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Protesters in good heart

with 11 comments

gypsies green protestGypsies Green Campaigners in South Shields

The SOS (Save Our Seafront) campaigners who are protesting against the plans of South Tyneside District Council to allow Tavistock Leisure to build a hotel on the Gypsies Green site in South Shields took to the streets in protest today. They set up station under the Metro bridge in King Street seeking the support of shoppers on a very busy Saturday as they offered their own “referendum” on the plan.

I went down their to carry out my intention of voting in favour of the proposition and found very familiar faces, as it turns out many of them are regular readers of this blog, as well as being offered the chance to voice an opinion with a publicity generating vote, there was also the chance to sign a petition (which I politely declined). Much as I suspected, the body of protesters was mainly made up of those around my age or slightly older, which concerns me a lot. I voiced my concerns to Ahmed Khan who was collecting signatures for the petition and it appears as though they too have had discussions about ascertaining age groups of those interested in signing or voting, but had decided that such complications might get in the way of their main message.

Much as though I support peoples rights to organise such opposition to the council in a clearly friendly and democratic manner, I cannot support the argument and I’m concerned at what looks like a lack of support from the younger elements of South Tynesiders. Those in the under thirty-five age groups will be most likely to benefit from the extra employment opportunities that the proposed hotel will bring and the added value that it will inject into the local economy in the longer term. It is their children and grandchildren who will see the town flourish as tourism increases and conferencing on a larger scale including corporate events and pressure/lobby groups take advantage of the facilities on offer in South Shields. The 104 bedroomed hotel is expected to cater for up to 800 conference places and the extra 700 or so delegates at the larger events will need to be housed in other local hotels, guest houses, and B&Bs, already, as one commenter on this blog has pointed out, other establishments in the town are starting to plan their additional requirements, if the New Crown seriously intends to revert to it’s former residential status you can imagine that others will be making plans to take advantage of an upturn in trade too.

I’d be very interested in the thoughts of any younger readers – how do you feel about the overall shape and content of the foreshore redevelopment plans for South Shields which include a major leisure facility near the Pier Head, the possibility of a swimming pool, at the sea front, new changing facilities at The Dragon, the restoration of the South Marine Park, a possible cafe for Ghandi’s Temple, and of course the hotel at Gypsies Green. This “bigger picture” could only be possible if all of it’s constituent parts are in place and will take time to achieve. If you are in the under fourty or thirty-fivish age group I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Written by curly

October 27, 2007 at 6:32 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Curly,

    When I was at school (it was a small school and we didn’t have many sporting facilities) we did a sponsored cycle ride around Gypsies Green for charity. Now I’ve lived in South Tyneside for around 19 years and I can honestly say that that was the one and only time I’ve used the place. Even then it was shabby and nothing much to shout about.

    The hotel is a fab idea! South Tyneside is in desperate need of being able to commercially compete with other Authority areas in our region and this will go great guns in aiding that.

    I have looked seriously at the arguments against and can’t find a single one I agree with.

    This hotel means jobs, inward investment and is an important step forward in regenerating South Tyneside.

    I am the first to defend the unique aesthetic character of our Borough and I would fight against any plans to damage it, but seriously, who uses this place?

    People need to stop looking backwards and start looking forwards!

    David Potts

    October 27, 2007 at 8:54 pm

  2. yes Curly with you all the way there..and I’m a crusty ol’ 59 year old.
    Let’s hope the referendum is conducted properly…are they enlisting the Electoral Reform Society to oversee the counting of the votes ??..we don’t want to see accusations of jiggery pokery that have arisen elsewhere in the Borough this year ..do we ??

    David Robinson

    October 28, 2007 at 3:57 am

  3. Everyone I know’s in favour of the development. As you’ve said before, the hotel can be built to blend in with its surroundings (a rooftop garden, for example) and, truth be told, Gypsies Green is a bit of an eyesore itself.

    Michael Hudson

    October 28, 2007 at 9:49 am

  4. To update Councillor Potts on who uses Gypsies Green:

    South Shields Harriers use the faculties on a regular basis. They currently have one of the best veteran sections in the region, and have several youngsters who if they progress at the rate they have this year, stand an excellent chance of being picked for the 2012 Olympic squad. The Harriers also use the facilities for their regular yearly 10K Road Race, an event which brings in valuable funds for their coffers and many people take part from outside the region due to its great beauty.

    There is also an active junior football section, extremely well managed and increasing in membership all the time. The teams involved are gaining a tremendous national recognition to due the enthusiasm of those involved.

    We also have the Great North Run, an event which brings hundreds of thousands of pounds into Shield’s alone. The stadium is used a base for emergency services and many other agencies both before and after the event. For the last couple of years Sunderland City Council has been desperately campaigning behind the scenes to host the Great North Run finish. As the runners come down Redwell Bank they would merely turn right, not left!
    The destruction of the Stadium will be the blow and we will see the GNR billed as “Newcastle to Sunderland” from that day on.

    Should Gypsies Green actually disappear, the Council have made it clear the facilities will not be provided else where. If you have been aware that the Stadium was a dump since you were at school, why did you not campaign for some form of improvements when you became a councillor?

    Hopefully, this post will have made you more aware of what goes on in an area you have been quite active on with pen and paper etc. Naturally, if you dispute any of these assertions please pass your comments on. I will hand them to those Harriers and footballers involved as I am sure they will be happy to put you straight on any misgivings as to their usage of the Stadium.

    Peter Shaw

    October 28, 2007 at 11:27 am

  5. curly. if you had stayed around a bit longer you would have seen the young people lining up to sign on the dotted line. at gypsys green on thursday night the south tyneside under 8s football team along with there parents took the time to join in against this hotel.if this council want to build a hotel do it away from our sea front.the last time this council told us there was going to be huge improvements to our sea front area look what we got,a concreat walkover and tivoli fountain. the latter did’nt work so they filled it in and planted flowers and the walkway is a haven for vandels,you wonder why the people of this bourgh is so opposed to this hotel.

    j taylor

    October 28, 2007 at 5:37 pm

  6. Curly I cant understand what age has to do with it . Look at the Temple Park Campain. I didn`t hear you mention age then. I think one of the Questions is, did the Council do a full Consultation?

    John

    October 28, 2007 at 8:40 pm

  7. john im glad someone has asked the question,did the council have a full consultation, in my opinion no.they come out with things like it was in the in view on a number of occasions,nobody seen it why? nobody reads the on view,they know that, thats why they put it there,you know what they say you can fool some of the people some of the time.

    j taylor

    October 29, 2007 at 12:03 pm

  8. At no point have introduced an “ageism” agenda here, I have merely expressed a “concern” that the issue is being promoted and discussed by people of my age, and an “interest” in seeking the views of younger people.

    Curly

    October 29, 2007 at 12:57 pm

  9. Whatever ones views on the foreshore, lets keep it real Mr Shaw!!

    Honestly, turning right instead of left at the bottom of redwell bank – that would mean the GNR wasn’t a half marathon by the time it got to sunderland!!

    Rest assured, the GNR will remain in South Shields – I’ve no doubt arrangements are already in hand for alternative space for the organisors instead of using the stadium.

    As for the Harriers and footballers – I seem to recall reading that the council have promised the users alternative accommodation before any development starts at GYpsies green.

    Honestly Mr Shaw, the way you go on, you’d think the Stadium was in prime condition – its a mess, its dangerous (when did you last walk around it?), there is no room for spectators and the car parking isn’t ideal.

    The council is getting off its backside and trying to do something with the area – and using the money to upgrade other facilities – like the changing rooms on the dragon site.

    The views are protected (the development is being sunk into the bowl of the Green); car parking will be under the hotel – so no car parking outside the Broadway – and the local pubs and B and Bs will benefit from increased trade.

    In five years time, we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about.

    BUT….we got to make sure the council honour the commitment to build a new swimming pool/wet weather facility on the site of Qasar Laser…

    BRENDA

    October 29, 2007 at 12:58 pm

  10. brenda you seem to have a lot of inside knowledge as to what and where,about this hotel.if the council had got of its backsides a long time ago we would not be in the posision we are in today.thanks to this council gypsies green is in the mess its in today.and as for the coments from mr shaw,they realy do ring true. and just to remind yous so called elected members,the people of south tyneside do not want this hotel,are you lot going to ignore us? look at what happend on temple park and felgate,we won you lost big time.

    j taylor

    October 29, 2007 at 1:49 pm

  11. Hello Brenda

    I walk around it every Tuesday. I used to run around it, but for the moment those days are over! What about yourself, how often do you go?

    The Council clearly feels it’s not dangerous as it allows the harriers and footballers to use the facilities. They actually make sure the gates are open for access. Perhaps you know more about risk assessment than they do. Pray tell, or rather tell them, they are the ones who claim it is safe.

    It has been a deliberate policy of the Council not to spend any money on it as the intention to sell had been decided long ago.

    Again you seem to have exclusive knowledge about the GNR. Nova has already looked at taking the finish to Sunderland (this has been common knowledge within athletics circles for years). How silly to assume that they would therefore follow the same route. The mileage would be adjusted elsewhere in the race to ensure that when it finished in Roker the distance would still be 13.1 miles.

    As for the B and B’s, they seem to feel differently to you, thats why they have joined the SOS Asscoaition’s campaign virtually on mass. Perhaps your comment is based on the fact that you dont own a B and B or are employed in one?

    Finally, your claims to know of new leisure developments are completely untrue. The Council have no plans to build new leisure facilities anywhere within the next ten years. They’ll spin a yarn about good intentions, but its all PR. When I get the FoI back, I will post it. However, let’s hope they do build a pool, but I feel sure the harriers and footballers will have great difficulty plying their trade in water!

    I am completely fed up with half cocked arguments like yours Brenda. Stick to the facts. Tell me when the Council plans to build all these lovely facilities to replace Gypsies Green. Name one committee which has discussed these propsals and set aside the required funding. Give some dates and venues. If you can, then you’ve won the debate and I’ll drop all opposition to the development. But you can’t, because it’s all conjecture and spin, and you fell for it.

    One of us will be right, but you won’t have to wait five years. With the plans going before the Council committee in November, the flood gates will open. Until then, have a good day.

    Peter Shaw

    October 29, 2007 at 2:16 pm


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