Sunday, April 27, 2008

Promise of jam tomorrow is not enough – Ron Beadle

Liberal Democrats on Tyneside have attacked Government offers to compensate low income earners losing out under tax changes as “vague promises of jam tomorrow”.

The doubling of the 10p income tax starter rate was announced last year but was put into operation at the start of April after Labour MPs voted for it in March. Since then, Labour MPs have suffered a backlash from low income people whose tax rates were doubled by Gordon Brown.

“Tens of thousands of residents of Tyneside have been hit hard by Labour’s decision to double the 10p income tax starter rate,” said Councillor Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newcastle North. Ron is also Councillor for Low Fell in Gateshead.

“Labour MPs, having only just voted to put this tax rise into operation, suddenly started shouting about how terrible it was.

“It is disappointing that they have caved in and agreed to back the Government’s last minute offer of vague promises of compensation. All that is on offer is jam tomorrow. There are no details of how the compensation scheme will work.

“Having previously been told there was no money in the kitty to reverse the tax rise, the Government has failed to explain how they will pay for the compensation scheme.

“And as is so often the case with this government, we should believe it when it happens. In the meantime, those on low incomes on Tyneside continue to lose out whilst Gordon Brown’s tax rises bite into pay packets and pensions.

“It is staggering that in the same week as vague concessions for some of the lowest paid people in the country were dragged out of the Government, Gordon Brown’s door to Downing Street was wide open for bankers to visit him and successfully argue for £50 billion bailout from the taxpayer to keep the banking system afloat.

“There is something seriously wrong when a Labour Government turns its back on ordinary people.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Christmas isn’t coming early to Dunston

There may still be 8 months of shopping days left to Christmas but there is one small corner of Gateshead where Christmas won’t be arriving early this year.

A request by Liberal Democrat Councillors in Dunston Hill for festive lights to be installed in the few weeks running up to Christmas in The Crescent, Dunston, has been turned down by Gateshead Council.

The request was spearheaded by Councillor Peter Maughan who had been contacted by shop owners whose businesses are in The Crescent.

“Four years ago we had some lights in The Crescent,” said Peter. “But since then, there has been nothing. A small investment will boost this shopping area in the heart of Dunston.

“I am disappointed that Gateshead Council has turned down our request for Christmas lights. Local shops are being squeezed by big retail chains and we need to attract shoppers from the nearby Metrocentre and Newcastle City Centre to small centres such as Dunston.

“Having an attractive display at Christmas is one way to achieve that. Unfortunately Christmas will not be coming early, or indeed at all, to The Crescent.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lib Dems score century in Low Fell

LIBERAL Democrats in Low Fell, Gateshead, are celebrating after producing the 100th edition of their community newsletter Focus.

Launched 20 years ago, the newsletter has proved a big hit with residents of Low Fell.

The area’s three Liberal Democrat Councillors, Frank Hindle, Ron Beadle and Charles Jevon have also used Focus to keep residents in touch with what’s happening in the area and on Gateshead Council.

Charles is now retiring from Gateshead Council. Campaigner Susan Craig has picked up the baton from Charles and is hoping to be elected in the local elections on 1st May, along with Frank Hindle who is due for re-election.

“Having spoken to many residents of Low Fell recently, I know just how useful they find Focus,” said Susan.

“It’s a great way to keep in touch and a useful way for the area’s Liberal Democrat councillors to keep residents up to date with what Gateshead Council is doing.”

Councillor Hindle said, “We are proud to have reached our 100th edition! Focus caught on very quickly with residents when we first produced it twenty years ago. And we are delighted we have kept it going all these years.

“Liberal Democrats believe that it is important for those who are elected by the people to remain in touch with the people. Focus is our main way of doing that.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Battle for warden at North East Court

Plans by the Railway Housing Association, owners of North Eastern Court at the bottom of Dunston Bank, to withdraw the warden service have sparked concern amongst residents living in the accommodation.

Many of the residents at North Eastern Court had moved there because of the warden service which affords them the support which they need for every day living.

Many have now approached local Councillor, Peter Maughan, who has taken up their case. But despite pressure, the Housing Association have indictated they are not prepared to meet residents whilst Councillor Maughan is present.

"The latest information I have is that at best, the Housing Association may keep on a much more restricted warden service than is currently available but a final decision is yet to be made.

"In the meantime, I have asked the Gateshead Council Cabinet Member who is the champion for older people to become involved. He has agreed to that and will if necessary help in further negotiations should these be necessary.

Demolition likely for fire hit school block

The sixth form block at Whickham School is likely to be demolished following the devastating fire on 21st March. Many children from Dunston and Lobley Hill are pupils at the school.
The fire, which is being treated as arson, destroyed the block that contained the library, two classrooms, a computer lab which contained 40 PCs and the staff room as well as the sixth form common room.

Fortunately the fire was contained and did not spread to neighbouring buildings.
"Staff and pupils are coping well, despite the terrible circumstances," said governor and Dunston Hill and Whickham East Councillor, Peter Maughan.

"The main hall is being used temporarily as common rooms for staff and sixth form. The council have indicated that demountable temporary class rooms could be provided.

"The school has always been successful and popular. As a result it is always full and is, indeed, bursting at the seams. Over the years accommodation problems have been tackled by building new blocks. The school itself however desperately needs replacing on the existing site with a single, new building.

"Under existing plans, the earliest this will happen is 2014/15. Perhaps now is the time for the government to rethink the timetable and bring forward the start date."

Residents call for Rocket to be pulled down

Pull down the Rocket and the surrounding maisonettes! That’s the view of nearly 4 out of 5 of the people living in maisonettes next to the landmark high rise block of flats called Derwent Tower, but better known by its "Rocket" nickname.

The findings are from a survey carried out for Gateshead Council and the Gateshead Housing Company. The survey also found that people want the site used to building affordable homes for rent.

In addition, a public exhibition was held in Dunston Activity Centre by Gateshead Council on 19-20 February. 120 residents from the Dunston area came along.

Initial findings of a survey of those who attended show most want the Rocket to be demolished.
"It is now important that the Council moves quickly to carry out the wishes of local residents," said Councillor Peter Maughan. "As a teenager living in Dunston, I remember the Rocket being built. But residents have now spoken and it is time for it to go.

"I am keen however to ensure that new shops and a village centre are created to benefit all local residents."

Whickham Community Fayre

Mayor of Gateshead Councillor David Lynne opened the Whickham Community Association Fayre on 28th March in the Community Centre. Also attending was Councillor Peter Maughan.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

MP challenged to public debate on Post Offices

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have challenged the area’s Labour MP to a public debate about the future of Post Offices.

The challenged was made after Blaydon Labour MP David Anderson voted with the government to continue closing post offices.

Councillor Peter Maughan, who is Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats for Blaydon, was so angry about Mr Anderson’s backing for continued post office closures that he decided to throw down the gaunlet to the MP.

“The government has ordered the closure of one in every five post offices,” said Peter. “Mr Anderson has called for more to be done in the past to keep open post office branches.

“In the recent vote in Parliament, MPs had the opportunity to vote to suspend the closure programme. Despite some Labour MPs voting against, Mr Anderson chose to vote with the government and backed the continuation of the closures.

“In the summer, the post offices that will be proposed for closure on Tyneside will be announced. Liberal Democrats will campaign to keep them open. But Mr Anderson needs to explain to constituents now why he has backed the closure of a fifth of the branches in the area.

“Mr Anderson was elected on a self proclaimed programme of being his own man and holding the government to account. He has, however, failed to do this and has consistently voted with the government. Post offices are just one example of this.

“I have therefore challenged Mr Anderson to a public debate on post office closures so that he can explain himself to his constituents.”