Saturday, June 30, 2007

Get Carter Car Park to be demolished

Gateshead's multi-storey car park is to be demolished. The building was made famous as a location in the 1972 film classic Get Carter starring Michael Cain. Have you voted in our on-line poll about whether or not the building should be demolished. Whatever your views, watch our video about the demolition plans now!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gateshead residents “must not be forced to vote by post”

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have opposed moves to force residents to vote by post rather than at a polling station in elections.

Gateshead Labour councillors voted to scrap polling stations at the meeting of the Council held on Thursday 7th June.

But Liberal Democrat councillors called for people to have the choice of voting by post or at a polling station.

“This is an issue about freedom of choice,” said Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan.

“Whilst many people prefer voting by post, there are many others who do not trust postal voting.

“And whilst there was no evidence of voter fraud in Gateshead in past elections, there have been high profile and serious examples elsewhere.

“Furthermore, it is impossible to know how much pressure one dominant individual puts on other members of the same household to vote in a particular way as postal voting loses the secrecy you get at a polling station.

“Liberal Democrats therefore voted against the call to scrap polling stations.”

Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “The government are very unlikely to grant Labour’s request in Gateshead. They have already ruled out all postal voting generally because of the problems of fraud.

“And I doubt they will agree to Gateshead’s request that they should be made a special case.”

All postal voting was last used in an election in 2004 when the local and Euro elections were held on the same day. The system nearly collapsed as it could not cope with the huge task of getting ballot papers to residents.

Postal votes had to be delayed whilst emergency measures were introduced to solve the near breakdown in the postal vote system.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recycling petition launched

LIBERAL Democrats have launched a petition calling on Gateshead Council to consider introducing kerbside collections of plastic and cardboard waste.

The petition was launched following the decision of the ruling Labour group to reject calls for kerbside collections to be extended.

Currently collections of paper, cans and bottles are made once a fortnight from homes in Gateshead. At a Council meeting on 7th June, Liberal Democrats called on Gateshead Council to look at expanding collections to include plastic and cardboard.

But Labour councillors binned the idea, claiming lorries would run late and waste plastic would have to be washed before collection.

Liberal Democrats vowed however to continue the battle. They have launched the petition so that residents can put pressure on Labour to make them change their mind.

Dunston and Teams campaigner Michael Ruddy said, “We are disappointed at Labour’s decision but we will continue to campaign for better recycling. We have already send petition forms to over 1000 homes in Gateshead. More will be sent shortly.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Whickham Councillors’ Walkabout

WHICKHAM’S 9 Liberal Democrat councillors have carried out a walkabout of the village centre to look at local issues and problems with the locations visited being decided by residents.

The councillors, who represent the three different Whickham wards on Gateshead Council, invited residents by email last week to send in concerns and issues about any problems that need tackling in Whickham village.

All the replied were used to draw up a route for the walkabout which was then carried out on the morning of Saturday 23rd June.

A video of the walkabout was also shot and this will be handed on to officers of Gateshead Council so that they can take up the issues raised.

“We wanted to come up with a new way of letting residents raise concerns,” said Councillor Mary Wallace. “We already do an email newsletter to hundreds of households in the area.

“So we added on to it a request for people to raise concerns about the village centre. Having looked at the issues raised and filmed them on video, we can hand the video on to the appropriate officers.”

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “Residents gave us a long list of issues to take up. We have already raised some with officers.

“This experiment seems to have worked and we will be doing it in other villages as well."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Labour election team get it wrong again!

LABOUR in Gateshead has been accused of talking up the vote of the BNP in a by-election in a ward where the fringe party is in a distant third place.

Dunston and Teams ward goes to the polls on Thursday 5th July. Labour are defending the seat following the death of the widely respected Councillor Maureen Clelland.

However Labour’s election candidate has claimed in his election leaflet that “voting LibDem or Conservative could let the extremist BNP in.”

Liberal Democrat Candidate Michael Ruddy came second in Dunston and Teams in May this year and has dismissed Labour’s claims as rubbish saying “Perhaps the Labour candidate, Garry Haley, has forgotten that he has lost to Liberal Democrats in his five previous election attempts.”

“This is a ridiculous tactic by Labour,” said Councillor Frank Hindle, the Liberal Democrats’ agent for the election. “The BNP were in third place in May – and in the elections before that.

“Labour know that if they can’t get their vote out, they could lose yet another seat to the Liberal Democrats who are in second place.”

Mr Haley was Labour candidate for Whickham South in 2002 and 2003, for Whickham South and Sunniside in 2004, and for Dunston Hill and Whickham East in 2006 and 2007.

In the last 10 years, Labour have lost 9 council seats in Gateshead – all to the Liberal Democrats, who now have 23 Councillors.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lib Dems to press on with recycling call

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead are to continue campaigning for kerbside collections of plastics and cardboard for recycling despite the decision by the Labour run Council to reject the proposal.

Liberal Democrat councillors moved a motion calling for the current kerbside collection scheme for paper, cans and glass to be extended to cardboard and plastics at the meeting held on 7th June.

The motion was moved by Councillor Allison Chatto and seconded by Councillor Peter Maughan.

It called on Gateshead Council to investigate how kerbside collections could be introduced.

But replying to the motion, Labour Councillor and Cabinet member, Michael McNestry attached the call, claiming that in other authorities collection lorries ran late, plastics had to be washed and the system couldn’t cope with the material collected.

“I was very disappointed with Labour’s negative attitude,” said Councillor Chatto. “Here was an opportunity for the Council at least to investigate the possibility of kerbside collections.

“But Labour chose to dismiss the idea out of hand. Whilst the Liberal Democrats are arguing to make Gateshead greener, Labour are standing in the way of progress.”

Councillor Maughan said, “We are taking the message to the people of Gateshead that we want a greener borough. And we will continue to argue that Labour should look again at our proposal.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Liberal Democrats choose Michael again for by-election

LIBERAL Democrats in Dunston and Teams in Gateshead have chosen Michael Ruddy to be their candidate for the ward by election being held on 5th July.

Michael, who lives in Victoria Street in the Teams is a former taxi driver. He fought the ward in the May local elections when he came second to Labour.

“If elected I want to be a strong voice for our area on Gateshead Council," said Michael. "I am also joining with Liberal Democrat councillors from across Gateshead to campaign for more and better recycling in the borough.

“Labour’s recent decision to reject kerbside collections of plastics and cardboard for recycling was a bad decision for Gateshead and the environment. Liberal Democrats are campaigning to make Gateshead greener.”
Photo: Michael Ruddy and Susan Craig in the Teams. Michael has been chosen by Liberal Democrats to be their candidate for the Dunston and Teams by-election on Thursday 5th July. Susan was the Liberal Democrat candidate for neighbouring Lobley Hill and Bensham ward where she has slashed Labour's majority to just 54 votes.

Printed by Gateshead Liberal Democrats, 97 Front Street, Whickham, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 4JL and promoted by Frank Hindle on behalf of Michael Ruddy, all at Room 311, Aidan House, Sunderland Road, Gateshead NE8 3HU

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Anger at Post Office planning decision

A DECISION by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee to refuse an application for a cash machine to be installed in Sunniside Post Office has been attacked by the village’s Liberal Democrat Councillor.

With 2500 Post Offices set for closure by the Government, branches are needing to develop new business to stay open. Installing a cash machine at the branch in Sunniside would have helped secure the future of the Post Office and boost the village centre.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Sunniside, backed the plan and ran a petition in favour of the cash machine application. 240 residents signed it.

But Gateshead Council’s Highways Department objected to the cash machine as the Post Office is next to a pedestrian crossing.

And the planning committee split along party lines when it took the decision on Wednesday 13th June to throw out the application.

The plan was defeated 7 votes to 6. All those voting against the application being approved were Labour. Only one Labour Councillor, Malcolm Brain, voted for the proposal. The other 5 backing the plan were Liberal Democrats.

“This cash machine would have been a boost to Sunniside Post Office, helping to secure its future, at a time when one in five branches throughout the country is to be axed,” said Councillor Wallace.

“A free to use, 24 hour cash machine would also have been a boost for the village centre generally, and for residents.

“Sunniside is, by no stretch of the imagination, a wealthy area, and many people are dependent on the Post Office and local shops. Many don’t have cars to get to other shopping centres and the bus services in the village have been reduced in recent years.

“This application would have disproportionately benefited some of the poorest areas in my ward. I am therefore amazed and appalled that it has been rejected.

“It is a bizarre situation where a business on a front street can’t be developed because planners think it might attract people to use it and visit the area by car. Under that thinking, just about every front street in every community would have to be closed down.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Police and Community Forum

The next Police and Community Forum for residents to discuss crime issues with local police officers will be held on Tuesday 17th July at 7pm in Swalwell Community Centre.

Somerfield cash machine

Alliance and Leicester are applying for planning permission to install a cash machine at the front of Somerfields supermarket on Oakfield Road, Whickham.

Whickham Front Street Primary School

Gateshead Council are applying for permission to install disabled access and to make alterations to provide a new reception area at the school.

Swimming club award

Gateshead and Whickham Amateur Swimming Club has been awarded a grant of £2736 by Gateshead Council towards running costs.

Whickham Service Station

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council to install a cash machine next to the entrance to the shop at the Whickham Service Station on Front Street.

Should MPs be above the law?

This is the sort of questions we should not have to ask. It should be assumed that the laws MPs pass should apply to everyone, including themselves. The assumption however has come in for a bit of a battering recently. The issue starts with what each of us has, as a right, to know about what government and our elected representatives do in the name of the public and how they spend our money.

The government promised and indeed brought in a right to know which became law in 2005. Called the Freedom of Information Act, this was a great step forward from the secretive days of the Official Secrets Act that made a huge amount of government information into official secrets.

There was one consequence of the right to know that some MPs never actually foresaw. Their travel expenses, paid for by the tax payer, were revealed for all to see. The government itself resisted the move to publish this information but earlier this year, a legal case brought by Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, forced the publication of the expenses.

It revealed some rather large travel expenses with some MPs clocking up large bills for air travel and car expenses. Had they known these expenses were going to be published, few MPs would have been so generous to themselves with taxpayers’ money.

Conservative MP and former chief whip David Maclean then brought in a “private members bill” to exclude MPs from the Freedom of Information Act, therefore allowing them to keep their expenses secret.

A “private members bill” would normally stand no chance of getting passed by Parliament without government support. They simply get killed off, often through lack of time. That’s what Lib Dem MPs tried to do with the Maclean bill (with the support of a small number of Labour and Conservative backbenchers).

But then the Labour party intervened, and gave the bill some helpful backing to ensure it got through the Commons. This discreditable performance by Labour means this atrocious bill stands a reasonable chance of being passed.

It could be defeated in the House of Lords. Let’s hope it is.

Readers may be interested to know that Gateshead Labour MP Dave Clelland voted for the bill. Earlier this year, it was revealed that he had spend £18125 of taxpayers’ money over the previous year on travel. This consisted of £5315 car expenses, £3,699 for train travel, and a jet-setting £9,114 for air tickets.

When confronted by the Evening Chronicle about his sky high flying bill, he explained he “lives near the airport.” True! But what he didn’t say was that he lives even closer to Newcastle Central Station where he could let the less polluting train take the strain to get to London.

It will be a disgrace if the unholy alliance of the Labour government and a group of Conservative MPs takes away from the public the right to know. And it will undermine Gordon Brown’s claims that he wants a more open and accountable form of government. Hardly a good start for him.
You can sign the petition against the move to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information: just follow this link -

Local History

The Whickham and District U3A (Whickham Web Wanderers) who compile local history would like to hear from people with life stories and events from the 70s, 80s and 90s to enable them to extend their oral history catalogue.

Anyone who feels they could assist should email or call 0191 496 1238. If you would like to visit the web site to view some of the work they have compiled over the years visit

If you would prefer to meet with the group to discuss your participation in this history project please call Mrs Minns on the number above for full details of the group meeting which is held once a month at Marley Hill Community Centre.

Bus petition and meeting

Councillors representing Whickham, Swalwell and Sunniside have met Martin Harris, Director of Go North East bus company, to discuss bus services in the area. The meeting took place on 18th May.

Councillors raised concerns about the impact of recent changes to services, in particular the on going problems of lack of services from Sunniside to Whickham Health Centre and to Dunston, the change of direction in the services on Parkway and Broadway, the loss of services down Whaggs Lane and locations of bus shelters.

Councillors Allison Chatto and Mary Wallace also raised concerns about possible changes to services between Swalwell and Dunston.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace also handed over a petition signed by over 200 residents of Sunniside and Whickham asking for the problems in Sunniside outlined above to be addressed.

The meeting is one of a series the councillors will hold with the bus company to help find solutions to bus problems throughout the area.

Whickham Bank Top house

The large and as yet unfinished house near the top of Whickham Bank has been raised with Lib Dem Councillors by a large number of people recently.

The house in its current form was granted planning permission in the late 1990s and work on it began earlier this decade. It was then realised that, though the building was being constructed according to the planning permission, the design of the house meant that residents were likely to lose their privacy if the house was completed and occupied.

Gateshead Council was asked to intervene and to get changes made to the house so that the concerns of neighbouring residents could be addressed.

There is a long and difficult legal process that has to be gone through to achieve this. The process of overturning planning permission on a building that has been built to the requirements of the same planning permission is one that is rarely used.

Both the owner of the building and the Council have been involved in long discussions about a way forward. Generally speaking, the owner of the site has shown a willingness to look at the concerns that have been raised but these discussions have been protracted as attempts have been made to try and come up with a design that resolves the harm to neighbours but also acknowledges the planning permission the applicant has and his family’s requirements.

However, if these discussions do not resolve the problems, the Council will be able to issue an order requiring necessary changes to the building to be carried out. The Planning and Development Committee has given officers powers to do this. Once served the owners of the building and any other interested third parties could appeal against the order. This would likely result in a public inquiry.

The legal advice to the council is that the order would be considered more reasonably by an Inspector at a public inquiry if the Council can demonstrate they have sought to explore all options and opportunities to deal with the harm caused.

Hence the delay in bringing the matter to a conclusion. However, the Council have made it clear to the owner of the site that if a satisfactory set of proposals for the building is not reached in a reasonable timescale, the order will be issued

Gateshead News will keep you in touch with progress.

Monday, June 04, 2007


You may be aware that every year Fellside Football Club hold these 'Open Sessions' for football coaching at Watergate Park, our Headquarters in Lobley Hill. They have been doing these for many years now and details of the 2007 event follow.

The trials for this year will commence on SUNDAY 17th JUNE 2007 and will continue for at least three weeks from 10.00am to 12 noon on subsequent Sundays. The ages of those eligible to attend are from Under-7 to Under-10s and they will be given qualified coaching by a group of our Coaches. The idea is to offer something back to the community as part of the Club's Development within the Community and to give individuals the opportunity to attend these excellent sessions with the possibility of forming new teams at various age-groups and strengthening others teams that already exist.

It is an ideal opportunity for parents and children to meet with Club officials and see the work the Club carries out within the locality; to obtain an idea of what we can offer and make them feel safe that their children are looked after in a safe and secure environment whilst in their charge.

Refreshments will be available and parents are encouraged to stay and watch the sessions, girls and boys are all welcome.