Thursday, November 22, 2007

Councillors’ walkabouts a success

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors representing Sunniside and Swalwell on Gateshead Council have carried out walkabouts in the two villages to look at issues and concerns raised by residents.

The councillors advertised the walkabouts in their regular ward newsletters and their email newsletter, and asked residents to send in their ideas on what should be visited on the walkabouts which were carried out on Saturday mornings on 10th and 17th November.

“We carried out a similar exercise in June in Whickham village which went very well,” said Councillor Mary Wallace. “So we wanted to extend them to Sunniside and Swalwell.

“As a result of the suggestions that came in from residents, we had a long list of issues to look into. We therefore had full mornings looking into issues such as blocked paths, unsafe structures, flower beds and so on.

“We are currently taking up the issues raised with the Council’s officers.”

Residents of Gateshead throwing away twice war time food rations!

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead are backing a campaign to encourage people to cut food waste after learning that 22,000 tonnes of food are thrown away each year by local residents.

Most of the food is usable but instead of ending up on the dinner plate, it ends up in landfill sites.

Environmental campaign group Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) revealed that the UK bins 6.7 million tonnes of food a year – 112kg per person.

“The figures for the amount of perfectly good food we throw away are quite shocking,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “They show that most people throw away more than their own body weight in perfectly good food each year.

“Liberal Democrats did some calculations to illustrate just how wasteful society now is with food. Sixty years ago, at the end of the 2nd World War, most foods were rationed.

“An adult was entitled to 200 grams of sugar, 100 grams of preserves, 200 grams of fats, 50 grams of cheese, 100 grams of bacon and 50 grams of tea a week. The total weight was 700 grams though that excludes 2 other products that were rationed but not weighed – one egg and 2 pints of milk a week.

“In a year, basic weighed rations were 36kg. That means we now throw away more than twice the basic rations people survived on sixty years ago.

“WRAP has found that nine out of ten people are currently not aware of the quantity of food they throw out but when it is brought to their attention, most want to do something about it.

“There are some basic ways to avoid food waste which WRAP recommend people adopt. For example, work out what food you need and write a shopping list, rather than making choices when going around the supermarket. People can also make more use of their fridge, freezer or air tight boxes rather than leaving food out in the open where it goes off quicker.

“Residents of Gateshead spend £133 each on food that is thrown away each year. That’s £133 each person on average throws into a landfill site.

“The amount of waste people produce is a growing problem. It costs council tax payer a large amount to collect and then dispose of the waste. And in landfill sites, waste food rots and gives off methane, a strong greenhouse gas that is causing global warming.

“We each have to play our part in protecting the environment. By avoiding wasting food, we can save money as well!”

Liberal Democrats have produced a handy list of ideas on how to cut food waste and reduce kitchen waste going to rubbish dumps. The list includes:

1)Plan what you need and make a shopping list – that way you buy what you need and avoid buying too much of what you don’t need (assuming you keep to your shopping list).

2)Store food in air tight containers or in the fridge, rather than out in the open.

3)Make meals from left over vegetables such as soups or broth. These can be frozen for later use if necessary.

4)Use unused fruit to make jams, chutneys and relishes.

5)Some left over foods can be used to make puddings, such as fruit and bread.

6)Left over cooked vegetables can be reused in meals such as vegetable curries or bubble and squeak.

7)Put peelings, cores and other waste foods that can’t be cooked into a compost bin.

MP for Blaydon denies people a vote on Europe

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon are calling on Labour MP David Andersonto explain to local residents why he voted to stop the people having their say on Europe.

Labour and the Conservatives voted together on Wednesday 14th November to deny the public a crucial vote on whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union. A Liberal Democrat amendment to the Queen's Speech laid out proposals for a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union.

Local Liberal Democrat campaigner Jonathan Wallace said, “Labour and the Tories have rejected our call for the public to vote on the UK's membership of the European Union. David Anderson joined with the Labour and Conservative leadership to block the people from having their say.

“Membership of the European Union is hugely positive for Britain. Cheaper goods, better environmental protection, increased freedom to work and live abroad, and a stronger framework for tackling international crime are just some of the benefits. But the EU has changed beyond recognition since we last had a referendum in 1975. No member of the public under the age of fifty has had the opportunity to vote on the crucial cumulative changes that have taken place over the last few decades.

“The case for a referendum to endorse, or reject, Britain’s membership of this very different European Union is overwhelming and the Liberal Democrats will be proud to lead the pro-Europe case."

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “It is disappointing that Labour and Conservatives joined forces to defeat the call for the people to have a referendum. David Anderson must now explain to the people of Blaydon constituency why he has denied them a say.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Photos from the Whickham Remembrance Parade - 11th November 2007

Call on Labour to "clean up" their act!

Anyone remember the story that did the rounds earlier this year that Whickham School was about to be replaced with a brand new school?

It came about because Labour in the local elections claimed a new school was about to be built. No plans have been put into place yet for a new school!

Or how about the claim Labour opposed building flats on the site of Fellside Road garage? A few weeks later they voted to give planning permission for housing there.

Maybe you remember the claims that the Labour Party are supposed to be opposed to car parking charges in Whickham? (Labour made the claim after having voted to bring in the charges!)

And in the past few weeks, Labour have completely made up a story about Lib Dem run Newcastle Council, claiming a recycling scheme was introduced, immediately abandoned and millions wasted. The whole claim was a work of fiction.

These are some of the growing number ridiculous of Labour's claims in the Whickham area. So local Lib Dem councillors are calling on Labour to "clean up their act". Complete with brooms, mops, pinnies and feather dusters, Councillors Chris Ord, Peter Craig and Mary Wallace have dressed up to give Labour the clean up message!

"We thought we would give a light hearted response to Labour's unbelievable claims," said Peter. "But there is a serious point as well. Labour spin is out of control. Their claims just get more and more extreme.

"When we read the story they had made up about Newcastle's Lib Dem Council's recycling plans (see opposite) we felt it was time for them to come clean.

"So come on Labour, clean up your act now and stop making ridiculous claims!"

Whickham Police and Community Forum

The next meeting of the Police and Community Forum will be held on Tuesday 20th November at 7pm in Whickham Library. Residents are welcome to attend to raise crime and policing issues with the Area Commander and other senior police officers.

Fellside Road, Whickham

The tragic accident earlier this week on Fellside Road has focused attention again on the dangers of this road and how they can be reduced.

The accident, on the evening of Tuesday 6th November, happened between The Woodmans and the entrance to the Golf Club.

The road currently has national speed restrictions (60mph) in place from the edge of Whickham to the Pack Horse at Burnopfield.

The accident record of the road - 22 accidents involving injury over the last 5 years, 4 of which resulted in a fatality – had already led Gateshead Council to review the road conditions.

A traffic and speed management review of Fellside Road has been underway for several months. Proposals being looked at include extra signing and roadmarking to raise awareness of the Golf Club and farm entrances and better warning signs of bends. Where possible it is also intended to install reflective verge marker posts to mark out the edge of carriageway around the outside of certain bends.

The review is also looking at the existing speed limit, taking into account national guidelines, the character of the road, the traffic and speed survey information and the accident history.

In recent years various measures have been introduced along the road including renewal of roadmarkings, upgrading of bend warning signs and the introduction of two sections of anti skid surfacing onto bends which were considered particularly vulnerable.

Your local councillors have raised on a number of occasions (including by Councillor Marilynn Ord in October) the need to look at safety on this road and the introduction of a lower speed limit. We are continuing to raise this matter and will keep residents in touch with progress.

If you have any concerns you wish to raise with us about this road, please feel free to do so by replying to this email.

Remembrance Day Parade Whickham November 2007

The Remembrance Day Parade and Service in Whickham was held on Sunday 11th November. Wreathes were laid by Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Allison Chatto and Peter Craig, and by various uniformed organisations.

Elysium Lane housing plans

Gateshead Council have received a planning application to build 20 houses on the site of the former Social Club on Elysium Lane in Bensham.

Bensham’s historic church sold

The landmark St Cuthberts Church on Bensham Bank has been sold by the Church Commissioners to the American based St Stephen The Great Charitable Trust.

The historic landmark has been sold for £100, reflecting the state of the building which is suffering from structural problems and vandalism. The building needs considerable investment to bring it back into use.

The nineteenth century church was designed by the famous Victorian North East architect John Dobson.

The Church Commissioners were keen to see the building continue to be used as a church. Work on restoring the building is expected to take a year.

The sale of the church has been wlecomed by local Liberal Democrat campaigners Susan Craig and Peter Andras.

Photo: Peter Andras and Susan Craig outside St Cuthbert's Church in Bensham. They have welcomed the sale of the church as a way of saving the landmark.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tyne View School to become children’s centre

Gateshead Council’s decision-making cabinet has agreed to convert Tyne View Primary School into a children’s centre.

The centre will include early years services, play facilities, family centre staff, a food co-op and an adventure playground.

It will also provide services for disabled children including pre-school childcare for children with special needs.

The work to convert the building will cost £1.3 million. Closure of the school was controversial in the Teams but the new facility is expected to open by the end of 2008.

Gateshead Town Centre demolition begins

The first stage of demolition to make way for the redevelopment of Gateshead town centre has started. The old telephone exchange on Lambton Street was demolished on 6th November.

The original demolition date for the “Get Carter” car park was November though this has now been moved back. The Gateshead Indoor Market will now close on 11th January 2008.
You can view our video about he demolition of the car park on the following link: Get Carter Car Park to be demolished

Lobley Hill sign

Liberal Democrat campaigners in Lobley Hill are to write to Gateshead Council to raise again the issue of there being no sign to show people they are entering Lobley Hill. Earlier this year they had written to the Government’s Highways Agency to ask for Lobley Hill to be signposted, so far without success.

“People visiting Lobley Hill often miss the A1 turnoff or drive straight through Lobley Hill without realising they are here as there is no sign,” said Peter Andras.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lib Dem Christmas Fayre

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead will be holding their Christmas Fayre on Saturday 1st December 10:00 am -1:00 pm at Whickham Community Centre.

Stalls include crafts, local art, home made jams, jewellry, tombola, cakes and more.

Refreshments including mince pies, tea and coffee available.

Adults 20p, children 10p (free if you're wearing a Santa hat!)
All welcome!

Contact Susan Craig, 0191 4880787, for further details.

One year on and pollution still threatens Gateshead - Liberal Democrats

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have given the government one out of ten for their environmental record and have warned that local residents will suffer from more extreme weather if action is not taken to tackle pollution.

In a message from Liberal Democrats to residents in Gateshead to mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Stern Report – a major study into the dangers posed by pollution leading to global climate change – Councillor Jonathan Wallace said,

“Last year the Stern Report highlighted the huge dangers we face if action is not taken to cut the pollution we are causing.

“One of the biggest causes of global warming is carbon dioxide. Changing weather patterns have a huge impact on our local environment, leading to serious problems such as the severe storms and the record rainfall we have experienced in our area this year. Yet we are producing more and more carbon dioxide all the time.

“The response to the Stern report by the government was at first positive. But ministers have failed to carry through any big policies needed to tackle climate change and global warming. And in some areas they have gone into reverse.

“Since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, the government have watered down plans to generate more energy from clean, green sources. One of his first acts as Prime Minister was to downgrade the importance of a top cabinet committee on the environment.

“Meanwhile Brown has seen a coalition of important green groups, which includes Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, pull out of the government's nuclear consultation, claiming that the ministers were distorting the evidence and that they are considering taking the Government to court again on the issue.

“And a decade under Brown as Chancellor saw the overall tax burden on pollution fall whilst that on incomes rose, making it cheaper to pollute.

“This is a sorry record on the environment from Labour. The Stern Report, praised by Mr Brown last year when it was published, is now gathering dust. The call for action is not being taken seriously by the Prime Minister or the Labour government.

“The situation however could have been much different. Mr Brown could have led the call for change to save the environment. His failure to do so will mean that areas such as Gateshead are likely to suffer as the freak weather and damage seen this year becomes the norm in the future.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dunston Rocket set to go

Dunston’s landmark Rocket is facing demolition. News that the landmark 29 storey block could be pulled down was revealed in late October when it emerged that Gateshead Council, owners of the Rocket, were considering the radical step as a solution to the problems plaguing the building.

One other possible option is to sell the block, officially called Derwent Tower, to a developer. The Rocket opened 35 years ago and was the region’s first skyscraper.

It was designed by Owen Luder, the same architech who worked on the Gateshead Multi-Storey car park which is also facing demolition.

There are 196 flats in the Rocket but only 40 are now occupied. The building has suffered from problems with flooding, broken lifts and failing water supplies. Crime has also been an on going problem.

Dunston and Teams campaigner Michael Ruddy said, "The state of the building means it needs a radical solution. It would be great if a developer could buy it and revamp the whole block. But in the absence of that, the building will have to be demolished."

Dunston Hill Councillor Peter Maughan was born and raised in Dunston and remembers the Rocket block being built. "As a teenager we watched as it got higher and higher.

"At the time it seemed to be a great idea and was a symbol for Dunston. But it has suffered from major problems since and letting the flats has become more and more difficult."

Peter has fond memories of the area before it was developed in the late 1960s. His aunt had a drapers shop called Crutes which is on the site now occupied by the Rocket. "It was a very well known shop in Dunston at the time," said Peter.

Photo: Councillor Peter Maughan at the bottom of the Rocket. Gateshead Council are now looking at plans to demolish the 29 storey block.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Historic path visited in Sunniside

Whickham Councillors have carried out a site visit to one of the most historic routes in the Sunniside area.

Sandy Lonnen is a continuation of Hole Lane and extends from the junction of Hole Lane and Burnthouse Lane to Fellside Road.

Councillors Marilynn Ord, Mary Wallace and Jonathan Wallace visited the route on Friday 2nd November with Gateshead's Rights of Way Officer to look at issues about the state of the ground, flooding, fly tipping and general access.

The path is popular with people visiting Sunniside Park.

Photo: Councillors Mary Wallace, Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace on Sandy Lonnen.