Big Sunderland projects are all very well, but they must not come at the expense of the city’s small traders

Blandford Street, Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
Blandford Street, Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
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Big numbers, big thinking and big ambitions are all very well, but we must not let the small, but equally valuable, fall through the cracks.

Sunderland Business Partnership revealed that an impressive £1.5billion of investment is being ploughed into the city with a series of major infrastructure projects set to transform our community over the next few years.

The projects are many, varied and, quite rightly, being trumpeted as signs of a city revitalised.

Partnership chairman Gary Hutchinson summed up the feelgood factor when he said: “People say the measure of a city-on-the-up is the number of cranes you see, and I can scarcely recall seeing so much activity in Sunderland.”

Cranes may symbolise growth, but “closing down” signs tell another story.

On the same day we heralded this fantastic investment news, we also reported the closure of a long-standing independent trader.

Adam Clarke of Arc, Blandford Street, Sunderland, third generation of the family closing after nearly 100 years in the clothing business.

Adam Clarke of Arc, Blandford Street, Sunderland, third generation of the family closing after nearly 100 years in the clothing business.

Men’s clothing shop Arc is shutting up shop after three generations and 90 years of business.

Arc owner Adam Clarke feels the street where he does business has been left high and dry. He is not alone in his thoughts.

Other traders are worried that some areas are getting better treatment than others, and livelihoods are being threatened.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but when businesses with strong links and a great affinity to our city are expressing deep concerns, we ignore them at our peril.

The fanfare that surrounds the city’s big ambitions is wholly justified, but we must take care to ensure that the concerns of the small traders toiling on the fringes are not drowned out.