PATIENTS and staff at a dental practice threatened with demolition to make way for the new Wear bridge have collected more than 1,000 signatures in a petition.
As reported in the Echo, Wessington Way Dental Practice faces being pulled down under a compulsory purchase order as a planned access road will run right through it.
Having been left in limbo for a decade, staff and patients are still fighting Sunderland City Council, but they have been told they have to hand over the land on February 27.
Now a petition with 1,116 signatures so far has been handed over to council leader Paul Watson by the practice’s patient’ forum chairman, Mary Buston, and members and staff.
The petition urges the council to stop the closure of the practice, which has 5,000 patients and 15 staff, and states that it is premature for a project they say has no certainty of being built.
It adds: “Certainly the council would not wish to be tainted with another fiasco such as the Vaux site which is still an eyesore in the city.”
Mary, 75, retired account manager from Houghton, said: “We understand the necessity for a bridge, but this is for an access road, that’s why they are pulling down our building. If there had been bats or rare newts there, they would have to change their plans but because there are people’s jobs they don’t really care.”
Sunderland city council leader Paul Watson said: “Obviously there is a process to go through and it’s going through that process now.
“We’ve dealt with them for along time now and clearly we are concerned and we care about what happens to them and we will do everything we can to mitigate any bad effects. We can’t really say anything until we have dealt with the process, and compensation and other issues for moving a business or closing a business.
“But we are hopeful we will have a good outcome for as many people as possible. At the end of the day the bridge is progress for the city. It opens up the south bank of the river to link the enterprise zone to the port. It is of massive importance to the city’s economy if progress is to be made for the city.”
Wessington Way Dental Practice opened its custom-built premises in 2001. After the project was first mooted in 2003, Sunderland City Council made Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) on affected businesses in 2009, with two supplementary orders following in 2011.
But plans for an £118million iconic bridge were scrapped last July over concerns of the costs.
Council bosses have since gone back to the drawing board and come up with plans for a more simplified version and have again served CPO notices on affected landowners and tenants.
The group is still collecting signatures at www.change.org/p/sunderland-city-council-save-our-patients-save-our-jobs.