'Fresh ideas needed to make changes' and 'people need to have hope': Your views on how Sunderland can overcome austerity
Echo reader Arthur Pattison certainly touches on a raw nerve when he wrote that Sunderland has been in decline since it became a city.
That status was conferred in 1992, and Mr Pattison says in this week's Letter of the Week that Sunderland has suffered from neglect ever since.
His comments certainly provoked a response on the Sunderland Echo Facebook page, with many people blaming Sunderland Council and others the government for the city's demise.
Here's some of your comments:
Che Thornton: "We need to face facts. We are a provincial town, too close to Newcastle and extending the metro here only made things worse. The age of Internet shopping has killed most town centres up and down the country. To suggest things like extending The Bridges and redeveloping Blandford Street is ludicrous. What's needed is a night time economy. Where young professionals have places to work, eat out, drink and live. In decent offices and homes. To achieve this would take massive private development of sites like Vaux and subsequent redevelopment of others. But will the people of Sunderland actually move into any of these areas? The Sunniside redevelopment was a case in point. A decent attempt by the council and Gentoo to transform the area. But we don't have enough young professionals who bought the apartments. The demographics just don't stack up at the moment. The University is attracting a lot more students into the city centre now, which is a positive start. But what we need are jobs to make them stay here once they graduate?"
Roddy Macpherson: "Sorry, but what has it got to do with Westminster? Did the decline stop when Labour were the Government? The local council do not provide best value for money. Forget the arguments about bins and a new bridge, where is the civic pride in the City of Sunderland? It is non existent! That's why the people who live here are so despondent."
David Jackson: "In the coming local elections I hope that people vote for change. I hope that there are new councillors with fresh ideas and the passion and will to make changes. There are loads of things which can be done to improve the lives of people in Sunderland during these difficult times, provided we all dream big and overcome negativity."
Anne Thompson: "Sunderland City Council have been subjected to eight years of cuts by Conservative government. Austerity is biting hard. If the council try to make an area look nice they are wasting money. If they try to save money (bins collected once a fortnight) the world stops spinning. Whatever they do is wrong. Roker redevelopment has brought much-needed life into a long neglected area. How much stick do they get for that?"
Karen Butler: "Why do they need to build a new civic centre when there is Jack Crawford House and many other buildings owned by the council which could be used, saving millions and filling up empty office spaces?"
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Linda Brown: "Why couldn't the [Vaux] land just be turned into a park until a decision was made regarding its future? I doubt any other town/city in this country has an area of prime land that has stood fallow for so many years. It's criminal."
Leanne Mallin: "I don’t live far from the city centre and on a beautiful day last week walked around most of Sunderland, just out of curiosity. I felt myself becoming more and more depressed as I looked at the streets and the buildings. It has been left to such ruin I just don’t even know where they would start to pull it back round. Then I came back to my home and swept my street, which was thick with rubbish. From the state of the city to the state of my street I was left feeling so low and desperate to just get out. It’s not a pleasant place to live and I can’t see it improving any time soon."
Craig Lynch: "It’s OK saying we need better shops and bars etc like they have In Newcastle, but we won’t pay the prices these places charge in Sunderland. We want everything for nowt, hence why so many businesses come and go soon after opening in our city."
Related: First tenants could move in to new The Beam office building on Sunderland's Vaux site in AprilRobert Welsh: "Promoting small businesses will help. When groups of companies collapse the damage is nationwide. Single traders can also adapt to change much quicker than corporations."
Paul Burdess: "The council sit on ideas and take an age and a day to decide what to do and before you know it, years have gone by. Take for example the Vaux site; many ideas have been issued and this has been demolished for 20 years and we are getting office blocks. Really!! Give your heads a shake. Businesses are closing because no one wants to come to a demoralised city any more, but all you can come up with is office blocks. Gateshead and Newcastle have expanded because they put ideas into fruition and people are flocking there. Wake up and give the city a make-over the people of the area deserve in the 21st century."
Caroline McAllister: "Am I the only person who loves Sunderland? We're a town that has the same issues as many similar in demographic around the country. Yes it's in decline, but it's not all bad and I've visited worse places."
Kate Appleby: "There’s plenty of post-industrial places in a worse state than Sunderland. To suggest that the council has done nothing since the demise of industry is delusional at best! I can clearly remember what Sunderland looked like before the closure of the pits and shipyards! Have they timed everything right? Not always. I doubt it was a conscious effort to ensure the demise of the city though. Newcastle tapped into the nightlife scene pretty quickly post industry, helped by the fact they already had the infrastructure to facilitate it. We’ll get there man, people need to have hope. The age of the internet spells the demise of all high streets, it's not a phenomena specific to Sunderland."