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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

473 sign Rowlands Gill junction petition

LIBERAL Democrat campaigners have collected 473 signatures on a petition calling for improvements to the junction of Station Road and Burnopfield Road in Rowlands Gill, in western Gateshead.

The petition was launched after residents raised concerns about the accident blackspot with Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

“There has been great interest in the petition,” said Jonathan. “That’s why so many have signed. We will be handing in the petition to Gateshead Council in the very near future.”

Welcome end to roadworks

OVERRUNNING roadworks in a village in Gateshead have at last been completed. The roadworks, to replace gas mains on Sunniside Road, Sunniside, took two and a half months longer than planned.

Sunniside Road is a main road through the village and carries a large number of vehicles travelling between Derwentside and Tyneside. Traffic lights in place from March to July ensured a great deal of congestion on local roads.

“Residents are delighted the work is at last completed,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace, who lives in Sunniside.

“We all appreciated that the work had to be done but the two month overrun meant we all had to ensure traffic jams for much longer than we expected.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Parking Charges to be introduced

Video report on the decision by Gateshead Council's cabinet to introduce parking charges in Whickham, Blaydon, Birtley and Low Fell.

Council Cabinet agrees parking charges

Gateshead Council's Cabinet agreed on Tuesday 18th July to the principle of car parking charges for Whickham, Blaydon, Birtley and Low Fell. However, no charges will be introduced until the Council have carried out consultation with residents and businesses.

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency carried out a survey of residents and business about the planned charges. Whickham North Councillor Peter Craig produced a report based in the responses from over 140 people by email, 60 written replies and nearly 30 from businesses. This report was presented to the Cabinet by Councillor Craig.

At the Cabinet Peter outlined the concerns of many about the impact on businesses in the town centres, especially with the Metrocentre offering free parking.

Liberal Democrat councillors will be speaking to officers and members of the Cabinet about the details that were raised in the consultation we carried out.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Blaydon residents surveyed on parking

RESIDENTS of Blaydon in western Gateshead have been surveyed by local Liberal Democrats about plans to introduce car parking charges in the town’s main car park.

The survey of 300 households was carried out on Saturday 8th July.

Gateshead Council’s cabinet will decide whether or not to go ahead with plans to charge 20p an hour on Tuesday 18th July.

Local Liberal Democrats decided to carry out the survey to find out the response of residents to the Labour council’s plans.

“Many people are worried about the impact,” said Blaydon Lib Dem campaigner Mark Gardner. “The Metrocentre offers free parking and there are concerns that people will stop using Blaydon shopping precinct and shop down the road instead.”

The Liberal Democrats are currently analysing the responses to the survey from 100 people in Blaydon.

Welcome for end to police mergers

A LEADING Liberal Democrat in Gateshead has welcomed the collapse of plans to merge local police authorities into a single regional super-force.

Government ministers announced on Thursday 12th July that the plans to merge forces in England had been axed following objections from police authorities, councils and residents.

Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, said, “There was a danger that local community policing could be lost if the mergers went ahead as the police authorities would have been more remote from the people they serve.

“There is every need for the different forces to work together on tackling large scale organised crime and terrorism, but that does not mean we have to go through the enormous expense of scrapping the existing system of police authorities and forces.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Saltwell Park shortlisted

Saltwell Park has been short listed in North East final of The National Lottery Awards 2006.

The park is one of four projects chosen by a panel of judges to go head to head in a public vote to claim the title of the North East’s National Lottery Project of the Year. The other projects are: Pallion Action Group (working with disadvantaged young people in Sunderland), The Bulls Wheelchair Rugby Club (providing an outlet for wheelchair bound people in Teeside) and Segedunum Roman Fort and Baths in Wallsend (preserving a significant Roman heritage in Tyne and Wear). The winner will earn a place in the UK final, and is set to be broadcast on national television later in the year.

Considerable work has been carried out on the park since it was awarded £6.9million of Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It now attracts around 20,000 visitors a year.
Votes for Saltwell Park can be cast in two ways. Either by telephone by calling 0845 4348939 or via the internet by logging onto and clicking on National Lottery Awards. Voting lines are open and now and close on 11th August 2006.
Video Focus July 2006

Video Focus for July 2006. Featured stories include parking charges for local car parks, safety measures on local roads, houisng association pulls out of Swalwell scheme and roadworks in Sunniside

Monday, July 10, 2006

Parking survey of businesses in Whickham

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, have carried out a survey of 100 businesses in the village centre to ask them about the possible impact of proposed charges for parking.

Gateshead Council are considering plans to introduce a charge of 20p an hour to park at the St Mary’s Green car park in the village. Currently parking is free.

The survey is being coordinated by Councillors Chris Ord, Peter Craig, Yvonne McNicol and Jonathan Wallace.

“We have already carried out a survey of residents about the proposed parking charges but we want to get the views of local businesses as well,” said Councillor Ord.

“After all, their livelihood is directly affected by the number of people coming to Whickham to shop and do businesses.”

Survey forms were delivered to businesses on Saturday 8th July.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

500 sign “Save our Post Offices” petition in Rowlands Gill and Highfield

500 residents of the villages of Rowlands Gill and Highfield in western Gateshead have signed a petition calling for the Post Office Card Account (POCA) to be retained.

POCA is used by elderly people to collect their state pensions through branches of the Post Office. But the government has recently ordered POCA to be axed and elderly people will be required to open bank accounts and receive their pensions through banks instead.

There are widespread fears that this will make it harder for older people to collect their money and many Post Office branches will close as a result of lost business.

The petition has been organised by Liberal Democrats. Petition co-ordinator Dr Jonathan Wallace, who is a Gateshead Councillor, said, “Many people are angry about the government’s decision to end the Post Office Card Account.

“If a Post Office branch closes as a result of the loss of business POCA brings, it is not just the elderly who lose out. Whole communities will see the closure of important social assets, which is what Post Offices are.

“We have been pleased with the response to the petition so far where we have carried it out. We will be collecting more signatures over the summer from across much of Gateshead.”

Lib Dems consult on parking plans

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have consulted hundreds of households about proposals by Gateshead Council to introduce parking charges at Whickham, Blaydon and Birtley.

Nearly 1000 households have been emailed a consultation form and almost 100 have so far replied.

The proposals, which will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on 18th July, will, if agreed, see a charge of 20p an hour short stay or £1.00 a day long stay.

The consultation is being carried out by Councillor Jonathan Wallace and Councillor Peter Craig.

“We want to find out what residents feel about the proposals,” said Councillor Wallace. “So we sent out an email consultation form and have had many replies back already.

“Peter Craig is analysing all the replies and is producing a report for council officers to consider.

“We would like people to have their replies in by 12th July. People can email their views to me at”

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Housing Association pulls out of Ruskin Road

A plan by the Byker Bridge Housing Association to take over and renovate four council houses on Ruskin Road in Swalwell has collapsed.

The housing association had planned to take on the properties but increased costs and extra work led to the Housing Association pulling out of the scheme.

Local Councillors Chris Ord, Mary Wallace and Peter Craig are pressing Gateshead Council for an early decision on the future of the four boarded up houses, which have been attracting vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Photo: Councillors Peter Craig and Chris Ord outside one of the boarded up houses on Ruskin Road. Byker Bridge Housing Association have pulled out of a plan to take over the properties. Now your local Councillors are pressing Gateshead for a decision on the future of the houses.

Coalway Lane action on stolen cars

Action is to be taken to stop the Coalway Lane footpath from Whickham to Swalwell being used as a racetrack for motorcyclists and stolen cars.

Following a tour of the area by Councillor Chris Ord, local police and officers of the Gateshead Housing Company, which manages Gateshead Council’s housing stock, an application was made to fence off the top of the path at the bottom of Coalway Drive, to prevent access onto the path by vehicles.

“Residents have been concerned about the use of the path by motorcycles,” said Cllr Chris Ord. “We have also had incidents of the path being used for driving stolen cars.

“These are serious dangers to people walking along the path, and especially to kids walking to Swalwell Primary School, which sits next to Coalway Lane. In addition, the bikes cause a great deal of disturbance to residents.

“The top of the path will therefore be fenced off to prevent vehicles getting access though a gate will allow people with wheelchairs or prams to get through.

“I am delighted this work is to go ahead.

Photo: Councillors Chris Ord and Peter Craig at the top of the Coialway Lane path where fencing is to be installed to prevent use of the area by motorcyclists and the driving of stolen cars.