Friday, March 28, 2008

Call on Northumbrian Water to use Post Offices

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have called on Northumbrian Water not to end bill payments through post offices.

The decision by the North East’s water provider to cancel the contract with post offices for payment of water bills has drawn a sharp response from Councillor Peter Maughan, parliamentarty candidate for Blaydon.

Northumbrian Water announced its change of policy earlier this year. As from April, paying water bills will no longer be allowed at post offices.

“I have written to Northumbrian Water to ask them to reconsider their decision,” said Peter. “Whilst there are other forms of payment available, paying through a post office branch is important for many residents and is often more convenient.

“Such payments also help support the post office network at a time when government ministers are trying to close down 2,500 branches.

“Whilst I appreciate the cost to the company is higher when paying through post offices than for other types of payment, it is overall just a small price to the company.

“I hope therefore that the company will think agains about their decision.”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bus shelter vandalism in Lobley Hill sparks police call

LIBERAL Democrats in Lobley Hill have written to the local police to ask them to look at putting more patrols in the area following damage to bus shelters.

Shelters at the top of Lobley Hill Bank have had their windows smashed in recent weeks.

Peter Andras, who leads the Lib Dem Lobley Hill Focus Team, said, “Twice in recent weeks, windows in the shelters have been smashed.

“This mindless vandalism is a concern to residents so I have written to the police to ask them if they could do some extra patrols in the area.

“Hopefully this will act as a deterrent to vandals.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Big Top talks in Lobley Hill

A planning application for a temporary big top that was given the go ahead by Gateshead Council recently has sparked discussions between opponents and supporters to ensure the impact is kept to a minimum.

The plans by churches group “NE1” for a big top to be installed next to Gateshead Central Nursery in Lobley Hill had sparked concerns from some residents about the impact of parking and congestion.

The plan will see the tent installed for a ten week period, seating 8,000 people. A weekly event will be held during the time the tent is in place.

Councillor Peter Maughan represented concerned residents at the planning meeting in March which considered the plan. He has since been in touch with organisers of the event to discuss residents’ concerns.

“I have had a positive discussion with Revd Bob Hopper of Lobley Hill’s All Saints Church, one of the key people helping to put the event together,” said Peter.

“The organisers are drawing up plans for stewarding the event so that those driving to Lobley Hill are directed to on site car parking. They are also encouraging park and ride schemes to cut down on congestion.

“I am hopeful that many of the concerns of residents can be resolved.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Whickham School update

Latest news: whilst the school is open for teaching, problems have been found with the power supplies to the smaller blocks. As a result, years 7 and 8 are not required to attend school for the rest of this week.
Sent via BlackBerry

Monday, March 24, 2008

Whickham School - latest

Councillor Jonathan Wallace has spoken to Tom Hopper, chairman of the Whickham School governors. The latest news is that the school is expecting to open on Tuesday as scheduled and pupils should turn up.

As a temporary measure, the main hall will be used in place of the rooms lost in the block that was destoyed by the fire.

We will bring you more news as we get it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Whickham bulb show

Congratulations to all those who entered the Whickham Bulb Show and art competition on Saturday 15th March, and especially to the winners! We have included here a few of our own photos taken by Councillors Peter Craig, Alan Ord, Mary Wallace and Marilynn Ord who went to the show.

Swalwell car boot sale season starts again

The Car Boot Sale season officially started in Swalwell on the first Sunday in March.

We all love to grab a bargain or two at our locally famous Car Boot Sale, but in the past, residents have recently expressed some concerns over inconsiderate parking in the immediate area during events. There are have also been one or two comments regarding litter.

Cllr Chris Ord said, “Now that the Car Boot Sale season has restarted, your local councillors will be monitoring the situation. We have worked with the Club and council officials in the past to resolve some minor issues, but we hope that these are now a thing of the past.”
Photo: Councillors Chris Ord, Mary Wallace and Peter Craig outside Blaydon Rugby Club in Swalwell.

Sunniside History Society Grant

Lottery Awards for All have presented the Sunniside Local History Society a grant of £3,072. The award will help the society complete the Tanfield Way Educational DVD. This will put into the spotlight previously unidentified local historical features. Well done to the society and its members.

You can visit the society’s website on:

Swalwell Flats Plan

PLANS to build flats on the Brewery Lane site in Swalwell have been handed into Gateshead Council recently.

RJR Property Developments want to build a block of 22 apartments. in a 6 storey block with 22 associated parking spaces. In order to achieve this, there would be demolition of the steward’s house and partial demolition of the concert room at rear of the existing club.

Councillors Peter Craig and Mary Wallace are aware of support for the scheme, but have also received some concerns from local residents concerned that the building will be too high in relation to surrounding properties and would look out of place.

“Such a development could have an impact on the surrounding area,” said Mary, “so we want to have a better understanding of residents’ views.

You can email us your views by emailing Mary on

Photo: Councillors Peter Craig and Mary Wallace outside the Brewery Lane site in Swalwell where developers are proposing to build flats.

Mobile speed camera for Marley Hill

It has been some time since we asked for a speed camera to be installed in Marley Hill but at last, patience seems to have paid off.

We are pleased to say that the Northumbria Police Safer Roads Initiative is to target Church Street with a mobile camera.

“There is a huge amount of traffic coming through Marley Hill every day and too many vehicles are above the 30mph speed limit,” said Cllr Alan Ord.

“The mobile camera will be important in reminding people that the village is a residential area and people must drive with care, and within the speed limit.

“We would like a permanent camera but a mobile one is an important step in the right direction.”

Red lights for Sunniside traffic lights

LAST year, Councillors, Alan and Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace, successfully persuaded Gateshead Council to put traffic lights at the Sunniside Road, Front Street junction next to Sunniside Chapel, Sunniside.

Residents of the village will not have failed to notice that we are still waiting for the lights to go in.

“We have raised concerns with the Council about the length of time being taken to get the lights installed,” said Alan. “We were told late last year that the problem was a staffing shortage.

“However, given that time has now moved on, we are continuing to press for a timetable for the work to be carried out. As soon as we know the details, we will let everyone know.”

Photo: Councillors Alan and Marilynn Ord at the junction on Sunniside Front Street where the promised traffic lights have not yet appeared.

Sharon Hodgson MP votes for post office closures

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have accused Sharon Hodgson MP of failing to support local services after she voted to support the Government's massive post office closure programme.

The Government has ordered that one in five branches be closed. Opposition MPs tried to stop the closure programme on 19th March when a motion was proposed in the House of Commons demanding the Government halt their plans to make 2500 branches shut up shop.

But enough Labour MPs rallied around the Government’s closure plans to reject the motion and ensure the closure programme can continue unhindered. One of those voting to close post offices was Gateshead East and Washington West MP Sharon Hodgson.

Disappointed local Liberal Democrat campaigners are calling on Mrs Hodgson to explain why she voted to close post offices.

“Sharon Hodgson has let down people in Gateshead and Washington by voting to allow the closures to continue,” said Councillor Frank Hindle who represents Low Fell.

“In June, the announcement will be made as to which branches here will be put forward for closure. This was an opportunity for Mrs Hodgson to make a stand on behalf of residents. I am disappointed she has backed the Government rather than local people.

“The loss of post offices will hit communities hard in Gateshead. They are vital assets for many local people and closing them will cause many difficulties for older people and others with mobility problems, in particular.

“Despite the decision of Mrs Hodgson to help the Government press ahead with closure, Liberal Democrats are continuing to fight the demolition of the post office network.”

Whickham School damaged by fire

A fire has caused serious damage to Whickham School, resulting in the destruciton of a the block containing the staff and six form common rooms, the lecture threatre, two classrooms and the library.

The fire brigade was called to the school shortly after 9pm on Friday 21st March. The fire itself could be seen from as far as Winlaton and Streetgate.

There is fire damage to the neighbouring music block but the musical instruments were saved and are now being stored elsewhere on the school premises.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lib Dems in Blaydon call on David Anderson MP to apologise for Iraq occupation

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have called on Labour MP David Anderson to apologise for his party’s support for the invasion of Iraq.

Speaking at a meeting of members, Peter Maughan, Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon, said, “Five years ago, the Labour Government led Britain into the war in Iraq. The Conservatives were the cheerleaders for military action. And MPs from both parties attacked the Liberal Democrats for our opposition to the invasion.

“It is now clear that the war in Iraq and the occupation of the country were the worst decisions taken by Britain in foreign policy in living memory. And Mr Anderson, despite claiming to be opposed to the invasion, has backed the continued occupation of Iraq.

“Five years on from the start of the invasion, 175 British troops have lost their lives, £7 billion of our money has been lost on this appalling venture and, according to some estimates, 600,000 Iraqis have lost their lives as a result.

“David Anderson should apologise to the people of Blaydon for his support of this disastrous military occupation.

“The remaining British troops in Iraq are not serving a useful purpose. The Government are asking our brave men and women to put their lives at risk for no gain for either our country or the world at large. Despite assurances by Gordon Brown that our troops will be coming home, they are still in Iraq.

“I am calling on David Anderson to join the Liberal Democrats in urging the Government to set a timetable for the full withdrawal of the remaining UK troops from Iraq.”

“Next week there will be a vote in Parliament calling for a full inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Iraq war. I urge Mr Anderson to join the Liberal Democrats in voting to hold this inquiry. Lessons must be learnt so the mistakes of Iraq are never made again.”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

House building plan opposed

A plan to build five homes on the site of an existing house and its back garden in Whickham, Gateshead, are being opposed by the area’s Liberal Democrat councillor, Marilynn Ord.

The plans call for the demolition of the house at 59 Grange Lane. In its place would be one detached and four terraced houses on the garden.

But residents have raised concerns about the housing plans to their local councillors.

“The plan calls for two storey homes to be built here,” said Marilynn. “But all the homes surrounding the garden are bungalows and there are worries about the loss of privacy and the new houses being out of character with the area.

“Access to the terrace will be through Grange Nook, a very small and narrow street which will suddenly find the number of houses on it nearly doubling.

“I feel this is too many houses for too small a space so I am asking the Planning Committee to reject this application.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcome progress on Whickham Library garden

PLANS to develop a small garden behind a popular library are taking shape. Councillors Mary Wallace, Peter Craig and Chris Ord had campaigned to have the small piece of land at the rear of Whickham Library, in Whickham village in western Gateshead, converted into a small garden for readers and the local community.

The site was formerly an open, paved area at the back of the library but had become a venue for anti-social behaviour. After the Councillors raised the need to improve the site with Gateshead Council, it was fenced off.

“We are pleased that work is now underway to make this into a pleasant little garden,” said Mary. “It will be a green oasis and a boost for the library.

“In the summer months we are hoping readers will be able to site out in the garden, enjoy a good read and hopefully some good weather as well!”

Photo: Whickham Library Garden work underway.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Support for Post Office appeal

A leading Liberal Democrat councillor in Gateshead has called on planning inspectors to uphold an appeal to allow a cash machine to be installed in a village Post Office.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, who represents Sunniside, has written to the Planning Inspectorate to support the appeal which he hopes will allow the Post Office in the village to have a cash machine installed in thefront of the building.

Gateshead Council rejected the application for the cash machine last year, claiming it would attract too many additional visitors to Sunniside Front Street. However, over 200 residents of the village, including Councillor Wallace, backed the plan.

“I feel the decision last year not to allow the machine to be installed was unreasonable,” said Cllr Wallace. “The Government has taken away a lot of business from Post Offices and branches need alternatives if they are to stay open.

“Many of them are ideally located for cash machines. Labour councillors in Gateshead have claimed in the past to be in support of Post Offices. It was disappointing last year that they failed to act on their claims.

“The cash machine will help to secure the future of Sunniside Post Office. It will also mean that the village has a 24 hour, free to use cash machine for the first time.

“The appeal against Gateshead’s decision is being considered now and I hope my letter to the Planning Inspectorate will help ensure it is successful.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Liberal Democrats welcome proposal to use Gateshead for Olympics training

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have welcomed the recommendation that Gateshead Stadium and Gateshead Leisure Centre should be used as a training camp in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012.

The two facilities will be used for training in athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Gateshead Councillor Peter Maughan said, "I am delighted that Gateshead has been listed in the Pre-Games Training Camp Guide and hope that many countries choose to send their teams to the area to train.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for Gateshead, which will boost the local economy and ensure that the Olympic legacy reaches beyond London.

“The London Olympics will be a major event and the government has agreed to put a huge amount of money into the games. It is therefore right that areas outside the capital benefit from the Olympics being staged in our country.

"I am looking forward to welcoming athletes from all over the world to Gateshead in 2012.”

Conservatives have curiosity value but nothing else on Tyneside – Liberal Democrats

With the Conservatives arriving in Gateshead to hold their spring conference in the Sage, a leading Liberal Democrat in the borough has said that the visitors will provide a rare, novety factor for residents.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, who is Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside in Gateshead, said, “I am happy for the Conservatives to visit Gateshead and spend their money in local hotels and shops. This will be a nice but small boost for the local economy!

“Given the complete disappearance of the Conservatives from serious politics in Gateshead and Newcastle, the people of Tyneside are likely to look on any Conservative visitors they see as the temporary return of a nearly extinct species.

“I won my council seat from the Conservatives 21 years ago and during that time their organisation has collapsed into dust here. They lost their last seats on Gateshead and Newcastle Councils twelve years ago and have no winnable seats at all left in the area.

“Far from having a recovery in Gateshead or Newcastle, the Conservatives have simply vanished.

“The Conservatives may have curiosity value for local residents, but that is all they have to offer Tyneside.”

Monday, March 10, 2008


Chancellor Alistair Darling should cut national income tax, paid for by rises in green taxes, when he delivers his Budget on 12th March, say Blaydon Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary candidate Councillor Peter Maughan said, “The people of Blaydon have been squeezed by higher prices for energy and rising council tax over the past year.

“And since the last Budget, the country has suffered again from extreme weather conditions, where climate change is likely to have been a causal factor.

“The Budget is an ideal opportunity for the Government, at last, to tackle the environmental damage that is contributing to the freak weather conditions we are seeing happen only too often. It is also an opportunity for Alistair Darling to cut the burden of tax on low and middle income households.

“The Liberal Democrats therefore want to see a cut in national income tax to 16p in the pound. This should be paid for by increasing the taxes on activities that pollute most, such as running the most polluting vehicles or flying.

“Council tax is an unfair tax. It is far more of a burden for low and middle income households. Liberal Democrats want the Chancellor to use the Budget to scrap council tax and replace it with a fair, local income tax, based on ability to pay.

“I strongly believe that the Liberal Democrats’ plan of shifting more of the tax burden from people’s income and onto pollution will benefit people in Blaydon.

“In Britain, the poorest fifth of households pay a bigger share of their income in tax than the richest fifth. The wealth divide between rich and poor has actually risen since Labour came to power.

“The Budget is an ideal opportunity for Labour to put right the problems they have allowed to grow since they first came to office in 1997.”