Thursday, July 31, 2008

Voting underway in Gateshead by-election

Voting is now underway in theWhickham South and Sunniside by-election caused by the death of Councillor Alan Ord.

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. A result is expected before midnight.

The Liberal Democrats are defending the ward which had a majority for them of 1459 (49.7%) in May. Their candidate is John McClurey.

No upsets are expected though there may be some interest in whether or not there will be a recovery in the Conservative vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Local welcome for Liberal Democrat vision for Britain

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon have welcomed the launch of the Liberal Democrats’ vision for Britain by Party Leader Nick Clegg MP. Called ‘Make it Happen’, the paper will be debated at the party’s conference in Bournemouth in September.

In ‘Make it Happen’ the Liberal Democrats say:

They will cut taxes for ordinary families
If your local hospital can't see you on time, they will pay for treatment elsewhere
They will switch taxes from people to pollution - so it pays to go green
To improve standards in education, they will fund extra help for those who need it most
They will put Britain at the heart of Europe to make us a force for good in the world
They will stop ID cards so we can keep control of our privacy
They will change the voting system so everyone's voice counts
They will bring communities together with local people in charge
They will give communities a say in how offenders pay for their crimes

Parliamentary Spokesman Peter Maughan said, “I am delighted to be able to back ‘Make it Happen’. It sets out how the Liberal Democrats will run Britain.

“No resident of Blaydon constituency has escaped the rising cost of food and fuel. The credit crunch is biting hard and local people are feeling the pinch.

“Nick Clegg has set out how we can help ordinary people through cutting taxes on those on low and middle incomes. Thousands of people in Blaydon will benefit from this.

“We are taking the plans in ‘Make it Happen’ to the people of Blaydon during the summer to get their response. And in September, we will be heading to the Liberal Democrats’ conference where we are looking forward to taking part in the debate.”

‘Make it Happen’ is available at:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Traffic issues on the A692

This video looks at traffic issues on the A692, on the section in Whickham South and Sunniside ward.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Milton Road dig annoys residents

Residents living on Milton Road in Whickham will not need reminding of the problems caused last year when the pavements were dug up and the grassed area ruined by work taking place in the area. After local Lib Dem Councillors Chris Ord, Peter Craig and Mary Wallace stepped in to press for a clean up, work on repairing the damage was carried out.

But work by Balfour Beatty for a gas utility company has seen a return of the mess residents thought had gone for good.

As Chris reports, “The footpaths are all uneven with gaps in between them with no cement. The drains are blocked. The residents were forced to park on the grass while the works were taking place, as well as the works vans parking there.

“This grass was only relayed last year following the home improvement works at the Gateshead Housing Company and is ruined yet again. Needless to say, the residents in the area are furious at the state the place has been left in.”

Chris has been in touch with Council officers to press for a clean up.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Call for action on historic buildings at risk in Gateshead

The publication of a register highlighting the plight of historic buildings in Gateshead has been welcomed by local Liberal Democrats.

The register, published by English Heritage, is drawn up to draw public attention to buildings that no longer have a use, have fallen into disrepair, but have important historical character or significance.

Included in the register are Dunston Staithes, Ravensworth Castle, Hollinside Manor, Gibside Hall and Whinfield coking ovens.

“There is a significant danger that historic buildings can be lost through neglect and lack of use,” said historian Dr Jonathan Wallace, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside. “The register is an important document which puts public attention on what needs to be done to preserve our heritage.

“Wherever possible, old buildings need to be given new uses and again, the register is important in helping to achieve this. The Government however needs to take action to ensure this happens. One way to do so would be to reduce VAT on repairs and maintenance of historic buildings where it is currently paid.

“Liberal Democrats would pay for this by putting VAT on materials used to build new homes on greenfield sites. The money raised this way could also reduce VAT bills on repairs, conversions and maintenance of all homes, not just on historic buildings.

“Tourism is important to our local economy and preserving our heritage therefore means boosting local jobs and businesses. Without the historic buildings we have, many visitors will go elsewhere.”

Councillor Wallace made a video about Ravensworth Castle which shows the state of the building. It can be viewed on YouTube:

The English Heritage Buildings At-Risk Register can be viewed at:

Call to Government on fire damaged school

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon constituency, Councillor Peter Maughan, has written to the secretary of State for Schools, Ed Balls, to urge him to bring forward plans to rebuild Whickham School on the existing Burnthouse Lane site in Whickham, Gateshead.

The school’s sixth form and staff block was destroyed in a fire in March, and Councillor Maughan argues that this increases the need to start work on a new school as soon as possible.

Despite claims made last year by the local Labour party that building work on a new school was due to start within months, actual proposals for replacing the existing buildings have been penciled in for 2015 as the earliest start date.

“The fire that destroyed the sixth form block has focused attention on the state of the buildings overall,” said Peter, who is a governor of the school.

“Staff and pupils are coping well following the fire but the school was already at bursting point. Many buildings are worn out and inadequate.

“Whilst it would have been great to start building a new school last year, that was just a Labour spin story to get them through the election.

“But we need a start on the new school as soon as possible. Waiting until 2015 will see a generation of kids getting schooling in buildings that are badly in need of replacement.

“I have written to Ed Balls to draw his attention to the problems of the Whickham School buildings and to urge him to rebuild the school on the existing Burnthouse Lane site as soon as possible.”
Pictured: fire damaged Whickham School

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Labour MPs “back phone companies on masts” – Liberal Democrats

LIBERAL Democrats in Gateshead have attacked Labour for siding with phone company giants rather than local residents in a row over the power of communities to stop inappropriately sited phone masts.

At present phone masts up to 15 metres in height don’t need full planning permission, often making it difficult for councils to refuse permission for controversial proposals.

Liberal Democrat MPs in Parliament recently moved an amendment to the Planning Bill. It aimed to tightened up the rules and make phone companies get full planning permission for their masts.

This would have meant that they would be considered in the same way as applications for new buildings or change of use of existing ones.

But Labour MPs voted against this and most Conservative MPs did not bother voting at all. The proposal was therefore thrown out.

“Gateshead’s MPs had the opportunity to side with local communities or with giant phone companies,” said Lib Dem Councillor Frank Hindle. “It is extremely disappointing so see that they decided to back big business.

“Lots of us use mobile phones, but that is no reason why the phone companies shouldn’t have to apply for planning permission in the same way that every other business has to.

“This change would have encouraged companies to do more to share masts and to site them better, so that residents didn’t have to put up with so many masts - but Labour seem more interested in phone companies than with what local people want.”

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Local hero chosen for by-election battle

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have chosen a local hero as their candidate in a crucial council by-election.

John McClurey will fight the Whickham South and Sunniside ward to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the party’s deputy leader on Gateshead Council, Councillor Alan Ord.

John, who lives in Sunniside village, shot to fame in May when he helped to rescue a young mum and her four year old daughter from a house fire near his shop in Blakelaw, Newcastle.

“I was working in my shop and someone rushed in asking us to call the fire service,” said John. “When I went out, I could hear screaming from the house.

“I just did what I had to do, broke in and helped the mum and her daughter to escape the flames. Only afterwards did I think about my own safety. It only dawned on my how big a story this was when the Evening Chronicle ran a big feature on it.”

The by-election is taking place in the heart of Blaydon constituency where a close battle is looming with the Liberal Democrats fighting hard to take the seat from Labour. They need to overturn a Labour majority of only 5,000 from the last general election.

Peter Maughan, who is Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, said, “John is just the sort of person we want on our local team, representing people on Gateshead Council.”

The by-election will take place on Thursday 31st July.

Pictured above: Peter Maughan (Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon), Councillor Jonathan Wallace, Councillor Marilynn Ord and John McClurey.

For further information on John McClurey and the house fire, please see: Evening Chronicle

Friday, July 04, 2008

Blaydon “has not benefited from Brown’s first year as Prime Minister”

Blaydon has not benefited from Gordon Brown’s leadership, claim local Liberal Democrats in a message to residents.

Labour MPs unanimously made Mr Brown party leader last year and on 27th June, they marked his first anniversary as Prime Minister.

But local Liberal Democrats are unhappy about Mr Brown’s leadership and have argued strongly that Blaydon has failed to benefit from his year as Prime Minister.

Peter Maughan, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon Constituency Liberal Democrats, said, “Gordon Brown has been in office for a year and I am still looking for any significant improvements here in Blaydon.

“Instead of the strong leadership claims Labour spun last year, we have endured months of dithering, indecision and a chaotic government under Prime Minister Brown. He seems more like a rabbit frozen in the headlights rather than a person giving leadership to the country.

“Having failed to sort the improvements that are badly needed on the A1 Western Bypass, thousands of local residents on low incomes continue to be worse off under Gordon Brown’s 10p tax grab, despite the recent panic concessions.

“Thousands are being forced to pay more council tax and many local residents are forced to live in overcrowded conditions because of the credit crunch and the failure of Labour to build sufficient affordable homes.

“As I go around Blaydon speaking to residents, I find more and more anger as matters get worse under Gordon Brown rather than better.”