South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm’s pledge that he was “absolutely determined” to see through the 365 regeneration programme met with a mixed response from Gazette readers.
Coun Malcolm was speaking after a report was delivered to the latest meeting of the full council by Coun John Anglin, lead member for regeneration and economy.
The South Tyneside Council leader warned the town centre could not be transformed “overnight” – but maintained his confidence that the £100million blueprint, designed to breathe new life into the town centre, would be carried out.
However, in a Gazette poll 71% of voters said they believed the 365 plans would NOT succeed.
And others who commented online gave a mixed reaction to the latest update.
Many were positive, including ‘Pigs do fly’, who wrote: “The worst thing that could happen is that this council make a U turn and ditch this attempt to regenerate the area. Everyone needs to have a little faith.
The worst thing that could happen is that this council make a U turn and ditch this attempt to regenerate the areaPigs do Fly
“Shields has a massive pulling power from people out of the area as a beach town.
“Everything should be geared up for this. It needs a tram to run from the town down to the beach and back. Yeah this will cost but will make Shields unique.”
However, some others were unconvinced that the scheme – which includes plans for a new library, transport interchange, cinema, car park and retail space – would prove successful.
‘Twaddle Alert’ said: “FIVE screen cinema – nonsense. The Customs House cinema struggles to fill ONE.
“New Metro station – will only serve to TAKE AWAY yet more business as it does now.
“A new unnecessary library – how many tourists spend a holiday reading dowdy books?”
‘geordie52’ added: “Like buying a new Porsche on the dole. How are we able to borrow so much?...and should we?”
‘19Fabster1973’ was less sceptical, saying: “South Shields is at a particular disadvantage because of our location. A bridge across to North Shields would certainly have helped!
“But we had to try doing something and we are, whether you agree or not with things that are being done, or the order in which they are being done, at least action has been taken.”
‘Resident52’ said: “At the end of the day this scheme is going ahead with or without the majority of residents’ and traders’ input.
“However, if you look at the state of Whitley Bay – the once flagship North East resort – I don’t think South Tyneside is doing too bad.
“It’s streets ahead and a pleasure to visit. I would like to see more consultation and maybe with a few subtle changes to the plans we can all benefit.”
‘ex shipyard worker’, though, was not convinced by new library The Word, which is due to open its doors in the autumn.
They said: “The very first priority should have been the riverside project, bringing much needed jobs to the area (maybe) the town centre and retail would have followed naturally then.
“The word will be a white elephant. These so-called leaders who run the council and local government wouldn’t last two minutes in the real world of business.”
On Facebook, Brian P Steele added: “I welcome the 365 regeneration project. This is a cohesive plan to address the plight of the town centre instead of the previous piecemeal efforts.”
However, Darren Wilkey offered this different view: “If the council prioritised getting decent well paid jobs into this town then the rejuvenation would be self fulfilling!”