Linda Colling: ‘What have we got after all these years?’

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Have your say

SO the State of the City Event tomorrow night – a platform for us all to have our say to the council leaders. Will it make a ha’porth of difference?

Isn’t it high time to scrap this event and the time and money it costs to hold spent on actually improving the city?

Is this event just going through the motions? More hot air. More talk. And do they really pay any attention to what we say?

They might listen, but nothing fundamental changes here.

Sunderland is definitely in a state.

More shops continue to shut – TJ Hughes is now shuttered like Joplings.

As one irate woman said at this event last year Sunderland “seems to be a city of pubs and charity shops. It seems every time we have an empty building it ends up as a pub or a club or a lounge bar. It puts a strain on police resources and puts a strain on accident and emergency.”

She got a round of applause.

Unlike many city centre shops which are struggling to make ends meet, the charity shops say business is booming.

We are a poor town and poor people shop in poor shops, but that’s no reason why we should look a sorry sight.

It looks sad. And we don’t deserve city status. We never did.

A city is bright, vibrant and bustling, not down at heel and depressing. That’s not all of Sunderland – we have some lovely spots, but they are out of the square mile of the city centre.

We’ve got great parks but a seafront that people shun for Shields because it’s got so much more. And what’s changed in a year?

Hot topics at the State of the City Debate last year were speeding motorists, antisocial behaviour, the loss of Wearside’s most historic ship and the ongoing saga of the Vaux site.

Well, what have we got after all these years? A wildflower meadow and a car park “prior to bringing forward new plans of the redevelopment of the site.”

How that got the goat of one Echo reader, D Watson, of Ormonde Street, who on our letters page last week listed again all the sorry sights I have written about – including the eyesore Crowtree Leisure Centre, which I’ve long said should be pulled down. Then there’s Holmeside and the seafront.

We love our city and that’s why we despair at the derelict buildings and the air of neglect.

Mr Watson made the point: “What this city needs is forward-thinking, wealth-creating innovators, preferably within a vibrant council.”

I would go further and say until we have new leaders, this city is going precisely nowhere except to the dogs.

So we’ve got moveable seats in The Bridges and while Newcastle gets designer shops, we get a giant Primark which will make Fawcett Street even more of a ghost town.

Newcastle has its gourmet restaurants and we have a doughnut van plonked in the middle of High Street West.

What have we to look forward to? Oh, yes, the Grenadian Olympic team are coming. I wonder what they will make of the state of the city?