Sunderland Illuminations could return to former glory – thanks to new technology

The lights as they were in 1990.

The lights as they were in 1990.

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Sunderland aims to give Blackpool a run for its money with a promise of seafront lights which are bigger and better than ever.

Council bosses are even talking about organising coach parties to Wearside for people to see them.

Light fountains in 2014.

Light fountains in 2014.

 Sunderland City Council is in discussion with travel firms to bring coach parties to see the lights at Roker and Seaburn – which will marry ‘cutting edge technology’ with ‘a retro feel’ according to the cabinet member in charge of them, Coun John Kelly,

A report was presented to cabinet who voted to establish a ‘Sunderland Illuminations and Lighting Framework’ until 2019, which will involve a variety of partners to develop the range, content and quality of the lights.

The report said last year’s seafront illuminations, which ran from late September until early November, attracted more than 148,000 people.

An investment of between £200,000 and £250,000, from the council’s capital programme, will buy new lighting and related features, while income will come from advertising, sponsorship, and tourism.

Coun John Kelly said: “We will be working with the university and Arts Council to bring some really cutting-edge technology to the city.”

He added: “If you look at how much it cost to do the illuminations back in 1992, it ran into the tens of thousands.

“With new technology we were able to light the seafront and promenade for six weeks over the Christmas period for just £600, which we were able to get through with some income from the previous year’s illuminations.

“These lights have a much longer life span than traditional bulbs.”

Coun Celia Gofton said: “This is very welcome. The illuminations have proved to be a great success.”

Council leader Paul Watson said: “The public’s response to the way John and the officers have developed the illuminations over the years has been fantastic. The popularity has grown and we’ve been able to do it much more cost effectively with modern technology.”