Why isn't it 'ship ahoy' for sinking Sunderland?

The contrast couldn't be greater this Easter – crowds flocking to Hartlepool marina and aboard the Trincomalee while, unbelievably, our fantastic opportunity to bring back The City of Adelaide is ignored and soon perhaps scuppered by our visionless council.

What a sop to tell the campaigners, striving to bring home one of the world's oldest clippers, that they would provide a place for her in the South Docks. How magnanimous!

It's the very least they could do – and there is a deafening silence from the chief executive down to the leader, Paul Watson, to back those who for more than decade have striven with a might and a main to save this illustrious ship, built in Sunderland in 1864, which has been rotting away on a Scottish quayside since 1992.

This is all down to cash – a council that cannot see beyond the rotting hull and is blind to what a fantastic opportunity reclaiming her would be for Sunderland, once known the world over as the largest shipbuilding town on the planet.

That's our heritage and this ship is part of it. We need her to be the centrepiece of a maritime site of celebration to revitalise a city that is up the creek without a paddle.

Bring her to the Wear by the National Glass Centre and St Peter's Church, bidding for world heritage status and we're made.

Now our riverside lies barren – the only movement are rats on the riverbank.

By not taking her on board and seeing her as a black, bottomless hole, our council is playing safe.

Only it's too late for that when we are crying out for tourists to come here.

More than anything the Sunniside Partnership can dream up, the Arc or the artists in the civic centre and their pathetic plan for Market Square, is the fact that this ship is real.

It all boils down to not having the courage to take on the challenge and create a wonderful tourist attraction.

Hartlepool has done it and their council is more than interested in The City of Adelaide. So, too, are the Aussies, including dignitaries from Adelaide.

Time is running out and Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation, Scarf, has to submit a make-or-break bid in weeks if there is any hope to bring her back here.

They have raised 200,000 in pledges from Sunderland people of the 400,000 needed to bring her home.

Then the 2million needed to restore her for people to go on board would see the cash rolling in from the National Lottery, organisations, trusts and funding bodies like World Heritage. Of this I have no doubt.

Our council needs to see these massive opportunities.

But in the face of the apathy that permeates it, the people who are responsible for the demise of this city where so little ever happens – what chance does The City of Adelaide stand from ending up in the breakers' yard?

It's up to us all to champion her return, tell our councillors so and refuse to accept that unwillingness and the inability of our council to seize the moment will deny this city a jewel that is so priceless.

This isn't just any old ship – she is a historic gem in the top 10 core collection – superior in importance to the Cutty Sark which carried tea.

Built by that genius shipbuilder William Pile, she carried brave souls that sailed to the new world in the 1860s and 70s.

Peter Maddison, founder and chairman of Scarf and Independent councillor for Millfield, told me he refuses to be beaten: "I believe in more than pounds, shilling and pence.

"I still take my little girl, Adelaide to Sunday school, and we will have a great service on that ship one Easter to mark and remember those beautiful, brave souls that sailed all that distance to Australia.

"The City of Adelaide is in the hearts and souls of Sunderland and there is a need here, not just a curiosity or desire."

Let's champion the return of the City of Adelaide.

You can pledge by email donations@cityofadelaide1864.co.uk or post to Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (SD SCARF CIC), 44 Mowbray Road, Hendon, Sunderland, SR2 8EL