Attack on the pods – businessman slates ‘stupid’ spheres at Sunderland seafront

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PLANS to install cannonball pods on the seafront have been criticised by a businessman.

Tom Parkin, joint-owner of Sue’s Cafe, in Marine Walk, claimed Sunderland City Council has not consulted widely on the project.

Sue and Tom Parkin from Sue's Place  are not happy about the Roker Pods which are due to be introduced as part of the regeneration project along Roker seafront.

Sue and Tom Parkin from Sue's Place are not happy about the Roker Pods which are due to be introduced as part of the regeneration project along Roker seafront.

He also believes nobody wants the pods, which could be given the green light by councillors tomorrow.

The steel-and-oak designs, inspired by the cannonball rocks formed on Roker’s coastline 238million years ago, have been funded as part of the Sea Change scheme, backed by a £1million grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

One has been set aside as a kiosk selling coffees and ice cream, another is to be used to run education sessions, and the third would have a flexible use for performances and other events.

The planning report for tomorrow’s meeting suggests the pods will move between various locations along the seafront.

Mr Parkin said: “They have never consulted us on them at all.

“You know if you have a daft idea and everyone keeps telling you it’s a stupid idea? That’s what everyone says about these. They look like something out of the Teletubbies.”

He added: “By law, they must be fully conversant with disability legislation from inception.

“If you have a pram or use a walking stick, you can’t tackle seven steps, let alone if you’re severely disabled.

“They say they will move them about, but you need water and electricity to keep them going, so I can’t see how they can do that.”

Cabinet secretary, Councillor Mel Speding, feels the pods will be a welcome addition to the seaftont.

“The proposal came out of a consultation on the regeneration of the seafront in 2009,” he said. “Which was one of the largest consultations ever undertaken in Sunderland.

“Detailed plans for the pods were among a number of proposals put forward in the Marine Walk Masterplan, which also went out to public consultation later that year.

“We are committed to working with future operators to determine the most suitable means of providing level access to the pods.

“We’ve already had quite a bit interest from some of the community groups we’ve been talking to who are interested in managing them and booking them out to other groups.