Thursday, June 29, 2006

Parking charges proposed - views sought

Lib Dem councillors have received notification of a proposal which will be put before Gateshead Council's Cabinet on July 18th. They are actively seeking residents' opinions so that they can accurately represent people's views.

The proposal is to introduce car park charges in several new locations within the Borough including both of the main car parks in Whickham, Low Fell, Birtley and Blaydon.

The reasons given are to :

1) raise funds that can be used towards maintenance and improvements of the car parks - currently there is no funding available for this.

2) allow the council to introduce restrictions on the length of stay in some car parks.

3) contribute to the disabled provision within the car parks.

4) raise funds that will contribute to enforcement costs.

The suggested costs are 20p per hour (short stay) and £1 fixed charge per day (long-stay). These costs are significantly cheaper than car park costs in Central Gateshead which are between 60p and 80p per hour and between £1.30 and £2.50 per day.

It is also intended that additional waiting restrictions will be introduced to surrounding streets to discourage a dispersal of commuter and shopper parking if subsequent surveys demonstrate a need.

Lib Dem councillors would like people's responses to these proposals and to the following issues: what do you think the impact will be?; if charges are not introduced, how do we pay for improvements to the car parks?; how often do you use the car parks and are charges likely to affect the number of times you use businesses based in Whickham?

Those wanting to respond are asked to send their views by 11th July to People can also respond by posting comments about this article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sunniside Roadworks June 2006

Roadworks on Sunniside Road are to continue, 2 months after their initial completion date. Play the video for full news.

Rowlands Gill petition almost completed

LIBERAL Democrat campaigners in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, have finished delivering petition forms to every house in the village calling for improvements to a dangerous road junction.

Campaigners are wanting the council to consider improvements to the junction of Burnopfield Road and Station Road following three accidents at the site earlier this year. The final 400 petition forms were delivered over the weekend of 24-25 June.

Petition co-ordinator Jonathan Wallace said, “We have had hundreds of replies to the petition and we will be handing it in shortly. Residents wanting their signatures included on the petition should return their completed petition forms to us as soon as possible.”

Hedley Hall Woodland celebrates 15 years

Great North Forest and the Woodland Trust have just marked the fifteenth anniversary of the acquisition and planting of Hedley Hall, near Sunniside with a fun-filled education day and a community celebration event.

The former agricultural site was the first to be planted in the Great North Forest. Since then it has flourished and is now a superb new, native woodland and site of nature conservation interest. The community event was also a way of showcasing the improved access and interpretation works that have been undertaken in Hedley Hall Wood over the past year, thanks to a £11,347 grant from Biffaward.

The wood is easily accessible from the Tanfield Railway from which you can take the Bowes Railway path to walk to Hedley Hall Wood. You can also start at the Causey Inn and follow Hedley Lane into the wood.

Great North Forest Link:

Great North Forest HQ move

The Great North Forest Team moved to its new office location at the Greenhouse near Annfield Plain on the 8th May 2006 after ten years based at Whickham Thorns Activity Centre in Gateshead. The new office provides better accommodation for partnership working and space more suited to modern IT requirements.

The Greenhouse is an award winning, eco-friendly prototype development which harnesses renewable technologies, including a 32m high wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump in its construction, to make it an energy efficient building.

Successful street surgery

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors in Whickham North, Gateshead, carried out an experimental “street surgery” on Saturday 24th June.

Instead of being tucked away inside a public building, Councillors Chris Ord and Peter Craig held an open air surgery outside the shops on Oakfield Road, Whickham. Over 20 people visited them and raised issues with them.

“This was an experiment to see if we could meet more people than we would otherwise do if we were holding the surgery in a public building,” said Councillor Ord.

“It worked very well and we are planning to try more in the near future.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sunniside Roadworks

Residents of Sunniside have shown a remarkable degree of patience following months of work by Northern Gas Networks (United Utilities) on laying new gas pipes on Sunniside Road. Traffic lights have been in use along much of Sunniside Road since March.

The original plan by the company was to complete the work by early May but two major problems occurred which have forced the expected completion date to be moved backwards to early July.

The work that is taking place involves the removal of 829 metres of old iron gas pipe and valves with 499 metres of polyethylene pipes.

Since work began, the contractors have found rock into which the pipes have to be sunk. This was not previously expected.

In addition the gas company’s records of the existing pipe locations and layout apparently bear little resemblance to what is actually in the ground. Consequently the contractor is having to search for the pipes and valves before the replacement works can be carried out.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace, who is also a resident of the village, has been in touch with Highways Officers of Gateshead Council to try to get a completion date.

“The work is for a private company and is carried out by private contractors, so the Council in this instance is the body that oversees the work but otherwise has no direct control,” said Jonathan.

“Whilst I accept the work is necessary as the old pipes have to be replaced, I am concerned that in this instance, the estimated time to complete the work was way off the mark.

“Unforeseen circumstances are a part of daily life, but in this instance, insufficient time was considered to take into account the unexpected. However, I have been informed that the end of June or early July is the expected completion date.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Swalwell verges strimmed

Grass verges and areas of shrubs on The Pavilion, Swalwell, which had become overgrown, have been strimmed and tidied up by Gateshead Council. Residents had contacted local councillors about the state of the verges and land, some of which is next to a children’s play area, which had become overgrown with weeds and nettles.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sunniside tree

The tree outside the Travellers’ Rest pub in Sunniside is to be replaced after it was vandalised recently. A new tree will be planted in the planting season later this year. Residents had asked Councillor Jonathan Wallace to raise the need for a replacement with Council officers.

Knightside Park

Goal posts requested by Dunston Hill’s councillors are now installed in Knightside Park. It is planned to put in a toddler climbing frame and swing set in due course.

However, before the installation goes ahead, Councillors Yvonne McNicol, Allison Chatto and Peter Maughan have asked Gateshead Council to consult with the residents of the properties that border the park on three streets.

Following complaints from some residents regarding the procedure for opening and closing the park, especially during the winter months, the matter has been raised with the relevant council department.

Officers have agreed to consider any options available to them to improve this aspect – one consideration is a request by me to erect a small sign showing the times the park will open and close during the summer and winter time.

“I have requested that they ensure all three gates to the park are locked, not only the main gate on Knightside Gardens," said Cllr Yvonne McNicol. "This will hopefully ensure that youths cannot gain entry after closing time and cause damage and a nuisance factor to residents surrounding the park.”

As a general rule, the park is open until 8pm summer time and 4pm winter time. However, all parks in the area are open and closed daily by one security team therefore, these times can not be guaranteed. It depends on where they start their route and which way around they go. Therefore, the times are an indication as to when you should aim to depart the area as one day it could close on the hour and another day within 30 minutes of the time displayed.

Knightside Gardens Bollards

Councillor Yvonne McNicol has asked for the damage bollard on the traffic calming measure adjacent to the Woodside Gardens junction of Knightside Gardens, Dunston Hill. to be replaced. Hopefully, this should be in place within the next three weeks.

Dunston allotments

Residents of Market Lane, Dunston, have raised concerns about the state of the allotments on both sides of the road with local ouncillor, Yvonne McNicol. As a result she raised the matter with the relevant council department.

Yvonne Said, “Officers have confirmed that the allotments on both sides of the road have been inspected. They also report that a recently unoccupied site has now been re-let and improvements are taking place.

“Occupiers have confirmed that with the right weather they can begin to attend their plots again now that summer time is upon us. Hopefully, once work recommences on the plots the tidiness of the area in question should improve.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Jonathan Wallace has asked Council Officers to look into the problem of rats in the area of the Marley ill allotments. The issue was raised with him by local residents.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Recent planning applications

Application for chip shop in Blaydon

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to convert the vacant office at 28 The Precinct, Blaydon into a fish and chip shop.

Application for horse arena in Ryton

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to change the use of agricultural land to a horse arena at Sealburns Farm, Lead Road, Folly, Ryton.

Housing application at Folly

A planning application has been submitted to convert The Forge workshop and store on Lead Road, Folly, near Ryton, into a house.

Planning permission granted in Crawcrook

Gateshead Council have granted planning permission for a detached house to be built on land next to 2 Chamberlain Street, Crawcrook.

Bleach Green Housing approved

Haslam Homes in Bleach Green have been granted planning permission to build 40 houses, 4 bungalows and 4 flats at Bleach Green, Blaydon.

Rowlands Gill house application

Planning permission is being sought for a house to be built between 118 and 120 South Sherburn, Rowlands Gill.

Approval sought for demolition

Planning permission is being sought to demolish the vacant building at Glencoe House, shibdon Road, Blaydon.

Blaydon shop to housing plan

Planning permission is being sought to convert 2 shops at 20/20A Shibdon Road, Blaydon into 4 flats.

And the same in Ryton

Planning permission is being sought to convert the shop at 3 Elvaston Road, Ryton into a flat.

Post Office petition thank you

Thank you to everyone who has filled in the Lib Dem petition about Post Offices. For those of you who have missed it, this is what it’s all about: the government are phasing out the right of pensioners to get their pensions paid through post offices. They will have to be paid through a bank account instead. At the moment, elderly people have the choice of either the post office or a bank for receiving their pension. Across the country, five million senior citizens have opted for the post office.

The government pays individual post offices for each cash transaction. Many rely on the income they receive from handling pensions to stay open. Loss of the income will mean many will close. Those branches that do not rely on the payments will still see a drop in income as fewer elderly people will be visiting them and spending money in them.

The effect on many older people is that they will have greater difficulty in getting their cash – bank branches and bank owned cash machines tend to be concentrated in town centres. Many small towns, villages and estates that don’t have banks do, however, have post office branches. Many of these are likely to close. Where cash machines exist in small towns, they are normally privately owned and operated. And it costs a great deal of money to use them.

The effect on the rest of us is that many people will lose their post office and all the services that it provides.

The petition therefore asks the government to keep the current practice of giving people the choice of getting their pensions and benefits through either the post office or a bank.

So far, Liberal Democrats have collected 500 signatures on the petition in Blaydon constituency and will be aiming to collect hundreds more over the next few weeks.

Photo: Sheila Wright, counter manager for Fellside Post Office in Whickham, joins Councillors Alan and Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace at the launch of the Lib Dems' petition to save Post Offices from closure.

Speeding cars in Winlaton

Winlaton and High Spen Councillors are seeking the views of residents on how to deal with speeding vehicles on Barlow Road and Barlow Lane as they approach Winlaton.
Concerns have been raised by residents with Councillors Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham.

If you have views you want to raise with Brenda or Andrew, you can call them on 0191 4143740 and 01207 544896 respectively or email You can also write to Brenda at 11 Stella Hall Drive, Stella Park, Blaydon, NE21 4LB.

Phone mast application defeated in Crawcrook

An application by Vodaphone for a phone mast at the Crawcrook Pentecostal Church has been rejected by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee. If granted, the mast would have been 14.25 metres high.

The application was opposed by Lib Dem Councillor Sally Danys, who represents the area on Gateshead Council. “This application was too close to people’s homes,” said Sally. “It was clearly the wrong place to put a mast.”

Welcome for High Spen Play Equipment

Councillors Brenda Osborne and Andrew Graham have welcomed the installation of new fixed play equipment at High Spen Park. Brenda had previously argued with the Council that the amount of money spent on equipment should better reflect the number of kids in the area. Play equipment is also being installed at Barlow, Lockhaugh and Winlaton Mill.

300 sign junction petition

Over 300 residents of Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, have signed a petition calling for improvements to the junction of Burnopfield Road and Station Road.

Petition co-ordinator Councillor Jonathan Wallace collected over 100 signatures over the weekend alone.

“The junction has seen a number of accidents and residents are hoping that improvements will be made to ensure it is safer in the future,” said Jonathan.

Meanwhile, Labour councillors in Rowlands Gill have launched an attack on Councillor Wallace for carrying out the petition. Maureen Chaplin even confronted him at the start of a recent Council meeting to demand that Labour be “consulted” on future Lib Dem campaigning in the ward!

The petition will be submitted to the Council in the near future.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lockhaugh crossing a step closer

A campaign by residents and local Lib Dem Councillors of Lockhaugh, near Rowlands Gill, for a puffin crossing on the main road has taken a big step forward.

Consultants appointed by the council to look at improvements to the main Swalwell to Rowlands Gill road are recommending that a crossing be introduced.

"The council will have to take a decision on the recommendation and find the money for the crossing," said Councillor Brenda Osborne, who has been fighting for the improvement since she was first elected six years ago.

"Whilst it is not guaranteed that a crossing will get the go ahead, we now have the important backing of the consultants' report that shows it is needed.

"This is a big step forward for the campaign and Councillor Andrew Graham and I will be keeping up the pressure to get this crossing installed."

Dunston Play Area survey

Liberal Democrat councillors in Dunston, Gateshead, have carried out a survey of residents about the need for a proper play area for kids on the site of the now demolished garages at the top of Ede Avenue, next to the junction with Oak Avenue.

Residents have contacted Councillors Yvonne McNicol, Allison Chatto and Peter Maughan about the state of the site and the dangers posed to children.

Councillor McNicol said, “We want to explore the possibility of having some improvements made to the site and we have had some early discussions with council officers.

“At this point it is important to add that there are no funds available for improvements or equipment. If we were to proceed with any work on the site, we would have to explore ways of funding it, and there are no guarantees that at this stage we can win any funding.

“But before exploring the options, we wanted to get the views of residents in the area as to whether or not we should try to have something done to the site. Hence the reason for the survey.”

The results of the survey are currently being studied.