Businessman demands help for Sunderland’s struggling cultural quarter

Jimmy Shadforth from D'Acqua in John Street, Sunderland...

Jimmy Shadforth from D'Acqua in John Street, Sunderland...

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HELP is desperately needed for businesses in Sunderland’s Sunniside, according to one restaurant owner.

Jimmy Shadforth, who is head chef and owner of D’Acqua restaurant, on John Street, opened the venue three-and-a-half years ago.

But he says that even though a lot of money has been spent on the area since then, more needs to be done if businesses like his are going to survive.

The 26-year-old, who employs 15 staff at the restaurant, said: “Sunniside is so quiet these days and there is never anyone around. In particular the lunchtime trade has vanished since Tavistock Place car park closed.

“We’re lucky now if we serve 10 people at that time of day, but if we decide to shut during lunch then it could give the wrong impression.

“It’s not great at all down here and one thing that could help, I think, is introducing free parking after 5pm like they have done in Newcastle.

“There seems to be no common sense when it comes to sorting the problem.”

He added: “We’re paying our rates to the council but it seems like we’re not getting anything back from them.

“More charges seem to be added on all the time. For example, now if I need an electrician to come out, rather than just parking round the back I need to pay £14 for a permit so they can park.

“I speak to a lot of other businesses in the area and they feel the same way.

“This year seems to have hit us harder than ever and what we need is an incentive for people to come out.”

Mr Shadforth says he plans to attend the Wear1City event on Tuesday, which will see the council leader Paul Watson answering questions, and voice his concerns about Sunniside.

The event, which will see traders to put questions to the council about trading, has been organised by the Sunderland City Centre Traders Association and will take place at the Corner Flag pub in High Street West from 6pm.

Twitter: @tomwhite7