Opinions split over £3.5million revamp of South Shields’ Ocean Road

Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder
Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder

A guest house boss and a community activist are streets apart in their views over a £3.5million transformation of an iconic South Tyneside thoroughfare.

A major improvement scheme on Ocean Road, South Shields - famous for its rich array of restaurants, guest houses and B&Bs - was recently completed.

Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder

Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder

Work included widening footpaths, planting boulevard-style rows of hornbeam trees, better street furniture, the creation of new gateway features and the removal of signage and clutter.

A new road layout has also involved the road width being reduced with new parking bays, as well as the creation of a new free car park.

The work appears to have met with approval from locals but Beacon and Bents community activist Ali Hayder is one dissenting voice.

In particular he is unhappy at new parking provision in the street, which he claims is leading to congestion - and raising safety issues.

Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder

Good and bad of new look Ocean Road. Donna Lowery and Ali Hayder

Mr Hayder, who stood as a Conservative candidate in the Beacon and Bents ward at last May’s Local Elections, said: “The council has spent millions of pounds but I don’t believe they have made anything better.

“The design on the positioning of the parking spaces means that when cars pull out they are pulling out straight into the path of cars travelling in the opposite direction.

“It is a safety hazard to both passengers and drivers and leads to congestion in the street. It was very badly designed.

“My other concern is they have carried out all this work but they are not promoting it enough to persuade people to come here.”

But Mr Hayder’s views are not shared by Donna Lowery, who manages The Clifton guest house in Ocean Road, who said the street had been “transformed for the better”.

She said: “It’s so much more modern and attractive and vibrant now. It’s great to look out the window and see the way the street looks, especially when it is lit up at night. I think the money has been well spent.”

Coun Tracey Dixon, the council’s lead member for area management and community safety, said: “The work in Ocean Road was carried out in two phases. As part of the work the speed limit was reduced to 20mph, which is slower than ever.

“It is down to motorists to drive responsibly when they are reversing to ensure it is clear behind them. There are also double yellow lines on the opposite side of the road to stop people parking here.

“While I appreciate Mr Hayder’s concerns we have had nothing but great feedback from the guest house owners and praise from people outside the borough who say other authorities could take a leaf out of this council’s book in its approach to regeneration.”