Tory leader: 2013 was a mix if good news and frustration for Sunderland

Coun Robert Oliver
Coun Robert Oliver
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LAST year was a mixture of good news and bad for Sunderland, according to Conservative opposition leader Robert Oliver.

There have been encouraging economic developments alongside wasteful spending and stalled regeneration projects, according to the Tory.

Here, coun Oliver looks back at the year and shares his hopes for the city in the coming months.

“With more cars now being built at Nissan than in the whole of Italy, 2013 was a year for jobs on Wearside, with the city now firmly set on the road to economic recovery.

“Following the worst recession in a hundred years, much has been achieved in terms of getting the city moving again, with more private sector jobs created here than anywhere else in the region.

“All this is tribute to the Wearside worker, but when you see headlines such as “50 jobs but no takers” then, in 2014, more needs to be done to improve the skills of our young people.

“In fact a lot has been done to help people stand on their own two feet such as income tax reductions, the right to buy your council house and the Help to Buy housing scheme.

“Despite this good news, residents remain frustrated with the lack of progress in the city centre with grand plans still on the drawing board despite the council being given the tools to do the job.

“These include funding for the New Wear Crossing, an enterprise zone and tax reductions, but still we look jealously at neighbouring town centres which are moving ahead with vibrant retail and leisure facilities.

“Although the port is booming, Sunderland is still blighted by empty spaces where houses used to be, along with stalled projects at the Vaux site and Holmeside, while Sunniside continues to slumber.

“The year 2013 was also a big year for the council as it had to cope with the cuts which are necessary to getting the nation’s finances in order. But even with less money around, services got better and residents said so.

“Sadly, the council did manage to continue some of its wasteful habits with more spent on chauffeured cars, £700,000 shelled out on the Vaux site car park and a third of a million on the seafront pods.

“Inspired by the triumph of the year, the renovated National Glass Centre, we, the loyal opposition on the council, look forward to bricks finally being laid at the Vaux site in 2014.”