Friday, May 30, 2008


Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are calling for greater screening for diabetes after worrying new figures revealed that there has been a steady rise in the number of emergency admissions to local hospitals for a life threatening condition which develops if diabetes remains undetected.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, said that many people were not aware they were diabetic. Early detection could save lives by preventing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life threatening form of the illness.

Figures show that in 2002 there were 18 emergency admissions to hospital for DKA in the area of Gateshead Primary Care Trust (PCT). In 2006/7, this had risen to 75.

The release of the figures comes after a national service framework was set up to ensure that all PCTs offer screening to those most at risk from developing diabetes. Currently, only 57% of PCTs are offering such screening.

Councillor Maughan said, “Diabetics are increasingly being put at risk, often because they don’t know enough about their condition.

“Too many people don’t realise they have diabetes in the first place. We need better education to warn diabetics of the life-threatening dangers of DKA, and also a greater awareness campaign so that people can spot the symptoms of diabetes early. The government simply isn’t doing enough.

“Gateshead PCT must do all it can to ensure people benefit from the National Service Framework. I strongly feel that local health services should highlight the need for individuals to watch out for any symptoms of diabetes and encourage people concerned they are developing the illness to be screened.

“Early detection will certainly help to save lives.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ferry axing sparks visitor worries

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency are to write to ferry operator DFDS to ask them to think again about axing the North East route to Norway.

On 1st September, the MS Queen of Scandinavia will cease operating between the Tyne and Stavanger, Haugesund and Bergen. The loss of the route will lead to the loss of 300 jobs in Denmark and the UK.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, said, “The ferry routes to Scandinavia are important for the North East’s tourism industry.

“Many Scandinavians, and especially Norwegians, visit the Metrocentre as well as our main tourist centres. Many jobs therefore indirectly depend on the North Sea routes continuing to operate.

“I appreciate that the Queen of Scandinavia service has been loss making since DFDS took over from Fjordline in 2006. Nevertheless, I am hoping that the company can at least run a reduced service.

“I am therefore writing to the company to ask them to consider other ways of keeping the service partly going.

“At a time when the economy is slowing down, we need to fight hard to keep our businesses and job prospects afloat.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A1 improvements "kicked into long grass"

A leading Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead, whose ward borders the A1, has attacked the government over the failure to improve the A1.


Hopes that the A1 Western By-pass could be improved to cut congestion (and therefore pollution) and to make traffic flow more easily have been put on hold yet again following recent comments by Labour’s Transport Minister.


Rosie Winterton MP told the region earlier this month that no work on improvements to the road will be carried out for the time being as the Highways Agency was studying options for the road.


“This is a classic case of kicking an issue into the long grass,” said Councillor Peter Maughan in the Liberal Democrats’ email newsletter to residents of Whickham and Dunston.


“We are being told that any short term improvements will be very minor, such as clearing accidents more quickly.


“This is not a solution to the problem of a road that is completely inadequate for the job it has to do.


“Every day, my constituents in Dunston have to put up with thousands of slow moving vehicles stuck in a traffic jam going through the heart of the village. This means more noise and pollution endured by residents.


“Whilst there is cross party support here in the North East for the view that major improvement to the A1 is vital for the future of the region’s jobs, businesses and environment, that message just isn’t getting through to ministers in London who prevaricate about the future of this road.”


Councillor Maughan, who is also Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Blaydon, is writing to Rosie Winterton to urge her to back improvements to the A1 and to set a timetable for the work to be carried out.



A1 advertising tower plan rejected

Plans to build an 18 metre high advertising tower on land next to the A1 in Swalwell, near the Metrocentre, have been rejected by Gateshead Council’s planners.


Had the plans been approved, the tower, which would have been internally illuminated, would have carried panels for advertising hoardings measuring 7.5metres by 5 metres.


“I am pleased this has been rejected. Had this gone ahead it would have been huge,” said Councillor Peter Craig.


“It would have dominated the roadside, distracted drivers at a very busy stretch of the A1 and would have been an unwelcome addition to the Swalwell skyline.”

Planners to see controversial housing site

Gateshead’s planning committee is to visit the site where a controversial planning application is stirring community unrest.


An application has been lodged with Gateshead Council to demolish the 100 year old house at 59 Grange Lane, Whickham, and replace it with one detached and four terraced houses.


Access to the four terraced houses will be off Grange Nook, a small street next to the site that is already tightly packed. The application has received 27 letters of objection from residents.


Planning permission has been granted in the past two years to demolish two other old houses on Grange Lane and replace them with larger numbers of smaller homes.


When the plan was presented to the planning committee today (21st May) it was agreed that a site visit by the committee was needed before any decision should be taken.


Local Liberal Democrat councillor Marilynn Ord, who opposes the plan, welcomed the decision to carry out a visit.


“There is a danger that this area will split at the seams,” said Marilynn. “The access to four of the new houses will be through a narrow street. Grange Lane itself is very narrow but is already a busy access road to the large Grange Estate.


“Furthermore, the homes around the site are nearly all bungalows and many people are concerned about the loss of privacy.


“The existing house is a good example of one of the old houses of Whickham and it would be a pity to see it demolished.


“I am hoping that the visit by the planning committee will help to show the problems that will arise by putting too many new houses here.”


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whickham May Fayre May 2008

Congratulations to everyone involved with the Whickham May Fayre on Saturday 17th May. The weather may have been a bit damp but spirits remained high. As usual, Cllr Jonathan Wallace went along with his video camera and shot a bit of footage. He got there at the start and had to leave early for another appointment so the video didn’t catch the crowds that arrived later on.

However, he did manage to catch a slightly embarrassed Cllr Peter Maughan winning too many prizes on various tombolas!

Welcome for Post Office appeal win

An attempt by Gateshead Council to stop a post office from installing a cash machine has ended in defeat.

Sunniside Post Office had applied for the machine to be installed in 2007. A petition signed by 200 residents of the village backed the plan, as did Sunniside’s Liberal Democrat councillor, Jonathan Wallace. But despite this, the planning application was kicked out by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee.

Labour councillors claimed the cash machine would be a danger to traffic as the post office is on Sunniside Front Street. This is despite the fact that most cash machines are already installed on city, town and village front streets throughout the UK.

Now planning inspectors have now overturned the decision and the machine will now be installed.

“This application should not have been rejected,” said Councillor Wallace, who backed the appeal.

“I find it remarkable that Labour councillors took the decision that Sunniside should be denied this service.

“Labour’s original decision to reject the application could not be believed by Sunniside residents when they first heard it.

“At a time when post offices are under threat, the cash machine will boost the branch in Sunniside and help to ensure it survives. We are now looking forward to the machine being installed. It will be the only 24 hour, free to use cash machine in the village.”

Councillor Peter Maughan, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, which includes Sunniside, said, “The government are pushing through the closure of a further 2,500 post offices throughout the country.

“Ministers claim the closures are needed as there is not enough business to keep them open. And here we have an example of Labour councillors actually trying to block additional business going to a post office branch.

“Thankfully, the attempt has failed. However, we are still waiting for the list of branches on Tyneside Labour want to close. When published, we will fight hard against the closures.”