“IT is time for change – together we are one city” – businessman Harry Collinson issued a rallying cry as Sunderland City Centre Traders’ Association (SCCTA) held its inaugural meeting.
Representatives of more than 70 city centre businesses packed into the City Museum and Winter Gardens to hear association chairman Harry outline the vision of a new group to give Sunderland a united voice.
Everyone was familiar with the challenges facing the city centre. The SCCTA would provide a link with the city council to identify real ways to tackle some of the problems.
“The one thing city centre traders have in common is passion,” said Harry, the second generation to run Collinson’s Jewellers on Wearside.
“Let’s grab this city by the scruff of the neck and move it forward.”
The whole was far greater than the sum of its parts if businesses helped and supported each other, he said.
“It is about going back to basics, sharing our knowledge and experience together.”
Sunderland City Council’s Graeme Farsworth outlined progress on city centre regeneration and highlighted the vision for its most high-profile site.
“What we want to do with Vaux is to replicate Doxford International,” he said.
“If we can replicate what we did with Doxford, we will create 4,000 jobs on the Vaux site.”
It would then be up to businesses to capitalise on the development, he said:
“The council sees its role, as improving footfall and the potential spend. It is your job to capture that spend.”
Leighton Group founder Paul Callaghan told the meeting Sunderland did not always do enough to promote itself.
“Other parts of the world recognise us and give us credit for what we are,” he said.
“Sometimes, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things we do and what we are capable of doing.”
The association would be “a really positive force for good”, he said
“Sunderland belongs to us, all of us here today,” said Mr Callaghan.
“It is our city, it is our responsibility, and we, together, can change things.”
The SCCTA has its own Twitter feed, @WeAre1City, email address Sccta@gmail.com and website www.wear1city.co.uk