MASTERPLAN: Same tune, no action

Last week, the News Guardian reported on several council initiatives and that new slogan from the leaders of North Tyneside Council, Masterplan, being used as it now so often is.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 11:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:09 pm

To the innocent and perhaps the very young, this may sound promising.

However, to older and perhaps more cynical readers, to which I must declare an interest, this Masterplan, with connotations of a great strategy of empirical vision and foresight, is seen with a jaded eye and falls on an ear that refuses to listen to the same old tune.

Was it part of the Masterplan that hoicked out Whitley Bay’s sea front promenade (and yes its balustrades) with indecent haste, simply to barricade it off and obliterate that fabulous view?

The beach road from the coast to Billy Mill roundabout was decimated for a year to end up with a slightly wider path.

Our triple-bypass roundabout, coming ‘soon’ at Silverlink, replaces the scheme that was completed only a few months ago.

What great planning and foresight that was.

In North Shields, in the once-grand Northumberland Square, those council-owned offices lie empty and abandoned, and have done since the council upped sticks many years ago to its rented Cobalt Park, where a long-term deal ties the taxpayer into a huge financial outlay for generations.

Readers will have their own examples of the Masterplan.

In my experience, it usually means decimating something old that needs repair and caring for, and building something brand new elsewhere – something that costs at least twice as much and leaves empty, unused buildings and land in its wake, which then rot and blot the townscape.

Finally, while trying to avoid the subject of the Broadway cycle path in Tynemouth, currently enjoyed by three people per week as another example of waste in the name of great urban planning, we have the Dome in Whitley Bay.

Some might say that the now old slogan emblazoned alongside the hoardings at the Dome, ‘Putting the heart back into Whitley Bay’, is inappropriate, given that it shouldn’t have had its heart ripped out of it in the first place. Perhaps people should be standing trial for the attempted murder of Whitley Bay?

There sits the Dome, that icon and symbol from a past when the council really did have vision and got things done.

Now, as she sits like a grand old dame in vastly reduced circumstances, workmen come and go daily, yet nothing much changes.

The years go by, people leave the area, they revisit and maybe bring their children, and 20 years or more goes by and still no real progress.

And this is all part of the ‘Masterplan’.

Mark Holmes