Letter of the week: Angry Sunderland residents should take direct action in land battle

Weardale Avenue residents pictured with Coun George Howe, right, who objected to the plans.
Weardale Avenue residents pictured with Coun George Howe, right, who objected to the plans.

I read with interest your article about Councillor Michael Mordey’s defence of Sunderland’s planning committee (November 21) in the matter of university land at Weardale Avenue and of course, there is no disagreeing with what Mr Mordey said: bullying should not be tolerated.

I grew up in Sunderland and have been visiting on a regular basis for almost 40 years now.

What I think is that if Mr Mordey could take a longer view then he might have greater understanding of the reaction he’s condemning and of who bullies whom.

Long ago, there was the issue of “La Fountain” at Seaburn. Then the missing large tap of the Roker Park Christmas lights.

A significant planning issue was the lone (plus support from Private Eye with some very interesting lines of thought for anyone who cares to review) voice at Roker, who never did seem to get the information he was looking for about the new shops on Roker front.

Following that, there was the sell-off of the rifle range at Whitburn and the green belt development for Sunderland AFC training ground.

There seems currently to be a serious debate about the development on the old fairground and the loss of a public car park (a serious issue to pay for parking in one of the country’s poorest cities where a trip to the beach would previously have just cost the petrol).

On the road to Newcastle through Boldon, there are more “Save our Greenbelt” signs than I can safely count while driving.

This is to say nothing of the talk that I have heard of plans for the new bridge that were paid for and then shelved due to basic errors on the part of the council because I don’t know how much of that story was true.

What the university’s field seems to me to represent is the edge of a very large snowball of planning protests that has been growing for years, possibly around grains of truth.

It seems to me that the most constructive thing for planners to do would be to explain some previous decisions with supporting evidence because the people of Sunderland seem to be finally losing patience with the explanations and decisions they have tolerated so far.

As for the field, if I lived near Weardale Avenue, I would be forming a co-op and raising the money to buy it from the university before anyone else does.

Direct action, nothing works quite like it and in a city like Sunderland where residents seem to be less than impressed by what’s happening around them, the planners would probably do well to keep that in mind.

Val Moon

Last week's Letter of the week: Three reasons for recent trouble on Sunderland's streets