Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bleach Green Housing Plans

Haslam Homes, Nomad Housing and CM Yuill are applying for permission to build 422 houses and 30 bungalows at Bleach Green, Blaydon.

Swalwell hotfood takeaway refused

Planning permission to allow a hot food takeaway to operate from Newsmarket at 2 Napier Road, Swalwell, has been refused.

Rowlands Gill basement to flat plan

An application is being made to convert the basement of 43 Glamis Crescent, Rowlands Gill into a flat.

Ryton area house building planning applications

Ryton shop to flat plan

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to change the shop at 3 Elvaston Road, Ryton, into a flat.

Crawcrook house application

An application is being made to build a detached house on land to the rear of Oakworth House, Greenside Road, Crawcrook.

Ryton housing application

Planning permission is being sought to build 4 semi-detached houses at Beechgrove on Beechwood Avenue, Ryton.

Folly housing plan

Planning permission is being sought for two houses to be built on land to the rear of the Rose and Crown House, Lead Road, Folly, near Ryton.

Bensham apartments plan

Planning permission is being sought to build a block of 29 apartments at the site of Tyne View Care Home on Cuthbert Street, Bensham.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Primary Schools to close

Labour Leaders in Gateshead have proposed closing 3 local primary schools – at Lindisfarne, Windmill Hills and Tyne View. Not surprisingly, local people object to the closures, and in the past the whole Council has been asked to decide on the future of such schools.

But Councillors have been told that the final decision will be taken by the ‘cabinet’ of 11 Labour Councillors – with no opposition councillors allowed to vote, and even the councillors from the affected communities might be excluded.

Policies brought in by Gateshead’s own Labour councillors means that most Councillors may not be allowed to vote on these key decisions.

Liberal Democrats want this situation reversed, and have called on the Cabinet to let the whole Council make the decision.

Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig said, "Small schools can work well and young children shouldn’t be forced to travel long distances and across very busy roads in order to get to school. It is a real disgrace if Labour aren’t even prepared to put their plans to the whole Council."

Labour says “no” to letting residents decide future of homes

LIBERAL Democrat campaigners in Bensham are astonished at Labour’s refusal to let local people vote on plans to demolish 440 homes in Bensham and Saltwell.

Leading the call for people power were Lib Dem Action Team members Norman Spours and Susan Craig.

"Now that proposals have been developed for demolition and new house building, it makes sense to ask residents to make clear their views on the package of proposals," said Susan.

"We therefore called for a referendum in the affected areas, but Labour councillors voted this down and said local residents should not be allowed to have the final say about what happens in their own streets".

How the Lib Dem plans will work:

All residents in the affected area will be entitled to a vote

Results to be counted and reported for predefined zones made up of several adjacent blocks grouped by the type of action proposed (eg demolition, renovation)

Where the majority of respondents in a "zone" are opposed to the proposals, there should be further consultation in that zone with a view to finding a more acceptable package of proposals.

Pensioners' £200 rebate removed

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have reacted strongly to a decision of the government to scrap the £200 council tax rebate for pensioners.

The rebate was brought in during the run up to the general election last year. But in the budget in March, Chancellor Gordon Brown has scrapped it for future years.

"Clearly the rebate was an election bribe all along," said Councillor Robin Stanaway from Pelaw and Heworth ward.

"The council tax is the most unfair and most unpopular tax in the country. It is a far bigger burden on pensioners and those on low and middle incomes than it is for the rich. "Liberal Democrats will replace council tax with a fairer system based on ability to pay."

Security camera demand for Fewster Square

LIBERAL Democrats in the Wardley area are calling for crime busting security cameras - CCTV - to be introduced in Fewster Square. Local campaigner Paul Diston is leading the call for better security in the shopping precinct.

"Gateshead’s Labour Council have neglected Fewster Square," said Paul. "It is an important shopping area for people in Leam Lane, Felling and Wardley, but it badly needs new investment.

"Putting in CCTV will encourage more people to use the centre, and help encourage local businesses to invest in their properties."

Security experts belive that used properly, CCTV can make a big difference to levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, and help local people feel safer.

"CCTV is used widely in the town centre and some other parts of Gateshead," Paul explained. "But Labour’s Council Leaders in Gateshead have rejected Liberal Democrat demands for a proper plan to decide how CCTV can best be introduced across the whole area."

Photo: Paul Diston in Fewster Square where he is campaigning for crime busting security cameras.

Gateshead Council axes Lobley Hill Library

GATESHEAD Council are to go ahead with the closure of Lobley Hill Library despite a petition signed by 1000 residents calling for the building to be saved.

Lib Dem Councillor Allison Chatto said, "I am very disappointed the Council has taken this decision. Many people use the library and its loss will be felt by many.

Lobley Hill Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig said, "Labour’s behaviour has been questionable over the Library.

"They posed as the champion of local library provision, then blamed council officers to the proposals to close the library, then voted through the closure against the wishes of local residents"

Stella South update

After a long campaign by local residents and Lib Dem Councillors to stop industrial units being put at Stella South, near Ryton, the Secretary of State gave planning permission for housing.

Site preparation is now underway and houses will be built over a period of five years. Plans will be displayed before building starts for residents to have a look at.

Crawcrook Park update

FOLLOWING concerns about the lack of progress with renovation plans for Crawcrook Park, local Lib Dem Councillors have contacted council officers to try to sort out a solution.

"We are working with the officers and with Streetlights to push forward the search for funding to renovate the park," said Councillor Sally Danys. "The park is a very important asset to the village and we are looking forward to when renovation work has been carried out.

Meanwhile, local Lib Dem councillors are reporting that, after a request from the Bowling Club, work on the Pavilion’s toilets will be carried out during the current financial year.

At Follyplayground, new toddlers’ play equipment is to be installed in May. At the same time, Cooksfield playground equipment will be improved.

Disappointing response to call to save Post Offices

A CALL for action to save Post Offices from closure has been “lost in the post” claim Liberal Democrat Councillors in Gateshead.

The government plans to stop paying pensions through Post Offices and many people fear that this will lead to thousands of branches closing down.

But a Liberal Democrat motion to Gateshead Council calling on the government to keep the current system of payment of pensions through the Post Office card account failed to win the backing of Labour councillors when it was debated at a meeting on Thursday 23rd March.

Instead, Labour councillors threw out the Lib Dem call for action.

“Far from backing post offices,” said Lib Dem Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, who moved the motion, “Labour scrapped our call to save Post Offices.

“They replaced it with an ineffectual statement noting that some MPs had signed an ineffectual Parliamentary motion.

“And when I summed up at the end of the debate, I had to endure constant heckling and interruptions led by the Labour Council leader. It was clear to me that Labour’s commitment to keeping Post Offices open was lost in the post.”

Photo: Councillor Jonathan Wallace

Labour Gateshead costs you more – claim Lib Dems

Gateshead’s Labour Council now costs residents over £60 a year more in Council Tax than their Lib Dem neighbours in Newcastle, figures have revealed.

2 years ago Newcastle residents paid more Council Tax than their neighbours in Gateshead. But following the loss by Labour of the City Council to the Lib Dems, residents of Newcastle they now pay £62.00 less.

While Labour Councillors in Gateshead have added £122 to Council Tax Bills, Newcastle’s Liberal Democrats have added just £55 - in line with inflation.

Peter Allen, Lib Dem Executive Councillor for Resources on Newcastle City Council said, ‘We have kept council tax rises down in Newcastle by relentlessly focusing on greater efficiency and effectiveness. We promised this when we were elected in 2004 and the Lib Dem administration is committed to delivering this into the future.’

Low Fell Lib Dem Councillor Councillor Ron Beadle said, “We have known for years that Labour costs people more. Now our colleagues in Newcastle have proven it. If Gateshead’s residents want lower council tax, they know which way to vote in May.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Council call to save Post Offices

LIBERAL Democrats on Gateshead Council are to move a motion calling on the government to scrap plans to end the Post Office card account.

The motion will be moved at the council meeting due to be held at 2.30pm on Thursday 23rd March.

The card account is used by nearly five million pensioners each week to collect their pensions through their local Post Office branch.

Now the government are to require pensioners to receive their state pensions through the big banks. And there are fears that the loss of business to the Post Office will see thousands of branches close.

“The card account has been very successful,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “It has kept many Post Office branches afloat whilst making it easier for elderly people to collect their pension.

“With the loss of the fee Post Office branches are paid for handling the card accounts, and the loss of passing trade from many pensioners visiting the Post Office to collect their pension, many branches will simply close down.

“Many communities currently have Post Offices though there are fewer than there was three or four years ago. But many communities don’t have bank branches.

“For many residents that means using an expensive cash machine in a local shop, often at £1.50 a time. That’s a big chunk out of a pensioner’s income.

“There is no particular saving to the tax payer by ending card accounts as the big banks will be paid by the government to handle pensioners’ money instead.

“Some pensioners will face an added problem as many don’t have bank accounts. The banks themselves often refuse to take on people on low income as customers.

“Our motion calls on the government to reverse its decision, to keep the card account and to keep open Post Office branches.”

National pensioner bus plan too late for Tyne and Wear - Wallace

PLANS announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown for a national scheme for free bus travel for the elderly will be too late for Tyne and Wear, claims Blaydon Liberal Democrat Dr Jonathan Wallace.

Tyne and Wear are currently making £5.4 million of cuts to local bus services as a result of the failure of the government to pay the full costs of its decision to pay for free travel for pensioners within individual transport authority areas.

In the budget today, the government announced plans to introduce by 2008 a scheme for free off peak bus travel for pensioners to be run on a national basis. That will mean pensioners will not have to pay to travel if they cross a council boundary.

But with the scheme up to two years away, Tyne and Wear will have to make swingeing cuts in the meantime.

“The fact the government have changed their free bus travel scheme shows their current policy is a botched job,” said Dr Wallace, who is a councillor in Gateshead.

“Though we are yet to see the details, the fact the government will make this a national scheme, rather than the current local one, is a move in the right direction.

“It means elderly people will not be caught out when crossing local council boundaries. And it will mean the costs fall directly on the government rather than the council tax payer.

“But it is little comfort for the people of Tyne and Wear who face up to two years of cuts to bus services before we feel the benefit of the national scheme starting.”

'Where has all the money gone?' demand Lib Dems

Today, Gordon Brown delivered his tenth budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer. But with more and more people feeling let down by New Labour, the Liberal Democrats are asking where all the money has gone over the years Labour has been in power.

'Taxes and red tape have increased year on year but now hospitals are announcing cuts in nursing staff as they slip into debt. At the same time, businesses are having to spend more and more time on bureaucracy,' says Blaydon Lib Dem Jonathan Wallace.

"Unlike Labour and the Tories, the Liberal Democrat team in Parliament has won a reputation for putting honest choices before spin.

"The Lib Dems took the lead in exposing the tax credit fiasco and we are demanding urgent action to tackle the growing personal debt crisis. At the same time we are calling on the Government to deal with the major threats of climate change by taking effective action to protect our environment.

"The contrast between the principled approach of the Liberal Democrats under Sir Menzies Campbell and the Conservatives could not be greater. The Tories hope that by copying New Labour spin, we will all forget what a mess they made of running the economy the last time they were in power.

"Liberal Democrats want an economy that is stable and well managed and based on fairer, not higher, taxes and honest choices."

More information about Liberal Democrat policies on the economy and our response to the Budget can be found at

Monday, March 20, 2006

Regional force a wrong step

The announcement that the government are to proceed with a merger of the three police forces in the region to create a single, regional force has been attacked by a leading North East Liberal Democrat.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke MP announced today (Monday 20th March) that the mergers will go ahead across the country, reducing the number of forces from 43 to 24.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, a Lib Dem councillor in Blaydon constituency on Tyneside, opposes the decision to impose a new structure from Whitehall.

"The size and shape of the police authority and police force should be a decision of local government here in the North East," said Dr Wallace. "Instead we are having a central government model imposed on us.

"I am concerned that the new force will be more remote from people and communities. It is vital therefore that the new police authority, which will run the merged police force, is not packed with central government appointees."

Call for Kells Lane Park security

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Low Fell, Gateshead, are pressing for improved security and upkeep at Kells Lane Park.

Councillor Charles Jevon said, “We are backing requests from local residents for better security and upkeep at Kells Lane Park. The Police and Council have been asked to give it more attention and to deal with problems from groups gathering in the park in the evenings.”

Low Fell call for dog warden patrols

A LIBERAL Democrat Councillor in Low Fell is calling on Gateshead Council to improve the number of Dog Warden patrols in Low Fell.

Councillor Ron Beadle contacted council officers after residents raised their concerns with him.

Ron said, “Some irresponsible owners are allowing dog fouling.

“We have had a number of complaints from parents and have asked the Council to take action, especially near schools.”

Pelaw Park and Ride

A proposal to build a car park next to Pelaw Metro Station has sparked alternative plans from a local Liberal Democrat Councillor.

Metro operator NEXUS are consulting with Gateshead Council about constructing a car park next to Pelaw Metro Station.

Councillor Ian Patterson said, “We support the principle of Park and Ride, but have pointed out that Kirkwood Gardens already suffers from serious congestion problems, which are likely to be worsened by traffic going to and from the car park.

“We have suggested an alternative access route from Shields Road over the Green Lane bridge, which we think could also help to relieve some of the parking and traffic problems in Pelaw.”

Bill Quay Riverside

TWO Gateshead Liberal Democrat councillors are looking at alternative options for land the Council has proposed for housing.

Gateshead Council are proposing to allow building on the open land opposite Cromwell Terrace and Brack Terrace in Bill Quay. The Council plans to allow a mixture of housing and commercial development.

“At a public meeting on March 1st there was widespread concern about these proposals,” said Councillor Ian Patterson. “Councillor Doreen Boyes and I are looking at alternative suggestions which would keep this land open.”

Heworth Residents’ Only Parking

Work is now underway to implement the Residents only Parking Scheme at Sunderland Road Villas at Heworth. Unfortunately, the Council installed 15 extra posts to carry the necessary road signs, instead of using existing lamp-posts, and they also forgot to go through the proper legal procedures before starting work.

Councillor Doreen Boyes said, “I have pointed out these errors, and 9 unnecessary posts have now been removed.”

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Knoll Rise to be resurfaced

Knoll Rise in Dunston Hill is to be resurfaced in the coming financial year. The decision has been welcomed by Dunston Hill's councillors Allison Chatto, Yvonne McNicol and Peter Maughan.
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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Northumbria to pilot non-emergency number

A new "101" telephone number for non emergency calls to the police is to be piloted in the Northumbria Police area in the summer. It is expected that the rest of the country will follow in 2008.

Currently 70 percent of calls to "999" are not emergencies. However, calls to the number will not be free as they are to "999". They will cost 10p.

Sent via BlackBerry

Local buildings shortlisted for award

Three buildings have been shortlisted for the 2006 Civic Trust Awards. Recently renovated Gibside Stables, Saltwell Park and the Sage are three of the 82 projects being considered from across the UK. The awards will be announced on 29th March.

The Civic Trust is a national charity and was set up in 1959. It focuses on building design. Awards are made every two years.
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

End to card account will see Post Offices close

Hundreds of Post Offices in the North East could close as a result of the Government's decision to end the Post Office card account , claims a leading Liberal Democrat in the North East.

The card account is used by nearly five million elderly people each week to collect their state pension through post office branches.

But the government have announced that the card account will be scrapped by 2010. Elderly people will have to open bank accounts to receive their pensions instead. It is widely felt that the resulting huge loss in trade to post offices will result in many closing.

"From 2003 to 2010, post office branches will have been paid £1 billion to handle the post office card account," said Dr Jonathan Wallace who is a councillor in Blaydon constituency on Gateshead Council. He is also a member of the Liberal Democrats' Parliamentary Trade and Industry Team.

"In 2010 that money will end. That's great news for the big banks which will then be paid by the government to handle pensioner's money.

"But it is a disaster for post office branches, many of which are struggling to survive. And it is an even bigger disaster for the pensioners themselves.

"The inevitable result of this government decision is that pensioners will pay more to get their pensions. Post Offices are far more accessible than banks. In many areas, where there are no bank branches, the only cash machines in a community charge £1.50 and sometimes more to use.

"So pensioners will be out of pocket and post office branches will see a loss of trade with many closing down. The government decision to end the card account is callous and deeply regrettable and should be reversed."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bus use drops 13% in North East

RESEARCH by Liberal Democrats in Parliament has discovered that bus use in the North East dropped by 13% from 2000 to 2005, the highest fall in England.

The figures add to concerns that the number of people using buses in the region will drop further once cuts to services are made following the £5 million shortfall from the government to pay for free off peak bus travel for pensioners in Tyne and Wear.

Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat councillor Dr Jonathan Wallace from Blaydon constituency said, "The drop in bus usage comes on top of the chaos the government is causing to bus services by failing to pay the full cost of the pensioners' free bus travel.

"Far from encouraging more bus travel, we are about to see more cuts to services. The government's bungling on buses is simply leading to more car use, more congestion, more frustration and more costs to business.

"Only in London has bus usage gone up and there the rise has been a dramatic 32%. But London is the only place in England where local government has significant powers to direct bus services.

"The government have to look seriously at giving local government the ability to control bus services in places like the North East or else our roads will become more clogged with congestion."

Crawcrook house application

An application is being made to build a detached house on land to the rear of Oakworth House, Greenside Road, Crawcrook.

Rowlands Gill basement to flat plan

An application is being made to convert the basement of 43 Glamis Crescent, Rowlands Gill into a flat.

Shop to flat plan for Ryton

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to change the shop at 3 Elvaston Road, Ryton, into a flat.

Bensham Housing Plan

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to build 4 houses on land next to the Five Wand Mill pub on Bensham Road, Bensham.

Disappointment at Dukeshouse closure

A plan by Gateshead Council to close the Dukeshouse Wood outdoor centre near Hexham has been met with disappointment by a local Liberal Democrat councillor.

The centre has been known to generations of Gateshead children who have stayed there to study and taste the great outdoors. But the centre needs up to £1 million spending on it to bring it up to standard.

Allison Chatto, councillor for Dunston Hill and Whickham East, said, "Whilst the decision is understandable from a financial point of view, it is disappointing that the children of Gateshead will no longer have the opportunity to visit Dukeshouse Wood and experience the centre.

"I hope now that schools in the borough will explore new ways to help children experience life away from the crowded urban world."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Disappointment at government response of bus travel

A GOVERNMENT response to calls to sort out the chaos of paying for free pensioners' travel has been described as "completely inadequate" by a leading Liberal Democrat in Gateshead.

The decision of the government to introduce the free off peak bus travel scheme for pensioners has left a gaping £5 million hole in the finances of Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority. As a result, bus services and young people's travel is being slashed.

But in a debate in the Commons on 13th March on the impact of the scheme on Tyne and Wear, government minister Phil Woolas MP failed to make any commitments to sort out the £5 million shortfall. Elsewhere in the country the government are covering the cost of free pensioner travel.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Dr Jonathan Wallace said, "I have been contacted by many elderly constituents who are very worried about the free travel scheme.

"They have told me they would prefer to pay for their bus fares rather than see services slashed.

"The idea of free travel for the elderly is one I support but the government's botched job of introducing it has left residents here with fewer services and an enormous bill to pay.

"But the response of government minister Phil Woolas to requests to sort out the problem was completely inadequate. In effect, he was saying that the problem is ours to solve, even though they created it.

"This is a monumental example of government ministers passing the buck."

Liberal Democrat Slams Councillors' Freebies

In a message to Liberal Democrats in Blaydon, Councillor Peter Maughan, who represents Dunston Hill and Whickham East on Gateshead Council and was the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for the constituency of Blaydon in the last General Election, has slammed Gateshead Council for its Council Tax rise.

Councillor Maughan said, "Whilst imposing one of the biggest Council Tax rises in the country, Gateshead's Labour Council have nonetheless failed to try to save money from the most basic and straightforward cancellation of Councillor freebies.

"I constantly receive invitations from Gateshead Council to go on trips to see this or that facility in another part of the country and trips to Keilder Reservoir or down the river or whatever the case may be which frankly in most cases serve no useful purpose except to have a jolly day out for the Councillors who go.

"Worse still the Council is paying at least - and these figures are by the Council's own admission - £37,279.00 for membership of the Association of Councillors and jolly weekends away for Councillors to so called training courses the training element of which is modest if not minimal.

"The people of Gateshead should be aware that Gateshead Council lavishes these expensive trips on Councillors whilst closing libraries at Lobley Hill and Ryton and putting up Council Tax almost to the maximum allowed by the Government.

"Is it not time that Gateshead Council was brought to book by its residents who need look only across the river to see the savings - yes often at the expense of Councillors - which Newcastle's Liberal Democrat Council have made so as to maximise the services provided to residents and minimise the Council Tax charged to those residents."

Do you have a disability and need a shower?

Are you a tenant of Gateshead Housing Company? If you are and have a disability which qualifies you for a walk in shower, one could be installed when Decent Homes Standard work is carried out on your home.

If you think you qualify, call Councillor Brenda Osborne for further advice (tel 4143740).

Hanover Estate shops football problem

A problem has developed with kids kicking footballs against the shutters of the shops on the Hanover Estate in Winlaton late at night. This is causing a noise nuisance and is worrying especially for older people.

So a plea to mums and dads. If your kids are involved, please ask them not to continue.

Welcome for Winlaton warden

Liberal Democrats in Winlaton have welcomed the appointment of a new warden at Rydal Crescent. Elderly residents joined forces with Councillor Brenda Osborne to fight a plan by Gateshead Council to have no warden on site.

Without a warden, pensioners felt vulnerable as groups of kids were regularly making noise and causing damage to the bungalows.

"This is a tremendous victory for the pensioners and I am proud to have been able to help them with their campaign," said Brenda.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Annoyance at "permanent" temporary sign in Whickham

A DECISION to extend the life of a giant “For Sale” sign for a further six months in an historic conservation zone has been slammed by a local Liberal Democrat councillor.

Councillors in Gateshead have agreed to a further six month extension on the McCarthy and Stone sign in Whickham village, Gateshead. The sign advertises for sale flats in the neighbouring Chase Court development.

The sign was originally granted permission for six months. But that was three years ago and the developers have repeatedly applied to renew permission to keep the sign in place, even though most of the flats in the development have been sold.

The decision to renew the permission again has not met with the approval of Councillor Peter Craig.

“In a conservation zone, advertising hoardings are strictly controlled,” said Peter. “Most of the flats in Chase Court have been sold. The effect of allowing the sign to remain in place is for the company to have a very useful advert on a busy junction right in the heart of Whickham’s historic conservation zone.”



Grange Lane given go ahead

An application to build 2 houses at 46 grange Lane, Whickham was approved by Gateshead’s Planning Committee on Wednesday 8th March.

New play facilities at High Spen pavilion

New fixed play facilities are to be installed next to the bowls pavilion in High Spen. This will be a great boost for the mother and toddler group that use the pavilion building. The park itself has also been lit in preparation for the new equipment.

Councillor Brenda Osborne and Lib Dem campaigner Andrew Graham have welcomed the new security lighting as it will deter youths from vandalising the equipment on dark evenings.

Action call on slippery problem

Residents are calling for action to improve the two flower beds on the entrance to School Lane in High Spen. They have complained they are a mess and they are looking to the council to carry out their promise to improve the situation. Unfortunatley, the council are are now saying they will take no action.

Meanwhile berries dropping shrubs onto the paths there in the summer and autumn are creating a few slippery problems for elderly residents in particular. Councillor Brenda Osborne and local campaigner Andrew Graham are pressing for action. "We want no slip ups this time!" said Brenda.

Post Offices under threat

One in five Post Offices in the North East have been closed over the past five years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats. Of the 736 branches in the region in March 2001, only 598 remained open in July 2005, a drop of 138.

But a recent decision by the government to force pensioners to get their pensions through banks rather than their local post office is likely to see thousands more branches close down over the next few years.

The Post Office Card Account is used by thousands of local elderly residents to collect their state pension. The government’s decision is good news for the big banks who will be paid by the government to hand over pension cash. But it is a disaster for post offices, many of which will close as a result.

Lobley Hill and Bensham Liberal Democrat campaigner, Susan Craig, said, "Across Gateshead we have lost 5 post office branches in the past 3 years.

"The government’s decision to force pensioners to stop getting their pension at local post offices will make life more difficult for older people and cause post office branches to close."

Photo: Susan Craig outside the Post Office on Saltwell Road - "The government's decision to force pensioners to use banks to collect their pension will lead to the closure of many Post Office branches."

Bensham Grove Community Centre

Gateshead Council are planning to alter the pottery studio at Bensham Grove Comunity Centre on Bensham Road to provide accessible toilet facilities. Listed building consent is needed.

High Spen home insulation

Many pensioners living in the bungalows on School Lane in High Spen have told local Councillor Brenda Osborne and Lib dem campaigner Andrew Graham of their unhappiness over the installation of cavity wall insulation in their homes. The tenants have alleged that the bungalows were only partially insulted for fear of spoiling the stone cladding. But with the rising cost of fuel, their concerns are clearly understandable.

Well done High Spen Primary School

Congratulations to High Spen Primary School which has just had a good inspection from Ofsted, the government’s schools inspectors. As you will expect, the school is as pleased as punch! Well done to staff and pupils alike.

Monument for High Spen’s Heroes

High Spen Community Association are bidding for money to fund a monument to the heros of the village who have been awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in past wars. £12,000 is needed.

A design for the monument has already been put together by local children with the help of an artist and a prototype can be seen in High Spen School hall.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wordsworth Avenue to be resurfaced

Wordsworth Avenue in Whickham is to be resurfaced during the coming financial year. It is hoped that the work will be done during the better weather. The footpaths and kerbs will also be relaid. Traffic humps will be retained.

"Officers have assured us that any disruption to residents and through traffic will be kept to a minimum," said Cllr Mary Wallace. "They will notify residents nearer the time when the work is due to take place."

Rose Villa Bollards

After a long running campaign by local councillors, bollards are at last to be installed outside Rose Villa in Whickham village. Residents have raised many concerns about unreasonable and in some cases dangerous parking on the pedestrian pavement. Hopefully this problem is now solved.

Let the people decide in Bensham

LIBERAL Democrat campaigners in Bensham are calling on Gateshead Council to let people vote on plans to demolish 440 homes in Bensham.

Leading the call for people power is Bensham Lib Dem Action Team member Susan Craig.

"Now that proposals have been developed for demolition and new house building, it would be helpful to ask residents to make clear their views on the package of proposals," said Susan

"It would also be good practice for people to be able to respond in confidence, to minimise the opportunity for bias or external influence.

"We are therefore calling for a referendum in the affected areas."

How the Lib Dem plans will work:

All residents in the affected area will be entitled to a vote

Results to be counted and reported for predefined zones made up of several adjacent blocks grouped by the type of action proposed (eg demolition, renovation)

Where the majority of respondents in a “zone” are opposed to the proposals, there should be further consultation in that zone with a view to finding a more acceptable package of proposals.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Government considers Blaydon Station closure

BLAYDON railway station could be axed under plans being considered by the Labour government.

Proposals to axe half the stations on the Tyne Valley line are being examined. Local Lib Dems have reacted strongly against the proposals. They recently fought a successful campaign to increase the number of trains stopping at both Blaydon and Dunston stations.

"These plans are madness," said local Lib Dem campaigner Andrew Graham. "The only result will be more traffic, more congestion and more frustration."

Winlaton West Lane School triumphs at Winlaton Flower Show

Well done to all the children of Winlaton West Lane who helped the school win the Schools Cup for most points in classes 1 - 11. From hand writing and poetry to plants, the school performed superbly.

Prizes won include Kay Cup, Culture and Development Silver Salver, Group 2 prize, Dorothy Veitch Memorial Shield, Bob Baker Schools Trophy and Bill Ainsworth Shield. Even the caretaker won best exhibit in classes 17-36.

These are fantastic results as the prizes were won by all ages. And further good news for the school - there is a nursery there for the first time.

Welcome for Rex Bingo Hall demolition

LIBERAL Democrats in Winlaton and Blaydon have welcomed the demolition of the Rex Bingo Hall on Blaydon Bank.

Planning permission is being sought to build 2 houses and 25 apartments in a 2-3 storey block on the site of the hall which is otherwise regarded as an eyesore by residents.

"I am pleased that the demolition of what was becoming an eyesore was carried out as quickly as possible and there was minimal disruption to residents," said Councillor Brenda Osborne.

Opencast rejected 2nd time

LIBERAL Democrats in the Whickham area have welcomed the second rejection of plans to opencast half a million tonnes of coal from a site next to the Gibside Estate, near Whickham, Byermoor and Burnopfield.

The application was first considered in October last year by Gateshead Council’s planners. It was brought back to the planning committee today (Wednesday 8th March) to be reconsidered following the submission of new evidence from bodies entitled by law to comment on planning applications.

Last year over 13,000 people signed the Liberal Democrats’ petition against the plans.

Whickham South and Sunniside Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, whose ward covers the area that was subject to the application, said, “We are pleased this has been rejected again.

“All the arguments we put forward last year against this application are just as valid now. It was too close to people’s homes, would have been environmentally damaging and would have sent heavy lorries through residential areas.”

Jonathan’s ward colleague, Councillor Marilynn Ord, said, “Hopefully we have see the back of this application. However, the applicant does have right of appeal. We hope that right is not exercised.

“We want people to be able to get on with their lives without the opencast threat hanging over them”

Had permission been granted for the opencast plans, up to 100 lorries a day would have passed Byermoor and Burnopfield, and passed through Marley Hill, Sunniside, Streetgate and Lobley Hill.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Greenside Park skatepark

A skatepark is to be created in Greenside Park. It will be paid for by private developers.

Chopwell library changes

Gateshead Council are planning to change the entrance to Chopwell Library. The entrance will be aligned with the car park and the drop off point for car passengers will be widened.

Petition for Lockhaugh crossing

Winlaton and High Spen ward Lib Dem campaigners Councillor Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham are launching a petition calling on Gateshead Council to introduce a pedestrian crossing on Lockhaugh Road, the main Swalwell to Rowlands Gill road.

Consultants have been appointed to look into improvements to the road. Brenda and Andrew want to use the opportunity to press forward their campaign to a safe crossing for residents of Lockhaugh using the Rowlands Gill bound bus stop on the road.

Chris reappointed to Swalwell governors

Councillor Chris Ord has been reappointed by Gateshead Council as a governor of Swalwell Primary School.

From hairdresser to estate agent in Whickham

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to convert the hairdresser’s shop at 10 The Square, Whickham, into an estate agents.

Sunniside house plan

Plans have been lodged with Gateshead Council to build a detached dormer bungalow at 4 The Crescent, Sunniside.

Hiding out at Gibside

The National Trust are applying for planning permission to build a timber hide next to the Octagonal Pond on the Gibside Estate.

Bensham housing application

A planning applicaiton has been lodged with Gateshead Council to develop the land at Askew Road West, adjoining Cuthbert Street, for housing.

Pelaw Station housing plans

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to build eight terraced houses on the site of Station House, Pelaw Station, in Pelaw.

Sex shop given go ahead

An application for a sex shop in a popular business park has been given the go ahead by Gateshead Council’s Licensing Committee.

The application for the shop in Blaydon Business Park has been granted for three months despite hundreds of letters of objection and petitions opposing the plans.

But concerned residents had pointed out that Blaydon Business Park also contains the Ceramic Experience, a children’s art facility, and the Race Track, for racing Scalextric type toy cars, both of which are used for kids’ parties. In addition, there is a bike shop.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Brenda Osborne has slammed the decision to grant the application.

“This is a popular retail area visited by many young families using stores and facilities in the Business Park,” said Brenda.

“In my view this is an inappropriate application for this area and I am very disappointed that, despite the large number of objections, it has been given the go ahead.”

Labour councillor accused of hypocrisy and buck-passing

A TOP Labour councillor in Gateshead has been accused of hypocrisy and buck-passing by a leading Liberal Democrat in the borough over the closure of Lobley Hill Library.

Kevin Dodds, Labour member for Lobley Hill and Bensham, who describes himself as a “senior Labour councillor”, has sent a leaflet to residents of Lobley Hill claiming the proposal to close the local library was the suggestion of officers of the authority.

But Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace has called on Cllr Dodds to withdraw the attack on officers.

“Never before have I seen a member of the ruling Labour group on Gateshead Council try to blame officers of the council for what is a political decision,” said Dr Wallace.

“The closure of Lobley Hill Library is a decision of Labour councillors. To blame officers for the proposal to axe the library is blatant buck-passing and an attempt by Labour to avoid responsibility for their own decisions.

“What makes the situation worse is that Kevin Dodds, in the same leaflet, was posing as the champion of “library provision” at a time when his own group was planning to shut down the local library.

“If Councillor Dodds does not understand hypocrisy, I suggest he makes a visit to Lobley Hill Library to look up the meaning of the word. But he had better be quick and get to the building before his party closes it down.”

Petition against phone mast

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor in Whickham, Gateshead, is opposing plans for a phone mast near to residents’ homes.

Mobile phone operator O2 want to put a 17.5 metre high mast on land next to Burnthouse Lane, within sight of a large number of houses.

“Residents have raised concerns about this application being close to houses,” said Councillor Marilynn Ord, who represents the area on Gateshead Council.

“So I have helped launch a petition which is being delivered to those houses most immediately affected.

“There are fears that people will end up living with an eyesore right on their doorsteps.”

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Early voting

Voting in the local elections in May in Gateshead will see the return of traditional polling stations. Recent local elections have been entirely by postal vote but recent abuses elsewhere in the country of the postal voting system. If you have applied for a postal vote in recent years, you will automatically receive one before polling day, Thursday 4th May.

From Monday 24th April to Wednesday 3rd May, voters who do not have a postal vote, will be able to vote at an early polling station. There will only be one such polling station in the borough and anyone using it will have to take identification and sign for their ballot paper.

Welcome for Ming

LOCAL Liberal Democrat councillor Jonathan Wallace has welcomed the election of Sir Menzies Campbell as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Jonathan attended the press conference where the result was announced on Thursday 2nd March.

“I am delighted Ming has been elected leader,” said Jonathan. “He is a person who is well regarded both in Parliament and more importantly outside as well.”

Photo: Ming Campbell and his wife Elspeth are joined by leadership contenders Chris Huhne MP and Simon Hughes MP and other MPs after the declaration of the leadership election result on Thursday 2nd March.

Rectory Lane double yellow lines

The double yellow lines on Rectory Lane in Whickham are to be extended on the side opposite to the Park. This is to improve road safety and reduce congestion.

Whaggs Lane speed survey

Highway engineers are carrying out a speed survey on Whaggs Lane in Whickham. Results will be handed on to the police for appropriate action.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Crawcrook house plan

Gateshead Counbcil have received a planning application for a house to be built on land at the side of 2 Chamberlain St, Crawcrook.

Rowlands Gill house application

Gateshead Council have received an application to build a 4 bedroom house on land to the rear of Milton House, Strathmore Road, Rowlands Gill.

Chopwell Housing plans

Nomad Housing are applying for planning permission to build 19 bungalows in 4 terraced blocks on the allotment gardens at South Road, Chopwell.

Sunniside Housing application

Plans have been submitted to Gateshead Council for a pair of semi detached houses to be built on land at Holmside Terrace, Sunniside.