Discoloured £75,000 pier gates look like “rusty cell door”

Rust on the new gates on Sunderland Pier

Rust on the new gates on Sunderland Pier

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ROKER Pier’s new £75,000 gates have been labelled an “eyesore” just three months after being installed.

The glistening stainless steel entrance to the pier has now turned a dull orange and council bosses have admitted there is an “issue” with surface residue on the structure.

Dated: 26/01/2012'Councillor John Kelly , Sunderland City's Portfolio holder for Safer City and Culture with the new gates at Roker Pier' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

Dated: 26/01/2012'Councillor John Kelly , Sunderland City's Portfolio holder for Safer City and Culture with the new gates at Roker Pier' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

Just weeks before being installed, Wearsiders were told the “lightwave” design of the gates would feature stainless steel bars, different finishes and various angles that would “create an optical illusion resembling a wave”.

But today, one Wearsider described them as “a rusty old cell door”.

Sunderland City Council commissioned the gates and four options were put to Echo readers, with artist Fiona Heron’s design coming out on top.

They were erected in January as part of the regeneration of Roker and Seaburn and replaced “prison-like gates” at historic Grade II-listed pier.

At the time, Ms Heron said: “We’ve tried to make it a sustainable design which will last. The finish is on the steel itself, so it won’t need to be painted.”

But, just weeks later, visitors and residents seem less than impressed.

Margaret Alexander, who lives in Roker, said that the gates had lost their shine.

“They did ‘dazzle’ for a day – the day on which they were installed.

“Since then they have, gradually, become discoloured and stained, and now look sad and dirty,” she said.

John Frances, 29, of Seaburn, said: “I walked the dog past them the other day and they just look like an eyesore. They’re not that much different from what they looked like before - a rusty old cell door.”

Donna Gibson, who runs seafront music venue The Smugglers with partner Paul Walsh, believes the cash would have been better spent elsewhere.

She said: “We just thought it was a waste of money. They’d just spent £7,500 to put galvanising on the old ones and there was nothing wrong with them.”

But Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson defended the structure.

He said: “I can confirm that the new Roker Pier gates are not rusting. There is an issue with surface residue which the manufacturers are working to resolve.”

Funding for the gate project came from the CABE Sea Change Fund granted to the council in 2009 to revamp Roker’s Marine Walk.

The pier gates are just one element of plans to regenerate the seafront at Roker and Seaburn, drawn-up after a major public consultation exercise in 2009.

Twitter: @janethejourno