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.”