A DECISION to carry out major work on Sunderland’s seafront during the peak summer season was today branded “ridiculous”.
As part of multimillion-pound plans to regenerate the Wearside coast, excavation work has led to a large section of the Seaburn coast being closed off in recent weeks. But the move, during what is traditionally the busiest time of year, has been questioned.
It is understood that Sunderland City Council had to start the works immediately to meet deadlines after a £2million grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. But the work has not been welcomed by residents, workers and visitors to the coast.
Councillor George Howe, from Fulwell ward, said: “I have had several people come up and ask why on earth this is all happening during peak summer season. I was just down there the other day, and it all seems to be taking an interminable amount of time and causing a huge amount of inconvenience.
“We all know the seafront has been neglected for too long and needed work, but this seems like an inopportune time to do it.”
Allaoua Boumed, owner of Little Italy Italian restaurant on Seaburn promenade, said: “This has affected business here. I’m not really sure about the timing of the work.
“Of course, like everyone, I’m sure it will be nice when it’s all finished. I suppose they could not have known the weather was going to be so nice when they decided to do all this.”
Catherine Thompson, 40, a customer service assistant from Silksworth who was visiting the seafront, said: “We had to walk all the way down the promenade first to get down to the beach. This is going to put families off.”
Sally Clow, a 55-year-old retiree from Silksworth, added: “It’s a waste to have all this work on when the weather’s so nice.”
Rob Graham, 30, said: “Why didn’t they just wait? It’s ridiculous really.”
Tommy Dodd, 72, retired, from Seaburn Dene, visits the seafront daily. He said: “When they first started, there seemed to be loads of workers on the job. Now, there seems fewer.”
“It’s such a big job. To have one or two working is ridiculous. They could have had it done by now.”
The work is also due to clash with the Sunderland International Airshow, which starts next weekend.
Council bosses are hoping the majority of work will completed by then, but it is understood planting and landscaping will be put off until after the event.
Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said: “We’re very proud of our seafront and the work which has already taken place looks great. The airshow is a huge event for us, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Roker and Seaburn.
“It makes sense to stop the work for a few days so everyone can enjoy the flying displays and ground activities as much as possible.”
The total cost of the redevelopment at Seaburn is £2.9million and forms part of the council’s overall budget of £5million to the entire seafront area.
It is understood there were also health and safety concerns about carrying out the work during winter as bad weather has, in the past, delayed projects.