LINDA COLLING: Vaux Site of the Living Dead

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NOT so much a town as a mortuary. Industry has long departed, leaving residents to shuffle round the town’s meagre consumer options like zombies in George A Romero movie – while seagulls **** on them.”

Recognise this place ? It’s how Sunderland was depicted in March 2004 in the Echo, when for the second year running, it was nominated as the worst town in Great Britain, in a sequel to Crap Towns published the year before.

SUBMITTED PIC''Sunderland Arc - artists impression of VAUX site, day and nighttime images

SUBMITTED PIC''Sunderland Arc - artists impression of VAUX site, day and nighttime images

Those words, written by a David Etherington, hold an even more hollow ring today.

This week the council heralded £13.4 million plans for the Vaux site to create in St Mary’s Way an “attractive boulevard” with a “super crossing” and a traffic-free area and entertainment venue dubbed Magistrates Square.

Really? A boulevard – as in the South of France? More like a new pedestrian crossing for the zombies to walk over.

Street entertainment with concerts, festivals and big screen events? All this right beside the £2million Primark. Wasn’t this what was planned for Sunniside, markets, displays and entertainment? Welcome to the boulevard of broken dreams.

The very day after the Echo reported our nomination for that unwelcome worst town title, which many may think was warranted, our front page promised a multi-million pound development, planned for Park Lane market site.

All part of the Holmeside triangle to spark the city’s revival. We reported it all with “as regeneration bosses embark on £1billion plus plans to regenerate huge swathes of land on the North and south banks of the Wear.” And how the now defunct Sunderland arc, told us: “Sunderland could still have a home in the state-of-the-art developments planned for the city.”

High hopes indeed. Just like the Spirit of Sunderland tower – the highest building in the North East soaring 33 storeys high in Holmeside, part of the triangle of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, 150 apartments and leisure facilities all housed in the tower and covered square.

All that never happened. Another broken dream, just like the high life we were promised in these photographs of an artist’s impression of the Vaux site. Yes, yet another broken dream to match the multi-million pound plans for Farringdon Row and another multi-million pound pie-in-the-sky development – Stadium Village with a giant indpoor ski centre – with real snow.

Remember the Roker Horn? The 40-metre long, red, white and black horn, which would have blasted out live match commentary on the Stadium of Light Metro Station. The idea was that the horn, as long as four double decker buses, would broadcasst live commentaries and the roar of the crowd at the Stadium of Light as each Metro pulled into the station. What a work of art.

And what a waste of time “Watch This Space” at Galley’s Gill was. What a wait. What a wasteland. When the going was good we well and truly missed the boat by the council not seizing the moment in the boom times. Now there’s no money.

And now, with so many broken dreams behind us, there is a glimmer of hope for the Vaux site – but only if developers step in because our council has no money to do anything other than tidy up this eyesore.

It’s lain dormant so long, I long to see something happening here. Will it ever happen? I wonder, just like I wonder if I will live long enough to see anything ever there.

Get your rage on

ONCE you just shouted at the wall. Now if you want to vent your spleen you can scream down the phone with a brand new service to help angry, stressed and frustrated people offload.

The Vent is billed as “a safe and confidential space to release tension with a trained ventor, quick and easy and highly effective.”

You can scream and shout all your worth if you can afford the £3.99 for a five minute call or 10 minutes if you’re really flush at £7.99, offloading to a trained ventor.

All safe and confidential, there is no etiquette, just say whatever you want to say, whichever way you want to say it. “We don’t give advice or analyse, just listen and guide the conversation for the best possible offload,” Eva Takacs, chief ventor tells me.

Exceptions to their rules of ‘anything goes’, include sex calls, which will be terminated and no refund. And callers who are suicidal or need more support than what The Vent can offer will be referred to more suitable organisations.

How sad not to have anyone in your life to rant and rage at. I really can’t imagine life without that...

Bit of a shore point

SAD the words of shameless former St Anthony’s schoolgirl, Charlotte-Letitia Church who has carved out a career for herself as a drunken housemate in the disgusting reality TV show Geordie Shore which is back on our screens next week, showing 10 housemates partying and lewd sexual scenes.

Slated for plumbing the depths and portraying our region as low as you can go, Charlotte, 22, defended the show with: “People say they hate it because we’re drunk slobs and that we give the area a bad name, but that’s the same reason it does well, because people do that in everyday life.”

Sadly their latest antics, Chaos in Cancun next Tuesday on MTV, will pull in the viewers.

Even sadder is the fact that this sends out the message that this is the norm. It isn’t.

Hats off to Ascot

HATS off to the fashion police who patrolled Ascot with pashminas and fascinators for those who had dared to bare too much flesh and gone bare-headed.

The new dress code is to ensure only classy looking fillys leg it here.

Let’s face it, unless you are a young one, those strapless and backless frocks are common, clarty and not a pretty sight.

The Axe – The Colling hitlist

LET the axe fall on ignorant male cretins, like one serving in a city centre building society who asked me: “Do you want owt out?” And another in a computer shop, who dared to attempt to take a piece of paper from my hand I was reading from and when I drew back then dared to ask “Is it a secret?”

Not an open one. How do these people get jobs when they haven’t got a clue in civility let alone customer service?