Friday, December 22, 2006

Byermoor garages to be demolished

Work on demolishing the derelict garages in Byermoor is to begin on 11th January. The work will take about 2 weeks and will also involve the work on fencing and tree pruning.

Swalwell Roundabout improvements delayed

Readers may recall that Gateshead Council last year agreed to improvements to the Swalwell roundabout on Hexham Old Road, next to the new Lidl supermarket. Unfortunately, the work has been delayed but we are expecting it to start in early 2007.

“We are pressing Gateshead Council to carry out this work as soon as possible to ensure the safety improvements to this roundabout go ahead,” said Councillor Mary Wallace.

New sign for Hawsbury

A new sign for Hawksbury is to be placed on the entrance to Parkdale Rise in Fellside Park following confusion over the recently installed new sign on Whickham Bank for the street. The pedestrian access to Hawksbury is from Whickham Bank but the access for vehicles is from Parkdale Rise.

“Hopefully the new sign on Parkdale Rise will clear up some of the confusion,” said Councillor Chris Ord.

Neighbourhood Watch Appeal

Several residents have voiced concern over anti-social behviour in Swalwell. As a result, some have expressed an interest in setting up Neighbourhood Watch schemes. Please contact one of your local Lib Dem councillors if you are interested in joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. You can contact them by email

Graffiti removal in Lady Park

Residents of Lady Park have raised a number of graffiti problems with Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig. The graffiti in question has been mainly on street and traffic signs. Susan has notified Gateshead Council’s Anti-Graffiti Team about them.

The Anti-Graffiti Team operates throughout the borough to remove racist or obscene graffiti by the end of the next working day following it being reported. Non-racist/offensive graffiti will be removed as soon as practical. The Team use a Gateshead Council vehicle equipped with some of the latest and most environment-friendly anti-graffiti technology.

Neighbourhood Wardens can issue a fine of £50 when dealing with graffiti offenders.

Residents can request removal themselves. To request the removal of graffiti please contact: Local Environmental Services on 433 7000 (24 hour line) or Susan on 488 0787 if you wish to report any problem areas. You can also report it via email on

Buses meeting

Whickham South and Sunniside Councillors Jonathan Wallace and Alan and Marilynn Ord have met with Go Ahead North East Director Martin Harris to discuss bus services in their ward. The meeting took place on Friday 15th December.

Following large changes to services in September, Jonathan, Alan and Marilynn carried out a survey of residents about the impact of the new services. Residents raised worries about the loss of direct services from the Sunniside estate to Sunniside Front Street, central Whickham and Dunston.

Residents of the Broadway estate in Whickham expressed concerns about access to Whickham village and Dunston.

“We feel the meeting was productive and we put forward a number of proposals to help solve some of the problems that have arisen since the services were changed,” said Marilynn.

“Mr Harris took away the proposals we put forward and said he would look into them.”

Whickham North Councillors Chris Ord, Mary Wallace and Peter Craig and Dunston Hill and Whickham East Councillors Yvonne McNicol, Allison Chatto and Peter Maughan are aiming to meet Mr Harris in the early New Year to discuss problems affecting their wards.

Hollywell Lane to be resurfaced

Hollywell Lane in Sunniside is to be resurfaced. The need to give the currently unadopted road a proper tarmaced surface was raised with the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive by local Councillors Jonathan Wallace and Alan and Marilynn Ord earlier this year (and on a number of occasions in previous years as well!).

There is as yet no timetable for the work but we will keep you informed of progress.

Green-it recycling

During December, January and February, collections of the Green-it garden waste recycling bins is monthly. In March, the fortnightly service returned. Don’t forget you can recycle your Christmas tree in January by putting it into your Green-it bin. The waste from the bins is turned into compost instead of going into landfill sites.

Lobley Hill Road Railway Bridge

Following constant problems of graffiti on the bridge, Network Rail have painted Lobley Hill Road railway bridge a new green holly colour. This colour makes it harder for graffiti to show.

Susan Craig, Leader of the Lib Dem Focus Team in Bensham and Lobley Hill, said, “I am pleased action has been taken by Network Rail. I have taken up a number of graffiti problems recently. Graffiti can ruin a neighbourhood and it is important that it is cleared up quickly.

“The police have worked closely with Network Rail on this matter and hopefully their efforts will discourage those who daub graffiti in the first place.

“The bridge is a well known landmark in Bensham as it carries the East Coast line across one of the busiest roads through this part of Gateshead.”

Dunston church hall disabled and buggy access

Dropped kerbs are to be installed on Willow Avenue, Dunston, next to the church hall, to make it easier for disabled people and parents with buggies to get into the building.

The issue was raised by Councillor Yvonne McNicol with Gateshead Council’s Highways officers and as a result they have agreed to install the new kerbs. Work will take place shortly.

Lobley Hill footbridge to be demolished

The landmark Lobley Hill footbridge is to be demolished in February when a number of changes to Lobley Hill Road and the junction with Whickham Highway take place.

The existing mini roundabout at the junction will be replaced with traffic lights. Pedestrian crossing will also be installed where the footbridge currently stands. Another crossing will be installed before the junction on Consett Road.
Local Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig is carrying out a survey of residents of Lobley Hill Bank and other neighbouring streets on their views about the changes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Morrison’s Blaydon plans

Despite the council’s plans to end free parking, Supermarket giant Morrisons are applying for planning permission to build a new store in Blaydon town centre. If given the go ahead by Gateshead’s planners, the bus station could also be upgraded and improvements made to the existing shopping precinct. If you have any views on the proposals, tell us about them. You can email us or write to us at the above address.

Petition launched against flats plan

LIBERAL Democrats in Whickham, Gateshead, have launched a petition against plans to build flats on the site of a garage on busy Fellside Road.

Three years ago, Gateshead Council granted outline planning permission for housing on the site of Fellside Road garage.

The granting of outline permission means that, in principle, housing can go on the site but a further detailed application is needed before any homes to be built. This application has now been received by Gateshead Council’s planners.

“When this site was first considered for housing three years ago, the original application was for 16 flats,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “Gateshead Council granted outline permission instead.

“The new application is for an even higher number and we feel that neighbouring bungalows will be overshadowed by this development if it goes ahead. There could also be a loss of surrounding green area.”

The application is expected to come to Gateshead’s Planning Committee in the early New Year. In the meantime Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Marilynn Ord and Peter Craig have launched a petition against the application.

Over the weekend they collected over 200 signatures calling for the plans to be rejected.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Grow fuel instead of opencasting site

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor who led the campaign against a huge opencast site in Gateshead has called on the Government to put more effort into growing crops for energy.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, wrote the petition and collected thousands of signatures last year which led to the defeat of the proposal to opencast half a million tonnes of coal and fireclay from Skon’s Park, next to the historic Gibside estate in the Derwent Valley.

The applicant, Halls of Durham, are now appealing against the decision.

“Opencast mining at Skon’s Park would be the thin end of the wedge,” said Jonathan. “It would be a precedent for other applications throughout the Derwent Valley.

“But in saying no to opencast mining at this location, we have to come up with a solution to our energy needs. This location, and many others like it, could be used for growing energy crops or bio fuels such as fast growing willow and elder.

“These could be cropped regularly and used as a fuel in small scale, local power plants. This will mean less pollution caused in transporting the fuel to large power stations, and less traffic overall.

“Overall, there would be no carbon emissions which are leading to global climate change. Any carbon dioxide produced by burning this bio fuel would have been absorbed from the air whilst the crops were growing.

“The government needs to take a lead in encouraging the use of energy crops. The government is already on record for saying there is not enough opencast mining in the country.

“My fear now is that they will relax the rules to make it easier for opencast applications to be passed.”

Battle against Post Office closures continues

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have stepped up their campaign to save Post Offices from closure following the announcement by the Government of further massive cuts to the network.

Party campaigners launched their petition earlier this year calling on the Government to keep branches open.

The Government announced on Thursday 14th December that 2500 branches are to be closed. These are in addition to the 4000 that have already been axed since Labour came to power in 1997 and the 3000 that were closed by the previous Conservative government.

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, who is co-ordinating the petition, said, “Though the Government has backed down on its plans to axe the Card Account, nevertheless, their attitude towards Post Offices is shocking. It appears they are washing their hands of the network.

“We have already seen the closure of six branches in Gateshead since 1999. Liberal Democrats are seriously concerned that local residents will lose more branches in coming years under Labour’s closure plans.

“We have already collected 4000 signatures on our petition calling for Post Offices to be saved from closure. Following the government’s announcement, we have stepped up our campaign and we will be looking to collect thousands more signatures over the coming weeks.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

News Snippets

Greenside house plan

Planning permission is being sought to build a house on land to the rear of Fair View and Field View on Lead Road, Greenside.

Blaydon filling station plan approved

Planning permission has been granted to build a new vehicle dealership at the former Metro Filling Station on Derwenthaugh Road, Blaydon.

Blaydon shops to flats plan

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to convert 2 shops into 4 flats at 20/20A Shibdon Road, Blaydon.

Crawcrook beauty salon plan

Planning permission is being sought to convert the house at 4 Jubilee Terrace, Crawcrook into a beauty salon.

Blaydon Coop Creamery

Planning permission has been given to build an additional warehouse and office accommodation at the Coop Creamery, Chainbridge Road, Blaydon.

Chopwell sports improvements

A planning application has been approved for the site next to Chopwell Primary School to improve the existing outdoor sports area. Plans include installing lights, replacing the all weather pitch with a rubberised surface and construction of a footpath from the Pioneer Centre.

Composting plant refused

Planning permission for a composting plant at Building Farm, Stannerford Road, Crawcrook has been refused.

Highfield Community Centre

Planning permission is being sought to build an access ramp at Highfield Community Centre and buggy store. Additional windows will be added to the building.

Rowlands Gill industrial unit

Gateshead Council has received a planning application to build an industrial unit ar site 19 on Whinfield Way, Whinfield Industrial Estate, Rowlands Gill.

Greenside house building application

Planning permission is being sought to build 16 homes on the site of Underfloor Tipping Gears, Spen Lane, Sunniside.

Divert considered for High Spen path

A rights of way inspector is to look into the designation of a path which runs between North View Bungalows, High Spen and the allotments. Several residents want to close it and divert to the path running through the allotments.

A rapid conversion on the road to Westminster

What a rapid conversion on the road to Westminster for Blaydon’s Labour MP Dave Anderson! The left wing firebrand and former trade union boss before the election turned at startling speed into loyalist supporter of Tony Blair’s government.

From the man who claimed in The Journal on 8th March 2004, “I wouldn't describe myself as an identikit New Labour person”, we have, since his election as Labour MP for Blaydon, seen him slavishly back the government on all key issues and votes.

And now, despite his protestations of opposition to the war, he defends his support of the Blair government line on Iraq, even writing to The Journal (6th November 2006) to back the occupation.

Indeed, he went even further when speaking in Parliament on 25th October to oppose withdrawal from Iraq. In the debate he stated, “We should not be listening to armchair theorists, political opportunists or enemies of democracy, who would tell us to get out.”

So Mr Anderson, those who question the Iraq war are enemies of democracy? It is unlikely that the many thousands of his Blaydon constituents who believe the war was a huge mistake would share that view.

On 13th October the Head of the Army, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, said that the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems" and they should "get out some time soon". (BBC) Is he an armchair theorist, Mr Anderson?

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the current cost to the British taxpayer of the occupation and war in Iraq is £2.36million a day. (BBC) That is the equivalent of a brand new local primary school, or a hospital ward, for each day the Iraqi occupation continues.

With most people believing the presence of the occupying forces is adding to the problems in Iraq, the Liberal Democrats (who opposed the war from the start) have argued that there needs to be a phased withdrawal and a timetable to achieve it.

Meanwhile, in losing support in Blaydon, Dave Anderson has at least gained support in Westminster where he has just been rewarded for his loyalty to Tony Blair by being appointed to the first rung of the government ministerial ladder as a Parliamentary Private Secretary.

Liberal Democrats have no intention of being churlish however and we wish Mr Anderson well in his new career as part of the Blair/Brown government.

Unhappiness at Bleach Green road closure

Residents of Bleach Green have mentioned to local Liberal Democrat campaigners that they are not too happy because the new housing development will close off the route along what was Whitehall Road to the cut that leads to Blaydon Bank and therefore Blaydon West School.

It is currently being opened for the kids at school times but will soon be permanently closed meaning that people will have a long walk to get to Blaydon or the school. Many people feel their community has been cut in half.

Grants to groups

The following local groups have been awarded grants by Gateshead Council to help with their work in the community: 1st Chopwell scout Group £700; Blaydon Writers £500; Blaydon Methodist Arts and Craft Group £1,400 and the Winlaton Ramblers £255.

Big Clean in Spen Burn Woods

On 17th September ITV carried out a national campaign to clean up areas across the country. He event was called the ‘Big Clean’ and Spen Burn Woods was one of the areas chosen to take part.

The aim of the event was to encourage volunteers, mainly young people, to spend a day helping to clean up the wood. As a result, 100 volunteers collected 3 skip loads of rubbish including old bikes and vacuum cleaners, typewriters, lawn-mowers and, would you believe it, an old litter bin!

A big thank you to everyone involved.

Barmoor mini-hub to be axed

Nexus looks set to demolish the Barmoor mini-hub, which was built only 5 years ago as a pilot scheme for transport in rural areas. The mini-hub rural transport project has cost £1.6 million.

The mini-hub was built despite strong opposition from local residents who said the project would not work. What a pity Nexus and Gateshead Council didn’t listen at the time.
Local Lib Dem Councillors have put forward alternative uses for the building, such as a base for the police, but have been told that there is no funding available.

Focus celebrates 21 years

LIBERAL Democrats in the Whickham area are celebrating the 21st birthday of their community newsletter Focus.

The newsletter was launched in 1986 as a way of keeping in touch with residents. It has since grown to become the main outlet for community news in Whickham, Swalwell, Sunniside, Dunston and Lobley Hill.

Regular Focus newsletters are also produced in Winlaton, High Spen, Ryton, Crawcrook and Greenside. More recently, Liberal Democrats in Rowlands Gill and Blaydon have launched their own Focus leaflets.

Editor Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “Though Focus is 21 years old in the Whickham area, we have been doing community newsletters there for 25 years. Before Focus it was simply a news sheet called Newsletter.

“People now rely on Focus to keep them informed about local issues. And it has also grown with changing technology. We now produce email and video versions as well.”

Winlaton Mill, Lockhaugh and Barlow play consultation

Consultation to take place about fixed play facilities at Winlaton Mill, Lockhaugh and Barlow Village. “Funding was originally for very young children but it can now be used for older kids as well,” said Councillor Brenda Osborne. “So proposed equipment will be more adventurous than originally envisaged1”

Northumbria and Britain in Bloom awards

Towns in western Gateshead were successful in the recent Northumbria in Bloom awards. Rowlands Gill was the winner of the Urban Community and Ryton picked up the silver medal in the Town category. Chopwell won bronze medal in the Small Town Category and Path Head Watermill in Blaydon won the Best Conservation Project.

Following this, Rowlands Gill went on to win the Silver Medal in the national Britain in Bloom Awards in the Urban Community category. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Winlaton Front Street Crossing

Winlaton and High spen Councillors Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham have put in a request for a formal crossing facility across Winlaton Front Street opposite the Garths. “We have a gap in the railings but no zebra stripes,” said Brenda. “There is no marked crossing area at present. Installing one would improve road safety.”

Still on Front Street, there are still problems with double parking and parking on double yellow lines along its length. Brenda is looking into the matter.

Council to look at Rowlands Gill junction

Gateshead Council are monitoring the Station Road/Burnopfield Road junction to consider improvements following the handing in of a petition signed by 500 residents calling for improvements. Investigations into traffic and pedestrian flows at the junction are to be carried out.

Once the monitoring is over, the results will be used to consider what if any changes are needed. The petition was carried out by Liberal Democrat campaigner Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

He said, “Let’s hope this will lead to improvements.”
Photo: Councillor Jonathan Wallace at the Station Road/Burnopfield Road Junction in Rowlands Gill

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good response to library survey

Many thanks to everyone who has responded to the Lib Dem survey on Lobley Hill library services.

Following the closure of the library building earlier this year, residents contacted Lib Dem Focus Team Leader Susan Craig and Councillor Yvonne McNicol to voice their concerns regarding the new facilities. One resident said, "It's a disgrace, no more than a cupboard." This prompted the headline in the recent Lobley Hill Focus - "The Library, the Switch and the Wardrobe". A survey form has now been delivered to every home in Lobley Hill.

Susan said, "Several residents have contacted me voicing concerns over the reduced service, but we would like to know the views of other residents. Now that the new library provision is in place, I am conducting the survey of residents' views".

Residents' responses will be used to compile a report that will be sent to Gateshead Council.

Knightside Gardens traffic review

Gateshead’s Highways Department has agreed to monitor traffic movements at the bend on Knightside Gardens and the adjacent junction with Maple Ave over the coming months. This follows a new build that has cut the visibility on the road.

Councillor Yvonne McNicol said, “I have had site visits made by council and police with myself to look at the dangers now posed on this part of the road. At this point the Council have simply agreed to repaint the "slow" signs already on the road to make them clearer.

“Following their monitoring of the area, which will be over by April 2007, engineers will look at installing road signs if they feel they are necessary to indicate oncoming traffic due to the tightness of the bend.

Update on Traffic Concerns in Lobley Hill

Readers may be aware that residents living in Lobley Hill have asked Liberal Democrat action team member Susan Craig to help with an issue with traffic on the Coach Road.

Residents continue to be worried about the volume and speed of traffic which uses the Coach Road between Lady Park & Lobley Hill as an alternative to the A1.

In 2003, Gateshead Council consulted local residents over the introduction of a scheme to restrict the use of Coach Road by motorised traffic and to improve the highway for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Following further consultation in Lobley Hill and Lady Park in 2005, this scheme was rejected because not enough support was received to give the Council a clear mandate to proceed. However only 31 written responses were received from residents.

A petition collected by Susan Craig and local residents earlier this year has attracted over 50 signatures from residents of Lobley Hill and Lady Park and demonstrates that there continues to be widespread concern over the issue. Susan is now in the process of carrying out a survey of residents so that other possible solutions can be identified.

A speed survey was installed on Coach Road on Sunday 11th November. This stayed in place for one week and monitored the speeds of traffic using the Coach Road.

Remembrance Day Wreaths laid

Councillors were present at all of the memorial services in the Whickham and Dunston area in November, representing the Mayor of Gateshead.

Cllr Yvonne McNicol laid a wreath at Dunston cenotaph. In Whickham, wreaths were laid by Cllr Allison Chatto (Dunston Hill and Whickham East), Cllr Peter Craig (Whickham North) and Cllr Jonathan Wallace (Whickham South and Sunniside).

Meanwhile, Cllr Mary Wallace laid a wreath at Swalwell and Cllrs Alan and Marilyn Ord laid wreaths at Marley Hill. In the afternoon, Cllr Peter Craig attended the memorial service in the Metro Centre where a wreath was laid by the Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Malcom Brain.

You can view the video of the Whickham Remembrance Day procession on the following link: Whickham Remembrance Day
Photo: Councillors Peter Craig, Jonathan Wallace and Allison Chatto present wreaths at the Whickham War Memorial.

Xmas fayre

Liberal Democrats in Crawcrook will be holding a Christmas fayre on Saturday 9th December at Holy Spirit Church Hall 9:30 to 11:30am. There will be stalls selling gifts, cakes, jams etc.

Santa Claus is expected to make a special appearance at 10:30.

Below average cash increase for Gateshead

The government announced on 4th December the cash support that will be given to councils to help pay towards local services. Approximately three quarters of the money spent by councils comes from the government. Gateshead is getting a rise of 2.7% - in other words, an increase of £2.53 million on last year.

The figure does not include government money for schools which, rather confusingly comes via a different government grant. Councils have to hand this money on directly to schools.

How does Gateshead’s cash support compare with other councils? Well, not too well. The average increase in the money the government has given to English councils is 3.8%. Were Gateshead to receive the same increase, it would mean over £1 million extra to pay for the cost of local services.

Costs of services and running the council that are not met by the government have to be paid out of council tax, though some money is raised through charges (eg when using the swimming baths).

Gateshead Council is already warning that “The below average settlement will continue to put pressure on the Council’s budget.” This is another way of saying there may well be some cuts and the council tax rise, as in most previous years, will be as high as the council can get away with.

Across the River Tyne in Lib Dem controlled Newcastle, the council, for the 3rd year in a row, are to set a council tax rise that is at or below the rate of inflation. Newcastle Council is getting the same increase in government cash as Gateshead.

So whilst Liberal Democrats are unhappy with the unfair way the government have treated councils on Tyneside, at least in Newcastle the controlling Lib Dems are not using it as an excuse to bring in inflation busting council tax rises.

Welcome for by-election boost

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have welcomed the party’s election winning performance in council by-elections held in November.

At a meeting of members where campaign plans for next May’s local elections were stepped up a gear, Lib Dem campaigner Councillor Jonathan Wallace said the results showed that Labour had everything to fear from a Lib Dem challenge.

“The Liberal Democrats ended November with the most gains,” said Jonathan. “The Conservatives made no gains at all from Labour in November whilst the Liberal Democrats gained 4 from them.

“In large parts of the country, the Conservatives are irrelevant and barely exist. This is especially the case in large cities and urban areas where it is the Liberal Democrats who are challenging Labour hard.

“Former Labour voters are turning to the Liberal Democrats. They see the Conservatives as all spin and no substance. And they find David Cameron’s sudden conversion to the environment to be completely unconvincing.

“Here in Gateshead the Conservatives are third or fourth in every council seat and they have no hope at all of making any gains. There is absolutely no campaigning from them at all. They have disappeared off the face of the borough.

“Liberal Democrats head towards 2007 in great confidence. Recent by-elections show people are turning to us rather than the Conservatives as the main challenger to Labour.”

The net changes in seats contested in the November by-elections were:
Liberal Democrats +6
Conservatives +4
Labour -3
Independents/other -7

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dunston, Lobley Hill and Bensham new snippets

Dunston shop to tanning studio plan

Planning permission is being sought to convert the shop at 14 Kensington Terrace, Dunston, into a tanning salon.

Tyne Valley Trading Estate roadworks

Work on installing a zebra crossing at Marquisway/Tenth Avenue should be completed by December.

Dun Cow application

Gateshead Council has received a planning application to convert the stable and store at the Dun Cow Inn on Ellison Road in Dunston into three bedrooms and a self contained flat.

Repairs to Dunston bollards and road humps

Road humps and bollards have been repaired at Cypress Crescent and Knightside Gardens.

Lobley Hill shop extension

Planning permission is being sought to extend the Kular Stores on Rothbury Gardens, Lobley Hill. The application is for a single storey extension at the side of the store.

Dangerous trees removed

Gateshead Council has removed a large conifer tree on Myrtle Avenue adjacent to the Holmeside Club in Dunston as it was beginning to cause damage to neighbouring properties. A tree on Ede Avenue, Dunston, has also been removed for safety reasons.

Dunston House Plan

An application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to convert the house at 18-20 Church Street, Dunston into two flats.

Ash path lighting

Extra lighting has been installed on the Ash Path in Dunston that runs through Dunston Hill Estate to improve safety for residents. Some concerns were raised by some residents about the positioning of some of the lights but most of these were resolved by moving the lights a couple of metres.

Dunston motor store plan

Gateshead Council has received a planning application to build a motor part sotre and mail order distribution centre on derelict land beside Team Street and Clockmill Road in Dunston.

Bensham Barclays

Planning permission is being sought to install a cash machine at Barclays Bank on Coatsworth Road, Bensham.

Team Valley application

An application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to demolish the factory/warehouse at the former Dunlop Hydraulic plat on Earlsway on the Team Valley and to build 15 commercial units on the site.

Ravensworth Road Estate future to be reviewed

Gateshead Council are to consult with residents on the future of the Ravensworth Road Estate in Dunston. As a main shopping area for Dunston, local Liberal Democrat councillors are concerned to ensure the area is a vibrant centre with shops and services for people living in the area. We do not yet know what the timetable for the review is but we will keep readers in touch when we get further details.

New signs in Dunston

Councillor Yvonne McNicol has asked Gateshead Council to replace a number of street signs in Dunston that are damaged or worn out. As a result, the signs at Percy Gardens and Maple Avenue have already been replaced.

Signs have been made for Whickham Avenue, Wilson Street and Valley Drive and are waiting to be installed. Signs at Woodburn Gardens and Hawthorn Terrace are awaiting inspection by highway officers to see if they need replacing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

320 Whickham residents backed Post Offices on Saturday

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, collected 320 signatures on their petition calling for the government to reverse their decision to end the Post Office Card Account on Saturday 25th November.

The Account is used by millions of elderly people to collect their state pensions via Post Office branches, many of which rely on the payment they receive for handling the cash to remain open.

“There are widespread fears Labour’s decision to axe the Post Office Card Account will lead to the closure of many Post Office branches,” said Councillor Yvonne McNicol.

“Residents of Whickham were very interested in the petition and were eager to sign. In total we have collected over 4000 signatures and many are still coming in.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

News snippets

Whickham Glebe antennae

Planning permission to replace an existing floodlight tower at Whickham Glebe Sports Club and replace it with a new 20 metre high telecommunications mast with 4 floodlights, 3 Vodafone antennae and 3 O2 antennae has been refused.

Tyne Valley Trading Estate roadworks

Work on installing a zebra crossing at Marquisway/Tenth Avenue should be completed by December.

Byermoor School

Planning permission is being sought for an extension to Sacred Heart RC Primary School at Byermoor.

Broom Lane Housing application

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to demolish the house at 35A Broom Lane, Whickham, and build a new house in the rear garden area of 35 Broom Lane.

Whickham Industrial Estate

Planning permission is being sought to build an industrial unit on the vacant site to the west of Team Valley Brush Co at the Whickham Industrial Estate, Swalwell.

Swalwell flats plan

A planning application to convert the house at 39 Napier Road, Swalwell into 2 flats has been submitted to Gateshead Council.

Ravensworth Farm

Planning permission is being sought to build two blocks of stables on land to the rear of Old Ravensworth Farm Cottage, Ravensworth.

Sunniside Post Office cash machine

A planning application has been received by Gateshead for permission to install a cash machine on the front of Sunniside Post Office.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Call to cut tax on green fuels

A LEADING Councillor in Gateshead has called for tax on green fuels to be cut. Speaking at a meeting of Gateshead Council, Dr Jonathan Wallace said that duty on “biodiesel” should be lower than petrol and ordinary diesel to encourage people to switch to using it.

Gateshead and Newcastle Councils have entered an agreement to use “biodiesel” in some of their vehicles.

“Biofuel” contain a proportion of fuel produced from oilseed rape plants that are grown specifically for the purpose. The rest of the fuel is ordinary diesel.

“Biodiesel contains fuel from renewable sources,” said Dr wallace, “so it adds less polluting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.

“But the government charges the same duty per litre on biodiesel as on ordinary, more polluting diesel. This means there is no direct financial incentive to use the cleaner, greener fuel.

“Were the duty on biodiesel to be less, it would encourage more people to use it and would create a bigger market for cleaner, greener fuels.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fiona Hall MEP Question Time in Sunniside

In October, Fiona Hall, Lib Dem member of the European Parliament for the North East of England, carried out a "Question Time" at the home of Councillor Jonathan Wallace in Sunniside. Members of teh public were invited to send in questions and Fiona's replies were filmed. You can view the responses on the following links:

1) Introduction and opencast mining
2) migrant labour
3) council tax
4) UK troops abroad
5) renewable energy part 1
6) renewable energy part 2
7) human rights

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bank “poll tax” on elderly warning

The end of free banking will cost elderly residents of Tyneside dearly when they are forced to open bank accounts to receive their state pension, warns a leading Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead.

The Government’s decision to phase out the Post Office Card Account will create difficulties for the five million pensioners who have chosen to receive their pensions via the Post Office rather than a bank account, which they will now be forced to use.

The decision to end the payment system is also likely to lead to the closure of thousands of Post Office branches.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, has warned constituents in his monthly email newsletter that the decision by First Direct Bank to end free banking for those with less than £1500 in their current account will result in a bank poll tax for the elderly.

“Millions of pensioners chose to receive their pension via the Post Office rather than open a bank account,” said Dr Wallace.

“The government’s decision will force them to open bank accounts to get their pension but many will not have £1500 to keep in the bank to avoid charges.

“The Government must think again about ending the Post Office Card Account.”
Cameron, Brown and Iraq

Lib Dem party broadcast.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jobless rate rises

The number of jobless residents claiming job seekers allowance has increased by over 200 in Gateshead, over the past year, according to recent official figures.

And with national unemployment rising as well, concerns are being expressed about future job prospects on Tyneside.

In September 2005, 3,359 people in Gateshead were unemployed and receiving job seekers allowance. In September 2006 the figure rose to 3,564.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “The recent rise in interest rates is likely to have a knock on effect on the economy and could mean fewer jobs being created. This is therefore a worrying trend.

“In addition, the actual level of unemployment is nearly double that indicated in the figures the government supplies. They only include those who are unemployed and on job seekers allowance. All others are excluded from the figures.

“The reality is that unemployment therefore stands at around 7,000 in Gateshead.”

Las Vegas comes to Marley Hill

Liberal Democrats are holding a “Las Vegas” social night at Marley Hill Community Centre at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd December. Tickets are £2 each and includes mulled wine and mince pies. There will also be a pay bar.

There will be Blackjack, Roulette and other games. There will also be a 'game show' style quiz.

All welcome. If you would like tickets, please phone Susan Craig on 0191 4880787.

Lobley Hill Library Survey

LIBERAL Democrats in Lobley Hill are carrying out a survey of residents’ views about the replacement library services in the area.

The survey is being led by Susan Craig who campaigned earlier this year against the decision by the Labour run Gateshead Council to close Lobley Hill Library.

Although Lobley Hill Library was eventually closed, a smaller part time library was opened in Lobley Hill Community Centre following Susan’s campaign and petition.

“Many people are understandably disappointed with the replacement service,” said Susan. “It is part time and in a very small room which is little bigger than a cupboard.

“So we are asking people for their views and ideas and we will be putting in a report to Gateshead Council based on the results of the survey.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day Parade Whickham November 2006

Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Allison Chatto and Peter Craig laid the wreaths at the War Memorial in Whickham on behalf of the Mayor of Gateshead and their constituents on 12th November 2006. The parade was filmed and you can view it here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sign in Whickham Conservation Zone gone - at last!

It was there for four years in the heart of Whickham's conservation zone, but at last, the "For Sale" sign advertising apartments in the Chase Court development has been removed.

Readers may recall that Councillor Peter Craig fought a long running battle to stop planning permission for the sign being renewed.

Photo: Peter Craig next to the McCarthy and Stone sign in Whickham earlier this year. The sign has now been removed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Welcome for traffic lights plan in Sunniside

Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Sunniside in Gateshead have won their battle to persuade Gateshead Council to install traffic lights at the junction of Front Street and Sunniside Road.

The notorious junction leads many people to “rat run” through the Sunniside estate to get onto the main road through the village at the Coronation Road junction where traffic lights allow for better traffic flows.

Councillors Jonathan Wallace and Alan and Marilynn Ord had been calling for the traffic lights for a number of years. Earlier this year they put the case to the Council Leader and Chief Executive.

Plans to install the traffic lights were then agreed at the Gateshead Council cabinet meeting held at the end of October.

“This has been a long running campaign and the increasing amount of traffic passing through Sunniside means that this junction of two busy roads gets clogged up in the rush hour,” said Jonathan.

“Traffic lights will help to improve the situation and reduce the number of vehicles stuck in traffic jams in the village.”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Coffee morning

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors and campaigners in Blaydon will be holding a coffee morning at Blaydon Library on Saturday 11th November 2006.

Doors are open from 9.30am to 11.30am. There will be stalls selling cakes and jams as well as a tombola.

All are welcome to call in.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Welcome for Whickham bollards

In a move to improve safety on Whickham Front Street, bollards have been installed on the path opposite the Community Centre.

"There have been problems especially with vans parking at this site," said Councillor Chris Ord. "The location is next to Front Street Primary School and there are many children crossing there every day. The parked vehicles were adding to the dangers."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bus Service Cuts Autumn 2006

In September Liberal Democrat councillors in the Whickham area carried out a survey of residents about the impact of bus service cuts and changes. This video outlines the main points raised by residents.
Northern Region Lib Dem Campaign Awards October 2006

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have won awards from the party for their Focus leaflets and campaigning. The video shows the presentation of the awards at the party's Northern Region conference in October 2006.

It's a crime

Beware who you let in

Residents are being urged not to allow strangers into their homes without showing proof of identity. Two vulnerable people have been robbed in recent months in the Dunston area after they allowed people into their homes claiming to be from Dyno Rod or the water board. In both cases no proof of identity was asked for.

Secure your garage and shed

There have been 12 break ins in recent weeks in the Dunston area, mainly to garages and sheds. In most instances the doors have been forced though in two cases, the doors themselves were not secure. Please do all you can to secure your property!

Have you seen?

There was a Suzuki motor cycle registration no T525BFT stolen from a shed in Knightside Gardens. In addition, police are also looking for a stolen white BMW car, registration Y736KBO. If you see either or have any knowledge of their whereabouts, please contact Whickham Police Station.

Suspect arrested

There have been two house burglaries in Lobley Hill recently. However a suspect has been identified and arrested.

Satellite Navigation Systems – police advice

Theft from vehicles is made easier when goods can easily be seen by passing opportunist criminals. Satellite Navigation Systems are expensive but a number have been stolen in the area recently. Some were left by their owners on the windscreen for all to see. As with all valuables in your car, the police are advising owners to hide away any valuables. Don’t showcase them for thieves to run off with!

Clover Hill School extension opens

The new extension to Clover Hill School was opened on Saturday 30th September by Deputy Mayor Councillor Malcolm Brain. It has created a bigger entrance for the children, a staff meeting/preparation room and a multipurpose activity room with food technology preparation area for the children.

Photo: Outside the next extension at Clover Hill School, left to right, Councillor Jonathan Wallace, Councillor Marilynn Ord, Councillor Peter Craig (Chair of the Governors) and Councillor Mary Wallace.

Hedley Hall Woods

A waymarker competition was held for schools in the vicinity of Hedley Hall woods by the Great North Forest recently. Marley Hill Primary, as the closest school to the woods, was entered, along with Shield Row, St Patricks in Dipton and Kibblesworth Primary.

The aim was for children to design a waymarker to mark out a number of routes in Hedley Hall Wood. The final winner was St Patricks! The design will be added to finger posts in Hedley Hall Wood in the next few months. Funding for the Hedley Hall project was provided by Woodland Trust.

Sunniside Forecourt

Work began on Monday 16th October to remove the old fuel tanks from the former Gavin Reed petrol station on Sunniside Front Street. Workmen moved onto the site on that day and physical work of breaking up the forecourt surface and removing the tanks started a few days later.

Gateshead Liberal Democrats win awards

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have received awards from the party for their Focus leaflets and local campaigning.

It is the first time the party in the North East has run awards for local campaigning and Liberal Democrats in the area won prizes in four of the five different categories.

“We have been producing Focus for 21 years in Whickham so it is great to be awarded ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

Jonathan also picked up the ward for Best Political Campaign for the battle against the plans to opencast a site next to Gibside Estate last year.

The Focus Team in Winlaton and High Spen won a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Election Campaign section for their campaign earlier this year that saw them win the seat from Labour.

And Lobley Hill and Bensham won Focus Team Achievement – members there fought a vigorous election campaign in May and slashed Labours majority from 900 to just 92.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Appeal allowed on phone mast

A decision by Gateshead Council to refuse planning permission to increase the height of the 12.5metre high phone mast on land next to Go Gateshead, Garth Farm Road, Blaydon has been overturned by Government Planning Inspectors.

Cooks Field, Greenside

Local Liberal Democrats are delighted to report the renovation of Cooks Field playground has gone ahead. It was not long ago that Gateshead Council seemed set to remove Cooks Field from its list of maintained playgrounds.

The renovation of Cooks Field and Folly playgrounds, and the newly equipped skate park and five-a-side pitch in Greenside park bring to fruition a campaign for improved play facilities by Crawcrook and Greenside’s Lib Dem Councillors Derek Anderson, Noel Rippeth and Sally Danys.

Road news

Chainbridge Road level crossing closure

The crossing near Blaydon will be closed from 9pm on 13th January to 3pm on 14th January and from 9pm on 27th January to 9am on 28th January.

Stannerford Road, Clara Vale

Liberal Democrat Councillor Derek Anderson is backing a petition by local residents on Stannerford Road, Clara Vale, calling for road signs to be made more visible and correctly orientated to help better enforcement of the speed limits on the road.

Greenside Road closure

Greenside Road, Crawcrook will be closed on 12th and 19th November to allow work to take place on resurfacing.

Beweshill Lane closure

Beweshill Lane (between Stargate Lane to Path Head Roundabout) will be closed from 9th to 19th November for repair work to take place.

Gateshead Warm Zone

A year ago Gateshead Council agreed to set up the Gateshead Warm Zone which aims to reduce fuel poverty by increasing household energy efficiency. It also aims to improve social inclusion and health and well-being of Gateshead residents.

Staff are now in place to assess each property in the Borough and survey those that may need energy efficiency measures. They also order contractors to carry out work to install cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. A small team of benefit screeners and assessors has recently been set up.

By the end of July 2006, 13,614 assessments had been conducted in Felling, Saltwell, Dunston and Teams, Bridges, Lobley Hill and Bensham and Deckham wards. The next ward to be tackled in October is Pelaw and Heworth. Eventually, the whole Borough will be surveyed.

This work has resulted in 3,519 insulation measures being installed including 1036 cavity wall insulations and 2248 loft insulations.

New road markings in Winlaton

New "give way" road markings have been put down near the centre of Winlaton after complaints from residents about the danger to pedestrians trying to cross the road from Back Street to Winlaton to access the bus station and shops.

CAB News

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be providing a Drop-In advice facility at Chopwell Community Centre from 10am onwards to coincide with the ‘Flu Jab Day’ on Tuesday 17th October.
CAB in Blaydon

Well done to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau which has helped 129 residents with 312 different issues during the past 6 months from the weekly, Tuesday Drop-In sessions at the Gateshead@Blaydon. The majority of residents helped come from Blaydon itself and from Winlaton. However, about 15% came from Ryton.

Rowlands Gill wins garden award

Rowlands Gill has won a medal in the 2006 Northumbria in Bloom competition for Best Urban Community. The announcement was made at the awards ceremony held in Alnwick Gardens on Monday 11th September. Congratulations to everyone involved.

53,000 residents of Newcastle and Gateshead to lose Post Office service

THE Government’s decision to axe the Post Office Card Account will see over 53,000 residents of Newcastle and Gateshead losing their right to receive their pensions and benefits through post office branches.

The Government’s decision, taken earlier this year, is expected to lead to thousands of Post Offices closing across the country as many are already struggling even before they lose the business handling pension and benefits money brings.

53,000 residents of Newcastle and Gateshead use Post Office Card Accounts at the moment. They will now be required to open bank accounts to receive their money even though the banks are not required to provide them with banking facilities.

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead launched a petition against the government’s decision earlier this year. They have collected over 3000 signatures calling on Ministers to reverse their decision.

Petition co-ordinator, Councillor Jonathan Wallace, said, “This Government decision is going to cause great difficulties for 53,000 residents of Gateshead and Newcastle. “And it is a nail in the coffin for many Post Offices which will close as a result.

“This decision needs to be reversed. Post Offices carry out important community and social functions. They will be lost with the erosion of the branch network.”

Over 1100 signatures on the petition were collected by Councillors Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham in their Winlaton and High Spen ward.

"Pensioners should have the choice between getting their money through a Post Office or a bank," said Brenda.
"Labour's decision will take away that choice and puts at risk our vital Post Office network.

"Our petition has attracted a great deal of interest as branch closures affect whole communities. We will continue to collect signatures for some time to come. We will then take the petition to the government."

Path Head landfill petition gets unanimous backing in Brussels

Local residents and Lib Dem Euro MP Fiona Hall are celebrating following a successful hearing of their petition against the Path Head quarry landfill site.

The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament heard from Ryton resident Daniel Grey that water had seeped into the Path Head site during the summer, in contravention of European landfill legislation.

"Following new evidence presented by Daniel, the Commission agreed to investigate further,” said Fiona. “Other MEPs on the committee supported the Gateshead petition 100%. They said they were appalled to hear that proper attention had not been paid to the question of groundwater at the landfill site.

"There was also considerable concern about the fact that local residents face multiple exposures to health risks. I pointed out to the Committee that residents have to contend with many landfill sites in the same small area. Gateshead Council did not look into the implications of this multiple risk.

"The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament was unanimous in its view that the petition should be kept open and new evidence considered. This is excellent news for local residents, who have fought so hard to make Gateshead Council see sense."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Opencast Appeal at Skons Park

Halls of Durham are appealing against a decision of Gateshead Council to refuse planning permission for an opencast scheme next to the historic Gibside Estate. This video explains how the appeal system works and the route the lorries will take if the appeal wins.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Coach Road traffic survey

Residents living in Lobley Hill have asked Liberal Democrat campaigner Susan Craig to help with an issue with traffic on the Coach Road.

Residents continue to be worried about the volume and speed of traffic which uses the Coach Road between Lady Park & Lobley Hill as an alternative to the A1.

In 2003, Gateshead Council consulted local residents over the introduction of a scheme to restrict the use of Coach Road by motorised traffic and to improve the highway for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Following further consultation in Lobley Hill and Lady Park in 2005, this scheme was rejected because not enough support was received to give the Council a clear mandate to proceed. However only 31 written responses were received from residents.

A petition collected by Susan Craig and local residents earlier this year has attracted over 50 signatures from residents of Lobley Hill and Lady Park and demonstrates that there continues to be widespread concern over the issue. Susan is now planning to carry out a survey of residents so that other possible solutions can be identified.

The Library, the Switch and the Wardrobe!

No it’s not an undiscovered novel by C. S. Lewis! It’s the view of angry residents who are appalled at the reduced library provision in Lobley Hill since the switch to the Community Centre Library on 18th July.

Following the closure, residents have contacted the Lobley Hill Liberal Democrat Action Team to voice their concerns regarding the new facilities. One resident said, “It’s a disgrace, no more than a cupboard.”

Action Team leader, Susan Craig said, “Several residents have contacted me voicing concerns over the reduced service, but we would like to know the views of other residents. Now that the new library provision is in place, I am conducting a survey of residents’ views”.

The survey form will be delivered to every home in Lobley Hill and will be used to compile a report that will be sent to Gateshead Council.

Residents have also complained that they have not received any information from their councillors about the new ‘Community Centre Library’. So, included below, your Action Team have provided the main details:

The opening hours of the new service are Tuesday 9.30 a.m. - 6.30 p.m. and Thursday 9.30 a.m.- 3.00 p.m. The library has fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children, a small reference section, daily newspapers and magazines. There is also free access to the Internet. A mobile library also visits Lobley Hill every fortnight on a Monday between 1.40 and 2.55 p.m. You will find it at Cragside Court near Lobley Hill Primary School.

Photo: Susan Craig outside the new library in Lobley Hill Community Centre dubbed a wardrobe.

Opencast appeal

Readers may recall the huge campaign fought last year against plans to opencast half a million tonnes of coal and fireclay from “Skon’s Park”, next to Gibside. The application was eventually defeated at Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee earlier this year.

The applicant, Halls of Durham, have now lodged an appeal with the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to try to get the decision of Gateshead Council reversed. This clearly brings the issue right back onto the agenda of local residents.

At this point, news is only starting to filter through. It is likely however that a public inquiry will be held which will examine all the planning aspects of the application. At this stage however, it is not definite that an inquiry will be held, but in the expectation one is held, the Inspector appointed will need to set the timetable.

We will keep you in touch with any news.

“The whole community will have to pull together to put a strong and reasoned case to the Inspector should an inquiry be held,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “With my colleagues we will be working closely with local residents to persuade the Inspector to reject the appeal.”

Euro MP to hold Question Time

FIONA Hall, Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the North East, is to hold a coffee morning and question time for residents of the Sunniside and Whickham area of Gateshead.

The event will take place at the home of Gateshead Councillor Jonathan Wallace in Sunniside on Sunday 8th October at 10.30pm.

“We are trying out ways to help Fiona keep in touch with residents,” said Jonathan. “We have invited questions and we will be videoing the question time. Afterwards we will be putting the video onto our news blog for everyone to see.”

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The green green grass of home?

LIBERAL Democrat councillors representing Whickham North are pressing for the grassed area on Milton Road to be returfed. The call was made by Councillor Chris Ord who has been contacted by residents about the state of the green area.

The site was used to house portacabins used during recent work by Gateshead Housing Company on local houses. The work has now been completed and the cabins have gone.

“When it rains, the grassed areas look more like a battlefield than a lawn,” said Chris. “So we are asking for the area to be returfed.”

Photo: Flashback to March 2006, Councillors Peter Craig and Chris Ord at the lawn churned up on Milton Road, Whickham. Now that work has finished on neighbouring houses, they want the lawn returfed.

Off licence application withdrawn

An application for an off licence at 94 Oakfield Road, Whickham, has been withdrawn. The shop is currently used for selling fireplaces. A large number of local residents had previously objected to the application.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bus reregulation welcomed

The government announcement that bus services will be reregulated has been welcomed by a leading Liberal Democrat in the North East.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside in Gateshead, said the reversal in policy would go some way towards addressing the problems caused by recent bus service cutbacks.

Currently, bus service levels and routes are decided by bus companies and local councils had only a very minimal control over some routes. Ministers have today announced plans to bring management of services more directly under public control.

“My own ward has suffered a large reduction in services, especially in Sunniside village,” said Dr Wallace.

“These have created considerable problems for residents, many of whom feel cut off as a result of the changes and cuts.

“We as councillors had no control over these changes. I am instinctively against unnecessary government or council intervention but on such an important service as bus services, there is a strong case for regulation to ensure a wider public service continues.

“It’s a pity it has taken 9 years for the government to do something about this. Back in 2000, Liberal Democrat MPs were battling the government to ensure there was more regulation of bus services as part of the Transport Bill then going through Parliament.

“Unfortunately, our calls fell on deaf Labour ears. Years later government ministers are having to return to sort out the mess that should have been cleaned up years ago.”

Dr Wallace has recently carried out a survey of over 1200 households in his ward about the impact of bus service changes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Labour hold Dunston and Teams in by-election contest

Labour have held the Dunston and Teams seat in the by-election held on Thursday 28th September. The new councillor is Pauline Dillon.

Liberal Democrat candidate Michael Ruddy came second, improving his share of the vote by 4%.

But it was a disappointing night for the fringe British National Party (BNP) who threw everything into the campaing. They turned up at the count hopeful of causing an upset. In the end they simply came in third.

Photo: Lib Dem candidate Michael Ruddy and agent Charles Jevon congratulate winning Labour candidate Pauline Dillon at the count for the Dunston and Teams by-election. Unhappy looking Conservative and BNP candidates are on the left and right respectively.

The Conservatives barely registered on the voters' radar screen, scoring only 6%, down 3% on the May elections.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Whickham Street Surgery

Following the recent very successful street surgery on Oakfield Road and due to popular demand, Lib Dem Councillors representing the Grange Estate in Whickham will be holding a follow up session on Saturday 16th September. It will take place between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. outside the shops in the middle of Oakfield Road.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Update on Off license application for Oakfield Road, Whickham

Many residents have contacted your local councillors to ask what is the process for making an objection following the application to set up an off license at the fireplace shop on Oakfield Road, Whickham. The objection should be made on a form which can be obtained from: Trading Standards and Licensing, Development and Enterprise, Gateshead Council, Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HH.

All objections must be based on some or all of the following grounds which are listed in the form:
The prevention of crime an disorder
Public safety
The prevention of public nuisance
The protection of children from harm

The last date that objections will be received for this particular application is Tuesday 19th September.

Normally, residents who object will have an opportunity to speak at the hearing should they wish to. However, this depends the number of people who wish to speak. A provisional date for the hearing has been set for he morning of Thursday 12th October, although of course this may change.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Whickham and Rowlands Gill win gardening awards

Whickham has won the Best Large Town award in the 2006 Northumbria in Bloom competition. The announcement was made at the awards ceremony held in Alnwick Gardens on Monday 11th September. And Rowlands Gill won a medal for Best Urban Community.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Whickham Car Parking Survey

LIBERAL Democrat councillors representing Whickham North have carried out a survey of residents of the Grange Estate about plans by Gateshead Council to introduce charges for parking in Whickham Village’s car parks.

Councillors Chris Ord, Mary Wallace and Peter Craig asked residents of the Grange Estate, most of which comes within their ward, about the planned charges so they could get a bigger picture of the possible impact on Whickham.

“We are concerned about the loss of business,” said Councillor Chris Ord. “The nearby Metrocentre has free parking and there is a danger that many people will shop there instead of in Whickham.

“Whilst parking charges have a role to play, the council should take into account the impact as well.”

Responses to the survey are being studied by local councillors and residents are urged to send in their views if they have not yet replied.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bus survey reveals residents’ concerns

RESIDENTS of the village of Sunniside, in western Gateshead, are worried they will be cut off from local facilities following the decision to scrap an important bus service.

The 645 was withdrawn from service on 3rd September. Before then it was one of the main bus services to the Sunniside estate.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace carried out a survey of residents to find out the impact of the ending of the bus service.

“Many residents have told us they will experience difficulties getting to the shops and post office on the Sunniside Front Street area,” said Jonathan. “They will also find it harder to get to the doctors’ surgery in Whickham and to Dunston for the swimming pool and activity centre.”

The survey is still being carried out by Councillor Wallace, who represents the area on Gateshead Council and it should be completed by Sunday 10th September.

His colleague Councillor Yvonne McNicol is also carrying out the survey in her Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward as the 645 was a main bus service in that area as well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lib Dems choose by-election candidate

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have chosen Michael Ruddy as their candidate for the Dunston and Teams ward by-election which is to be held on Thursday 28th September.

Michael lives on the Race Course Estate at the bottom of Bensham Bank, in the Teams area of Gateshead.

“I am very pleased to have been chosen to stand for Dunston and Teams,” said Michael, who is a taxi driver. “We will be running a strong campaign in the ward.

Michael’s main campaign is to save Post Offices from closure following the decision by the Labour government to scrap the Post Office Card Account, used by pensioners to get their state pension through Post Office branches.

There are widespread fears that the loss of business caused by the decision will force many branches to close down.

Photo: Michael Ruddy, Lib Dem candidate for Dunston and Teams

Published and promoted by Charles Jevon, on behalf of Michael Ruddy, all at 18 The Cedars, Eighton Banks Gatehead NE9 7BW

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

800 call for Post Office action in Winlaton and High Spen

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Winlaton and High Spen ward of Gateshead have collected 800 signatures on their petition calling for the Post Office Card Account and Post Office branches to be saved from the axe.

Councillors Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham collected the signatures during August.

They launched the petition with colleagues from across Gateshead after the government announced that the Post Office Card Account is to be scrapped. The account is used by 5 million pensioners to collect their state pensions through Post Office branches.

Many branches are dependent on the payment they receive for handling pensioners’ cash and the business they bring to remain open. There are fears that many will close as a result.

“There has been a great deal of interest in the petition from residents,” said Brenda. “People have been very willing to sign. We have recorded 800 signatures so far but we also have a large pile of petition replies which we have not yet sorted.

“So we are expecting the figure of 800 to increase further.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Winlaton and Blaydon residents surveyed on parking charges

Residents of Winlaton and Blaydon are being surveyed by local Liberal Democrats about proposals by Gateshead Council to introduce car parking charges at Blaydon town centre car park.

The plans for the charges were agreed by the Council’s all-Labour cabinet in July.
So far, over 1500 survey forms have been distributed.

“We have concerns about the impact of the charges on the shops in Blaydon so we want to get the response of residents to the plans,” said Councillor Brenda Osborne.

Brenda, and fellow ward councillor Andrew Graham, are currently examining the hundreds of survey replies that have been received.

Councillors to meet over parking and speed

Liberal Democrat councillors representing Whickham North in Gateshead are to meet Council highway engineers and Northumbria Police Camera Safety Partnership to discuss problems of speeding vehicles on Oakfield Road and Whaggs Lane.

Councillors Chris Ord, Peter Craig and Mary Wallace carried out a survey of residents earlier this year about problems of excess speed on local roads.

“As a result of our survey, highway engineers conducted an actual survey of traffic speeds on the two roads,” said Chris. “We will be discussing these with the police and engineers when we meet them in September.”

Knightside Park residents surveyed

Residents living next to Knightside Park on Dunston Hill have been surveyed by local Liberal Democrat Councillor Yvonne McNicol about anti-social behaviour problems in the area.

"A number of residents have raised concerns with me about nuisance behaviour in and around the park," said Yvonne. "People have experienced vandalism, under age drinking and disturbances.

"We carried out the survey to get a fuller picture of the problem. We are now taking up matters with both the police and parks officers of Gateshead Council."

Off licence application on Whickham's Grange Estate

Gateshead Council have received an application for an off licence to be established in the shop at 94 Oakfield Road, currently occupied by a shop selling fire places. If granted, the premises will be open from 8am to 11pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 10am to 10.30pm Sundays.

Rules imposed by the government prevent councillors from lodging objections to licence applications but they can represent residents at licence hearings.

A petition against the application can be found at the JCB newsagents on Oakfield Road, Whickham.

Local Lib Dem councillors are holding a meeting shortly with residents who are opposing the application.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Post Office petition in Blackhall Mill

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency, in western Gateshead, took their petition calling on the government to save Post Offices from closure to the village of Blackhall Mill on Sunday 27th August.

The government announced earlier this year that they were axing the Post Office Card Account, used by millions of pensioners to receive their state pension through Post Office branches.

There are fears that with the axing of the account, thousands of Post Office branches will close. Many branches rely on the payment they receive for handing pensioners cash to remain open.

“Nearly 140 people in the village signed the petition,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace, who is co-ordinating the petition. “We delivered 200 petition forms and 70 were returned to us.

“This shows there is a high level of feeling against the Labour party’s decision to stop pensioners getting their money through the Post Office Card Account. They oppose the idea of forcing older people to use the big banks.

“With Post Office branches often reliant on the Card Account to keep them going, many smaller branches will close once it finally is scrapped.

“And that will mean whole communities will be without Post Office facilities.”

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sunniside residents surveyed on bus changes

A CAMPAIGNING Liberal Democrat councillor is carrying out a survey of 900 households in Sunniside, Gateshead, to ask people about the impact of changes to bus services in the village.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, who represents the village on Gateshead Council, and a team of helpers, delivered the survey forms on Saturday 26th August.

Bus operator Go Gateshead recently announced that the 645 service will be axed in September even though it is one of the most important services to Sunniside village.

“I have had people in touch with me to tell me about the difficulties they will face once the 645 disappears,” said Jonathan.

“Many residents on the Sunniside estate already have difficulties getting to Gateshead as there are no direct buses there running along Sunniside Road.

“But the disappearance of the 645 will mean that there is no service from the estate to Dunston. Many will now have difficulty getting to the swimming pool, the Activity Centre or Dunston Health Centre.

“The survey will give us a better picture of the problems caused by the loss of the 645. We will be taking the results to Go Gateshead to ask them to keep the service running.”

Monday, August 21, 2006

645 Bus service axed

Concerns have been raised by residents and local councillors about the decision to axe the 645 Eldon Square to Sunniside bus service.

The decision by Go Gateshead bus company to axe the important bus service could lead to an estate in Sunniside becoming cut off.

The bus service will disappear in September and will coincide with a reduction in level of service for the 643 which also serves the village.

The 643, which serves Watergate in Whickham, will have the 7.48am and 6.16pm weekday Sunniside to Metrocentre and the 8.16am Saturday Sunniside to Metrocentre withdrawn. In addition, on school days, the following services will be dropped: 8.16am Metrocentre to Sunniside, and 3.16pm Metrocentre to Sunniside.

“Residents of the Sunniside Estate in particular are feeling cut off from a decent bus service,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “The 645 was a lifeline for many as a service running through Whickham Village and Dunston Hill.

“The loss of this service is a heavy blow and it comes on top of the lack of services down Sunniside Road to Gateshead. People have already raised concerns with me about being able to get from the Sunniside Estate to the Whickham and Dunston.”

Councillor Yvonne McNicol, who represents Watergate, said, “The 645 is an important service for residents of Watergate Estate and its loss will cause much hardship for many people.

“The loss of the 645 will be felt in Dunston Hill as well. It is a popular and important service for many residents and I am surprised and quite angry it is being axed.”

Lobley Hill “Library”

Readers may recall the battle earlier this year over the future of Lobley Hill Library. Gateshead Council wanted to close the library, but after a campaign by residents and Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig, the council agreed to install a reduced library in Lobley Hill Community Centre.

“Residents have seen the new library and are not impressed,” said Susan. “It’s seems to be no bigger than a spacious closet and barely big enough to swing a cat, never mind open a book.”
Have any of our Lobley Hill and Dunston Hill readers been to the new “library”? If you have, send us your views. You can email Susan on:

Traffic tops survey issues

A recent survey by Lib Dems of over 2000 homes in Dunston and Teams saw people raising concerns about the state of roads and problems arising from the numbers of cars and lorries using local streets.

In Dunston local residents are worried about the increase in traffic to the Metro Centre and are asking for a pedestrian crossing to allow safe access to the park and bus stop on the other side of Dunston Road.

Increasing traffic in Bolam Street, Teams, is a similar concern and a crossing has also been requested.

Speeding traffic, combined with bad parking are issues in Derwentwater Road, Teams and Wellington Road, Dunston. Local residents are asking for traffic calming measures to make the streets safer.

The Dunston & Teams Lib Dem FOCUS Team has asked the Council to undertake surveys on these roads a look at options to improve road safety.

Coatsworth Road takeaway refusal overturned

A decision by Gateshead Council's planning committee to refuse permission to convert the Post Office on Coatsworth Road into a hotfood takeaway has been overturned by an appeal to government planning inspectors.

Approval given for Bensham apartments

Gateshead Council' Planning Committee has given planning permission to build a block of 29 apartments on the site of Tyne View Care Home, Cuthbert Street, Bensham. The block will be part 2, 3 and 4 storeys.

2000 sign petition to save Post Offices

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have collected 2000 signatures on their petition calling on the government to keep the Post Office Card Account and to save Post Office branches from closure.

The government have decided to stop pensioners from getting their pensions through the Post Office and to make them get their cash through bank accounts instead. The Post Office Card Account, currently used by pensioners, will be phased out over the next few years.

There are fears that many Post Office branches will close as a result of the decision. Many rely on the payments they receive for handling pensions and on the trade older people bring when they collect their money.

“We believe people should have the choice between collecting their pensions at the Post Office or through a bank account,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace, who is co-ordinating the petition.

“The decision by the government to take away that choice will make life more difficult for older people and will also see many more communities without a Post Office.

“Two thousand people have signed our petition calling on the government to reverse its decision to axe the Post Office Card Account. That shows there is genuine anger about the government’s decision.

“Over the coming weeks we will be continuing to collect more signatures.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Winlaton and High Spen, Brenda Osborne, is one of those who is involved with running the petition. Over the past two weeks she has collected 500 signatures from constituents.

“Western Gateshead is made up of small towns and villages. For many, the Post Office is one of the main facilities in a community,” said Brenda.

“The government’s decision to end the role of the Post Office in dealing with pensions will be a body blow to many branches. We are fighting hard to get the government to reconsider.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Teams Police Forum

Local police are holding a forum for all local residents at 6.30pm on Tuesday 12th September at Tyne View School. This is an opportunity for you to raise concerns about local crime and policing.

Planning applications Blaydon, Winlaton, Ryton and Rowlands Gill area

Crawcrook housing application granted

Gateshead Council have given the go ahead to plans to build a detached house on land to the west of Deneholme. Stoneylea Close, Crawcrook.

Phone mast rejection upheld in Blaydon

A decision by Gateshead Council to refuse planning permission for a 16 metre high phone mast at Blaydon Cricket Club has been upheld by government planning inspectors.

Appeal rejected at Barlow

An appeal against a Council decision to refuse planning permission for new housing at the site of former West House, Barlow, has been rejected by government planning inspectors.

Private garden applications in Chopwell and Rowlands Gill

Planning permission is being sought to change grazing land to the rear of 8 East Terrace, Chopwell to private garden use and to change former allotment gardens on land to the rear of 2-8 Low West Avenue, Rowlands Gill, into private garden areas.

Application for Greenside housing

Planning permission is being sought to build a detached house on allotment gardens to the rear of Landscape Terrace, Greenside.

Whinfield Industrial Estate application

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council for permission to store aggregates to a height of 4 metres at Tmomas Armstrong, 9b Whinfield Way on the Whinfield Industrial Estate, Highfield.

Disabled Access in Blaydon Shopping Centre

Peters Cathedral Bakers are applying for planning permission to install disabled access including a sliding door at Unit 28, St Cuthberts Way, Blaydon Shopping Centre.

Farm building conversion in Crawcrook

Planning permission is being sought to convert redundant farn buildings at Castle Hill Farm, Crawcrook, into 6 houses.

Brenda and Christine reappointed

Councillor Brenda Osborne has been reappointed as a governor of Winlaton West Lane Primary School whilst Councillor Christine McHatton has been reappointed to Crookhill Primary School.

Planning applications Whickham, Dunston and Sunniside area

Whickham Housing Application

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council for a house to be built in the rear garden of 11 Millfield Road, Whickham.

Silverdate application deferred

A decision on a planning application to build a house on land at 38 Silverdale, Whickham, was deferred so that members of Gateshead Council’s planning committee could visit the site earlier this month.

Advertising sign refusal at Lobley Hill upheld

A decision by Gateshead Council to refuse planning permission for two advertisement signs on the wall of the Waggon Team Inn on Lobley Hill Road, Lobley Hill has been upheld by government planning inspectors.

Beamish Park Hotel application

The hotel, on Beamish Burn Road, Marley Hill, is applying for planning permission to extend on the north side to provide an enlarged function suite, manager’s accommodation and a new lobby on the front. In addition, permission is being sought for the erestion of a single storey building on land to the north of the hotel for a golf pro shop.

Dun Cow, Dunston

Planning permission is being sought to convert the stable/store at the Dun Cow Inn on Ellison Road into 3 ensuite bedrooms and a self contained flat.

Grange Lane housing application

Planning permission is being sought to build 2 houses at 46 Grange Lane, Whickham, following the demolition of the former house at the location.

Cornmoor Road housing plan

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to build a detached house in the rear garden of 37 Cornmoor Road, Whickham.

Royal Hotel, Dunston

The Royal Hotel, Railway St, Dunston, is applying for permission to construct an external decked are with a shelter.

Broom Lane housing application

Planning permission is being sought to build a detached bungalow to the rear of Bucks Hill View, off Broom Lane, Whickham.

Dunston House plan

Permission is being sought to build a detached house on land to the rear of 35/37 Mount Grove, Dunston.

Lansbury Road house plan

Plans have been submitted to Gateshead to build a detached house on land at M&B Cresswell Newsagent, 1 Lansbury Road, Whickham.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Changes to postal voting

Changes to the way postal voting is to be carried out are to be introduced for the 2007 local elections. The changes follow abuses to the voting system carried out in past local elections elsewhere in the country. Fortunately, Gateshead was free of any such incidents.

Nevertheless, the integrity of postal voting is to be strengthened. People with a postal vote will no longer have to have the signature of a witness. They will have to continue to sign a declaration of identity form which is returned with the postal vote (in a separate envelope) and they will now have to include their date of birth. This is designed to stop the theft of postal votes before they arrive at a person’s house.

However, the effect of this change is to make all existing postal votes null and void. This is because Electoral Registration Officers have not previously needed to collect dates of birth.

As this information is now needed, all those currently with an automatic postal vote will need to re-apply. No one needs to do this yet as the requirement only comes into force next year. However, the Council will need to decide how to invite people to re-apply over the coming months. Gateshead News will keep you in touch with any developments on this.

Lib Dems to choose by-election candidate

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead are to conduct an all-member postal ballot for the selection of a candidate to fight the by-election due shortly in Dunston and Teams ward. A hustings meeting will be held on 23rd August and the ballot will close immediately afterwards. Members will be able to vote by post or at the hustings meeting.

The by-election, caused by the resignation of Labour's Patrick Rice, just 10 weeks after being re-elected, is expected to be held in September.

Crawcrook Post Office to close

CRAWCROOK Post Office is expected to close by the end of September. Sub-postmistress Alison Sherborne blamed the decision on the government’s decision to axe the Post Office Card Account (POCA).

POCA is used by older people to collect their state pensions through Post Office branches but a recent government decision to axe POCA will mean pensioners being forced to get their pensions paid through bank accounts instead.

Liberal Democrats had warned that the decision to axe POCA would lead to thousands of Post Office branches closing because of the loss of income they receive from handling pensioners’ money and loss of trade.

Crawcrook is the first in the area to be hit but many more could follow.

Local Lib Dem councillor Noel Rippeth said, “Labour’s decision to stop pensioners getting their pensions through Post Offices has been a nail in the coffin for many branches.”

Lib Dem tax plans would benefit people of Gateshead

Gateshead Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace has welcomed plans unveiled today for a fairer, greener and simpler tax system.

Dr Wallace, who represents Whickham South and Sunniside, said: "These proposals would mean lower tax bills for most households in Tyneside as well as tackling inequality and environmental damage."

The proposals published today by the Liberal Democrat Tax Commission would -
· Save a typical pensioner couple around £1,600 a year through proposals including scrapping council tax
· Save a typical double-earning couple around £1,500 a year through measures including a 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax
· Lift two million people on low income out of tax completely across Britain by reducing the 10p tax rate to zero
· Take 1.3 million people out of the top rate of income tax nationally by raising the threshold to £50,000 p.a.

Dr Wallace continued, "The current system of taxation is not fair. The poorest 20% of households pay a bigger share of their income in tax than the richest 20%. Wealth inequality has actually risen since Labour came to power.

"These Liberal Democrat proposals will make the tax system fairer for those on low and middle incomes. Specifically this will benefit the vast majority of pensioners, key public sector workers and young professionals.

"These tax cuts for the majority will be paid for by the wealthy and those with environmentally damaging lifestyles.

"I look forward to supporting these proposals when they are debated and voted on at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton in September."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Video Focus August 2006

Video Focus for August 2006 features stories on crime on the High Grove Estate at Dunston Hill, Crawcrook Post Office closure, Marley Hill Park, Rowlands Gill junction petition and more.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Residents surveyed after crime wave

RESIDENTS of an estate between Dunston Hill and Lobley Hill in Gateshead are to be surveyed by their local Liberal Democrat Councillors about crime following a spate of vandalism and damage to property and vehicles.

Councillor Yvonne McNicol will carry out the survey of residents’ concerns and experiences of crime to get a fuller picture of the recent problems on the High Grove Estate.

“Residents are understandably concerned and are wanting action to tackle the problem,” said Yvonne. “I am hoping to arrange a meeting to bring police and residents together.

“In the meantime, the survey will give us a picture of specific problems on the estate.”

Photo: one of the vandalised cars on the High Grove Estate.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Final red kites released

A project aimed at re-introducing red kites back into the wild has released its final five birds in the Derwent Valley. The birds were raised in secret pens at the Lockhaugh sewage works near Rowlands Gill. In total, 94 birds have now been released from the site.

Over a century ago the bird of prey was a common sight in the North East but became extinct because of changes in farming practices, loss of natural habitat and extermination by gamekeepers.

Some of the previously released birds are known to be breeding in the Derwent Valley.

Blaydon West School in Heritage Event

Blaydon West Primary School is to take part in a heritage event this September. Heritage Open Days is a Tyne and Wear wide event and has been running for 5 years.

Blaydon West is an Edwardian School and first opened to local children in 1908. Some of the original features of the building are still in place.

Pupils will take visitors on guided tours at 9.30am and 2pm on 7-8 September. 180 other buildings will also be taking part in Heritage Open Days throughout Tyne and Wear.

Fire station site to be restored to nature

A HARD-STANDING area left after the demolition of the old fire station at Swalwell, Gateshead, is to be removed and the area restored to nature.

The plan has been welcomed by local Lib Dem Councillor Chris Ord but he is concerned that the Fire Authority have not yet carried out the work. Once the work has been completed, the site will be transferred to Gateshead Council.

“Removing the hard standing is the last piece of work needed before the site can be returned to nature,” said Chris. “I am looking forward in years to come to the area being covered in trees rather than concrete.

“But I am concerned that the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority get on with the work as soon as possible. Until the hard standing is removed, restoration work has to wait.”

Post Office petition launched in Dunston

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have extended their petition calling for Post Offices to be saved from closure to Dunston.

Party members are campaigning against a decision of the Government to stop pensioners getting their pensions through the Post Office Card Account.

Instead, Government ministers will force pensioners to get their pensions through the banks instead.

“Many fear that the Government’s decision will lead to the closure of thousands of Post Office branches,” said Councillor Yvonne McNicol, who represents Dunston Hill.

“Many branches rely on the income they receive for handling pensions cash to remain open.

“Our petition calls on the government to keep the Post Office Card Account going so that pensioners have the choice of the Post Office or a bank to receive their pension.”

So far the Liberal Democrats have collected over 100 signatures on the petition in Dunston. Elsewhere in Gateshead they have collected over 1000 signatures.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Call for Dunston Bank field to be tidied

A Councillor in Gateshead is pressing for action to clean up the debris from a former landmark beech tree that fell last year after storms.

Liberal Democrat Yvonne McNicol, who represents Dunston Hill on Gateshead Council, wants the debris from the 250 year old tree in the paddock at the top of Dunston Bank, Dunston, to be removed. She also wants action to make the fence around the field safer.

“I have been in discussions with the land agent for Carr Ellison Estates, who own the field, regarding the condition of the paddock and the fence – particularly in regard to the barbed wire which appeared recently.

“I have asked that the fence is replaced, considering there is very little left to repair.

“The paddock is in a very prominent location overlooking Dunston Hill so it is important it is kept presentable.”

Welcome for Marley Hill play equipment

COUNCILLORS representing Marley Hill in Gateshead have welcomed plans to install new play equipment in the village’s park.

The former mining village to the south of Sunniside has a small park but the equipment is needed for toddlers and young children, many of whom are in activity groups held at Marley Hill Community Centre.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “This is good news for Marley Hill and I am looking forward to the equipment being installed.”

Survey of Dunston and Teams

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead are carrying out a survey of 7,000 residents in the Dunston and Teams area of the borough.

Survey co-ordinated Councillor Charles Jevon said, “Liberal Democrats are keen to engage with everyone throughout Gateshead.

“We already do a regular newsletter to residents in the neighbouring Dunston Hill, Lobley Hill and Bensham areas. So we decided it was sensible to find out the concerns of residents in Dunston and Teams as well.

“We have already delivered survey forms to 1600 people and we have had many responses back already.”

Photo: Councillor Charles Jevon

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ming backs Post Office petition

LIBERAL Democrat leader Ming Campbell has backed a petition being run by Gateshead members of the party calling on the government to cancel its plans to scrap the Post Office Card Account (POCA).

POCA is used by nearly five millions pensioners to collect their state pensions through Post Office branches. Most will be forced to open bank accounts to get their pensions instead.

And many fear that the loss of trade will see thousands of Post Office branches close.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, who is co-ordinating the petition, took it to Ming Campbell in the House of Commons to have it signed.

“We are pleased Ming has backed the petition,” said Jonathan. “Many residents of Gateshead are very concerned about the future of Post Offices. And many pensioners are angry that the government are to stop them from getting their pensions at their local Post Office.”

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have collected over 1000 signatures on their petition calling on the government to keep Post Offices open.

Photo: Ming Campbell MP and Jonathan Wallace signing the petition in Ming’s office in the House of Commons