Row over Sunderland cultural quarter

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COUNCILLORS clashed during a debate about helping Sunniside businesses amid concerns about antisocial behaviour and a lack of trade.

The motion to give support to the area was proposed by Conservative councillors at a meeting of the full council in the civic centre.

Robert Oliver, leader of Sunderland Conservatives, said that Chris Mullin, former MP for Sunderland South, had been right when he originally questioned the planned Sunniside development.

Coun Oliver said: “Chris Mullin was right when in 2005 he said we may well be back where we are now in 10 years’ time in regard to Sunniside.

“Labour promised that it was to be an urban renaissance and a vibrant, dynamic and exciting place.

“But after all the millions of pounds that have been spent there, the area is too far away from the centre of the city.

“There is very little trade and very little footfall. We need to do more to support Sunniside because if we can bring people into other areas of the city surely we should be able to do it here as well.”

Coun Oliver and other Conservative members also said that traders in the area had complained of antisocial behaviour and the number of alcoholics that are there.

But the council leader, Coun Paul Watson, hit back and said it was the Coalition Government’s policies that were hitting the area.

He said: “What this council has done for Sunniside is unbelievable.

“But we have a delinquent government that has led us into a double-dip recession.

“Why are they not proposing motions about unemployment and young people that are unemployed? They are disgraceful.

“These charlatans are sticking up for the shambles that is this government whereas this council has done a lot for Sunniside.

“They are simply dodging the real issues that are affecting this city, and all they care about is provocation.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7