Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Carbon cut decision welcomed in Gateshead

A decision by Gateshead Council to aim to cut carbon emissions by a tenth in 2010 has been welcomed by Liberal Democrats in Gateshead.

The party’s councillors had planned to move a motion calling on Gateshead to sign up to the 10:10 Campaign but decided not to press the move when it was revealed that the Leader of the Council, Mick Henry, had agreed to the Council becoming part of the campaign.

Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels such as coal and petrol are know to be leading to climate change and global warming. The effect has been extreme weather, such as the floods last year in the Derwent Valley.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Ione Rippeth, who planned to move the motion before it was withdrawn, said, “This is a decision we were pressing for so we are delighted Gateshead is now to join the 10:10 campaign.

“The work of cutting our carbon starts now. We can all as individuals help to achieve this. The Council, as the biggest employer and owner of buildings in Gateshead, however, can have a big impact on the overall emissions produced by the area.”

Gateshead Millenium Bridge bollard removal welcomed

The decision by Gateshead Council to remove the grey bollards placed in the River Tyne next to the Gateshead Millenium Bridge has been welcomed by a leading Liberal Democrat Councillor.

The bollards were originally installed as a requirement for the bridge to be built to protect it from collisions. But many people believe they are unnecessary and detract from the iconic design.

The final decision to remove the bollards was taken at the Gateshead Council meeting held on 10th December.

“The bollards are no longer needed to protect the bridge,” said Councillor Frank Hindle, who also hopes to become Gateshead’s new MP in the New Year.

“The Quays area is a major attraction for tourists and we are very keen that people come here and spend their money in the local economy.

“The bollards are unsightly and make the river at this point look more like motorway roadworks!

“Their removal will boost the appeal of the bridge and help bring more visitors to the area. The cost of removing them will be less than the long term cost of maintaining them.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Fayre in Whickham

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon Constituency will be holding a Christmas Fayre on Saturday 5th December from 10am to midday.

The fayre will be held in Whickham Community Centre on Whickham Front Street. There will be stalls selling jams, crafts, gifts and cakes.

Councillors will also be available for residents needing help or advice on local issues.

Blaydon call for better deal for our troops

collecting petitions Nov 09 no 1

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have launched a campaign for a better deal for our troops.

Party Leader Nick Clegg has pledged that the Liberal Democrats would raise the pay of the lowest paid soldiers by as much as £6,000. At the moment many soldiers are paid less than new police officers or fire fighters.

In Blaydon, campaigners have launched a petition backing the fair deal for our soldiers. The campaign is being led by Councillor Neil Bradbury, prospective MP for the constituency.

Neil has spent the last few weekends with his team collecting signatures in shopping centres in Blaydon, Ryton, Crawcrook and Whickham.

“Our soldiers put their lives on the line for our country,” said Neil, “but many struggle to make ends meet. That’s not right. They deserve a better deal that they are getting.

“You cannot put a price on the sacrifices made by members of our armed forces but the government can give them a better deal. It’s time we did.

“Over 100 have now signed the petition. Having spoken to many people in the village and town centres in Blaydon constituency, I know just how strongly people feel that our troops should get a better deal.”

A copy of the petition is on line at

Photo: Neil Bradbury and Councillor Sally Danys collecting signatures in Crawcrook on the fair deal for troops petition.

Keep East Coast in public hands for now – Bradbury

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon have called on the Government to keep the East Coast train operating company in public hands for the next five years rather than rush to privatise the service.

East Coast, the new public company set up to take over from failed National Express, began running the train services between London and the North East in November. But the Government has indicated the company will be put into private hands within two years.

Neil Bradbury, prospective MP for Blaydon, has warned that rail travellers and staff need stability.

“In the past two years three different operators have run the East Coast trains,” said Neil. “What is now needed is a period of stability. Ministers should not rush to get this route back into the private sector.

“East Coast should remain as a publicly owned operator for at least five years to ensure continuity of service and to let the route settle down after two years of upheaval and changes in operator.

“My fear is however that Labour want to privatise the service so that the huge charge on operators they imposed to run the service can fill Treasury coffers.”

Gateshead residents asked to give views on road changes

RESIDENTS of a suburb of Gateshead plagued by road problems are being asked by local Liberal Democrats about highway changes recently brought in by Gateshead Council.

Residents of Lobley Hill have raised a string of concerns about difficulties they face driving onto Lobley Hill Bank since controversial changes to the road were brought in by Gateshead Council this year.

The changes included the introduction of a bus lane, traffic lights with the junction with the A1 and realignment of an access road.

Councillor Frank Hindle, the Liberal Democrats’ prospective MP for Gateshead, is co-ordinating a survey of Lobley Hill’s residents about the difficulties they are facing.

“After the changes, many residents contacted us to tell us it is now more difficult to drive from Beechwood Gardens and Rothbury Gardens onto Lobley Hill Bank,” said Frank.

“Some people are driving through the estate to Alwinton Gardens to drive out onto the main road. Although this is quite a detour, people tell us this is often quicker than trying to use Rothbury or Beechwood Gardens.

“We decided to launch the survey so that we can get a better picture of the situation and how people are coping with the changes Gateshead Council introduced.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fellside Road improvements

Fellside Road works Oct 09

Changes to the Fellside Road/Front Street junction in Whickham and resurfacing of Fellside Road should make life easier for the travelling public, say your local Councillors.

Work is being carried out at Focus goes to print. Pressure censors are bing placed in the road to better detect traffic and improve flows of vehicles at the junction.
Though some disruption is unavoidable, the road will be closed only during off peak periods and on Sundays.

The work should be completed by early November.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Petition launched to keep Brown Ale brewing in Dunston

Brown Ale Fed Brewery Oct 09

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency have launched a petition to Scottish and Newcastle in a bid to get the company to keep Brown Ale production on Tyneside.

Members agreed to launch the petition when they discussed the brewery’s plans at their meeting held in Ryton on Saturday 24th October.

“Newcastle Brown Ale is as much an emblem of Tyneside as the Eiffel Tower is of Paris,” said Neil Bradbury, Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon. “We cannot stand by and see the production of it moved from Dunston to Tadcaster.

“I feel that the move will damage the local economy, cost jobs and damage the public perception of Brown Ale. Had Scottish and Newcastle still been an independent company, I believe they would have had a much greater commitment to Tyneside.

“But the purchase of the company last year by Heineken and Carlsberg has, I believe turned S&N from a business with a commitment to our area into something that is just a subsidiary of a gigantic international consortium.

“We are therefore launching the petition so that local residents can press S&N to show their commitment to our area and keep brewing Brown Ale here.”

The petition is in the Liberal Democrats’ local newsletter, Focus, which is being delivered to thousands of houses in the Dunston area.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vince Cable speaks at Gateshead Conference

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Vince Cable MP was the guest speaker the the party's North East regional conference held in Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday 17th October.

You can see his full speech on this link.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Basketball victory for Front St

The Year Six Basketball Team from Front Street Community Primary School in Whickham, Gateshead has scooped the ‘National Champions’ title in the Hoops for Health basketball competition at the NIA in Birmingham.

Front Street’s eight strong team won both their local and area finals which involved hundreds of North East schools.

In the national final they won by 12 points to 8 against Hoole Primary School in Cheshire.

Hoops for Health is a healthy living initiative pioneered in the North East of England, which uses professional basketball stars as role models to communicate positive health messages to youngsters.

Head teacher at Front Street School, Paul Sergison, said: “This is one of the finest achievements in Front Street Primary’s 100 year sporting history. We are incredibly proud of the team, who put in a superb effort to win the title.”

Parking Progress in Whickham

Many residents of Whickham have signed petitions or completed our surveys from Lib Dem councillors about parking in the St Mary’s Green car park.

The surveys were used to compile a 49 page report which was sent to Nick Clennet, Head of Transport and Highways at Gateshead Council.

This was followed up with a meeting attended by Nick Clennet and Councillors Peter Craig and Chris Ord who were there to represent residents’ views. Discussions went very well; highways officers were impressed by the quality of the comments made by residents.

Councillors are hoping to receive a copy of the Cabinet Report very soon and will keep residents up to date with progress.

Primary School review proposes 3 school closures in Whickham area

Washingwell School Oct 09

The long awaited review of primary schools in the Whickham area is now underway. The review has come about because of a fall in the number of children living in the area. As a result, there are many more places in local schools in total across Whickham and surrounding villages than there are children to fill them.

Whilst some schools are full, others have places available which continue to cost money to maintain. The Council’s initial proposals to get rid of surplus places include:

1)considering closing Washingwell, Marley Hill and Sacred Heart (Byermoor) schools;

2)building a new Front Street School but changing it from a 2 to one form entry.

Gateshead Council has put these proposals out to consultation and no decision on actual closures and reorganisation will take place until next year.

“We do need to ensure that surplus places are reduced,” said Councillor Allison Chatto, “but I believe that Washingwell has a good case for being kept open.

“It has just had a very good review by government education inspectors and is in a safe location away from main roads.”

Washingwell governor, Councillor Peter Maughan, said, “Washingwell is one of the newest schools in the area and is providing a great education for local children.

“Though there is a need to reduce surplus places, I think the arguments for keeping Washingwell School going are overwhelming.”

Pictured above, Washingwell School Governor Cllr Peter Maughan and Lib Dem campaigner Neil Bradbury outside Washingwell School which is being considered by Gateshead Council for closure.

Whickham wall repaired

The wall next to the grassed area at the top of Coniston Avenue on the Lakes Estate, Whickham, has been repaired.

Local councillors asked Gateshead Council to carry out the repairs even though the ownership of the site was not clear.

Pictured above - the wall before the repairs

Move to set up Friends of Chase Park

Plans to set up a “Friends of Chase Park” group are taking shape. Interested members of the public met at Whickham Community Centre on Thursday 8th October to discuss setting up the group which it is hoped will help win more investment for the historic park.

Councillor Peter Maughan, who chaired the meeting, said, “Chase Park is a great community asset for Whickham but it needs greater investment.
“With public purse strings likely to tighten over the coming years, we believe a Friends group will help to get in investment from the National Lottery and other funding bodies.”

If you are interested in taking part in the Friends group, please contact Peter Craig on

Below: local Lib Dem campaigners hope a “Friends” group will lead to more investment in Chase Park, front Cllr John McClurey, Cllr Peter Craig, back, Cllr Peter Maughan, Neil Bradbury.

Chase Park Oct 09

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor to visit Gateshead

VINCE Cable, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, is to visit Gateshead on Saturday 16th October. He will be speaking at the party’s regional conference which is being held at Gateshead Civic Centre.

Mr Cable, who is credited with predicting the recession, will be speaking at 2.30pm at the conference.

Neil Bradbury, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Blaydon, is delighted Mr Cable is coming to Gateshead.

“Vince is one of the few people who predicted that the policies of the government earlier this decade would lead to serious problems in the money markets and the economy generally,” said Neil.

“He is seen by many as a leading figure in the calls to put right the economy and the financial system.

“He was also the first to call for the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Therefore, what he has to say is listened to with interest by the North East.

“I am very pleased that Vince will be speaking at our conference this weekend.”

Sunniside History Society Book and DVD Launch

The successful Sunniside History Society has launched a book and DVD about the historic Tanfield Railway and mining in the Whickham/Sunniside area. The book/DVD, which costs £9.99, was launched by the History Society at two different events recently and is already a best seller!

Sunniside History Soc book launch Sept 09

The authors, pictured above, left to right, are Colin Douglas, Nick Neave, Francis Newman and Noel Adamson.

For more information on the Sunniside History Society and how to purchase the book and dvd, visit

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Councillors hold street surgery

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, will be holding a street surgery on Oakfield Road, in the Grange Estate, at 10am on Saturday 10th October.

The decision to hold the surgery comes hot on the heals of a proposal to extend opening hours of a shop at 94 Oakfield Road.

If granted by Gateshead Council, the shop will be able to open 6am - 9pm Monday-Sunday and bank and public holidays. Opening hours are currently restricted to 8am - 6pm Monday to Saturday and 9am - 4pm Sunday and bank and public holidays.

Attending the surgery will be Councillors Peter Craig, Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace and prospective MP for Blaydon, Neil Bradbury.

“The application is attracting a great deal of attention,” said Cllr Craig. “As representatives of the area we are concerned to ensure that the views of residents are heard when the decision is made.

“All local residents are welcome to meet us outside the shops on Oakfield Road from 10am-11am on Saturday 10th October.”

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Meeting to set up “Friends” of historic park

Residents of the Whickham area of Gateshead are being invited to help set up a “Friends” group for the village’s historic Chase Park.

The initiative comes from Whickham’s local Liberal Democrat Councillors who believe that a Friends of Chase Park group could help to win improvements and investment for the much loved facility.

The meeting to set up the group will be held at 7pm on Thursday 8th October at Whickham Community Centre.

Councillor Peter Craig said, “Chase Park is a well used facility but it needs some improvements. We believe that a community based group will be a strong voice for the investment that the park needs.”

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “We want to encourage as many residents of Whickham and the surrounding villages as possible to become members of the group. Anyone interested is taking part is welcome to come to the meeting.”

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tanfield Railway Steam Gala Weekend September 2009

Tanfield Railway hosted a steam gala weekend on 12-13th September. Amongst the exhibits were Alfred and Judy, two unusually small steam engines built for use in Cornwall and in low tunnels.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Northern Liberal Democrats at Bournemouth Conference, Sept 09

Gateshead Councillor Jonathan Wallace interviews a number of Lib Dems at Bournemouth about what they have been saying and doing at Conference

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gateshead Council Call for High Speed Rail

LIBERAL Democrat Councillors in Gateshead are to press the Council to urge the Government to back a high speed rail link for the North East.

The call is being made following the announcement that Network Rail will build a high speed rail link from London to Scotland but will by-pass the North East by taking the route through the North West instead.

In a motion to be debated on Thursday 17th September, Gateshead Council will be asked to “call on the Secretary of State for Transport to ensure that a high speed rail network is built which includes an East Coast Line.”

The motion will be moved by Councillor Jonathan Wallace, himself a regular user of the current East Coast Line between the North East and London.

Cllr Wallace said, “The rail link between our region and London and the South East is crucial for the North East economy.

“The current line is the only one that makes a profit for the Government but it is operating close to capacity.

“Whilst it is good news that Network Rail have backed the creation of a high speed network, missing out the North East, at least in the initial phase, will come at a great cost to our economy.

“It will also present us with the absurd situation of finding it quicker to get to London by heading north to Edinburgh pick up the high speed train than to go direct.

“I am hoping for cross party support for the motion and a unanimous voice to the Secretary of State that makes it clear the North East must be included in the high speed network.”

Survey on anti-social behaviour in Whickham

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Whickham have carried out a survey of residents’ concerns about anti-social behaviour.

The survey focuses on the area around the Whickham School playing fields and the school site.

“Residents have raised problems with us that a small minority of youths are causing problems outside school hours on the playing fields and close to the school site itself,” said Cllr Peter Craig, who is co-ordinating the survey.

“We have delivered survey forms to around 500 houses and have received replies from over 120.

“We hope to use the results of the survey to work with the police and the school to come up with solutions to the behaviour of a small number of young people that is causing problems for residents.”

Gateshead Liberal Democrats head to Conference

A TEAM of Liberal Democrats from Gateshead will be heading to Bournemouth later this week to attend the party’s annual Conference. 6 will be attending the gathering from the local party.

Leading the team will be Neil Bradbury, Parliamentary Candidate for Blaydon. “This is the last autumn Conference before the General Election so it will be a very important meeting for the Party,” said Neil.

“In Blaydon we are campaigning hard on local environmental issues. I am hoping to raise these at the Conference when I meet some of the party’s MPs.

“The theme of the Conference is ‘A Fresh Start for Britain’. The main plans are to cut taxes for people on low and middle incomes, create green jobs and ensure every child has the best start in life.

“This Conference will therefore set the scene for our General Election manifesto. That General Election cannot come too soon for the people of Blaydon. We urgently need change here, and Liberal Democrats are fighting hard to bring that about.

“Everyone knows that the Conservatives can’t win here in Blaydon. The Liberal Democrats are the only alternative here to the failed Labour Party.”

Also attending Conference from Gateshead will be Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Frank Hindle, Ron Beadle, Peter Maughan and Ian Patterson.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lib Dems choose Frank as candidate for Gateshead

Liberal Democrats have chosen experienced local Councillor Frank Hindle to fight the Gateshead Constituency at the coming general election.

Frank said “I am delighted to have the backing of our party members, and am looking forward to taking the battle to Labour and to speaking up for local people.

“People are tired of Gordon Brown and of being let down by Labour, but know that the Tories won’t be good for Gateshead.

“It is time for a change in how the country is run, and in how Gateshead is represented. If elected my key priorities will be keeping in touch with local people, working for more and better jobs for them, and for improvements in health and the environment.”

The Gateshead constituency covers nearly half of the Gateshead Council area and includes Dunston, Lobley Hill, Bensham, Saltwell, Low Fell, Wrekenton and Felling.

Frank has been a Lib Dem councillor in Low Fell since 1991 and is deputy leader of the opposition on Gateshead Council. At the last general election he was Lib Dem candidate for Gateshead East & Washington West, and took second place, with Labour’s majority cut by 4500.

He has worked closely with Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall and was election agent in her successful election campaigns in 2004 and again this June.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flower power petition continues in Whickham

Residents of Whickham, Gateshead, are continuing to protest against cuts to flower beds in the village.


Over the weekend, another 70 residents signed the petition organised by local Liberal Democrats which calls for an end to the cuts which are being forced through by the Labour group on Gateshead Council. This brings the total number of signatures to over 300.


Neil Bradbury, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon and Whickham, led the efforts on Sunday 12th July to collect the signatures.


“The petition is getting a very good response,” said Neil. “The village has a reputation for excellent flower displays. They boost the appearance of Whickham, attract visitors and help the village in Northumbria and Britain in Bloom competitions.


“There are fears that the removal of so many flowerbeds will seriously affect the village. We will therefore be continuing to collect signatures over the summer.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swalwell Park Consultation

Residents of Swalwell, Gateshead, are being encouraged by local Liberal Democrat Councillors to give their views about how best to develop the village’s park as a popular, local facility.

Councillors Peter Craig, Chris Ord and Mary Wallace want residents to go to a consultation event in the park on Saturday 20th June, from 11am to 3pm. Proposals for improvement of the park will be on display.

“We are keen to ensure the views of Swalwell residents and park users are considered,” said Councillor Craig.

“There is great potential to ensure improvements to the park add to community facilities in Swalwell.”

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, Neil Bradbury, said, “Peter, Chris and Mary have worked hard with other organsiations and groups to ensure improvements are made to Swalwell Park.

“But it is important that what is planned is what people want. So if you are a resident of Swalwell, please go to the event on Saturday 20th.”

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fiona Hall re-elected as Gateshead's Member of the European Parliament

It was no change in the representation of the North East in the European Parliament following the elections on 4th June. The results were declared in Sunderland for the region and Stephen Hughes (Labour), Martin Callanan (Conservative) and Fiona Hall (Liberal Democrat) were all re-elected.

The votes cast in Gateshead for the parties contesting the three North East seats were:

Labour: 13,196
Lib Dem: 8,873
UKIP: 6,387
Con: 5,725
BNP: 4,062
Green: 2,435
English Dem: 1,030
Socialist Lab: 911
No to EU: 637
Christian: 544
Libertas: 234
Jury Team: 160

Liberal Democrats in the borough have expressed their delight that Fiona Hall has been re-elected. Fiona has had a leading role in a number of campaigns in Gateshead, helping to fight landfill at Pathhead and opencast mining between Whickham and Rowlands Gill.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunniside double yellow lines not to be extended

Chapel goers in Sunniside, Gateshead, are being reassured that double yellow lines on Gateshead Road will not be extended outside the entrance to their building.

Traffic lights are to be installed next to Sunniside Methodist Chapel on the junction of Sunniside Road and Sunniside Front Street. The original proposals included extending the existing double yellow lines in front of the whole of the chapel.

“Chapel goers were very concerned that this would make it impossible for wedding cars and hearses to pull up outside the chapel,” said Cllr Jonathan Wallace.

“We raised this with the Council’s highways engineers and we can now assure chapel goers that the existing double yellow lines on the junction will not be extended.

“That means wedding cars and hearses will be able to pull up right outside the main doors to the chapel.”

The work on the traffic lights is expected to be carried out by the end of June.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lib Dem councillors take parking charges battle to shoppers

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, have launched a petition against revised plans for parking charges in the village.

Plans to introduce charges in the car parks in the centre of the village were first announced three years ago. An angry outcry by residents, businesses and Whickham’s nine Lib Dem Councillors persuaded Gateshead Council’s cabinet to suspend the plans.

The time since has been used to put together revised proposals which allow for the first 20 minutes in the short stay car park behind the Library to be free. After that, a charge of 20p an hour will apply.

The car park behind the Gibside Hotel will be used for long stay with a charge of £1 a day.

Liberal Democrat Councillors set up a street stall in Whickham on Saturday 23rd May to collect signatures and copies of the petition were also places in local shops and businesses. They were also joined by Neil Bradbury, Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon, which includes Whickham.

“Whilst the free 20 minutes is a concession, it does not go far enough,” said Councillor Peter Craig. “It is too short a time and people will barely be out of their cars before they have to pay the charge.

“There are serious concerns about the impact of the recession on local businesses,” said Neil Bradbury. “Whickham has to compete with the Metrocentre where parking is free.

“There should be no charges introduced during the recession and if the Council does introduce a charge at a later date, it should at least make the first hour free.

“That will give the small shops in Whickham, many of which are locally owned, a fighting chance to compete with the Metrocentre.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Visit Gateshead!

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are encouraging people to visit the borough as part of a tourism drive. And they have produced this video to tell people what's on and what to visit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nick Clegg visits Gateshead

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg MP visited Gateshead in early May to launch the North East European Parliament elections.
Nick in Baltic Square with Fiona Hall MEP and campaigners from across Tyneside.

Gateshead Councillor Ron Beadle greets Nick.

The Euro Team with Nick Clegg - Neil bradbury, Fiona Hall and Chris Foote Wood.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fewer job vacancies in Gateshead

Fewer jobs are available in Gateshead following the publication of vacancies available through Job Centres.

Vacancies in Job Centres based in Gateshead have fallen by a fifth in the year to the end of March 2009. There were 16,814 vacancies available at the Job Centres at Blaydon, Felling and central Gateshead, down 4,208.

Felling and central Gateshead have reductions of 19.5%. Blaydon has a larger decrease with a 23.1%.

Neil Bradbury, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Blaydon, said, "The drop in the number of jobs available for residents of Gateshead is worrying but not surprising, given the state of the economy.

"The Government's VAT cut has failed to boost the economy. Gordon Brown should scrap it and use the money to invest in housing improvements and green schemes.

"And he should reform the tax system to take all those earning less than £10,000 a year out of income tax completely."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scrap VAT cut to boost jobs - Bradbury

A LEADING Liberal Democrat in Blaydon constituency is calling on the Government to boost job opportunities in the area after figures showed a worrying rise in the numbe r of jobless people in Gateshead.

Neil Bradbury is battling Labour’s David Anderson at the general election to be MP for Blaydon.

He said that the rise of 2,400 people without a job and on jobseekers allowance in Gateshead over the past year shows the Government’s decision to cut VAT has not saved jobs and businesses.

6,078 people in Gateshead were on Jobseekers Allowance in March, up from 3640 in March 2008.

“6,000 people on Jobseekers Allowance is not the full picture as many unemployed people are not on this allowance,” said Neil.

“What is clear though is that the Government’s hopes of boosting the economy by cutting VAT are having no effect at all.

“The cut should be scrapped and the money put instead into real jobs. Liberal Democrats are calling for the money to be used to insulate people’s homes. This will create jobs in manufacturing and renovation.

“But it will also help people struggling with higher fuel bills this coming winter.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blaydon Lib Dems choose candidate

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency have chosen Neil Bradbury as their candidate at the general election.

In a contest between five people, Neil, 33, who lives in Prudhoe, won the hearts and minds of members at a meeting on Saturday 9th May.

Neil is a manager for the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and is married to Donna. He is a councillor for Prudhoe on Northumberland County Council. He won his seat from Labour last year and is now looking forward to the battle to take Blaydon.

“It is a great privilege to be chosen to stand for the Liberal Democrats in Blaydon,” said Neil after the meeting. “Labour’s majority at the last election was down to just 5,000. That means the seat is within reach of the Liberal Democrats.

“Having already campaigned in the Chopwell and Rowlands Gill by-election in the constituency, and spoken to hundreds of people there, I know just how unpopular Labour are.

“People are desperate for change in Blaydon and they know they can only get it by voting Liberal Democrat.”

The previous Liberal Democrat candidate for the constituency, Peter Maughan, had to stand down due to business commitment.

Peter said, “I am delighted Neil has been chosen as our candidate. I know he will work hard for the area and will make a great MP for Blaydon. I am giving him my full backing.”

Highfield path needs urgent action - Lib Dem Ray

Lib Dem campaigner Ray Callender is calling for urgent action to prevent the path leading to the new Highfield Schools campus turning into an accident blackspot for children.

The path runs along the edge of a big drop but there are no barriers to stop anyone slipping over the edge - see the picture on the left.

"It’s a big drop and kids going to a fro from school could easily have an accident," said Ray. "Rather than waiting for an accident to happen, we are pressing for a barrier to be installed. Having spoken to many parents, I know how concerned they are about this site."
Ray Callender is pictured above at the site where a barrier needs to be installed near Highfield Schools Campus

Whickham School

The Comprehensive has been awarded a grant of £6,525 from the Big Lottery Fund to set up a range of after-school and weekend clubs catering for those not involved in mainstream sports. The aim is to help young people taking part to become fitter and healthier.

Whickham Hermitage Garden Restoration

The community group, based at the Hermitage Centre, Whickham Front Street, has been awarded a grant of £5,000 from the Big Lottery Fund. The award will be used to extend the successful Hermitage Garden restoration project and involve all sections of the community in creating and establishing a community garden for all to enjoy.

Next Gibside Farmers' Market

The next farmers' market at Gibside Estate in the Derwent Valley will be held on Saturday 16th May 2009 from 10am to 3pm.

You can get a taste of what is there with this video shot at the market held in March:

Byermoor extended school project

Planning permission is being sought to put up a 2.4m high steel palisade fence, with 2 single gates and double vehicular access gate on unused land next to Sacred Heart Primary School. The site is for use by the community as part of an extended schools project.

Whickham garage site plans approved

Plans for a new development on the site of the former Whickham Motor Company have been given the go ahead by Gateshead Council’s planning committee at a meeting on Wednesday, March 18th.

This followed successful intervention by Whickham Lib Dem councillors acting on behalf of local residents. Originally the draft proposals were objected to on grounds of the height and bulk of the building, but these were withdrawn following discussion between councillors, residents and council planners.

“Following a meeting with planners, it became clear that the main height of the building was to be towards Whickham Bank and the area nearest to residents would be single storey” said Cllr Peter Craig. “The residents were satisfied with this.”

Another reason for objection was the limited amount of space available for car parking and maneuvering of refuse collection lorries. A revised version of the plans increased the number of parking spaces and introduced a turning circle for the lorries. This addressed the concerns raised by residents.

The one remaining main objection was that the proposed entrance to the development conflicted with highways engineers’ plans for a new crossing facility on Whickham Bank.

The plan for a refuge island had been prepared following requests from Lib Dem councillors concerned over the safety of residents trying to cross Whickham Bank. However, this issue was resolved after discussions between Lib Dem councillors, planners and engineers resulted in a proposed new location for the crossing.

“We have actively campaigned for a crossing at this point,” said Cllr Mary Wallace, “and we are delighted that we have been able to resolve this issue. The crossing should be installed later in the year.”

Whickham & District May Fayre – 16th May

On Saturday May 16th, a host of local community groups and charity organisations will be coming together in Chase Park at the Whickham & District May Fayre. They will be joined by local school children competing in art and sports events, together with musicians and dancers who will be providing the entertainment.

For the 7th year, the event will be hosted and organised by 2nd Whickham (33rd Gateshead) Scout Group and they are looking for voluntary organisations, charities or crafters to join them for the event. There are very few events in Whickham district which bring together people of all ages from the local community and this is a perfect opportunity for you to raise funds, promote your activities or recruit members for your organisation.

If you are interested in taking part in the event, please contact Cllr Peter Craig on 0191 488 0787 or email him on cllr.ptcraig@Gateshead.Gov.Uk.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hollinside Manor

Repair work has been carried out to Hollinside medieval manor house in the Derwent Valley following the award of a grant of £14,000 by English Heritage to Gateshead Council. The video gives a bit of background on the work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

St Petersburg's Hermitage Ensemble in Gateshead

The Hermitage Ensemble from St Petersburg will be singing a mixed programme of Orthodox and Russian folk music on Saturday 25th April at 7.30pm. The Ensemble are one of Russia's finest male choirs, and we are very fortunate to have them singing in Gateshead. Tickets are 7 full, 5 for concessions and are available from Reverend Jim Craig on

Revd Jim Craig is Community Arts Chaplain in Bensham and Gateshead.

The Ensemble are only performing in a limited number of venues for their visit to the UK, and have specifically sought to perform in Gateshead because of its reputation for excellence in the arena of the arts.

The outstanding acoustics of St Chad's church will prove to be a fitting setting for such vocal talent, complimenting its marvellous Arts and Crafts decor. Tickets are available now, though a small number will be made available on the door.

You don't have to consider yourself a religious person to enjoy such vocal talent. Rev Craig has heard the Hermitage Ensemble perform before, and and reports that there is nothing to compare the sound to.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Comment moderation has been removed

For regular readers, you will be pleased to learn that I have removed comment moderation. That means you are free to comment without my having to check first. So feel free to comment but use the function wisely!

Jonathan Wallace

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Flower beds and grass cutting to be cut in Whickham area

Cuts to grass cutting, the removal of flower beds and reduction in size of others will take place over the coming months as cuts imposed by Gateshead Council on Local Environmental Services begin to bite.

There are concerns in Whickham that the village's hopes of further success in Britain and Northumbrian in Bloom competitions could be dented by the loss of flower beds.

"The cuts to the budget did not meet with out approval. The final decision on the cuts have not yet been made and local Lib Dem councillors are in discussion with officers to try to minimise the impact on our local villages," said Cllr Allison Chatto.

"However, there is the possibility that local groups and businesses could sponsor individual flower beds. They would get public recognition for their contribution and also boost Whickham's chances in Britain in Bloom. Judges are always impressed by community involvement."

Anyone interested in sponsoring a flower bed in any of the local villages should contact Councillor Peter Craig on

A list of the proposed cuts is included below.

Border plots outside St Mary's Church are proposed for removal.

The butterfly beds on Whickham Front St are set be reduced

Proposed planted areas to be removed:

Beverly Drive - remove 50% (5) flower beds
Junction Hood Street / Market Lane - remove 2 small flowebeds at side (33%)
Jubilee Terrace No 1 - remove rose bed
Whickham Bank - remove 2 rose beds
Sands Industrial Estate - corner plot T Shirt printers - remove shrubbery
Whickham Front Street - Butterfly beds - remove 4 x flower beds (at edge, not butterflies)

2 flowerbeds at St Nicholas Church in Dunston

4 beds at St Mary's Church
beds at Arthur Cook, Cedar Cres and The Drive

Marleyhill Community Centre Horseshoe Remove Flowerbed
Sunnhill APU Remove 1 x Flowebed
Marleyhill APU Bungalows Remove 1 x Rose bed
Kingsway Remove 3 x Flowerbeds
Broadway/Sunniside Road Remove 1x Rose bed
Broadway/ Sunniside Road Reduce large Rose bed
Burden Park Entrance Remove Shrubbery
Longwood Close 2 x Shrubbery to Remove
Elm Court 3 x Shrubbery to Remove
Oakfield Road Next to Supermarket Shrubbery reduce by 50%
Foxhills Side No 40 Remove Shrubbery
Foxhills covert Side No7 Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Foxhills Covert Side/Front No 40 Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Bryerside Close/Fellside Park Opp Entrance Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Thistledon Ave Adj Path Remove ShrubberyFellside Road Side of 44 Remove Rose bed

Proposed areas to be left uncut:

Area on Whickham Bank opposite escape route.
Area behind Gamekeeper Pub.
LongRigg, but one metre strip to be cut at edge.
Harry Ramsden / Riverside Way, Metro Centre - but cut strip front and side
Swalwell Park, but cut one metre strip either side of path and cut fence line
North View grassland
Marley Hill Community centre…..Field at front (wet area) 50%.
The Dene… Hole Lane sunniside.
Woods junction of Fellside road/Oakfield Road.
Woods next to Grange walk and Coachman’s Public House.
Kingsway large area to be left uncut 60%.
Kingsway small area to be left uncut 60%.Cloverhill SchoolArea to the rear/side of football pitch.(This area is next to fields which are cut once yearly.)

Marley Hill’s missing miners’ banner – can you help?

Former pitmen at Marley Hill Colliery have one of the few remaining Victorian miners’ banners still in existence. But there are now great concerns about this important piece of local history as the banner has now gone missing.

The banner was kept at the National Union of Mineworkers’ HQ in Redhills, Durham, but officials there now state it has vanished.

Victorian miners banners can fetch significant four figure sums but the value of it to the people who once worked at Marley Hill and to the community generally is far, far higher.

Sunniside History Society are determined to track down the banner and return it to its rightful owners, the local community. If you have any information that can help us to track it down, please get in touch with Councillor Jonathan Wallace on

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Village faces loss of business if parking charges brought in

Whickham village centre in Gateshead could be hit by a loss of business if plans to introduce parking charges are not watered down further.

The claim was made by local Liberal Democrat councillors who surveyed people in the village centre about the plans by Gateshead Council to bring in charges to parking behind the Library and Gibside Hotel.

The survey of shoppers was carried out earlier in April. People were asked about the plans to bring in a £1 a day long stay charge and 20p an hour short stay.

The charges were first proposed by Gateshead Council two years ago, but after an outcry by residents and a campaign by local Liberal Democrat Councillors, their introduction was delayed. This was to allow for further consultation.

“The Council has come back with a revised plan to allow the first 20 minutes to be free,” said Cllr Peter Craig.

“However, we feel this is still insufficient. We decided therefore to ask current users of the car park about their views. We found that nearly half the people questioned would be less likely to use the car park if the charges are introduced.

“Two out of three believe the first 20 minutes being free was too short. Most suggested the first hour should be free instead. As councillors for the area, we feel this is a reasonable compromise.

“Without a longer free period, there are concerns that shops, already hit by the recession, will see a further loss of business. Many will go instead to the Metrocentre, just down the bank from Whickham, where parking is free.

“We are continuing to consult residents and will then take up the findings with the Council.”

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scotswood Bridge closure

The Scotswood Bridge will be closed to all traffic on Sunday, 19 April to allow essential maintenance work to be carried out.

The bridge will be closed to traffic in both directions between 7am and 7pm to enable workman to clean gullies, inspect and clean expansion joints and inspect and repair road lighting.

It is expected that the Scotswood Bridge will also be closed to traffic on the following Sunday (26th April) to allow a major six-yearly structural inspection of the bridge to be completed.

Residents surveyed on plans for traffic lights

RESIDENTS of Sunniside, Gateshead, have overwhelmingly backed plans for traffic lights in the village.

A survey of residents was carried out by the village’s three Liberal Democrat councillors, Marilynn Ord, John McClurey and Jonathan Wallace.

The Council plans to put in traffic lights at the busy junction of Sunniside Road and Sunniside Front Street.

Currently many vehicles are driving through residential areas to get to the traffic lights at the Coronation Road junction with Front Street. It is hoped that the additional traffic lights will cut down on this rat-running.

“Over two thirds of those responding to our survey welcomed the plans,” said Marilynn. “We are pleased with this as we have been pressing the council to put in traffic lights at the junction for a number of years.

“There are some details that residents have raised and we hope to sort these with the engineers shortly.”

The lights are now expected to be installed in the next few months.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dunston waste ground restored

Former waste ground covered by weed strewn tarmac in Dunston has been retored with the help of children from Dunston Riverside Primary School.

The corner site between Colliery Road and Collingwood Terrace near the meeting of the rivers Tyne and Team had been blighted by anti-social behaviour.

Gateshead Council agreed to a scheme to create a pleasant community space which local people could take pride in and deter anti-social activities.The work to replace the old tarmac was paid for by Gateshead’s Neighbourhood Pride fund, which provides cash to help tackle issues which matter most to residents and can make neighbourhoods a better place to live in.

Neighbourhood Pride is a joint venture between Gateshead Council and The Gateshead Housing Company.

Plans are already being made to improve the area further during National Tree Week.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dunston War Memorial Rededication

The Duke of Kent rededicated the Dunston War Memorial on Friday 20th March 2009.

Special guests open High Spen School's new kitchens

High Spen Primary School welcomed three very special guests on Wednesday, 1st April to open its new kitchen.

Newcastle Vipers David Longstaff, Derek Campbell and Rob Wilson, representing the Vipers Community Foundation, a registered charity promoting healthy lifestyles to improve academic achievement, officially cut the ribbon for the new facility.

The event formed part of the school’s healthy lifestyle week, aimed to encourage exercise and healthy eating for both school pupils and their parents.The school has already reported an increase in its school meals uptake since the new kitchen was completed, and the facility allows chefs to provide a wider range of food.

Children at the school already help to grow food at the local community garden, a move which cuts food miles and helps reduce damage to the environment.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Saltwell Park Show

Saltwell Park Show will be held on Saturday 4th - Sunday 5th April, from 10am to 4pm.

Voluntary groups based in the restored Victorian park home will be showcasing their work and talents during the free event, including the Saltwell Park Model Boat Club - whose floating miniature marvels will be demonstrated throughout both days – and the Friends of Saltwell Park who will be leading walks to discover more about the wildlife that lives in and around the parks lake.

Coaches and trainers from Gateshead Council will also be on hand running free sports sessions for 8 - 15 year olds in the parks expansive Northern Fields, while there will be the opportunity for adults to take a fitness test too.

Another restored piece of Saltwell Park’s past, the bandstand, will play host to the City of Newcastle Pipe Band with three performances on each day.

A much less traditional sight in the park will be a giant Venus Fly Trap and outsized fly as part of an unusual park theatre performance from the Bell and Bullock Circus Theatre.

Award for Bill Quay Community Farm

Bill Quay Community Farm has been awarded a Learning Out of the Classroom Quality Badge and is one of the first venues in the country to obtain this national award.

The Quality Badge is for organisations and venues that provide learning outside the classroom experiences for children and young people aged up to 19 and offer high quality teaching and learning experiences in a safe and healthy environment.

The award is made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crawcrook Coffee Morning

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon Constituency will be holding a coffee morning on Saturday 28th March at Holy Spirit Hall in Crawcrook from 9.30am to 11.30am.

Local groups will have stalls selling a variety of local crafts and there will be a jam stall as well.

All residents are welcome to call in.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gibside Farmers Market

National Trust owned Gibside hosts a monthly farmers’ market. There are stalls selling a variety of locally produced foods, drinks and crafts. Forthcoming markets are on the following Saturdays from 10am to 3pm: 18 April, 16 May, 20 June, 15 August, 19 September. Entry is free.

This video was filmed at the market held on 21st March 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anger as housing given go ahead in Dunston

A ROW has broken out on Gateshead Council following a decision to allow 4 houses to be built in Dunston on what was formerly greenbelt land.

The Council’s planning committee tied seven votes for and seven against with the Chairman using his casting vote to allow the development on Market Lane to go ahead.

But there was anger that Liberal Democrat Councillor, Peter Maughan, who represents the area in Gateshead Council, was refused permission to speak against the plans at the meeting.

“This was a very controversial application,” said Cllr Maughan. “It erodes the green area between Dunston and Swalwell and in my view, and the view of many residents, is little more than ribbon development that the greenbelt was invented to stop.

“I am also very angry that as ward councillor, elected to represent the people here, I was refused permission to speak against this application. I was gagged.”

Peter’s ward colleague, Councillor Allison Chatto said, “The decision to allow these four houses to be built is death to the greenbelt by a thousand cuts, with small slices here and there building up over time.

“I am deeply disappointed that this plan has been given the go ahead.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Energy efficiency is as easy as A to G

Energy rating labels can now tell you everything you need to know to make sure you go out and buy that all important energy efficient product - giving you vital information about energy consumption, performance and efficiency.

Energy efficiency labels are currently found on goods such as washing machines, freezers and light bulbs and are soon to be extended to a number of other energy using products such as televisions. But energy saving is set to become even easier as new proposals to extend energy efficiency labelling have been given the green light by MEPs.

A vote in the European Parliament's Industry Committee has endorsed plans to extend the A to G scheme to energy related products - that is, products which cause a significant waste of energy if they are badly designed. This includes household fixtures such as shower heads and windows.

The straightforward A to G labelling method clearly shows that products labelled with an 'A’, get top marks for energy saving performance, whilst those at the other end of the scale branded 'G' are the worst.

Gateshead Lib Dem Euro-MP Fiona Hall, who sits on the Industry committee, and voted to support this move, said, "It all boils down to a clearer choice for energy-conscious shoppers. At a time when everyone is watching what they spend, more information about energy efficiency is a boom. For example, plasma TVs use much more energy than LCD ones, yet hardly anyone out there buying a TV knows this.

"Driving up energy standards for everyday goods is also crucial in the battle to cut CO2 emissions and tackle climate change.

"I am particularly pleased that MEPs voted last night to keep the A to G approach, which is widely recognised and understood. Technology is improving all the time so we want to see a date added to the A to G label too. An ‘A’ from five years ago is not as good as an ‘A’ today."

MEPs also supported the idea that, in future, information about energy usage should be included not only in the A to G label at point of sale but also in any advert giving technical data.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Home energy plans mean cheaper bills in Gateshead

PLANS by the Liberal Democrats to massively increase the energy efficiency of all homes will lead to big savings in energy bills, say Liberal Democrats in Gateshead.

In a message to local residents, campaigning Councillor, Dr Jonathan Wallace, has backed the plans to raise the standard of home energy efficiency.

“The energy efficiency standards of 99 out of every 100 homes fall well below what they should be,” said Jonathan. “Nearly every one of us is spending money on bills to heat the great outdoors as so much energy escapes from our homes.

“We want to bring home energy efficiency up to the highest level possible. In the past year, fuel bills have gone through the roof. But too often, our heat is escaping through the roof as well. Our plans will put an end to that.

”By cutting energy waste, we are also cutting the damage we do to the environment. It’s a win-win situation: lower fuel bills and fewer emissions that are leading to climate change that has given us extreme weather.”

The Liberal Democrats’ plans include requiring energy companies to use some of the £9 billion profit they have made from emissions trading to insulate the homes of the poorest residents.

They will also set up a National Green Loans scheme which will pay for a complete overhaul of the energy efficiency of people’s homes. Repayments will be added to energy bills with the loan paid off from the savings in energy use. Loan repayments will not be allowed to be more than the savings.

“This is a great idea for helping people to cut their energy bills and help us save the planet,” said Dr Wallace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is the UK already going soft on renewable energy commitments?

A new international agency to promote renewable energies across the world has been launched with the backing of energy specialist and Gateshead Member of the European Parliament, Fiona Hall.

But the Lib Dem Euro-MP has questioned the UK’s decision not to sign up to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is expected to advise both industrialised and developing countries on reaching higher energy shares from renewable sources.

“IRENA offers up the potential to drive forward renewables and create jobs, whilst reducing global rivalries over fossil energies and delivering greater energy independence,” said Fiona.

“75 countries have already signed up to the agreement and it is disappointing that the UK government is still dragging its feet when this country could be leading the way on renewable energy,” said Fiona.

“IRENA in no way undermines the work of existing organisations such as the International Energy Agency. Rather it is a chance to give renewable energy the international co-ordination that it needs in order to become the world's future top energy source.”

Fiona co-authored a written declaration in the European Parliament calling for the establishment of an International Renewable Energy Agency in 2008.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whickham house demolition appeal rejected

A planning appeal that could have led to the demolition of an historic house on Grange Lane in Whickham, Gateshead, and the building of 5 houses on the site has been dismissed.

Gateshead Council’s planning committee rejected an application to demolish the 100 year old house at 59 Grange Lane last summer. An appeal was lodged to get the council’s decision overturned. Planning inspectors however have upheld the Council’s original decision.

Councillor Marilynn Ord said, “There were concerns about packing in too many houses into this plot. We were also worried about the loss of one of Whickham’s original houses and the impact on neighbouring homes.

“I am pleased therefore that the decision has been taken to dismiss the appeal.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Councillor Maureen Chaplin RIP

Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Maureen Chaplin, passed away on 11th February. Maureen was councillor for Chopwell and Rowlands Gill and had been Mayor since May 2008.

She was a widely respected member of the council and will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Road Safety Improvements in Whickham

There have been further improvements in road safety in Whickham with the erection of vehicle activated signs (VAS) on Whaggs Lane and Sunniside Road.

The signs were erected as part of the Northumbria Camera Safety Partnership’s enforcement of traffic speed limits and will flash the 30mph roundel when a vehicle is breaking the limit.

Your Councillors have been working with representatives from the Partnership and traffic engineers from Gateshead Council to address speed concerns in Whickham.

“We are very pleased that the signs have been installed,” said Councillor Marilynn Ord. "These signs are part of a variable position scheme i.e the posts will have signs on them for about a quarter of the time, for six week periods.”

License for Whickham's Chase Park

Whickham's Chase Park will soon be granted a Premises License to allow events containing plays, films, music and dancing to be held in the park.

Barring objections, from 1st April 2009, groups, such as the scouts, which hold events in the park will no longer have to apply for a temporary event license. There will be no restrictions as to the number of people that can attend.

Some residents may remember that a fayre in the park had to be cancelled last year, due in part to license issues.

"I am very pleased that Chase Park will be getting this license," said Councillor Peter Craig. "Previously the only park to have this license was Saltwell Park."

New plans for Whickham garage site

Gateshead Council has received an application from Hadrian Healthcare Ltd for erection of a four-storey, 70 bed care home with associated car parking and landscaping.

This follows a decision to refuse an application in 2007 from McCarthy & Stone for the erection of 49 sheltered apartments for the elderly was refused.

If residents have any views or comments on these planning proposals, please contact Councillor Peter Craig on Peter has a copy of the plans for residents to view.

Roadworks in Gateshead

Dipwood Road, Rowlands Gill – there will be temporary traffic lights and roadworks opposite Dipwood Lodge from 16-27 February.

Folly Lane, Ryton – temporary traffic lights and roadworks here will be completed by 20th February.

Shibdon Road, Blaydon - from Blaydon Roundaboutt to St Cuthberts Church – temporary road works and traffic lights will be completed by 27th February.

Sunniside Road, Whickham - roadworks between Broom Lane and Grange Lane should be finished by 13th February. There will also be roadworks with temporary traffic lights at the bottle of Metal Bank on 16th February.

Road works on road to Redheugh Bridge - this is one to avoid if you can. Major work is to be carried out on the A184 Consett Route between the A1 and the A184/A189 Redheugh Bridge Roundabout Junction, starting on 11th January and finishing on 8th May. There will be lane closures, limited road closures, contraflow working and speed restrictions.

Lobley Hill roadworks - work taking place on Pinewood Gardens for Northumbrian Water should be completed on 20th February 2009.

Victoria Road, Bensham – roadworks and temporary signals here will be completed by 27th February.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Government must do more to tackle alzheimer’s ticking time bomb

A North East MEP has welcomed the launch of a new UK dementia plan aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment, at the moment when the European Parliament also agreed that more action should be taken at a European level towards improving the quality of life for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

There will be a debate in the European Parliament on the provision of Alzheimer’s care, after the Written Declaration on the ‘priorities in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease’, was signed by over half of all MEPs – including Lib Dem Fiona Hall.

And Fiona, who called back in December for the UK to put in place a national approach on tackling dementia, says that the new National Dementia Strategy, which aims to save £1bn in the next ten years through improved diagnosis and treatment, is a first step towards alleviating the pressure on Britain’s health service – with direct medical costs to the NHS alone approximately £ a year.

“At last the Government have realised that with an ageing population like the UK’s, Alzheimer’s really could be the ticking time bomb of our generation should nothing be done to counter the disease,” said Fiona.

But Fiona has real concerns that the amount of money being put into the strategy (£150m for the first two years) may hardly dent Britain’s current £17bn a year dementia burden.

“No increase in research funding means we will remain no closer to understanding dementia or addressing the devastating impact that it has on the thousands of people and their families.

“There are a lot of recommendations in this strategy and they will soon carve up the £150m budget. It is an ambitious project, which is important, but it would be good to know that the Government is thinking long term and will remain committed and invest more money to make sure that promises are delivered, well into the future.”

Residents urged to make Swalwell recycling a success

Plans to install recycling banks for plastic bottles, paper and textile in the Lidl car park in Swalwell, Gateshead, have been welcomed by the village’s three Liberal Democrat councillors.

The banks will be installed as a trial and if successful, they will become permanent.

Councillors Peter Craig, Chris Ord and Mary Wallace say the banks will make it easier for residents of Swalwell to recycle their waste.

“We can each play our part in cutting down on the damage we all cause to the environment,” said Peter. “Making recycling easier will boost al our efforts.
“We are encouraging residents to use the new facility. We definitely want it to stay once the trial period is over.”

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Heating Our Homes Shouldn’t Cost The Earth

Improving energy efficiency is the easiest way to tackle climate change - and save money.
Fiona Hall, Member of the European Parliament fort he North East of England, has launched a petition calling on the Government to make all North East homes energy efficient.

"Given that one in nine North East households are currently paying more than 10% of their income on energy bills, it's vital to get money back into people's pockets,” said Fiona.

Recently, Fiona accompanied workmen installing cavity walls and loft insulation and heard firsthand from residents about the benefits in terms of extra warmth and lower fuel bills.

"Cavity and loft insulation are easy to do, yet progress is slow. The Government hasn’t even started to think about how to treat more difficult properties – yet there are 150,000 of those in the North East alone,” explained Fiona.

Fiona's petition “Heating your home shouldn’t cost the Earth” calls on the government to insulate all North East homes. Just go to to sign up.

Traffic light consultation in Sunniside

Liberal Democrat councillors are consulting residents of Sunniside village in Gateshead about plans to install traffic lights at a busy junction.

Councillors Marilynn Ord, Jonathan Wallace and John McClurey have been campaigning for many years to install lights at the Sunniside Road/Sunniside Front Street junction.

The current junction is regularly congested and is difficult to navigate especially in the rush hour. Many motorists end up driving through the residential areas of Sunniside village to get to the next junction where traffic lights allow for a better traffic flow.

After over a year of discussion between the councillors and council official, Gateshead Council engineers have drawn up a set of plans for lights at the junction.

“We have put the plans in the window of Sunniside Post Office,” said Marilynn. “We want residents to take a look at what is proposed and to give us their views.

“We are sending a survey form to every house in Streetgate, Sunniside and Marley Hill so that people can give us their views.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

5,000 businesses to be surveyed by Lib Dems in the North East

Lib Dems in the North East have launched a region wide small business survey, in which 5,000 small businesses in the region will be asked their views on the recession and the extent of the problems they feel they are likely to face in 2009.

The Survey was launched from ‘Lynchgate News’, a small business owned by John McClurey in Gateshead, with Fiona Hall MEP, Cllr John Shipley and Cllr Carol Woods attending.

Cllr John Shipley explained what Newcastle City Council are doing to help businesses out of trouble. "Supporting small businesses is critically important during a recession. Newcastle City Council is paying invoices more quickly to increase the cash flow of small businesses.

"We are also publicising heavily the existence of small business rate relief because we reckon £1million is unclaimed in Newcastle."

Fiona Hall, who has helped many local small North East businesses in her role as an MEP said, "This survey gives us the opportunity to speak with local small businesses face to face and hear firsthand their business concerns for the coming year.

"Small businesses are the heart and soul of the British economy, but they could also be one of the heaviest casualties should the recession be long and drawn out. We will be presenting our findings to the Government, so they can take evidence-based action to help these businesses stay afloat in 2009."

Cllr Carol Woods, who runs her own small business in Durham, and who has been conducting her own Small Business Survey in Durham said: "Having spoken to about 20 small businesses on Friday, it is obvious that the Government needs to do more to help businesses through this economic crisis."

The survey will be carried out during February and the overall results will be published in March.
You can see the video on the launch on:
Photo: Fiona Hall MEP, Newcastle City Council Leader John Shipley and Carol Woods, Parliamentary Spokesman for Durham City, launch the small business survey in Gateshead.

European boost for campaign against Path Head

Polish Euro MP, Marcin Libicki, who is Chairman of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, is to visit Path Head landfill site on Wednesday 28 January 2009 at the invitation of North East Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall.

In 2005, Residents against Rubbish submitted a petition to the European Parliament with the help of Fiona Hall MEP, fighting plans to use the former quarry as a landfill waste dump. Since then, landfill site operator SITA UK has been found in breach of four conditions of its operating licence.

Following an invitation from Fiona Hall MEP in September 2008, Mr Libicki will visit the site and meet with local residents, SITA managers and councillors and officials of Gateshead Council, in order to further the European Parliament committee’s investigation.
Pictured above: Fiona Hall MEP meets local councillors and residents outside Path Head in December 2008.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nissan job losses a serious blow to the North East

The announcement that Nissan are to make 1200 workers redundant has sparked urgent calls from local Lib Dems to the government to help the North East economy.

Fiona Hall Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament for the North East said, “Nissan’s announcement is a serious blow for one of the North East’s biggest private employers and a shock for one of Europe’s most productive car plants.

“It is now important that the government provides the right kind of support to the North East’s car industry - which is still a vibrant and dynamic part of our regional economy, as well as to those workers who have today found themselves without jobs.

“We are pressing for training packages and investment in big projects such as improvements to the A1 and the East Coast rail line to boost job opportunities.

“The recent announcement by Nissan parts supplier Unipres that they are losing 300 jobs, there is a long struggle ahead for car manufacturing in the North East.”

Nick Clegg MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats said, “This will be devastating news for the North East.

“The regularity and scale at which job losses are now being announced show just how serious a recession we are now in.

“The Government must act quickly to give support and training to those affected so they are able to find new jobs as soon as possible.”