Questions raised after Sunderland Commonwealth Games bid missing from key document on city's future

Questions have been raised after plans for the future of Sunderland, including an ambitious bid to host the Commonwealth Games, were dropped from a key blueprint document.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 5:28 am
Sunderland Civic Centre

City leaders revealed their aspiration to host the games in March when they unveiled the City Plan for 2019-2030.

But they have now admitted they may have to scale back their aspirations after realising they were unlikely to attract the contest before the end of the period covered by the document.

“Particularly in later years the content of the plan is likely to change, it’s aspirational in some areas, but less so in others,” said Jon Beaney, the council’s associate lead for organisational strategy.

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“Looking at the time scales for the Commonwealth Game, we’re now more into the 2030s or 2040s – I think we would have had to apply two or three years ago to get it by 2030.”

When council leader Graeme Miller announced his plans to put Sunderland forward as a potential host city he said 2034 was the earliest Wearside was likely to be awarded the games.

The proposal was in the draft of the City Plan presented to Sunderland City Council’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee in March.

But at a meeting of the same panel on September 12 it was among several policies which had either been altered or removed from the latest version of the document.

Lib Dem leader Coun Niall Hodson said: “I’m not happy with the process or the amount of information this scrutiny committee is being given and personally I don’t think this can be voted on in council fairly.”

Conservative councillor Coun Bob Francis said the panel needed ‘background detail and the causes of why changes have to be made’.

Following debate, the committee agreed to request the council’s ruling cabinet put the brakes on plans to have the latest draft approved by a meeting of the full city council.

Labour’s Coun Doris MacKnight, the committee’s chairwoman, said: “We’re going to have to move this on and ask cabinet to take it off the table so we can give it appropriate scrutiny.”