Thursday, March 30, 2017

Volunteer work day at the Whinnies

There will be a volunteer work day at the Whinnies Community Garden ion Gateshead Road, Sunniside, on Sunday 2nd April, 10am to 4pm. If you can spare a couple of hours, please pop in to help created raised beds, weed flower beds and tend the garden. All welcome. If you are there over lunch time, why not bring a picnic as well?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gateshead awards at North East Disability Sports

The North East Disability Sports Awards were held at Slaley Hall, near Hexham, on Thursday 23rd March 2017. Gateshead Council’s Adult Social Care Provider service achieved double success at the awards night.

‘Angling 4 All’ is an angling club for people with disabilities which began in 2014. The club now has over 40 members who train every week in angling at venues such as Baltic Riverside and Leazes Park, Newcastle. From such training, anglers build up their skills and confidence, to then compete in regional and national competitions. Everyone with a disability is catered for and the committee of the sporting club is entirely made up of people with disabilities. The judges were impressed with the club’s activities and awarded it with the title of ‘Outstanding Sports Club of the year’ award, beating 17 other finalists.

Richard Young, is a young Special Olympics Gateshead Tyne & Wear athlete who made exceptional progress in 2016 winning gold medals in regional and national Special Olympics Cycling and Athletics competitions. He was awarded the ‘Participant of the year’ award at the ceremony.

Permission sought

Derwentside, Swalwell Nov 16 (3)

Gateshead Council is to consider a planning application to convert Derwentside, in Swalwell, the former aged persons' unit into 22 apartments.

Planning permission is being sought for a scaffolding yard on land to the south of Kingsway Interchange, Eleventh Avenue, Team Valley Trading Estate.

Plans have been submitted to convert the former public house and manager's maisonette at Fellows House, Ryton Village, into a single residence, including installation of balcony and balustrade on south elevation.

Hazardous substances consent is being sought to store 18000 tonnes of flammable liquid and 1,500 tonnes of Flammable Aerosols on land at White Rose Way, Follingsby Park, Follingsby Lane, Felling.

Planning permission is being sought convert part of Chaplins, Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill from restaurant  use to Childrens' Day Nursery and cafe.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Volunteer library meetings

Meetings for volunteers willing to take on the running of the new voluntary libraries at Felling, Whickham and Rowlands Gill will stake place as follows:

·         Felling Library – Wednesday 29th March - 10.30am – 12 noon.
·         Whickham Library – Wednesday 29th March – 5.30pm – 7.00pm
·         Rowlands Gill Library – Friday 31st March – 10.30am – 12 noon.

The meetings will then be held weekly. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer is welcome to attend.

Whinnies Community Garden open day

Whinnies Community Garden Mar 17

The Whinnies Community Garden on Gateshead Road, Sunniside, will be holding an open day from 11am to 3pm on Easter Sunday, 16th April. All residents are welcome to pop in and have a look around. The garden is designed for use by people with disabilities. More details will be circulated shortly.

Plans approved

Gateshead Council have granted planning permission to Prince Bishop Homes for 13 new home at Beda Hill, Hookergate Lane, Rowlands Gill.

Gateshead has also granted planning permission for 60 homes to be built on land at Portobello Road, Birtley. The applicant was Gleeson Developments Ltd.

A single new dwelling has been given planning permission on land adjacent to 11 Butterfield Close, Ryton.

Permission has been granted to install a 15 metre high phone mast on land adjacent to the Red Kite pub, Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill.

Tyneside Women's Health wins award

A Gateshead based charity which aims to improve women’s mental health, which has won a prestigious national award.

Tyneside Women’s Health beat more than 400 other organisations from across the UK to be one of the 10 winners of the 2017 Glaxo Smith Kline IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities. The charity will receive £30,000 in funding as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund.

Tyneside Women’s Health was established in 1985 to provide mental health support to women in a women-only environment. It runs a range of services for local women, including counselling, support groups, and creative and therapeutic activities.

The organisation has worked with more than 550 women last year. It runs two centres in Gateshead and Newcastle, and recently opened a café in its Newcastle centre to give women affected by mental health issues a route into paid work.

Grove House "Outstanding"

Grove House Children’s Home in Gateshead was inspected by Ofsted on 29 November 2016 and has maintained its Outstanding judgement.

The Children’s Home provides short breaks for up to five children with physical disabilities and/or learning disabilities. It was found to be outstanding in all categories ie the overall experiences and progress of children and young people living in the home; how well children and young people are helped and protected; and impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers.

Ofsted noted the Home provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good and that the actions of the home contribute to significantly improved outcomes for children and young people who need help, protection and care.

Sunniside Community Orchard and Woodland extended

Kingsway Community Orchard planting session Mar 17 (82)

The community orchard on Kingsway, Sunniside, has been extended to cover most of the previously unused site. And with another 100 trees planted, the whole project cost only £200. The trees were provided by environmental charity for Groundwork for only £2 each. The planting was carried out on Tuesday 21st March by volunteers from the Princes Trust and by Councillors Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace.

"We discovered that Groundwork had a large number of trees they were keen to sell so we took the opportunity to complete the woodland orchard project which was first started 5 years ago when 40 trees were planted," said Cllr Jonathan Wallace.

"The site is at the top of Kingsway, on the south side of the road. 50 years ago it was scheduled for house building but the homes were never built and the site wasn't given a new role.

"7 years ago a council consultation was carried out in Sunniside to ask people about where possible new play equipment should go. The overwhelming view of residents was that the top of Kingsway should not be used as a play area.

"We've now found a new use as a woodland and community orchard. In years to come it will look great in the spring and help boost the appearance of Sunniside."

Kingsway Community Orchard planting session Mar 17 (89)

Cllrs Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace with the final tree to be planted in the Kingsway woodland.

Big boost for Front Street School

Front Street School Mar 16 (3)

Front Street School in Whickham has recently come out top of the class following an inspection by the official school standards body Ofsted. The school, previously rated “good” has moved into top gear with a new rating of “outstanding”.

“This is great news for the children, teachers and parents,” said Lib Dem Councillor John McClurey, who is also a governor of the school. “Not only has everyone taken the move to the new building in their stride, the school is now regarded as an education showcase.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gateshead Council tax rises 5%


Labour Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, moves the budget for 2017/18

Council tax in Gateshead is rising by 5% following the decision of the Conservative Government to end all grants to local councils.

With nearly every Council in England facing a complete end to Government money for social care for the elderly, libraries, parks and other services run by local government, Conservative ministers in effect ordered each council to increase council tax by up to 5%.

The grants will come to an end in 2020 and all councils are going through a process of cutting back services, making efficiencies and handing some activites to volunteer groups.

But a double whammy is in store for Gateshead as there is rapidly rising demand for social care for the elderly - and the council is legally required to provide it.

By 2020/21, Gateshead will have to make around £92 million of savings while increasing spending on adult social care by £30 million.

“Many people are living much longer and need more support,” said Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “That means Gateshead Council has to provide more services for our elderly residents.
,
“Yet at the same time as the Conservative Government is taking away from us the money to pay for these services.

“In 2010-15, when the Lib Dems were part of the Coalition Government, we funded councils to freeze council tax for 4 years.

“But the Labour party left the nation’s finances in a terrible state so cuts had to be made to help balance the books.”

“And they have decided to let wealthy areas bringing in large amounts of business rates to keep all this money. At the moment, some of the business rates are transferred to areas with greater needs, such as Gateshead. That is to end in 2020.

“Labour in Parliament are hopeless as an opposition. Under Jeremy Corbyn, they are letting the Conservatives walk all over them.

“It means the Conservatives are getting away with huge cuts to services in areas like Gateshead while letting the richest parts of the country keep the money that was previously being moved to areas such as the North East.

“While it is the Conservatives who are treating our area unfairly, it is Labour and Jeremy Corbyn who are letting them get away with it.”

Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Cllr Jonathan Wallace, responds to the budget.

Gateshead to host consumer service call centre

A national call centre for Consumer, Energy and Post is to be set up in Gateshead by the Citizens Advice Service with the service beginning in April. It will be located in Gateshead Civic Centre.

Temporary bus service changes

Due to the closure of Hills Street in Gateshead, bus services 27, 56, 57 and 58 will not serve Gateshead Interchange. Service 27 will serve Jackson Street and services 56,57 and 58 will serve High Street. Hills Street will remain closed for 5 weeks after 20th March.

Awards for Gateshead School Catering

The Council’s School Catering Service collected four awards from the Lead Association for Catering in Education at its annual North East & Scotland Awards which were held at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield on 17 March 2017. The awards are open to all education catering organisations in both the private and public sector. They aim to acknowledge individuals and teams of people who continue to make a real difference in education catering.

Amanda Rowe (Unit Manager, Bill Quay Primary School) won the ‘Golden Rolling Pin Employee of the Year award’ which recognises an individual with a high level of commitment, enthusiasm and initiative who has made an outstanding contribution to the catering service in their school or catering establishment. Lorraine Parker (Unit Manager, Caedmon Primary School) was awarded ‘Highly Commended Silver Rolling Pin’ in this category.

Marek Blonski was awarded Highly Commended in the category of ‘Management Employee Outstanding Achievement award’ which represents the highest accolade that can be received by an individual within education catering as it is awarded to the person who has, above all others, demonstrated outstanding levels of service and commitment.


And Gateshead’s School Catering Management Team was awarded Highly Commended in the category of ‘Management Team of the Year award’ which aims to recognise a Catering Business Team which has made an outstanding contribution to catering for schools in the local area.

Friday, March 24, 2017

News video: EU supporters fly the flag in Gateshead Quays



Opponents of a hard Brexit and supporters of Britain's role in Europe gathered on the Gateshead Quays on Tuesday 14th March to demonstrate their backing for the EU.

News video: Improvement work at Whickham's Chase Park explained



Councillors Jonathan Wallace Peter Craig explains the renovation work taking place in Chase Park, paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

News video: Commonwealth Day marked at Gateshead Civic Centre



Commonwealth Day was held on Monday 13th March. A flag-raising ceremony was held at Gateshead Civic Centre to mark the day.

Flags at half-mast in Gateshead

flags at half mast Gateshead Mar 17

Flags at Gateshead Civic Centre on Wednesday and Thursday were flying at half-mast as a mark of respect to the four victims of the terror attack in Westminster on 22nd March.

Bishop of Carlisle visits Whickham volunteer gardening group



The Right Reverend James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, was a visitor to Whickham on Saturday 4th March to visit St Mary's Church and take a look at, and joined in the work of, Planting Up Whickham, a group of volunteers that took on the maintenance of various flower beds in the village after Gateshead Council withdrew the service due to cutbacks.

In this video, the Bishop is interviewed by Gateshead News editor Jonathan Wallace who also took along one of his goats (at the invite of Planting Up Whickham!)

Sales and a standstill: the mixed story so far of house-building in Ryton and Crawcrook

Ryton bypass Mar 17 (3)
Ryton by-pass

Labour’s plans for large housing developments in Ryton and Crawcrook appear to have got off to a mixed start.

Planning applications for the two sites between Ryton and the by-pass had been expected before Christmas. But failure to reach agreement on access roads have left the plans parked (for now) while discussions between the 2 developers and Council planning officers continue.

Crawcrook however saw work start last year on 169 houses at “Fairfields Manor” being built on former greenbelt land between Crawcrook and the by-pass. Planning permission was granted in April after Labour Councillors voted to remove the site from greenbelt.

Developer Story Homes are selling the houses at prices starting at £254,950, well beyond the reach of many young families living in the area but needing a bigger home.

“When Labour pushed through their plans for building on greenbelt in Ryton and Crawcrook, we warned that these houses would be too expensive for local families,” said Lib Dem Councillor Christine McHatton. “Not many local first time buyers can fork out quarter of a million pounds.”

The delay in seeking planning permission in Ryton means nearby road safety measures on the by-pass are on hold. Similar measures on the Crawcrook part of the by-pass will go ahead.

Crawcrook and Pelaw Libraries to remain open - for now

Crawcrook Library Mar 17 (4)
Crawcrook Library

A review of libraries in Gateshead has proposed that Pelaw and Crawcrook libraries should continue to be provided by the Council but Rowlands Gill, Whickham and Felling branches should be transferred to the voluntary sector.

However, the current status of Crawcrook and Pelaw, and indeed any of the libraries currently provided by Gateshead, is not guaranteed as the Council will carry out another review of libraries in the coming year which will look at making further savings of £250,000.

4 years ago, Ryton was at the forefront of moves by the community to take on the running of library services. The volunteer-run library has been a success and is strongly engaged with residents.

“The transfer of libraries from the council to voluntary groups has been driven by the need to save costs,” said Cllr Christine McHatton, Lib Dem Councillor for Ryton, Crookhill and Stella.

“The choice was between the complete loss of the library and the community coming together and investing time and resources to save the branch and making it a success.

“Ryton has shown what can be done. To be fair to Gateshead, the Council will consider positively proposals from community groups to help with or take on the running of community based facilities such as libraries, community centres and parks.”

Ryton Library Mar 17 (5)
Ryton Library


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Lib Dem response to Gateshead Library Review

Speaking about the review of libraries in Gateshead which is due to be considered by the Council’s cabinet on 12th July, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, Dr Jonathan Wallace, said:

“It is vital that residents take part in the consultation next month and make their views heard. It is also important that people with new ideas on how to make savings and run a volunteer service should come forward and pass on their thoughts to Gateshead Council.

“Meanwhile Gateshead must leave no stone unturned in looking for ideas on how to maintain access and funding for libraries.

“I have been pressing for the Council to open talks with coffee shop chains to rent out space in our libraries. Many are in front street locations which would be ideal as retail outlets which could provide Gateshead with the income needed to keep libraries open.


“We should not close any library until this option is fully explored.”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Call to vote Remain today

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead had sent an email message to over 2000 homes in the borough calling on residents to vote Remain today.

Leader of the Opposition on the Council, Jonathan Wallace, argues that Britain is better off in Europe and leaving the EU would be damaging for the economy, jobs, British influence abroad and attempts to tackle pollution.

He wrote:

Dear Fellow Residents,

Today, we each have a vote in the European Referendum. I’m voting to REMAIN and I hope you will do the same as well.

I am voting to stay in the EU because I believe we are stronger in Europe. We have full access to the world’s biggest Single Market. This is vital for our economy as 60% of our trade is done with the EU.

We are safer because of the European Arrest Warrant. This allows police forces to have criminals returned to the UK to face justice.

Our air and seas are cleaner because of the EU. Pollution ignores international boundaries so tackling it needs to be done at an international level. The EU has led on this.

On jobs and prosperity, tackling crime and cutting pollution, the EU has brought us great improvements.

But what is the future of Britain if we vote to leave the EU? Those who are leading the campaign to abandon the EU have not answered that - because they can’t. They are unable to tell us how Britain would be better off alone.

They cannot tell us how the economy will recover from the damage a vote to leave will cause (nearly all experts agree that leaving would deal a big blow to the economy).

Voting to leave is an enormous risk with too many unknowns. On Friday morning we could wake up to find our economy in a state of shock and the country marching into the unknown.

Or we could vote to REMAIN and wake up tomorrow to a Britain that is prosperous and has influence abroad. That’s what I want and I hope you join me in voting to REMAIN.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Jonathan Wallace
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Gateshead Council