WORK is finally underway to repair Roker Pier’s rusting “feature” gates.
The £75,000 gate project came in for heavy criticism after the structure began to discolour just months after being installed.
Sunderland City Council had trumpeted the project, telling Wearsiders the “reflective” design of the gates would feature stainless steel bars, different finishes and various angles that would “create an optical illusion resembling a wave”.
But, following installation in January, the gates soon showed signs of rusting and drew comparisons to a “prison cell door”.
As work got underway this week to repair the problem, passers by gave their views.
Bobby Surtees is chairman of Ryhope Sea Angling Club, whose 110 members are regular visitors to the pier.
He said: “What I can’t understand is, surely they would know the metal would oxidise?
“Anything metal that comes in contact with salt will, every fisherman in England knows it’s going to happen.
“It’s ridiculous, those gates are subject to salty air 24 hours a day.
“It was the same with Ambit. That artwork went in the Wear and everybody knew the first big rain would bring down trees and branches in to the river.
“I wish they would consult with people who know about whether it’s a good idea, but they never do.
“Money gets spent on things like that, it’s unbelievable, it didn’t have to be something ornate.”
Artist and musician Bill Elliott, from Monkwearmouth, who regularly cycles to the gates agreed work was needed to return the gates to their original state.
The 68-year-old, who uses driftwood collected from Sunderland’s beaches in his work, said: “When the gates first went in, I thought they looked all right, they certainly look a lot better.
“I’ve seen Sunderland changing over the years and we need it to be a quality place, we need it to be better.
“I’ve never really scrutinised the gates before, but they are really looking a bit rundown and that concerns me.”
The council’s portfolio for public health, wellness and culture councillor, John Kelly, said: “Work began this week to remove any discolouration which has built up during the recent harsh weather conditions, with external funding from the original project paying for the cleaning operation.
“Weather permitting the work will be completed within the next few days, and we will continue to monitor the situation and work with the manufacturers to find a long term solution including maintenance costs.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused while the work takes place, and hope people will continue to enjoy the amenities along our beautiful coastline.”