Letters, Monday, October 21, 2013

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Will square end up like Sunniside?

I REFER to the proposed new public square planned for the area outside of the Magistrates Courts.

 It has to be said, the artist’s impression looks aesthetically pleasing, but what about functionality? Will this draw in more visitors? Will it encourage more and better businesses into the city centre? Will there be a return on investment?

 As one commentator has already stated, the description “Water features, landscaping, street furniture and space for café culture-style entertainment all aim to transform the site into a thriving hub of activity” sounds very similar to how the Council sold the Sunniside redevelopment. Look what that is like now – almost deserted by the public.

 Given the investment, you have to hope it works but the “plan” for the city seems to be a bit patchy, with a bit here and a little there, but nothing is joined up.

 John Prescott is quoted as saying that Sunderland Council will develop the city centre once they decide where that is. Could he be right?

 One final point. The main artist’s view shown in the Echo looks past the Magistrates Court building, over the Vaux site towards Wearmouth Bridge. In this the Vaux site is shown as a grassed area with some trees. Has the artist been told something we haven’t?

Alan Wright,

High Barnes.

It’s all golden ...

LEGEND has it that Dick Whittington was told that the streets of London were paved with gold. At £11.8m, what material does the council propose to use in Sunderland’s new public square?

Frank Johnson,

same and address supplied.

The big problem with ‘café culture’

WHY are councils in this country obsessed with trying to create ‘café culture’, as is the case, once again, with this new public square?

 Don’t they realise that in countries where café culture is prominent – say Italy or Spain – it tends not to be windy, freezing cold and bucketing down with rain for most of the year?

 Hey, I’d love it to be more like the continent – I could take a leisurely stroll down to the public square during my three-hour lunch break, sit and have an espresso and pain au chocolat and watch lovely senoritas wander by while listening to a little old man play his accordion. Perhaps there might even be a mime artist pretending to be trapped in a box.

 But that’s not very likely, is it? If I’m lucky enough to get away from my desk for ten minutes (not guaranteed every day), the best I can hope for it a quick run to Greggs in the wind and rain while avoiding alcoholics and drug addicts. The closest I’ll get to an accordion is the sound of a screeching child having a sausage roll shoved in its gob.

 We are not a vibrant, sun-kissed city on the Mediterranean, we’re a wind-battered unemployment blackspot on the North Sea and that’s not likely to change. The sooner our council realises this and stops wasting money trying to change the city into something it’s not, the better.

Mark Jones,

Sunderland.

It was no better under Labour

R SCOTT (Echo, October 10), complains about life under the present Government, but how, exactly, were we any better off under Labour?

 Zero and one-hour contracts were around then, while the bankers were given free reign by Gordon Brown and they ended up with a clutch of knighthoods and various other awards. The gap between rich and poor reached record levels, and let’s not forget that it was Labour who abolished the 10p tax threshold affecting millions of low-paid workers, while the filthy rich paid no more tax than they are paying now. The main beneficiaries of Labour’s time in power wasn’t the working class, but Tony and Cherie Blair’s friends in the legal profession, especially the Human Rights lawyers.

 People like R Scott should wake up and smell the coffee, politicians are all the same, no matter which party they’re from.

M Brown,

Sunderland.