Wexit? Calls for Washington to leave Sunderland and become independent town

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Wearside has voted in favour of Brexit, but what about Wexit?

A petition has been started by campaigners for Washington to become independent and leave Sunderland City Council control.

The Galleries shopping centre at Washington

The Galleries shopping centre at Washington

The move comes as residents complain of parks and other green areas being left untidy and messy, grass verges on roads not being cut and dog waste bins left unemptied.

Members of the Restoring Washington Facebook page on which the petition has been posted argue that public money is going towards Sunderland city centre and areas closer to it, rather than Washington.

Already in a poll on sunderlandecho.com in which more than 1,000 people took part, 62% voted for Washington to become a separate town outside of Sunderland, with the other 38% voting for it to stay.

Sunderland City Council bosses have responded to the anger about untidy areas by saying that residents can help to keep the town clean by joining forces with volunteers.

We feel that Sunderland only took Washington because they wanted to get city status.

Kirsty Dixon

Washington mum-of-three Kirsty Dixon set up the petition following discussions with other people on the Washington in Decline Facebook page.

“This has all come about from people wanting to increase awareness of what the area is now like,” said Kirsty, 41, of Oxclose.

“Washington is being isolated. People are putting photos online daily of bins overflowing and grass not being cut.

“We’re not being selfish, we just want to improve things for our children because we seem to be getting left behind by Sunderland.”

The Galleries shopping centre at Washington

The Galleries shopping centre at Washington

Kirsty added that she and other supporters of the petition are not jumping on the bandwagon following Britain’s decision to vote to leave the European Union last month.

“We were talking about this before the Referendum vote took place,” said Kirsty, mum to Keira, 11, Mia, six, and Dominic, 21 months.

“This is something that has coming for a while now.

“We feel that Sunderland only took Washington because they wanted to get city status.

Kirsty Dickson from Washington with her online petition.

Kirsty Dickson from Washington with her online petition.

“Everytime we complain all we keep getting told is that it’s due to austerity cuts, but Sunderland City Centre seems to be perfectly clean, while Barnes Park and Mowbray Park are fabulous.

“In Washington, Princess Anne Park is in a terrible state. I wouldn’t take my kids there.

“Nothing is being fixed and we don’t see anyone walking around picking up rubbish in our parks anymore.”

In response to the setting up of the petition, Councillor Bernie Scaplehorn, Washington councillor and chairman of Keep Washington Tidy. said: “What is very important is how people should get out, get involved and be proud of their community.

“Our Washington Area Committee meets regularly to support and fund neighbourhood groups and organisations.

“Plus, there are groups such as the Washington Trust that have dozens of volunteers.

Kirsty Dickson from Washington with her online petition.

Kirsty Dickson from Washington with her online petition.

“We all take a pride in Washington and by helping look after where we live and playing a part we can all help to make Washington an even better place to live.

“People can always find out more from their ward councillors, Keep Washington Tidy on social media, or from people such as Bryan Beverley, community and volunteer development officer, at the Washington Trust 0191 2193884 or emailing bryan.beverley@washingtontrust.co.uk

“The trust holds supplies of disposable sacks, gloves, litter pickers, high visibility vests etc. which both groups and individuals can make use of for either litter picking events or other environmental volunteer activity.

“People who would like to get involved in other forms of volunteering can also contact the trust for advice, support and information.”

The petition currently has more than 700 signatures of support.

It will need a minimum of 10,000 signatures to be recognised and 100,000 for the issue to be debated in Parliament.

To view the petition go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/133310.