Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Clearing up Labour's mess

Friday, July 06, 2012


Welcome for City Deal

Gateshead Liberal Democrat Leader Frank Hindle has welcomed the new City Deal for the NewcastleGateshead area, which is expected to create 13,000 new jobs on Tyneside and see thousands of new homes being built on brownfield sites in Gateshead.

In a real boost to Gateshead, one of the four sites included in the 'Accelerated Development Zone' is Gateshead Quays and Baltic Business Quarter, where the planned new international conference and exhibition centre will be built. Increased revenues from the development have been ringfenced for the next twenty-five years - meaning money that is generated in Gateshead will be reinvested in Gateshead.

Other items in the deal include the rollout of superfast broadband, £1.7m extra to help unemployed young people into work or training and £150m to redevelop Gateshead's town centre.

Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Frank Hindle said: "This City Deal is a great deal for NewcastleGateshead and the wider North East region. Liberal Democrats on both sides of the river have lobbied government and worked with Labour colleagues to back the bid that has now been approved.

"The news that 13,000 new jobs will be created on Tyneside through the City Deal is fantastic. Gateshead has a crucial part in the scheme, and having Newcastle and Gateshead Councils work together in partnership on issues like youth unemployment and housing will help to deliver real improvements for both Gateshead and Newcastle.

"Liberal Democrats have long argued that money raised through taxes locally should be spent locally, and we are happy to see the ring-fencing of business rates in this deal - as it will be for twenty-five years, it will allow both Newcastle and Gateshead to be ambitious in investing for the long term future.

"Overall, the City Deal programme is a real win from the Liberal Democrats in government. It is a clear sign that we believe in our cities and are prepared to back up our beliefs by investing and handing back powers from Whitehall.

“NewcastleGateshead being selected to be part of this programme is a real endorsement of what Tyneside's economy has achieved in recent years and of the area's potential to be an engine of growth in the future, not just for the North East but for the country as a whole."


Proposed relocation of walk-in service

Proposals have been put forward to move the Gateshead NHS walk-in service from Bensham Hospital to a new, purpose-built Urgent and Emergency Care Hub alongside the Accident and Emergency Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The aim of the proposed move is to improve the service to residents by bringing various services together under one roof, making it easier for patients to access the correct service. Currently, walk-in, urgent and emergency care and accident and emergency are at different locations and people often have to travel between them for treatment.

Gateshead NHS health organisations believe that the new emergency care hub will ensure the delivery of a seamless service for patients from a single entry point. Once assessed and triaged, patients will then be directed to the most appropriate practitioner for treatment. Additional car parking space is also planned at the QE hospital site.

A formal public consultation exercise on this new proposal is being undertaken with Gateshead residents and patients from 18 June 2012 to 10 September 2012. Copies of the consultation leaflet are available at


Wetherspoons – no decision yet

Whickham Council Offices Jan 12 1

Gateshead Council’s planning committee has put off a decision on the application to convert the former Whickham Council Offices into a Wetherspoons pub. The committee members will visit the site shortly before taking the final decision.


Dunston Hill School proposed for demolition

Gateshead Council are proposing to demolish the former Dunston Hill Primary School. The building has been empty since the school transferred to the new site but since then, its condition has deteriorated.
The former school was proposed as the location for the controversial Emmaus project to house homeless people but the charity withdrew their plans after residents strongly opposed them.

A further reason for the cancellation of the Emmaus project was the poor state of the building. Council officers believe that the cost of restoring and converting the building to another use would be too expensive.

The Council are already paying management and other costs even though the building is unoccupied. Officers believe that demolishing it will make it easier to sell the site to a developer for housing, commercial or mixed use.

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “As a former pupil of the school, I have an emotional attachment to it. However, I would like to know residents’ views on the demolition proposal. Please contact me if you have concerns.”


New build for Whickham School

Whickham School has been successful in its bid for funding for a new teaching block. There will be 8 new classrooms in the new building, plans for which are currently being drawn up. It is likely that once the plans have received planning permission, the new classrooms will take only 12 months to build.

Councillor Peter Craig said, “This is great news for the school and for the pupils. Whickham School continues to be a popular school and the new building is greatly needed.”

Whickham School was granted academy status last year. Under it, the school was made independent of council control and now gets its funding directly from the government. The money for the new building will come from the Coalition’s Academies Capital Maintenance Fund.


Welcome for new Front Street School

Front St School MO JMcC May 12

A decision by the Coalition Government to rebuild Front Street School in Whickham, has been welcomed by Councillors representing the town on Gateshead Council.

Front Street School recently celebrated its centenary but the school buildings are starting to show their age. The school straddles a road which children have to cross between lessons. Some of the buildings were put up as temporary annexes in the 1950s but still remain in use.

School governor and local Liberal Democrat Councillor, John McClurey, said, “This is great news for the children and staff at Front Street School.

“The investment in a new building was certainly needed. It is not a good state of affairs to have children crossing a road to get to classrooms between lessons.

“A site next to the school has been kept for decades as the home for the new Front Street School. And after decades of hope that the new school would one day be built, the Government is now about to make it happen.”

Pictured above: Cllr Marilynn Ord and Cllr John McClurey outside Front Street School. They have welcomed the decision to replace the old building.


Residents battle to save Dunston Hill greenbelt

Dunston Hill petition Jul 12 1

A group of residents campaigning to save greenbelt at Dunston Hill from house-building plans has handed in a petition to Gateshead Council signed by over 1600 residents.

The hand over took place and Thursday 5th July. Members of the residents’ action group are hoping to persuade Gateshead Council to abandon proposals to build 800 executive homes on greenbelt between Whickham, Dunston Hill and Lobley Hill.

Resident Steve Potts said, “Over 1000 people have signed the petition and we hope the Council will take note of the strength of public opinion against the greenbelt proposals.”

People living in the Dunston Hill area fear that the building plans would lead to the loss of large parts of the local countryside.

Resident Janet Ord said, “Watergate Park is a great place for wildlife but building 800 houses next to it will be damaging for the environment.

“There are many brownfield sites waiting to be used for housing in Gateshead. I therefore can’t see why Gateshead Council believe that Dunston Hill should be turned into a huge building site.”

Lib Dem campaigner Dave Fawcett has recently added to the total number of signatures on the petition when he collected 178 in Lobley Hill.

Pictured above: Steve Potts and local residents and campaigners with the petition calling on the Dunston Hill greenbelt to be retained. The petition has now been handed in to Gateshead Council's planners.


Cadets taking part in Olympic Festival

Teenage police cadets from Gateshead are on their marks to participate in this weekend's Whickham Community Festival.

A trio of young volunteers will join a Special Constable to support the Olympic themed festival on St Mary's Green and marshal the fun run in Chase Park.

Gateshead Council has invited the young volunteers to attend and join local residents in the community event that includes lots of family entertainment and other attractions.

Councillor Sonya Hawkins said, “Arrangements for this event have been made thanks to a partnership approach involving local business people, residents, The Rotary Club, St Mary’s Church and councillors. We’re delighted that Northumbria Police cadets are joining us and looking forward to people coming along to boost funds for the village’s Christmas decorations.

“This sort of event we hope will boost the vitality of Whickham village and encourage people to visit, shop and enjoy its facilities.”

PC Alicia Swindells, volunteer cadet leader, added: “This is another opportunity for our young volunteers to support their local community. It means they can chat with families and make sure local residents know about volunteer police cadets and the exciting activities they are involved in. It is a good way to get a positive message across as part of a fun event."


Olympics Festival in Whickham

CHILDREN in the Whickham area will get the chance to take part in their own mini-Olympics in a special fun day festival in the village on Saturday 7th July.

And proceeds from the Whickham Olympics Festival will go towards paying for the Christmas decorations for the Village.

The Festival has been organised by a group called “Light Up Whickham”, made up of local business people, the Whickham Rotarians, Councillors, local community activists and St Mary’s Church.

“Saturday will be a great day out for everyone in the Whickham area,” said Alan Nicholson, chairman of Whickham Rotarians, who has been involved with helping to get the event off the ground.

“We want to show that Whickham Village is a great place to visit. We want people to boost local businesses by coming here to shop as well.

“We hope to have an annual festival and the Olympics was an obvious choice of theme for this year.”

Revd Barry Abbott of St Mary’s Church said, “'In the midst of the present economic climate a group of people decided it was time to put Whickham back on the map as a place to visit, shop and have a great day out.

“Local schools, businesses and residents will be taking part in fun runs, hoola hoop competitions and treasure hunts. Many local organisations, schools and businesses will be having stands on St Mary’s Green.

“The Village will be decked out in red, white and blue for Saturday. It will be a fun day for people of all ages and there will be great entertainment provided by local musicians.”

The Festival will see Whickham lighting its own Olympic flame at 1.30pm in St Mary’s Green. There will be children’s fun runs in Chase Park from 11am onwards.

Music will be provided by the Take Note Singers, the Tune Army, Catherine L’Anson Clough and Emmanuel College Singers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Ryton and Crawcrook residents reject greenbelt building plans

Residents of Crawcrook, Greenside and Ryton have rejected proposals to build hundreds of houses on local greenbelt, according to a survey by local Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Gateshead Council have published proposals for 1,000 houses on countryside around the villages but local Lib Dem Councillors are battling against the building plans. They decided to carry out a survey of residents to test opinion on Gateshead’s plans.

Councillor Noel Rippeth said, “This is a very clear demonstration of public opinion which is massively against these proposals to build on local greenbelt. The character and nature of the villages here is under threat from these plans.

“We are urging Labour councillors to abandon them rather than push ahead with grabbing the greenbelt.”

Councillor Ione Rippeth said, “We know there is a need to build new houses but we should not wreck our countryside to achieve this goal. We should be using up brownfield sites rather than sending the bulldozers into the greenbelt.”

The results of the survey are as follows:


250 survey forms delivered, 107 completed and returned.

Question: Do you agree that 494 houses should be built in Crawcrook's Greenbelt?

Answer: Yes 4, No 103

Question: Do you think 494 houses is too many for the village?

Answer: Yes 97, No 10


300 survey forms delivered, 142 completed and returned.

Question: Do you agree that 505 houses should be built in Ryton's Greenbelt?

Answer: Yes 4, No 138

Question: Do you think that 505 houses is too many for the village?

Answer: 64 replied Yes, No 0


House-building threat to historic site

Proposals to build 800 houses on greenbelt between Whickham, Dunston and Lobley Hill in Gateshead could destroy important historic sites as well as the countryside, claims a local historian.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, who is also a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead, said the site being considered for the new housing is next to the Washingwell Roman fort which was discovered in 1970.

The only evidence for the existence of the fort so far discovered is crop marks and one small piece of pottery.

“Although the site of the Roman fort is not included in the area proposed for house-building, it is very close to it,” said Dr Wallace. “Most Roman forts attracted civilian settlements and as yet, no contemporary village has been found.

“There is a strong possibility that a Roman settlement and the road connecting the fort to others along the former Roman frontier are on the site proposed for house-building. These would all be lost if the site proposed for housing is given the go-ahead.

“At a time when we should be developing our cultural and historical sites as locations to draw in visitors, and therefore boost our tourist economy, building at this location will send us in the opposite direction.”

Sunday, January 01, 2012


North East Liberal Democrats welcome scheme to tackle metal theft

North East Liberal Democrats have welcomed a new scheme to tackle metal theft.

From Tuesday 3rd January a news scheme will be introduced requiring anyone selling scrap metal to a dealer to provide proof of identity and address. The scheme is being trialled in the North East and all 240 registered scrap merchants are expected to sign up to the scheme.

Cllr Frank Hindle said “Metal theft has been a huge problem, affecting the Metro and rail systems, individual homes and businesses - and sometimes whole streets have been systematically targeted. This scheme should choke off the ability of thieves to sell the stolen metal.

"Local Liberal Democrat councillors and Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall have been pressing for action to tackle this problem and I am pleased that the government, police and the legitimate scrap industry are working together on this scheme. We will also continue to press for other changes, such as ending cash sales of scrap metal.”

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Residents reject building plans by massive majority

Residents of Dunston Hill and eastern Whickham in Gateshead have overwhelmingly rejected proposals to allow building on the local greenbelt.

Gateshead Council’s Strategic Land Review is considering proposals to allow around 800 houses to be built on land to the south of Whickham Highway, between Dunston and Whickham.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan, who is leading the battle against the house building plans, carried out a survey of residents of Dunston Hill. He has received replies from 303 households in the area.

The results of the survey are:

oppose greenbelt building plans: 253 (83%)
support building if roads improved: 14 (4%)
support building a smaller number: 21 (7%)
support the proposals: 5 (2%)
don’t know: 10 (4%)

“If anyone wants evidence of the public opposition to this proposal to grab the local greenbelt, they need look no further than the results of this survey,” said Peter. “My survey shows overwhelming opposition to the proposals. Only one in fifty residents back the proposals to use this area for house building.

“I have been sent hundreds of comments by residents about the house-building plans which I will be passing on to the planners at Gateshead Council.

“I will also be telling them it’s time to pull the plug on this greenbelt smash and grab “


Changes planned at Gibside Estate

Gibside Estate has submitted plans to Gateshead Council to remove the over-flow car park within the walled garden and to restore it to garden use. The replacement parking will be provided within the West Wood (main car park) and at the Warren Haugh (over-flow car park).

Both these areas are located on the left of the main drive up to the estate from Busty Bank. The West Wood area is currently planted up by the Forestry Commission and the Warren Haugh is agricultural/grazing land.

Over both car parks, 365 new spaces will be provide. This is less than the 380 spaces within the walled garden at present.

A new admissions hut is also proposed at the Warren Haigh car park.


Parking charges to start in January

As expected, Labour-led Gateshead Council have pushed through their plans for car park charges in Whickham, despite strong resistance from local residents, businesses and councillors.

However, a last minute objection by your local Lib Dem councillors has meant a delay in implementing the scheme and also some success in gaining some concessions.

To support the Safe Routes to School scheme at Front Street School, the starting time for car park charging in both car parks has been pushed back from 8:30 am to 9:00 am.

Drivers using the West (Gibside Arms) car park solely for the purposes of using the recycling facilities will not be charged.

No charges will apply to electric vehicles utilising the electric charging points.

In the East (Library) car park, parking charges will be 20p per hour up to a maximum of 4 hours. The West (Gibside Arms) car park will cost £1 all day. Charging is now due to commence on Monday 9th January 2012.

Lib Dem campaigner Sonya Hawkins said, “The charges risk damaging businesses in Whickham and will push parking into residential streets.

“The £30,000 spent on installing ticket machines will take years to get back. That money would have been much better spent on improving the car parks.

“We have also asked if any future profit from the charges will be used in Whickham village - but the answer is that it might be used to improve car parks in other parts of Gateshead - including ones that don’t have charges. This simply isn’t fair or reasonable.”

Monday, November 14, 2011


Residents views sought on house building

A LIBERAL Democrat Councillor in Gateshead is carrying out a survey of residents of Dunston to find out their views about Gateshead Council’s proposals to build houses on local greenbelt.

Gateshead’s Labour Council are carrying out a “Strategic Land Review” under which local landowners have been invited to put forward bids to have their land used for house building.

One of the sites is to the south of Whickham Highway on Dunston Hill where the Labour-run Council are proposing 800 homes could be built.

Councillor Peter Maughan, who represents the area on Gateshead Council, delivered survey forms on Sunday 13th November and collected 140 replies in the evening.

“I am very concerned about these proposals,” said Cllr Maughan. “I have represented local people on Gateshead Council for many years and I have always fought to protect the greenbelt here.

“I decided to carry out the survey to find out the strength of opinion about Labour’s plans to build on the greenbelt here.

“We got a very good response over the weekend. However, I have already started to produce a report on the results so if residents want their views to be included, they should get their completed survey forms back to me as soon as possible.”


Alcohol Awareness hits the road

Gateshead residents will be able to get information, advice and support for alcohol related issues as a road show marks Alcohol Awareness Week (14 – 18 November).

Advice will be provided to residents on their doorsteps as the Safer Gateshead Partnership - consisting of Gateshead Council, Gateshead PCT, Northumbria Police, The Gateshead Housing Company and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service - and Victim Support take to the streets throughout the week.

Starting on Monday 14 November, the Alcohol Awareness bus will visit sites across the borough including Gateshead High Street, Blaydon Leisure & Primary Care Centre, Springwell Community Centre, Tyne View Children’s Centre, Fewster Square and many more. A full list of locations is available at

This year’s Alcohol Awareness campaign focuses on the effects alcohol has on those around you. The road show will include information on a campaign led by Balance It, the North East’s Alcohol Office, highlighting the damage that alcohol advertising is having on children. Visitors to the bus will have the opportunity to sign the campaign petition to introduce a 9pm watershed in an attempt to stop alcohol advertising reaching children.

Gateshead Council cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Peter Mole, said: “Minimising the impact of alcohol-related harm has been one of the four strategic priorities that were identified for 2011/12 for the Safer Gateshead Partnership.”

“Alcohol Awareness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of all alcohol misuse issues, as well as to promote the work of alcohol treatment service providers across England and Wales. We’re all exposed to the second hand harms of other people’s drinking and the road show will offer people advice and support in how to deal with this.”

According to Gateshead PCT, there are around 4,000 hospital admissions each year caused by alcohol in Gateshead, with two thirds among men. In 2010, 55 deaths in Gateshead were also caused by alcohol.

As well as advice and support, the week long road show will also offer free NHS health checks for those aged 40 – 74 years, information on other support services available in the borough and more.

The Safer Gateshead Partnership is a collaboration of Gateshead Council, Gateshead PCT, Northumbria Police, The Gateshead Housing Company and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, with the purpose of addressing community safety issues across Gateshead.

The Alcohol Awareness Week road show is supported by NECA, NERAF, SMART and Turning Point.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Redheugh Bridge closure

The Redheugh Bridge will be closed for maintenance works on Sunday 30th October 2011 between 06:00 and 18:00.

Go North East Service 10/10A/11 inbound services will divert via Team Street, Centrelink, Swing Bridge and Forth Banks (as per Mon-Fri am journeys), omitting Clockmill Road and Derwentwater Road and rejoining the normal route on Clayton Street West.

Other Go North East services affected by the closure will divert as follows:

Buses will divert inbound via Askew Road, Hills Street, Tyne Bridge, Tyne Bridge slip road, Mosley Street, St Nicholas Street one-way system to Neville Street then normal route from Clayton Street.

Outbound services to operate from Eldon Square via Percy Street, Newgate Street, Grainger St, Neville Street, then Clayton Street, Westgate Road to St Nicholas Street, then High Level Bridge, Askew Road then normal route.

Services operating from Redheugh Bridge to Central Newcastle towards Tyne Bridge 97/98 53/54 etc., these will operate similar route from Redheugh Bridge roundabout via Askew Road, Hills Street, Tyne Bridge, Mosley Street, Church Chare one-way system to Neville Street then normal route via Bewick Street etc towards Gateshead.

Opposite direction will be normal route from Gateshead to Neville Street/Central Station, then Clayton Street, Westgate Road, St Nicholas Street, Collingwood Street, Swan House roundabout, Tyne Bridge then normal route.

Stagecoach Service 100 will divert (non-stop) via Scotswood Road and Scotswood Bridge to the Metro Centre.

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