alerting council to these hazards results in absolutely no action. Public toilets, such as those in King Edward Park, are often so filthy that they cannot be used. Yet these basic cleaning and maintenance functions should be central roles for our council, rather than expensive new facilities that will be used by few. Certainly these are times of fiscal tightening, but the current economic climate should focus our council on maintaining safe basic facilities, rather than embarking on what I think are extravagant, poorly-planned vanity projects. It's been reported that Scots College, in Sydney, which I believe always has its arms stretched out for public money, plans to knock down its library and spend millions on a student centre in the design of a Scottish castle. I think this is extravagant use of public money; money that could be best used for public hospitals, good health for all, when all they have to do for a student centre is to build a wattle and daub hut lined with shelves for books on independence, equality for all Australians, climate change on the struggle to save our planet. Books on the basics for life survival starting with fresh water and food, books I think the government should heed before it's too late. I would like to comment on the article "Boom times in Coalfields" (Herald, 4/12). On a recent visit to the Coalfields, I noticed that, although the area retained a provincial atmosphere, it showed subtle signs of dilapidation from decades of coal mining. I realised how extraordinary this was given its proximity to Newcastle and the M1. I realised also that the area is fertile ground for gentrification and development. Thus, it comes as no surprise that area is experiencing a housing boom. For this reason, the proposal to reintroduce passenger services on the former private railway between Maitland and East Cessnock is pertinent. But the railway should not terminate at East Cessnock, it should be extended via the former Aberdare central colliery branch to Kitchener, then proceed to Morisset via a new tunnel beneath the Watagans. But, regardless of the details, it is imperative the government act quickly to ensure that the Coalfields has adequate infrastructure. I totally support Ann Ross's comments regarding the condition of the change rooms, toilets and showers at Wallsend pool ("Room for pool improvement", Letters, 1/12). It also wouldn't be the first time I have expressed my views as to the lack of cleanliness and hygiene at this venue. The Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery, has been consistently raising this matter with the City of Newcastle in her push to prevent the privatisation of our council-owned pools, which unfortunately seems to fall on deaf ears. Steve Barnett, not all employers are narrow-minded, opinionated, insular rednecks. They see talented young people who can make up their own minds. It would be a sad day if young people listened only to one opinion. Young people are far smarter than some give them credit for. As an employer and teacher of young plumbers for 40 years, I know we have great young people who care about multiple topics. Employers who troll through social media to vet potential employees are someone you should not work for. They are the type who think that "because you work for me, I own you". You appear naive Steve, people lock their profiles anyway. You need to get out and about more with young people. Last Sunday, I was fortunate to see the Bikers for Kids Newcastle Toy Run, as I have done for many years. Every entrant acknowledged the cheering crowd. Congratulations to a well-behaved lot, who kept their promise to turn out to benefit less-fortunate kids. What a contrast to those demonstrators at the foreshore who broke the agreement to cease their demo at a certain time. In court, it has been revealed that $2.3million of taxpayer money was transferred to Brittany Higgins by Federal Labor in one afternoon of negotiations ... for what? Israeli intelligence has been regarded as second to none over many years and we were all surprised when Hamas fighters were able to cross into Israel without warning on October 7. However, we were probably just as surprised when Japan carried out their attack on Pearl Harbor 82 years ago this week. Both horrific events at a time when someone was apparently "asleep at the wheel". Tony Morley, with friends like Dave Lowe ("Lowe's creativity a winner", Letters, 6/12), the A League doesn't need any enemies. No one would read one of Lowey's columns and then say "I must get off to watch an A League match this weekend." If oldies remembered they were once young, and youngies realised they will, barring the alternative, someday be old, there might be less stereotyped sniping and whining about the wealth of generations. Of course, Boomers have more than their offspring. They've had more time to accumulate it. If we had a decent Socialist society there would be more financial equity and the safety net would have a tighter mesh. But, greed would come out.