Big City Survey reveals public pride in Sunderland

There's lots to love about life in Sunderland and others will be '˜green' with envy.

Tuesday, 5th December 2017, 10:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:02 pm
Herrington Country Park.

That was one of the themes to emerge from our Big City Survey, in which Echo readers have been having their say about all things Wearside.

Almost 1,000 of you answered our questions on a range of issues, including health, crime and lifestyle.

The Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park lake, Sunderland.

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Yesterday, we reported on how the major issue for many of you living in Sunderland was cleanliness of public spaces and a call for a tidier city centre and less litter.

But when it comes to the natural surroundings and our scenic parks, you rated them very highly.

Some 37.9 per cent of you described the city’s parks as good, with a further 16.5 per cent saying they were very good.

The nearby countryside also scored highly – 29 per cent of you think its very good, with a further 39 per cent describing it as good.

The Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park lake, Sunderland.

It’s the same with leisure offerings in the city.

Some 47 per cent of respondents rated Sunderland as either good or very good for concerts and theatre shows.

42 per cent said the city is very good/good for cinema offerings and 40% felt the same about our restaurants, pubs and bars.

Where the city scored less favourably was in terms of shopping centres.

Of those who took part in the survey, 30 per cent felt them to be poor and 24.6 per cent described them as very poor.

But those involved in that sector pointed to the number of high street names that have moved to Sunderland in recent years. They acknowledged that some people still venture out of the city to places including Newcastle and the MetroCentre to carry out some of their shopping but urged people to ‘shop local’ as much as possible to further increase the appeal of our own city centre.

Andy Bradley, Centre Director of the Bridges, said: “The retail offering in Sunderland has grown rapidly in recent years, with a number of major high street names choosing to set up in the city.

“We are constantly working with other retailers to entice them to Sunderland and we are confident that with the city as a whole benefiting from major investment, that will make the centre an even more enticing proposition.

“We firmly believe that there is a great mix of big -name brands and independents in the city and the fact that the centre is always busy would bear that out.

“We know people will travel to Newcastle and the Metrocentre for a day out or perhaps for specific retailers who may not be in Sunderland but we still believe there is a very strong offer available, which is only going to continue to grow.

“There may be people who have contributed to this survey who have not visited the city centre for some time – in which case we invite them to come in and look round and see how many great retailers are on their doorstep.”

Sharon Appleby, Head of Operations, Sunderland BID, added: “The BID is at the heart of making Sunderland a great place to live, work and spend leisure time, and retail is at the centre of that.

“We believe that there is a great deal of choice, although we are realistic to know that in some areas we can’t compete with Newcastle or the Metrocentre – but we aren’t trying to.

“To entice more retailers to the city centre needs us to be able to make a strong, economic case, which means that local people need to spend more time in Sunderland and spend their money here, not travel outside the area to shop.

“We would encourage people to use the city centre as much as possible and take the time to see what it has to offer.”

Sunderland will discover on Thursday night if it has been successful in its bid to be named UK City of Culture for 2021.

We’re fighting it out with Coventry, Stoke, Paisley and Swansea for the award, with the winning city set to be revealed live on BBC’s The One Show, being broadcast from Hull, which currently holds the title.

And if Sunderland is successful, you know just how the city should mark the award.

One of the questions in our Big City Survey was: If Sunderland is selected as City of Culture 2021, which of the following would you most like to see built in the city?

And by far and away your top answer – with 34.6 per cent of the vote – was a major visitor attraction.

That was followed by an indoor music arena (22.5 per cent) and a mining/shipping heritage centre (20.7 per cent).