Friday, May 25, 2007

Sunniside fights for Post Office cash machine

A planning applicaiton for a cash machine to be installed at the front of the Post Office in the village of Sunniside is to be considered by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday 13th June.

The application was, unexpectedly, rejected by planning officers in December after objections from highways engineers.

But local Liberal Democrat Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, believes the cash machine will benefit residents and help protect the long term future of the branch at a time when thousands of Post Offices are due to be closed by the government.

Councillor Wallace asked the Planning Department to let the application be resubmitted and considered by the Planning Committee instead. He also produced a petition backing the application and will speak in favour of it when it goes before the committee.

The petition, signed by over 100 residents will be handed in shortly to Gateshead Council.

“At a time when Post Offices are under threat, I am hoping the Planning Committee will see the benefits of this application for both the future of the Sunniside Post Office and for residents of the village,” said Councillor Wallace.

Whickham garages petition

Residents of Kingsley Place and Kipling Avenue in Whickham have launched a petition asking for action to repair the road surface next to the garages on the two roads.

Residents have also expressed concern that rival gangs have met at the location for stone fights.

Councillor Chris Ord has asked the Gateshead Housing Company to look into the matter. He has also raised the gang problem with Whichkam Police.

“We want to get to the root of the problem here to sort out residents’ concerns,” said Cllr Ord.

Labour censorship of Gateshead News rejected

An attempt by Labour to censor this news blog has failed.

Labour tried to get a video of them losing an election removed from Gateshead News. It was shot by Councillor Jonathan Wallace at the declaration of the recent election result in the Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward.

Councillor Wallace asked for, and was given permission, to shoot the video by a senior officer of Gateshead Council.

But Labour have now twice asked Council officers to ask Councillor Wallace to remove the video.

“I was rather surprised by the requests,” said Councillor Wallace. “All it shows is the declaration of the result. This is the part of a count you would see on an election programme. Many councils actually video the declarations and put them on their own websites. Why Labour took exception to it is odd.

“I can only think it has something to do with the fact that Labour had high hopes of winning back the ward. They threw everything and the kitchen sink into winning.

“The end result was an increased Liberal Democrat majority for my colleague Councillor Yvonne McNicol. Maybe Labour just don’t like to be seen to be defeated.

“I think it is useful for residents to be able to see the democratic process in operation. Many have viewed the video, especially after we sent them the link on our last email newsletter.

“The video will remain on the blog for the next few weeks until it is replaced by new videos we will be shooting over the late spring.

“And my advice to Labour is that they should stop trying to manage the news and let people see and read what they want to.”

The video can also be viewed on YouTube on this link.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Scout Fayre, Chase Park Whickham May 2007

The annual Scots' Fayre was held at Chase Park in Whickham on Saturday 19th May.

With deepest sympathies

It is with great sorrow that we report that Councillor Maureen Clelland has passed away. Maureen was the councillor for Dunston and Teams and before that for the former Dunston ward.

Maureen was always widely respected and greatly liked by members on all sides. She was a genuine public servant whose driving force was to do the best for the people she represented. She will be greatly missed.

Sent via BlackBerry

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have hit out at the government’s failure to listen to the concerns of local people over post office closures. The Government announced today [Thursday 17th May] that they will continue with their plan to close at least 2,500 post offices across the country.

Gateshead Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against post office closures and are today stepping up the fight against the Government’s plans.

The Government have not published the list of post offices to be closed, but with one in five post offices nationwide set to shut it is unlikely that Gateshead will escape with no closures.

Local Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “It is outrageous that the Government have ignored the concerns of local people and are continuing with their plan to close at least 2,500 post offices. That means we could lose yet more post offices here in in Gateshead. We have already seen 6 close over the past 4 years.

“Along with many local people, we have been campaigning against the Government’s post office closure plans and will now be stepping up the fight once again. Last year we collected 3000 signatures against the closure plans from residents of Gateshead.”

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “If, instead of initiating a further round of cuts, the Government were to adopt Liberal Democrats plans for the Post Office then they would be able to invest an additional £2 billion in the network and safeguard the future of local branches for years to come.”

In March, Liberal Democrats handed in their 3000 signature petition calling for an end to Post Office closures to 10 Downing Street.

Backing to keep MPs’ travel information public

AN ATTEMPT by MPs to stop the public knowing about their expenses claims has been attacked by campaigning Liberal Democrats in Gateshead.

Former Conservative Chief Whip, David Maclean MP, has proposed a change to the law on Freedom of Information that would exempt MPs from having their expenses claims published.

Earlier this year, the government lost a legal battle led by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker to require Parliament to publish the details of MPs’ travel expenses claims under the law on Freedom of Information.

But in response, an unholy alliance of Conservative and Labour MPs are trying to change the law to prevent publication of their expenses.

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are leading the calls to keep the information public. Councillor Jonathan Wallace has written to Norman Baker MP and Simon Hughes MP backing their actions to stop the change in the law.

“Norman Baker did a great service to the country earlier this year when his legal battle forced Parliament to publish the detailed travel expenses of MPs,” said Councillor Wallace.

“As a result, many MPs have had to justify why they expect the taxpayer to pay for so much travel by car and plane. If their travel expenses are public, the evidence is clear that MPs do not treat themselves to such generous travel arrangements.

“I find the attitude of the Conservative and Labour MPs who support the attempt to protect themselves from public scrutiny sad and shocking. The attempt to ban the public from knowing the details of how taxpayers’ money is being spent on their travel will rightfully anger the very people who have to foot the bill.

“Here in Gateshead Liberal Democrats feel very strongly that this information should be kept public. MPs should not hide behind a wall of secrecy.”

A further debate on the proposals to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information laws will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 18th May. MPs Norman Baker and Simon Hughes will be leading the attempts to stop the changes being introduced.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sunniside Post Office cash machine

The planning applicaiton to install a cash machine at the front of Sunniside Post Office is likely to come before Gateshead Council's planning committee on Wednesday 13th June.

The application has been backed by local Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Wallace and by over 100 residents who have signed a petition supporting the plan.

Petition forms were delivered to houses in Sunniside, Marley Hill and Streetgate in April. Residents can return their completed petitions to Sunniside Post Office.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Glebe phone mast to be removed, orders council

Over many months residents have complained to Lib Dem Councillors in Whickham North about the unsightly and overlarge mobile phone and lighting mast on the Glebe. The councillors - Mary Wallace, Chris Ord and Peter Craig - have made repeated representations to Gateshead Council’s Planning Department about the mast.

Despite orders from the Council’s enforcement officers to remove the mast, which was not built in accordance with the original planning application, it is still standing. Many residents are angry that the mast remains in place.

The football club, and the three mobile telephone companies who share the mast, have now been served with a legal order to have it taken down. Gateshead News will report further on progress on this matter.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dunston Hill and Whickham East declaration May 2007

Declaration of the result from Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward. This was a top target for Labour but the Lib Dems increased their majority in the ward.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

No seats change hands in Gateshead

No seats changed hands in the elections to Gateshead Council on 3rd May. Though Lib Dem Susan Craig came within 53 votes of taking the Labour ward of Lobley Hill and Bensham, Labour's Frank Donovan managed to just hold off the Lib Dem attack on the once rock solid Labour bastion.

But if Labour were happy with being able to cling on to Lobley Hill and Bensham, Lib Dems were equally happy to have held off Labour in 2 other wards where they mounted big challenges. In both Dunston Hill and Whickham East and Crawcrook and Greenside, the Lib Dems triumphed with increased majorities.

Most Labour attention was focused on Dunston Hill and Whickham East. But Labour slipped back when their candidate Gary Haley, who fought the ward last year (and fought Whickham South in 2002, 2003 and 2004) saw Lib Dem Yvonne McNicol nearly double her majority to 521.

And in Crawcrook and Greenside, Labour candidate Helen Hughes who also fought the ward last year, saw Lib Dem Derek Anderson increase his majority to 514.

Gateshead News editor Jonathan Wallace enjoyed an embarrassingly successful list of "biggests" in the Gateshead elections! - the biggest majority (1473), the biggest vote (2043) and the biggest share of the vote (70%).

The record for the worst performance of the night goes to the Conservative candidate in Lobley Hill and Bensham, Hazel Anderson, who mustered only 121 votes. She will hopefully take comfort from the result not reflecting on her but rather on the fact her party was heavily squeezed in the ward by the Lib Dems who were slugging it out with Labour to win the seat.

Nevertheless, the Conservatives continue to poll poorly in Gateshead. Their best seat was Chowdene where they took 578 votes, but they are still 1000 votes off winning.

The BNP's hopes of winning a seat were dashed when their top target of Dunston and Teams slipped ever further from their grasp. The BNP had high hopes of success in the by-election in the ward in September 2006 but ended up trailing behind the 2nd placed Lib Dems with Labour retaining the seat. This time the BNP remained firmly stuck in 3rd place.

Returning to the council after a 3 year absence is Labour's Stephen Ronchetti who won the vacant seat in Blaydon ward though his majority was down to less that 300 over Lib Dem Mark Gardner.

Another face familiar to Gateshead Council to be elected was Bob Goldsworthy who held Bridges ward for Labour. This is Bob's first stint as a councillor but, as the husband of the current mayor, Maureen Goldsworthy, he is the Mayor's Consort.

Congratulations to all those elected and commiserations to those who were defeated.

We of course have to go through the whole process again next year! Oh joy!