Four-day Sunderland Airshow would leave residents ‘under siege’

Councillors Bob Francis, George Howe and John Wiper are concerned about the effect of a four day Sunderland airshow on the people who live near the sea front site.
Councillors Bob Francis, George Howe and John Wiper are concerned about the effect of a four day Sunderland airshow on the people who live near the sea front site.
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AIRSHOW-WEARY residents and businesses have given the thumbs down to plans to spread the event over four days.

While this year’s extravaganza –which kicked off on Friday night with the Red Arrows and ended on Sunday - proved a massive hit with visitors basking in sunshine on Seaburn seafront, proposals to extend the length of the show have met with a cooler response.

Despite concerns about parking and antisocial behaviour, many residents living near the coast praised the organisation of this year’s event, which passed off with just 14 arrests by police.

But suggestions by Councillor John Kelly the show – which brings on an estimated £12million to the city’s economy – could soon cover four days, has prompted reservations.

Doreen Simm, 78, lives in Rockville, a cul-de-sac just outside the parking restriction area.

She said: “I don’t cross the door when the airshow is on. It feels a bit like being under siege, so I’m not sure about it turning into four days.”

Mrs Simm says medical conditions prevent her from walking down to the show but acknowledges hundreds of thousands of people do enjoy the event.

She added: “It’s a bit of a sacrifice when you live round here but it’s undoubtedly good for the city.”

Neighbour Gordon Laidler, 92, who has lived in the street for 30 years, is less than enthusiastic.

He said: “I can just about cope with two and a half days but four days would be too much. I didn’t go down there and I know all the cars come and park in the street here.

“I think you’ll find most people round here think the same thing.”

Michelle Clark-Barkess, 54, also of Rockville, was more positive about the proposals.

She said: “We went down there at the weekend and had a great time. We just walk down so there’s no problems, we just don’t use the car for the weekend.”

However, some businesses on Sea Road say they see little benefit from the show as it is, so increasing it over four days would create only more problems.

Mick Coughlin, from The Blinds Place, said: “We actually closed on Saturday.

“We don’t get any passing trade and because there’s a lot of people on the streets, there’s always the possibility the windows might get damaged.”

Christine Mearns, owner of Sea Road Pets Shop, has no interest in seeing the show extended. She said: “I hate the airshow. It’s just a problem for those living here. It’s a bit like the Great North Run, it’s good for visitors but not so good for those who live round it.”

Local councillors in the area say extending the show would only further antagonise nearby residents, many of whom already leave their homes for the weekend to escape the crowds.

Councillor Bob Francis, of the Fulwell ward, said: “I would be interested to know what the costs of going up to four days would be. Not only the cost to Sunderland City Council but the cost to residents and traders.

“I know a lot of people who go away for the weekend but they might not be able to do that over four days.”

Councillor George Howe added: “Two days is fine but four seems too long for this type of event.”

Airshow director Sue Stanhope said the plans for the show were “worth considering”.

She added: “Obviously we need to talk to people, we need to talk to residents.”