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