Swings and roundabouts – mixed reaction Sunderland Hoppings-style funfair

The Hoppings, Europe's largest travelling fun fair, pictured in Newcastle.
The Hoppings, Europe's largest travelling fun fair, pictured in Newcastle.
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RESIDENTS today gave a mixed reaction to the news that a Hoppings-style funfair is coming to Wearside.

The nine-day event, which is being billed as the “North East’s largest funfair”, will take place next month at Herrington Country Park.

The announcement, which comes after the cancellation of the historic Newcastle attraction, follows talks with Sunderland City Council and months of planning.

The fair, which will feature more than 100 attractions and run from June 21 to 30, is expected to pull in bumper crowds.

However, householders have given it a mixed response.

Retired fitter Dave Parkin, 52, who lives near the site, said: “Nobody seems to have been consulted over this.

“It seems to have gone through without any residents being told a thing about it. There are some real concerns with possible anti-social behaviour, traffic and parking problems. There was no way to raise objections about this and now it’s too late.”

Grandmum Margaret Dodds, 62, from Penshaw, said: “My main worry is the extra traffic coming into the area. There is already a lot passing through certain roads. It needs to be well-organised and policed.”

Dad-of-two Steven Dawson, 42, from Penshaw, said: “I know The Hoppings has caused a few problems for residents in Newcastle and I’m worried it could cause the same here. I know it’s not on the same scale, but I’m concerned it will cause traffic and anti-social behaviour problems.” But householder Joan Arkley, 56, from Shiney Row, said: “I think it will be nice for the children. The families will enjoy it.”

Harjit Singh Jawanda, 50, who runs the Golden Fry Inn takeaway, in Shiney Row, said the move could attract extra trade.

“I think it could benefit local businesses,” he said. “It could increase trade.”

Housewife Carol Miller, 59, from Shiney Row, said: “I think it would be popular and attract a lot of people into the area.”

Earlier this year, the Echo revealed how Sunderland City Council had been approached about staging a funfair.

A dispute between the Showmen’s Guild, whose attractions illuminate Newcastle’s Town Moor each year, and the Freemen of Newcastle, who took over organisation in 2012, led the showmen to opt out of The Hoppings, set up in 1882.

Citing disagreements, including location of pitches, rent hikes and pricing of attractions, Guild members voted unanimously to declare the event “out of order”, meaning they will not participate for the foreseeable future.

However, Sunderland City Council has pledged to monitor the event and any damage to the site would be paid for by the operators.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of the local authority, said: “Following an application to hold a funfair at Herrington Country Park, between June 21 and 30, the council has agreed to grant a licence to the fair operator to occupy part of the park.

“The fair will coincide with the Sunderland Armed Forces Day, which is also being held at Herrington Country Park from June 28 to 30, and although separate, the organisers are working together to ensure the two events complement each other.

“Herrington has been identified by the fair operator as the most suitable location. The site is well used to hosting large outdoor events.

“It has hosted the Radio 1 Big Weekend, County Shows and just last year it played host to the Olympic Torch Relay when the Olympic flame stopped off at the park during its tour of the UK.

“As with any large events, there will always be some short term inconvenience for other users of the park and surrounding area.

“The council and event organisers are working closely with the police and other statutory bodies to address potential issues such as parking, litter and noise from the event.

“We will also be keeping a close eye on the weather and ground conditions and working with the event’s organisers to ensure that any damage is kept to a minimum.

“The licence also contains provisions for the operators to make good any damage that is caused to the park.”