Road sign in memory of late council leader Paul Watson damaged
A new road sign named after late council leader Paul Watson has been damaged just days after it was erected in his memory.
The former council leader's name was given to the one of the roads leading to Sunderland’s new Northern Spire Bridge, which opened to the public last week.
But just days after the road named Paul Watson Way opened, the sign has been damaged and there appears to be tyre marks leading up to it.
The circumstances around the damaged sign are not yet known.
A Sunderland City Council spokesman said: “We are aware, and dealing with, a damaged road sign which will be replaced.”
The road name aimed to be a fitting tribute to the former council leader, who died in November, but some have voiced their objections.
Liberal Democrats in the city called for the public to “have their say” on naming roads in the city, after criticising the lack of council consultation around Paul Watson Way.
Last week, Liberal Democrat group leader on Sunderland City Council, Niall Hodson, added a policy is needed to allow the public to nominate those who they think should receive a similar honour.
This mechanism, he argued, would be an alternative to “just having Labour councillors deciding behind closed doors to name roads after themselves and their colleagues.”
However, Labour bosses have hit back on the issue, stating SCC already welcomes and considers suggestions from the public for naming roads.
Deputy leader of the council Michael Mordey, said: “The city council has commemorated two local men – Sir Tom Cowie and Councillor Paul Watson – in two approach roads to the Northern Spire.
“These are two men from different ends of the political spectrum who both our loved our city (and) left a lasting impression, and so this is a fitting tribute.
“Other roads in our city, such as Keir Hardie Way or more recently St Nazaire Way, or even older names such as Fawcett Street, were named as reflections of local or international connections, or our city’s heritage.”
Paul Watson was first elected to the city’s Pallion ward in 1997, served as leader of the city council since 2008 and died at the age of 63 last year following a cancer battle.
In his time as council leader, he oversaw the council taking ownership of the landmark Vaux site and worked with major employers such as Nissan on Sunderland’s new city bridge.
Cowies Way – on the south side of the Northern Spire – pays tribute to the late Sir Tom Cowie who was known for building the transport empire which became the Arriva Group.
The Sunderland-born entrepreneur – who also has a Sunderland University campus named after him – was also a former chairman of Sunderland AFC and a Conservative party donor.
The Â£117million bridge links Pallion on the south of the River Wear with Castletown on the north side.
The crossing was expected to open earlier this year, but delays were caused due to bad weather during the later part of the winter.