‘What a shambles’ – discoloured £111,000 Sunderland pier gates packed away in boxes

Workmen cleaning up the Roker Pier gates.
Workmen cleaning up the Roker Pier gates.
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SUNDERLAND’S “reflective” pier gates were today branded a “shambles” after it emerged glass panels fitted to reflect the sun have been packed up in cardboard boxes for more than a year.

Designed by artist Fiona Heron, the panels formed part of the £111,300 “Lightwave” gates at the entrance to Roker Pier at the beginning of 2012.

But within weeks, the gates started to show signs of discolouring and the panels were put into storage.

The Echo understands they have spent the last 18 months at the Resorts Office in Roker.

But visitors noticed the gates discolouring, with some stating they resembled a “rusty cell door”.

To tackle the staining, the glass was removed as £1,673 was spent trying to rectify the problem.

A third of the cash was provided by Sunderland City Council, with the rest from external funding.

Council bosses saying they are in “dialogue” with the artist to “resolve the technical issues and find a way forward”.

Roker Pier is undergoing a £1.5million facelift but it’s unclear if the gates will be completed with the rest of the refurbishment.

Internal council emails seen by the Echo reveal council staff were unsure why the discolouring occurred, stating “one possible conclusion is the 316 steel [a grade of steel used] did not have enough time to create its own protective coating and was then installed during the winter, hence it went brown in a short space of time”.

Despite the gates being cleaned and a lacquer finish added, the problem has still not been fixed.

Geoff Elliott, 62, who walks his dog past the gates most days, said: “I remember when they were first put in there but it seems the whole thing has turned into a bit of a shambles.

“I only hope the work they’re doing on the pier at the minute doesn’t turn into such a mess.”

Councillor John Kelly said: trials on how to deal with the staining on the gates were carried out but proved unsatisfactory.

He added: “Pending further discussions with the artist and the manufacturer, the council plans to see the gates restored and the panels put back as part of the Grade II listed pier’s ongoing £1.35million refurbishment programme.”