Wednesday, November 29, 2006

320 Whickham residents backed Post Offices on Saturday

LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, collected 320 signatures on their petition calling for the government to reverse their decision to end the Post Office Card Account on Saturday 25th November.

The Account is used by millions of elderly people to collect their state pensions via Post Office branches, many of which rely on the payment they receive for handling the cash to remain open.

“There are widespread fears Labour’s decision to axe the Post Office Card Account will lead to the closure of many Post Office branches,” said Councillor Yvonne McNicol.

“Residents of Whickham were very interested in the petition and were eager to sign. In total we have collected over 4000 signatures and many are still coming in.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

News snippets

Whickham Glebe antennae

Planning permission to replace an existing floodlight tower at Whickham Glebe Sports Club and replace it with a new 20 metre high telecommunications mast with 4 floodlights, 3 Vodafone antennae and 3 O2 antennae has been refused.

Tyne Valley Trading Estate roadworks

Work on installing a zebra crossing at Marquisway/Tenth Avenue should be completed by December.

Byermoor School

Planning permission is being sought for an extension to Sacred Heart RC Primary School at Byermoor.

Broom Lane Housing application

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to demolish the house at 35A Broom Lane, Whickham, and build a new house in the rear garden area of 35 Broom Lane.

Whickham Industrial Estate

Planning permission is being sought to build an industrial unit on the vacant site to the west of Team Valley Brush Co at the Whickham Industrial Estate, Swalwell.

Swalwell flats plan

A planning application to convert the house at 39 Napier Road, Swalwell into 2 flats has been submitted to Gateshead Council.

Ravensworth Farm

Planning permission is being sought to build two blocks of stables on land to the rear of Old Ravensworth Farm Cottage, Ravensworth.

Sunniside Post Office cash machine

A planning application has been received by Gateshead for permission to install a cash machine on the front of Sunniside Post Office.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Call to cut tax on green fuels

A LEADING Councillor in Gateshead has called for tax on green fuels to be cut. Speaking at a meeting of Gateshead Council, Dr Jonathan Wallace said that duty on “biodiesel” should be lower than petrol and ordinary diesel to encourage people to switch to using it.

Gateshead and Newcastle Councils have entered an agreement to use “biodiesel” in some of their vehicles.

“Biofuel” contain a proportion of fuel produced from oilseed rape plants that are grown specifically for the purpose. The rest of the fuel is ordinary diesel.

“Biodiesel contains fuel from renewable sources,” said Dr wallace, “so it adds less polluting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.

“But the government charges the same duty per litre on biodiesel as on ordinary, more polluting diesel. This means there is no direct financial incentive to use the cleaner, greener fuel.

“Were the duty on biodiesel to be less, it would encourage more people to use it and would create a bigger market for cleaner, greener fuels.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fiona Hall MEP Question Time in Sunniside

In October, Fiona Hall, Lib Dem member of the European Parliament for the North East of England, carried out a "Question Time" at the home of Councillor Jonathan Wallace in Sunniside. Members of teh public were invited to send in questions and Fiona's replies were filmed. You can view the responses on the following links:

1) Introduction and opencast mining
2) migrant labour
3) council tax
4) UK troops abroad
5) renewable energy part 1
6) renewable energy part 2
7) human rights

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bank “poll tax” on elderly warning

The end of free banking will cost elderly residents of Tyneside dearly when they are forced to open bank accounts to receive their state pension, warns a leading Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead.

The Government’s decision to phase out the Post Office Card Account will create difficulties for the five million pensioners who have chosen to receive their pensions via the Post Office rather than a bank account, which they will now be forced to use.

The decision to end the payment system is also likely to lead to the closure of thousands of Post Office branches.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, has warned constituents in his monthly email newsletter that the decision by First Direct Bank to end free banking for those with less than £1500 in their current account will result in a bank poll tax for the elderly.

“Millions of pensioners chose to receive their pension via the Post Office rather than open a bank account,” said Dr Wallace.

“The government’s decision will force them to open bank accounts to get their pension but many will not have £1500 to keep in the bank to avoid charges.

“The Government must think again about ending the Post Office Card Account.”
Cameron, Brown and Iraq

Lib Dem party broadcast.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jobless rate rises

The number of jobless residents claiming job seekers allowance has increased by over 200 in Gateshead, over the past year, according to recent official figures.

And with national unemployment rising as well, concerns are being expressed about future job prospects on Tyneside.

In September 2005, 3,359 people in Gateshead were unemployed and receiving job seekers allowance. In September 2006 the figure rose to 3,564.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “The recent rise in interest rates is likely to have a knock on effect on the economy and could mean fewer jobs being created. This is therefore a worrying trend.

“In addition, the actual level of unemployment is nearly double that indicated in the figures the government supplies. They only include those who are unemployed and on job seekers allowance. All others are excluded from the figures.

“The reality is that unemployment therefore stands at around 7,000 in Gateshead.”

Las Vegas comes to Marley Hill

Liberal Democrats are holding a “Las Vegas” social night at Marley Hill Community Centre at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd December. Tickets are £2 each and includes mulled wine and mince pies. There will also be a pay bar.

There will be Blackjack, Roulette and other games. There will also be a 'game show' style quiz.

All welcome. If you would like tickets, please phone Susan Craig on 0191 4880787.

Lobley Hill Library Survey

LIBERAL Democrats in Lobley Hill are carrying out a survey of residents’ views about the replacement library services in the area.

The survey is being led by Susan Craig who campaigned earlier this year against the decision by the Labour run Gateshead Council to close Lobley Hill Library.

Although Lobley Hill Library was eventually closed, a smaller part time library was opened in Lobley Hill Community Centre following Susan’s campaign and petition.

“Many people are understandably disappointed with the replacement service,” said Susan. “It is part time and in a very small room which is little bigger than a cupboard.

“So we are asking people for their views and ideas and we will be putting in a report to Gateshead Council based on the results of the survey.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day Parade Whickham November 2006

Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Allison Chatto and Peter Craig laid the wreaths at the War Memorial in Whickham on behalf of the Mayor of Gateshead and their constituents on 12th November 2006. The parade was filmed and you can view it here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sign in Whickham Conservation Zone gone - at last!

It was there for four years in the heart of Whickham's conservation zone, but at last, the "For Sale" sign advertising apartments in the Chase Court development has been removed.

Readers may recall that Councillor Peter Craig fought a long running battle to stop planning permission for the sign being renewed.

Photo: Peter Craig next to the McCarthy and Stone sign in Whickham earlier this year. The sign has now been removed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Welcome for traffic lights plan in Sunniside

Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Sunniside in Gateshead have won their battle to persuade Gateshead Council to install traffic lights at the junction of Front Street and Sunniside Road.

The notorious junction leads many people to “rat run” through the Sunniside estate to get onto the main road through the village at the Coronation Road junction where traffic lights allow for better traffic flows.

Councillors Jonathan Wallace and Alan and Marilynn Ord had been calling for the traffic lights for a number of years. Earlier this year they put the case to the Council Leader and Chief Executive.

Plans to install the traffic lights were then agreed at the Gateshead Council cabinet meeting held at the end of October.

“This has been a long running campaign and the increasing amount of traffic passing through Sunniside means that this junction of two busy roads gets clogged up in the rush hour,” said Jonathan.

“Traffic lights will help to improve the situation and reduce the number of vehicles stuck in traffic jams in the village.”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Coffee morning

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors and campaigners in Blaydon will be holding a coffee morning at Blaydon Library on Saturday 11th November 2006.

Doors are open from 9.30am to 11.30am. There will be stalls selling cakes and jams as well as a tombola.

All are welcome to call in.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Welcome for Whickham bollards

In a move to improve safety on Whickham Front Street, bollards have been installed on the path opposite the Community Centre.

"There have been problems especially with vans parking at this site," said Councillor Chris Ord. "The location is next to Front Street Primary School and there are many children crossing there every day. The parked vehicles were adding to the dangers."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bus Service Cuts Autumn 2006

In September Liberal Democrat councillors in the Whickham area carried out a survey of residents about the impact of bus service cuts and changes. This video outlines the main points raised by residents.
Northern Region Lib Dem Campaign Awards October 2006

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have won awards from the party for their Focus leaflets and campaigning. The video shows the presentation of the awards at the party's Northern Region conference in October 2006.

It's a crime

Beware who you let in

Residents are being urged not to allow strangers into their homes without showing proof of identity. Two vulnerable people have been robbed in recent months in the Dunston area after they allowed people into their homes claiming to be from Dyno Rod or the water board. In both cases no proof of identity was asked for.

Secure your garage and shed

There have been 12 break ins in recent weeks in the Dunston area, mainly to garages and sheds. In most instances the doors have been forced though in two cases, the doors themselves were not secure. Please do all you can to secure your property!

Have you seen?

There was a Suzuki motor cycle registration no T525BFT stolen from a shed in Knightside Gardens. In addition, police are also looking for a stolen white BMW car, registration Y736KBO. If you see either or have any knowledge of their whereabouts, please contact Whickham Police Station.

Suspect arrested

There have been two house burglaries in Lobley Hill recently. However a suspect has been identified and arrested.

Satellite Navigation Systems – police advice

Theft from vehicles is made easier when goods can easily be seen by passing opportunist criminals. Satellite Navigation Systems are expensive but a number have been stolen in the area recently. Some were left by their owners on the windscreen for all to see. As with all valuables in your car, the police are advising owners to hide away any valuables. Don’t showcase them for thieves to run off with!

Clover Hill School extension opens

The new extension to Clover Hill School was opened on Saturday 30th September by Deputy Mayor Councillor Malcolm Brain. It has created a bigger entrance for the children, a staff meeting/preparation room and a multipurpose activity room with food technology preparation area for the children.

Photo: Outside the next extension at Clover Hill School, left to right, Councillor Jonathan Wallace, Councillor Marilynn Ord, Councillor Peter Craig (Chair of the Governors) and Councillor Mary Wallace.

Hedley Hall Woods

A waymarker competition was held for schools in the vicinity of Hedley Hall woods by the Great North Forest recently. Marley Hill Primary, as the closest school to the woods, was entered, along with Shield Row, St Patricks in Dipton and Kibblesworth Primary.

The aim was for children to design a waymarker to mark out a number of routes in Hedley Hall Wood. The final winner was St Patricks! The design will be added to finger posts in Hedley Hall Wood in the next few months. Funding for the Hedley Hall project was provided by Woodland Trust.

Sunniside Forecourt

Work began on Monday 16th October to remove the old fuel tanks from the former Gavin Reed petrol station on Sunniside Front Street. Workmen moved onto the site on that day and physical work of breaking up the forecourt surface and removing the tanks started a few days later.

Gateshead Liberal Democrats win awards

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have received awards from the party for their Focus leaflets and local campaigning.

It is the first time the party in the North East has run awards for local campaigning and Liberal Democrats in the area won prizes in four of the five different categories.

“We have been producing Focus for 21 years in Whickham so it is great to be awarded ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

Jonathan also picked up the ward for Best Political Campaign for the battle against the plans to opencast a site next to Gibside Estate last year.

The Focus Team in Winlaton and High Spen won a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Election Campaign section for their campaign earlier this year that saw them win the seat from Labour.

And Lobley Hill and Bensham won Focus Team Achievement – members there fought a vigorous election campaign in May and slashed Labours majority from 900 to just 92.