Friday, May 26, 2006

Rowlands Gill petition underway

Liberal Democrats in Rowlands Gill, in western Gateshead, collected over 200 signatures on a petition calling for improvements to a busy junction over the weekend of 20-21st May.

Residents contacted Councillor Jonathan Wallace, local campaign co-ordinator for the Liberal Democrats, earlier this year, after a number of accidents at the junction of Burnopfield Road and Station Road.

They asked him to campaign for changes to make the accident blackspot safer.

“We collected 200 signatures over the weekend,” said Councillor Wallace. “There was a great deal of interest in our campaign and people are pleased we have taken up the issue.

“We are continuing to collect signatures over the next couple of weeks.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Disappointment at decision to close school

A leading Liberal Democrat campaigner in Bensham, Gateshead, has expressed her disappointment at Gateshead Council’s decision to close Windmill Hills School.

Susan Craig, who leads the Liberal Democrat Action Team in Bensham and Lobley Hill, was responding to the decision taken by the Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 23rd May to close the school in August 2007.

“In the run up to the local elections, Labour were claiming Windmill Hills School had a ‘promising future’,” said Susan.

“Three weeks after the local elections they are closing the school. Many parents feel let down by this decision. Indeed, the whole community of Bensham feels let down by this decision.”

Councillor accused of setting bad example

A LABOUR councillor in Gateshead has been accused of setting a bad example on cycling safety.

Cabinet member Councillor John McElroy turned up for a photo opportunity to promote cycle routes complete with bike and safety helmet.

He then proceeded to be photographed cycling across the Millennium footbridge dangling the helmet from the handle bar of his bike, rather than wearing it.

The photo was then reproduced in a Gateshead Council magazine Gateshead Council News that was sent to every house in the borough earlier this year.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “John McElroy has set a bad example to the people of Gateshead. He should have worn the safety helmet rather than leave it hanging from the front of the bike as he posed for photos.

“He needs to be more responsible in future. It is especially important that we encourage young people in particular to take safety seriously. But how can that be done if a person in a position of authority treats the issue as simply a prop for his own publicity?

“Councillor McElroy should apologise to the people of Gateshead. And if he doesn’t, it’s a case of ‘On Yer Bike’ for him, but only after putting his crash helmet on!”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dog fouling signs in Sunniside

DOG fouling signs are to be put up on a path in Sunniside, Gateshead, to warn people not to let their dogs foul the pavement. The path runs from the top of Laburnum Grove to Sunniside Court and Hollywell Lane.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace asked for the signs after residents raised concerns with him about the amount of dog mess on the path.

Extra dog waste bins to be installed

A CAMPAIGN by Lib Dem Councillors in Whickham North for more dog waste bins in the Milton Road, North View, Coalway Lane area has been successful. Gateshead Council have now agreed to install them in the area.

“This should help keep the area cleaner,” said Councillor Mary Wallace. “And there should be no excuse for people not cleaning up after walking their pets.”

Welcome for additional lighting in Whickham

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, have welcomed the installation of additional lighting in St Mary’s Green car park.

They had campaigned for the additional lighting following concerns about anti-social behaviour in the area.

Councillor Chris Ord said, “We are pleased the extra lighting is now installed. This should lead to people feeling safer when using the car park on dark evenings and discourage gangs from gathering there.”

Call for safety improvements in Rowlands Gill

Liberal Democrat campaigners in Rowlands Gill in western Gateshead have launched a petition calling on Gateshead Council to carry out an urgent review of the Station Road/Burnopfield Road junction in the village.

The call is being made following three accidents at the junction earlier this year. Residents have contacted the Liberal Democrats asking for help to have safety at the junction improved.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, "We want the council to look at improvements that could be made."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Call for affordable housing in Blaydon

Gateshead Council have agreed planning permission for 466 new houses at Bleach Green, Blaydon, where council houses were recently demolished. But only 30 of the new houses will be for rent.

With the area suffering a shortage of affordable housing, there are concerns that the new development at Bleach Green will fail to address local housing needs, especially for young people.

"There are many people in the area who simply can’t afford to buy a house locally," said Mark Gardner, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Action Team for Blaydon.

"Whilst the new houses are welcome at Bleach Green, we have concerns that with so few going for rent, few local residents of Blaydon will get the opportunity to get a new home.

"There are many young people in Blaydon living in their parents’ homes who can’t afford to move out. And there are many retired people who want more appropriate housing.

"But the lack of affordable housing means they are stuck where they are."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Welcome for Whickham bollards

DANGEROUS parking outside Rose Villa, in the heart of Whickham’s historic village in Gateshead should be greatly reduced following the installation of traffic bollards.

The bollards were installed after residents worried about road safety in the area contacted their local Liberal Democrat Councillors who took the matter up with Council highway engineers.

“The bollards will mean drivers are not parking dangerously on the pavement,” said Councillor Yvonne McNicol. “There is a free car park less than a minute’s walk from Rose Villa and we ask motorists to park there instead.”

Photo: Councillor Yvonne McNicol with the newly installed bollards outside Rose Villa in Whickham

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dirty Streets

Gateshead Council has been found to have the second most dirtiest streets in the North East, according to the trade Union GMB. The claim was based on figures from the Audit Commission, the body that oversees local council spending and performance.

The GMB claim that the worst streets in the region are in North Tyneside, with 29% classed as dirty, ahead of Gateshead on 23.6%. In Newcastle, the Lib Dem run council, at 22.4%, have already taken on additional wardens to tackle litter problems.

The cleanest streets in the North East are in Durham City which the Lib Dems have controlled for 3 years.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Labour withdraws "promising future" claim for Windmill Hills School

READERS of Gateshead News may recall that Liberal Democrats were asking why Labour Councillor Kevin Dodds was claiming Windmill Hills School in Bensham had a "promising future" at the same time as his own group was planning to close down the school.

The claim was made on Gateshead Council's official website.

Liberal Democrats can now reveal that the claim of a "promising future" for the school was removed shortly before polling day.

Instead, Cllr Dodds has swung to the other extreme, saying the school "is under threat of closure."

Lib Dem campaigner Susan Craig said, "This is the opposite of the claim he had on the council's website for most of the election period.

"Despite Labour trying to close the school, Lib Dems will continue to argue for it to remain open. School places will be needed for the many families moving into new houses in Bensham."

Gibside stables win award

Gibside Stables, on the historic Gibside Estate, which were recently renovated and restored, has won a Civic Trust Award. The Stables, which include meeting and dormitory facilities, was praised for the sensitivity of the conversion.

Sunniside housing given go ahead

Gateshead planning committee have given planning permission to 2 houses on land at Holmside Terrace, Sunniside.

Whickham Salerooms extension

Whickham Salerooms, in the former Miners’ Welfare Hall, Back Row, Whickham, are applying for planning permission for a single storey extension at the rear of the building.

Go North East responds to bus petition

Martin Harris, Commercial Director of Go North East has responded to the petition of over 300 signatures from residents in Lobley Hill and Dunston Hill which was handed in to the company on Monday 24th April.

He wrote to Susan Craig, the petition coordinator, and also to the four lead petitioners, residents from Larchwood and Cheviot Gardens in Lobley Hill and Knightside Gardens and Mountside Gardens in Dunston Hill, who wrote to Go North East with specific details of the issues.

In his letter about services to the Beggarswood side of Lobley Hill, Mr Harris says, "Several customers have commented that they would like or expect a service directly to this particular part of the estate.

"However, the places that people ask for a direct service from, include the Metrocentre, Gateshead and Newcastle. It is increasingly difficult to provide direct links that meet all customers’ needs given the rapid rises in costs of providing public transport. Nevertheless, we will again review the services to this area this year and seek to provide sustainable services that meet the needs of the majority of customers."

About the reliability of existing services, he says, "We no longer have any driver shortages contributing to missed journeys and the reliability of services in recent months is much improved.

"There are still too many occasions when the fragile road systems of central Newcastle and central Gateshead are exposed by incidents resulting in major disruption to bus services.

"However, I would welcome specific details of any gaps in services as they arise so that we can investigate them effectively at the time and where possible take action to prevent further recurrence."

Susan has asked residents who contact Go North East directly that they also contact her so that we can keep track of the issues and responses.

Mr Harris ends his letter by saying, "Thank you for bringing your concerns of the residents to our attention once more. They will be given serious consideration as we tackle reliability issues further, and look afresh at services in this area during the year."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Andrew takes gold in Winlaton and High Spen

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead got their best ever results in the local elections on 4th May. And topping the list of winners was Andrew Graham who won the former Labour seats of Winlaton and High Spen.

On a day when Labour’s majorities were dropping nearly everywhere throughout the borough, Andrew stormed to success in the ward with a lead of 395 votes.

Andrew now joins Brenda Osborne as councillors for the ward that, before 2000, was regarded as a safe Labour seat.

"We campaigned hard on the record of Brenda and the Liberal Democrats in the area," said Andrew. "Lib Dems had led the campaign against plans for a huge opencast site nearby and against the decision to allow waste dumping in Pathhead Quarry.

"People likes the Lib Dem message and they wanted a stronger team of active Lib Dem councillors."

Photo: sign on the dotted line.....Andrew Graham signs in as the new Councillor for Winlaton and High Spen.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Labour “beaten” in Blaydon constituency

In the votes that make up the 10 wards of Blaydon constituency, the Lib Dems topped the poll in six of them in the local elections last week. In votes cast for the parties, the Lib Dems were in the lead:

Lib Dems 13627 (50.7 percent)
Labour 10555 (39.3 percent)
Conservatives 2222 (8.3 percent)
Independent (stood only in Lamesley ward) 454 (1.7%).

Phone mast agreed

A CONTROVERSIAL application for a phone mast next to people’s homes in Whickham has been given the go ahead by Gateshead Council’s planning committee.

The application by O2 for the mast next to Burnthouse Lane, overlooking Harewood Close and Dykenook Close was agreed on Wednesday 3rd May.

The application had been opposed by local Lib Dem Councillor Marilynn Ord.

“We felt it was too close to people’s homes and there was a suitable alternative site available,” said Marilynn. “So I was disappointed the application was given the go ahead.”

Almost there in Lobley Hill and Bensham

In what was previously a safe Labour seat, Lib Dem Susan Craig came within 92 votes of taking Lobley Hill and Bensham in the local elections on 4th May. A recount was needed because the Labour and Lib Dem votes were so close.

Labour's vote went into meltdown and they were only saved by some people voting for the Conservatives and fringe candidates and by people not turning out to vote.

"Many thanks to the people who voted for me," said Susan Craig. "Though we are disappointed we just missed taking Lobley Hill and Bensham, we came very close in an area Labour have always taken for granted.

"Our campaigning continues however. And we will continue to keep residents in touch through our regular Focus newsletter."

Key points from the election in Lobley Hill and Bensham ward

Labour's majority collapsed from 879 to 92 - making the seat the most marginal in Gateshead.

Labour's vote fell by 19%, the biggest drop in Gateshead.

Lib Dem vote rose 13%, the biggest increase for any party in Gateshead.

If only one in six of the people who voted for the Conservative or fringe candidates voted Lib Dem instead, Labour would have lost.

Photo: Susan Craig after the count for Lobley Hill and Bensham ward next to the piles of votes for Labour and herself - Labour held the seat by only 92 votes.

Whickham and District May Fayre

A GREAT day out for everyone is promised on Saturday 13th May in Whickham, Gateshead, when the area’s scouts host the May Fayre in the village’s historic Chase Park.

The gates will be opened at midday when the mayor of Gateshead officially opens the fayre.

A wide range of events are planned including arts competitions, music and dancing, raffles, side shows and other games. Many local groups will have stalls.

There is expected to be stiff competition amongst schools for the Lloyds TSB Trophy for sports and the Woodman’s Arms Community Shield for Inter School Five-a-side.

“We are promising a great day out for the whole family,” said fayre organiser Dave Richardson. “The fayre is an annual tradition and everyone is welcome to come along for a relaxing day of fun.”

Gates open at midday on Saturday 13th May.