“WAKE up Wogan”.
Fed-up Wearsiders today slammed Sir Terry Wogan after he criticised the “mean streets” of Sunderland in an article about the recent riots across England.
Violence flared, shops were looted and homes ruined in London, Birmingham and Manchester just two weeks ago.
But there were no reported incidents in this city.
As part of an opinion piece in a national newspaper, the veteran Irish broadcaster wrote: “We didn’t need to be told that the riots were the work of an under educated underclass without hope, discipline or a family life.
“Most of us, at one time or another, have been through Tottenham, Brixton, Peckham, Toxteth, Salford and Sunderland with the door locks on and the windows shut and seen for ourselves the mean streets, the knots of young men hanging around the corners.
“We thanked our lucky stars that we didn’t have to live there and forgot about it as soon as we reached safer havens.”
Now, community leaders, MPs and police officers have come out in support of Sunderland, criticising the 73-year-old’s unfair comments.
Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland area commander, said: “Sunderland is a safe city and these comments aren’t a fair representation.
“The latest annual figures show crime is continuing to fall with 1,637 fewer victims in Sunderland.
“Our priority is listening to the concerns of our communities and working together with partners and the whole community to make the city even better.
MP for Washington and Sunderland West Sharon Hodgson has invited Sir Terry to the city.
She said: “Terry Wogan obviously knows very little about Sunderland.”
“We may have our problems, but our young people did not go on the kind of rampage we saw in other cities.
“As MP I’ve had the privilege of meeting some brilliant young people who are proud of Sunderland and are making a really positive contribution to their communities.
“Next time he’s passing through, I’d be happy to take Mr Wogan around my constituency and introduce him to them.”
One North East chairman and honorary fellow of Sunderland University Paul Callaghan said: “Wake up Wogan and realise that this is an unjustified slur against the city of Sunderland.
“It shows you should stick to spinning discs rather than spinning such malicious and ill-informed rubbish.”
Proud Sunderland resident Doreen Bell, 86, of High Barnes, said Sir Terry was “out of order”.
The mother-of-one said: “If he thinks that he wants to get himself up here and get the true facts. “I would strongly object to what he said.
“I think he should be brought to book for what he’s done.”
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Paul Watson, said: “Sunderland is actually one of the safest cities in the UK.
“A lot of people and organisations have worked very hard to make Sunderland safer and they continue to do so.
“It’s a shame Mr Wogan’s comments don’t reflect the facts.”
Conservative leader on Sunderland City Council Coun Robert Oliver said the BBC Radio Two DJ was wrong to lump Sunderland with places that experienced rioting.
Coun Oliver said: “He is tarring every place with the same brush in my opinion.
“It was a lazy stereotype to make.
“Crime is actually falling here in general.
“I think in the city there’s a pride of place that stops people destroying their own city.
“He’s mentioned other towns but Sunderland shouldn’t be on that list.”
Northumbria Police hit back at suggestions that the city isn’t safe.
Sir Terry was unavailable for comment when the Echo contacted his representatives.
•As reported in the Echo, 14 people were arrested with attacking Washington police station a fortnight ago. Two people have since been charged and appeared in court. But officers said the incident wasn’t connected to the disturbances which took place in other parts of the country, while also praising people in the area for not rioting.