Friday, September 26, 2008

Lib Dems win promise on Whickham Somerfield store’s future

LIBERAL Democrats in Whickham, Gateshead, have won a commitment from the Co-op to consult residents on the future of the local Somerfield store.

The Co-op are in the process of buying Somerfield but the area’s Liberal Democrats are concerned that, with a Co-op store already in Whickham, the Somerfield branch on Oakfield Road could be closed.

Councillor Peter Maughan wrote to the Co-operative’s Chief Executive Peter Marks to seek assurances about the future of the store.

“In his reply, Mr Marks said that the government’s competition regulators would take a decision about whether or not to allow the takeover of Somerfield,” said Peter. “He was unable to give any guarantees about the future of the store.

“However, he did assure me that the Co-op would consult residents about any closure proposals.

“We have argued all along that if the Co-op buys Somerfield but decides to close the Whickham branch, a new buyer should be found as quickly as possible so that the jobs remain and residents are able to shop locally.

“We are pleased they have said that they will consult residents.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Path Head - landfill investigation moves forward

The European Commission is to investigate Environment Agency claims about the path head landfill site.

Shocked officials have vowed to take action after learning that the site operator SITA has been found to be in breach of four of its operating conditions – information which the Environment Agency had failed to pass onto the Commission.

The facts emerged in a meeting of the petition committee of the European Parliament. Path Head residents submitted a petition to the Parliament in 2005 with the help of North East Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall.

The Commission officials were further shocked when the MEP produced pictures of the Path Head site, shown above, taken by a resident during recent heavy rain.

The photos show the waste cells flooded with water, and leachate from the rubbish site clearly polluting a lagoon which drains into a local stream.

Fiona has written to the chairman of the committee, Polish MEP Marcin Libicki to ask him to visit the site to meet local officials and residents.

Said Fiona: “Despite the fact that the petition committee has a very full diary at present, Mr Libicki reacted positively.

“I very much hope the path head committee will come to see the problems for themselves.”

Call for better flood defences at Blackhall Mill

A LEADING Liberal Democrat campaigner in Gateshead has written to the Environment Agency to urge them to consider improving flood defences at a village in the borough.

Blackhall Mill sits next to the River Derwent and on the border with Derwentside. The heavy rains at the start of September saw some localised flooding in the village which resulted in some people being temporarily moved out.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon Constituency, which included Blackhall Mill, visited the village during the worst rains on Saturday 6th September.

“I wanted to see what effect the flood defences were having that were installed after the flooding in Blackhall Mill in 2000,” said Peter.

“The defences were holding though when I was there, another small rise in the level of the river would have seen the village flooded.

“We also saw water bursting from from drains in the streets near the river as they were unable to cope with the amount of rainwater.

“Blackhall Mill was very lucky to avoid the worst of the floods and much of that can be put down to the effectiveness of the flood defences. But I am concerned that only a small additional rise in the river level could have turned into a disaster for residents.

“I have written to the Environment Agency to expalin my concerns and to ask them to look at ways of strengthening the existing flood defences.

“Yet the most effective action to take would be for the government to take real action to cut down on our carbon emissions which are leading to extreme weather conditions.

“All we are getting from Gordon Brown and the government are nice words but few real actions.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Maughan visits flood area

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, Peter Maughan, visited Blackhall Mill over the weekend to see how the flood defences were coping with the heavy rains.

"Thankfully there was no repeat of the floods of 2000," said Peter though some elderly residents were temporarily evacuated.

"I thought it was useful to see for myself how well the defences were working. Unfortunately, the sort of extreme weather we have experienced is likely to be common in the future.

"This brings home the need to tackle climate change and to stop treating the environment as a dumping ground for our waste."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One saved, two more close: Post Office closures in Blaydon

The Government's Post Office closure programme has led to the closure of two branches in Blaydon constituency at Winlaton Mill and Crookhill. Blackhall Mill however has been reprieved. Peter Maughan reports.

River Derwent close to flooding in Blackhall Mill

It was a lucky escape for the village of Blackhall Mill on the weekend of 6-7th September. The River Derwent came close to bursting its banks. Some elderly residents were evacuated but the flood defences, installed after floods in 2000, managed to stop the village being flooded.

Councillors Peter Maughan and Jonathan Wallace visited the village on Saturday to see the state of the river first hand.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Delight and anger at Post Offices news

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have responded with delight to the announcement that plans to close Blackhall Mill Post Office have been withdrawn.

But they have also expressed their anger at the decision to press ahead with the closure of the branches in Crookhill and Winlaton Mill.

Liberal Democrat Councillor and Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, Peter Maughan, campaigned to keep open the three branches. Local members collected over 250 signatures from residents calling for the three Post Offices to keep going.

“I am very pleased for Blackhall Mill,” said Peter. “Residents would have had to take a long and steep walk to Chopwell to get to the next Post Office. I am pleased that the Post Office management has seen sense on this.

“But the decision to press ahead with the closure of Winlaton Mill and Crookhill is a blow to these two communities.

“The government’s decision to force through the closures of branches will leave thousands of residents here without a local Post Office.

“Only one branch of the 81 proposed for closure in the North East has been saved from the axe. That looks to me very much like the consultation over the closures was little more than a sham.”