RICHARD ORD: Crossed off George Clarke's Christmas card list

The former Vaux brewery site is one of those set to be redeveloped by Siglion.The former Vaux brewery site is one of those set to be redeveloped by Siglion.
The former Vaux brewery site is one of those set to be redeveloped by Siglion.
Just what you needed, another explosive war of words in the Twittersphere. Forget Trump v Clinton, now it's Clarke v Ord. The heavyweight TV architect versus the paperweight Echo columnist.

Last week I asked George what he expected to see on the old Vaux site in Sunderland after he denounced the development on Twitter.

It’s safe to say I’ll not be featuring on his Christmas card list.

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He responded with a two page letter defending his right to criticise any development as well as berating me for things I said in the column and, slightly alarmingly, things I didn’t say.

For the record, I made two main points in my column:

1. If you’re going to be critical, then do it constructively.

He berated the Vaux development in 44 words, which, in my opinion, is not very detailed or constructive, particularly from an official ambassador of Sunderland.

Believe me there is no shortage of swivel-eyed keyboard warriors moaning about the state of their city in 44 words or less. Sometimes they manage it in two. And you can probably guess those two words!

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George is an expert in his field, so a bit of meat on the bones isn’t too much to ask.

For the record, George’s letter in response to my column was 675 words long. Considering he started his letter with the put down “I read your column with little interest...” I’d hate to see how much space he’d take up with a subject in which he was genuinely interested. Which leads me onto the second point:

2. If you are going to insist on moaning, get your moans in a little earlier.

The Vaux plans have been out for months. Siglion, who are developing the site, have had a number of public consultations, giving Mr Clarke plenty of time to have his say. The first consultation on the Vaux site was back in August last year, and it was made clear that the development would feature streets, shops, cafes and restaurants.

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In his letter, Mr Clarke says Sunderland doesn’t need any more streets, shops, cafes and restaurants. What does it need then? Let us know.

My big gripe was he waited until work started before complaining about it being “a wasted opportunity” and a “very poor urban design.” Might have been better to mention this at the consultation stage, not once work had begun.

In his tirade, he did have a point when he blasted my “lazy journalism.” I should have worked harder on my headline. ‘By George! He doesn’t half talk some tripe” was poor. I should have thrown in an architect pun.

On reflection ‘By George! Designer whiner is on wobbly foundations’ would have been much better.

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Joking aside, both George and I want what’s best for Sunderland. Fortunately, George is a much more influential and privileged position to make it happen. I wish him luck. What we don’t want is a war of words in the media, we’ve had enough of those with Brexit and the Trump v Clinton mud-slinging.

Though it has to be said that both George and I share similar traits to the US presidential hopefuls. Like Hillary, we are both stubborn, passionate and look terrible in a yellow pantsuit.

And like Donald Trump, we are both, well, simply beautiful human beings.

I’m sure it’ll all end well...