Calls for spotlight to be put on Sunderland Civic Centre’s move to Vaux site after cancelled meeting

Sunderland Civic Centre could move from Burdon Road to a new building on the Vaux site under council plans.
Sunderland Civic Centre could move from Burdon Road to a new building on the Vaux site under council plans.

A demand has been made to put a pause to the process which could see Sunderland Civic Centre move to the Vaux site and its current HQ razed to make way for housing.

Labour-led Sunderland City Council wants to ditch its dilapidated base in Burdon Road for a building on the former brewery land and bulldoze its old 1970s offices to make way for homes.
It says it is the “most cost-effective, the quickest and the most beneficial in terms of helping regenerate the city centre,” costing £1.4million less over 25 years than relocating to Holmeside and £4.7million cheaper than refurbishing the current centre.

Work is under way once again on the old Vaux brewery land.

Work is under way once again on the old Vaux brewery land.

The process will start on Wednesday, when its cabinet meets to discuss the idea.
But Conservatives on the council say talks should be halted until backbench members have a chance to look at the details.

An economic scrutiny committee had been due to meet last Tuesday, but the Tories say it was called off because of the “late cancellation by the CEO of Siglion”.

Siglion is the partnership between the council and now defunct Carillion.

In July, Tolent was brought in to complete work under way on the Vaux.

It would be incredible if the cabinet considered this issue before it has gone through the proper scrutiny with the views of councillors and residents bypassed due to a diary mix up

Councillor Robert Oliver

Conservative group leader Councillor Robert Oliver said: “It is a massive proposal for the city involving £80million of taxpayers’ money to possibly build a new civic centre on the Vaux site and not one backbench councillor will be able to scrutinise it first.

“Cabinet must not just receive the report next week due to an unexpected cancellation of the relevant scrutiny committee meeting at which backbench councillors from all parties can question the matter first and offer their comments for consideration by the cabinet.

“It would be incredible if the cabinet considered this issue before it has gone through the proper scrutiny with the views of councillors and residents bypassed due to a diary mix-up and the cabinet should agree to delay the decision until the relevant committee meets.”

Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller, said: “No decision has been made regarding the re-location of the civic centre. The process starts on Wednesday at cabinet, at which point I look forward to the involvement of Coun Oliver and others in the scrutiny process.

Councillor Robert Oliver.

Councillor Robert Oliver.

“There will be appropriate opportunities for decision-making scrutiny in coming weeks and months.”

Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council.

Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council.