A BINNED bid to put Sunderland on the world tourist map cost more than £811,000.
The money was spent over the last seven years on the high-profile campaign to secure World Heritage Site status for the twin monastic site of Wearmouth-Jarrow, which was scrapped this week after a critical report.
Figures reveal that of the £811,063 spent on the bid since 2005, more than half of the expenditure – £483,957 – was funded by external agencies, including One North East and English Heritage.
Funding for the bid was also provided by Sunderland City Council, South Tyneside Council and Bede’s World in Jarrow.
But the bid was withdrawn this week, after what campaign leader the Bishop of Jarrow called a “disappointing” report.
A spokesman for the Wearmouth-Jarrow Partnership said: “The project costs include funding posts for a project co-ordinator and project assistant, who worked on behalf of all partners to ensure co-ordination of the various partners and to lead on relevant activity, such as raising the profile of the site, securing external funding and preparing the bid documents, on behalf of the partnership.
“Funding has also been spent on an improved interactive website and supporter database for the site, and the new interpretation across the site, to improve the visitor experience.
“In addition to the financial contributions shown above, there has been in-kind support from other partner agencies, including the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and English Heritage and from key members of the Wearmouth-Jarrow Partnership and volunteers.”
A successful bid could have elevated the dual monastic site of St Paul’s Church, Jarrow, and St Peter’s, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, into a historic attraction to rival Durham Cathedral, the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China and provided the borough with a major tourist boost.
However, the bid was withdrawn, just hours after the Echo revealed an influential committee had recommended it be rejected.
But Keith Merrin, former director of Bede’s World museum, in Church Bank, Jarrow, said: “I don’t see this as the end of the campaign and I think a bid could be resubmitted further down the line. But the whole process is complex and there could be the feeling that too many European sites have already been approved and that new sites from different parts of the world are being encouraged.”
The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, chairman of the Wearmouth-Jarrow Partnership, has expressed his “disappointment” at the critical report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which evaluates World Heritage nominations.
ICOMOS officials said the monastic ruins at Jarrow and Sunderland were not “peak examples” of architectural remains across North Europe.