Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Gateshead School closures due to weather

The following schools are closed on Wednesday 1st December due to weather conditions:

Birtley East Nursery
All Saints Pre-School, Lobley Hill
Barley Mow Primary
Bill Quay Primary
Byermoor Sacred Heart RC VA
Caedmon Primary
Cardinal Hume RC Secondary
Chopwell Primary
Colegate Primary
Dryden Special School
Dunston Hill Primary
Lingey House Primary
Dunston Riverside Primary
Eslington Primary
Gibside School
Highfield Community Primary
Hookergate School
Kibblesworth Primary
Lobley Hill Primary
Marley Hill Primary
South Street Primary
St, Josephs RC VA Primary, Gateshead
St. Annes RC VA Primary
St Oswald's RC VA Primary Nursery
Swalwell Primary
Washingwell Primary
Whickham Front Street Primary
Windy Nook Primary

Sunday, August 01, 2010

“End delays and sort parking” - Lib Dems tell Council

Frank and Ron on Durham Road Jul 10

Businesses and their customers in Low Fell have complained about the time it is taking the Council to sort out parking restrictions on Durham Road in Low Fell.

Over two years ago they asked the Council to allow some short stay parking at the shops, so that people could stop and collect their shopping without getting a parking ticket.

Councillor Ron Beadle said “Gateshead Council is letting everyone down. Last year it was agreed to make changes – but internal delays at the Civic Centre mean that tickets are still being issued, and local businesses are continuing to suffer.

“Labour Councillors say they are concerned about local people and the economy, but Low Fell is certainly one place where they aren’t showing it. We will keep pressing at all levels until this problem is dealt with.”

Photo: Councillors Frank Hindle and Ron Beadle on Durham Road, Low Fell, where they are pressing the Council to sort parking issues.

"Get Carter" gets demolished

Dave Fawcett and Frank HIndle car park Jul 10 2

WORK has restarted on pulling down an eyesore landmark building in Gateshead. Demolition teams moved back on to the site of the “Get Carter” car park in the town centre following the suspension of work last year.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Frank Hindle has welcomed the news that the building should be gone by the end of September. It was made famous by the 1970s classic film “Get Carter” starring Michael Caine.

Frank, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council, also welcomed the news that Tesco have submitted a planning application for Trinity Square in Gateshead.

Frank said “People in Gateshead have waited a long time for the moment when the car park disappears from the skyline.

“I am glad that Tesco and the Council are making good progress towards developing a modern town centre that local people can enjoy, and that will draw in new business.”

Local resident and Lib Dem campaigner Dave Fawcett said, “Getting rid of the current part demolished centre and the eyesore of the old car park will be a vital and very welcome step.

“The decision by Tesco to go ahead with a major redevelopment and to invest a huge amount in our town centre is a vote of confidence in the economy that should boost jobs and incomes.”

Earlier this year Frank led an on-line campaign and petition at and calling on Tesco to get a move on with its plans for Trinity Square.

(Photo: Dave Fawcett and Frank Hindle outside the "Get Carter" car park on the day work began again to demolish it.)

Green policies “will boost Gateshead jobs” say Lib Dems

GREEN policies on which the Liberal Democrats fought the general election have been included in the Agreement that led to the creation of the Coalition Government. And Liberal Democrats say the measures will boost the local economy as well as save Gateshead households on energy bills.

Policies agreed by the Government include the setting up of a green investment bank and a reform of the banking system to make sure that banks lend to viable British businesses. There will also be measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and support for low carbon energy production and an increase in the target for energy from renewable sources.

“Gateshead Council is considering plans to generate clean electricity in the borough from renewable sources,” said Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

“Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy, Chris Huhne, has announced that councils will now be allowed to sell any surplus electricity they create to customers via the National Grid. Under Labour they were banned from doing so.

“This will boost green energy production in the borough and help to create more local jobs. Plans to increase energy efficiency in homes through better insulation will also create jobs in Gateshead whilst the work is carried out. And that will also mean lower energy bills for households in Gateshead.”

Euro MP welcomes Metro upgrade

FIONA HALL, Liberal Democrat Euro MP for the North East of England, has welcomed the announcement by the Coalition Government that an upgrade to the Metro system will go ahead, costing up to £350 million.

In a message to residents of Gateshead, Fiona said, “The upgrade of the Metro system will lead to significant improvements for users of the service.

“Money is very tight at the moment. The new Government has inherited the worst financial situation in over 60 years. Even so, the Metro was a top priority for the Coalition and approval has been given for the project to go ahead.

“My hope is that once the improvements are made, more people will opt to use the Metro rather than drive. This will help cut congestion and pollution on Tyneside.”

Review of Marley Hill and Sacred Heart Primary Schools

Gateshead Council’s consultation with parents about the future of Marley Hill and Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Byermoor has now ended.

A report will be brought to Gateshead Council’s Cabinet in September once the results of the consultaiton have been considered.

Since the option of closing Marley Hill was first raised last year, many parents have decided to move their children to Washingwell School where there were surplus places.

The effect of this has been to increase the viability of Washingwell.
At the meeting in September, the Cabinet will take a decision on whether or not to keep Marley Hill and Sacred Heart open.

Solution found to unfinished house in Whickham

Gateshead Council has resolved a long-running planning dispute that left the large house on Swalwell Bank, Whickham, unfinished for 5 years.

In 2005 Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee authorised the removal of the third storey because of the impact on neighbouring homes. However, almost 5 years to the day later, the Committee discussed new proposals for the building which will see the replacement of the pitched roof with a flat one.

Pleas for the original decision of 2005 to be upheld were turned down. Conditions were also placed on the planning consent relating to landscaping and privacy issues.

Cllr Peter Craig said “Neighbouring residents were concerned about the height and mass of the building and an inadequate landscaping plan. They do not feel the latest decision addresses these concerns adequately.”

Welcome for Washingwell Woods restoration

Washingwell Woods Yvonne and Michael Jul 10 1

A woodland in a local country park is to be restored to its natural state. Washingwell Woods is popular with residents of Whickham, Sunniside, Dunston and Lobley Hill.

Over the next 5 years Gateshead Council are to work with the Forestry Commission and Natural England to restore the woods. Conifer trees will be harvested to allow the natural woodland plants to recover and trees to re-establish through the process of natural regeneration.

Restoration will be carried out sensitively and gradually to bring these woods back to life. The restoration of ancient woodland is a top UK biodiversity priority. Many of the footpaths within the woodland will be fully restored after the forestry works have been carried out.

“I am pleased that this work will be carried out,” said Lobley Hill Lib Dem campaigner Michael Ruddy.

“Washingwell Woods is an important green location which makes the area all the more attractive as a place to live.”

“The creation of Lotties Wood near Sunniside shows what can be done with a properly managed woodland,” said Cllr Yvonne McNicol. “A great wooded parkland can be created for all to enjoy as well as establishing an important haven for wildlife.”

(Photo: Cllr Yvonne McNicol and Michael Ruddy at Fugar Bar, next to Washingwell Woods)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Welcome for “Get Carter” demolition

Gateshead car park Frank Hindle Apr 10 2

A LEADING Liberal Democrat Councillor has given the thumbs up to the news that a date has been set to restart the job of pulling down the infamous “Get Carter” car park in Gateshead.

Low Fell Councillor, Frank Hindle, who is also Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council, welcomed the news that Tesco have submitted a planning application for Trinity Square in Gateshead and that demolition of the eyesore car park in the square is due to start on 26th July.

Frank said “People in Gateshead have waited a long time for this moment. I am glad that Tesco and the Council have now managed to get to this stage, and look forward to seeing the details of the proposed redevelopment.

“Gateshead needs a modern town centre that local people can enjoy, and that will draw in new business. Getting rid of the current part demolished centre and the eyesore of the old car park will be a vital and very welcome step.”

Earlier this year Frank Hindle led an on-line campaign at and a petition calling on Tesco to get a move on with its plans for Trinity Square.

Photo: Councillor Frank Hindle outside the "Get Carter" car park

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pelaw housing plan sparks concerns

A PLAN to develop the site of the former shirt factory on Shields Road, Pelaw, Gateshead, has sparked concerns from a local Liberal Democrat Councillor.

The Co-operative Group, which owns the site, applied for planning permission to demolish the factory and have the site made available for housing. Outline permission was granted by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee on 16th June.

But Councillor Ian Patterson has warned that traffic problems in the area could be made worse by the development. The site is only 350 metres from the Shields Road junction with the busy Felling Bypass.

Councillor Patterson spoke against the plans when they were discussed by the Committee.

“There are ongoing issues affecting traffic on Shields Road, especially congestion at peak periods and incidents of rat running over the Kirkstone Road bridge,” said Cllr Patterson.

‘This is a disappointing decision but when the substantive application is submitted, we will revisit the matter.”

Developers will have to bring details plans for housing on the site before final permission for building can be granted.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Council petition plan welcomed

Gateshead residents will soon be able to petition the Council to debate specific local issues. And the petition plan has been welcomed by a leading member of the Liberal Democrat opposition.

All councils have been required to introduce a scheme that will give people the right to petition for debates on issues of local concern. 2000 signatures on a petition will trigger a debate at a subsequent council meeting.

And by December, all Councils will be required to allow people to set up on-line petitions on their websites on issues relevant to the work of local government.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace, a keen supporter of on-line communication with residents, has welcomed the plans but wants Gateshead Council to go further.

“Allowing people to petition the council to hold a debate on a specific local issue is a good step forward,” said Cllr Wallace. “On-line petitions have already been tried out on the Downing Street website and have attracted some interest.

“My concern is that Gateshead will allow a debate of only 15 minutes on a petition issue. Once the leader of the Council and Leader of the Opposition have spoken, there will be little time left for other Councillors to take part.

“This could curtail the debate and prevent Councillors making the full contribution they want to. I feel the time limit should be scrapped.”

Councillor Wallace raised his concerns about the time limit at the Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8th June. Council Leader, Mick Henry, replied that the system would be reviewed once it was up and running.

Care home road too narrow

Following concerns raise by local Lib Dem councillors about the access to the new care home on Whickham Bank, Whickham, officers from the planning department visited the site. It was found that the access road was too narrow and informed the agent for the developer accordingly. As a result, the issue is being taken up with the contractor to ensure the access road conforms to the agreed plans.

Sunniside traffic lights

The long running saga of the Sunniside traffic lights has hit another last minute hitch. Work on installing the lights, first promised three years ago, on the Sunniside Road/Sunniside Front St junction, were due to start in May and were then put back to the start of June.

It now looks like another short delay as utility companies complete the work needed to relay some of their services. The work currently taking place at the junction is being carried out by BT.

“We anticipate this is just a short delay,” said Cllr John McClurey. “Once the work on installing the lights is underway, however, there will be some short term disruption which the engineers are telling us will last 10 weeks.

“If anything changes in the meantime, we’ll let you know.”

Whickham Schools review

The next stage in the review of primary schools in the Whickham area has now been reached. Gateshead Council’s Cabinet formally agreed on the options for closure which will be put out to consultation over the summer.

The proposals include the closure of Marley Hill and Sacred Heart (Byermoor) Schools, both of which have experienced falling pupil numbers and have surplus places.

Since the issue of the possible closures was first raised last year, some parents have transferred their children to Washingwell School. The effect of this has been to help Washingwell’s viability. When Gateshead Council first began considering the future of local primary schools, there was a cloud over Washingwell as it had a reasonable number of surplus places.

The school is not out of the woods yet but the Council Cabinet report, approved on 25th May, stated that if Marley Hill is to close, parents will be able to send their children to Washingwell instead.

However, the Council Cabinet has decided to delay by a year consultation on possible changes to those schools in Whickham village.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace, speaking at the Cabinet meeting on 25th May, warned that this delay would cause difficulties. He pointed out that the proposals for Sunniside would, in effect, send children from the village to a school whose future, whilst more secure than previously, was not yet fully guaranteed.

Councillor Yvonne McNicol said, “Washingwell needs the last elements of uncertainty removed so delaying the decision on schools in Whickham for a year is not welcome.”

Councillor Peter Maughan said, “Earlier in the review process, Gateshead had proposed what is effectively a closure of Front St by merging it with Fellside Primary. The delay of a year simply adds to uncertainty which schools, staff, parents and pupils could do without.”

The consultation over the closure of Marley Hill and Sacred Heart will take place over the summer. We will keep you in touch with progress.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dog fouling in Swalwell Cemetery

Swalwell graveyard June 10 2

Residents have complained to your local councillors and the police about a small number of inconsiderate dog owners who are letting their dogs run wild without cleaning their dog’s mess up after them, especially in the Swalwell Cemetery.

One resident has told councillors that it is happening on a large scale. As a result, visitors are having to watch where they walk and feel uneasy whilst visiting relatives graves. This has been reported to the council’s enforcement officers who will be patrolling the area.

Swalwell War Memorial restoration

Swalwell War Memorial June 10

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Swalwell have welcomed the restoration and clean up of Swalwell War Memorial. "This is welcome news for the village," said Cllr Chris Ord.

Swalwell Park play area official opening

Swalwell Park Mar 10 2

The official opening of the new play area in Swalwell Park will take place on Saturday 12th June between 11:00 a.m. to 03:00 pm. There will be lots of fun activities, games, arts and crafts and stalls and all are welcome to come along to the park help to celebrate the opening.

The new play area is the first part of a phased plan to improve Swalwell Park and has been brought about by the work of local residents working together as Swalwell Park Development Group. The group has been working with Gateshead Council, Tyne & Wear Play Association and Swalwell Primary School to improve the play facilities in Swalwell Park.

There will be an opportunity to give your feedback what has been achieved so far and to see further plans to improve the park.

The group will be holding their AGM and are looking for new members. If you are interested in joining the group, please come along.

Photo: Councillors Mary Wallace and Peter Craig at the new play equipment on Swalwell Park.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go-ahead for Birtley hot food takeaway

Permission has been granted by Gateshead Council for the conversion of 22 Harraton Terrace in Birtley into a hot food takeaway. Plans were also approved to convert the first floor into a flat. The ground floor area had previously been used as a printers. The plans will see a new shop front installed.
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Eslington Park plans agreed

Eslington Park on Bolam St in Teams has been given the go-ahead to install new facilities. Plans for the park were agreed at Gateshead's Planning Committee on 26th May.

The plans involve the demolition of the single storey sports club which will be replaced by a 3G sports pitch, two court sports hall, a cafe 4 five-bed accommodation units and parking and landscaping.

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Rowlands Gill funeral parlour - new shop front

Gateshead Planning Committee has granted planning permission for a new shop front at 32 Station Road, Rowlands Gill. The premises have been taken over for use as a funeral parlour by Co-operative Funeralcare. It was previously used as a shop called Simply Drinks.

Issues were raised at the Planning Committee on 26th May, when the application was approved, about the change of use from a shop to funeral parlour. Officers explained that under current planning laws, the change was a "permitted development" which meant it did not require planning permission. The Committee agreed to approach the new government to ask for a review of planning laws to allow for planning permission to be required for change of use from a shop to funeral parlour in a residential area.

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Broom Lane house plan renewed

Broom Lane Gym May 10

Plans to demolish the former Coop building on Broom Lane, Whickham, and to build a bungalow and 2 houses on the site have been renewed by Gateshead's planning committee.

The plans were originally passed in 2007 but not implemented. Under planning laws, an approved application expires after three years if it is not carried out.

The planning application was renewed at the meeting of the Planning Committee held on 26th May 2010.

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Glebe mast plan rejected

Plans by Vodaphone to site a phone mast on Rectory Lane, Whickham, have been rejected by Gateshead's Planning Committee.

The company wanted to install a mast that would have been 19.8 metres high, nearly twice the height of nearby street lights.

Cllr Peter Craig, who led the battle against the plans, said, "Phone companies are required to look at alternatives such as mast sharing. There are already masts on nearby Glebe Sports Ground. Vodaphone should have looked at the possibility of sharing them.

"Instead, Vodaphone chose to apply to put a mast on a very prominent location, close to the Whickham Conservation Zone. I argued that the mast would be an eyesore and could not be screened as it is right next to the road and a busy bus stop.

"I am pleased therefore that the Planning Committee has rejected the plan."

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Enforcement action against Whickham shop

Gateshead Council is to take enforcement action against a shop whose air conditioning units are disturbing neighbouring households.

The shop is at 94 Oakfield Road in Whickham. The enforcement action notice does not require the removal of the units but it will require either that they are switched off or that the are used in a way so that the noise generated does not exceed prescribed limits.
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Winlaton hot food takeaway plan rejected

A plan to convert a former office and shop into a hot food takeaway has been rejected by Gateshead Council's planning committee. The application to convert the premises on Park Avenue, Winlaton, was refused because the building was next door to housing and parking was not suitable. The site is also next to Blaydon Cricket Ground and some opposing the application raised this as a concern.

Cllr Brenda Osborne expressed concerns at the planning meeting on 26th May that there are already a large number of hot food takeaways in the vicinity.

The planning committee unanimously rejected the application.
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Blaydon will be too close to call – Lib Dems

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon have said that the election result in the constituency is too close to call between Lib Dems and Labour.

Launching his campaign to become the new MP for Blaydon, Liberal Democrat Neil Bradbury is aiming to build on the strong result the party achieved at the last election to close the gap on Labour’s David Anderson and to move ahead on polling day.

“Liberal Democrats were only 5,000 votes behind Labour last time. Since then we have continued to win council seats from Labour in the constituency. We have outpolled Labour in recent local elections.

“Everyone knows that the Conservatives, whose candidate lives in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, cannot win here. But for the first time in generations, Labour cannot afford to take Blaydon for granted.

“We will be fighting the election calling for a fair deal for Blaydon and to give our area a strong voice in Parliament.”

The votes cast for each party at the last general election in 2005 were:

Labour 20,120 (51.5%)
Lib Dem 14,785 (37.9%)
Conservative 3,129 (8%)
UKIP 1019 (2.6%)

Since then, boundary changes have brought fully into the constituency the Liberal Democrat held ward of Dunston Hill and Whickham East.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Phone mast plan opposed in Whickham

Glebe Mast site Mar 10 1
A planning application for a phone mast on a prominent location in Whickham, Gateshead, has sparked opposition from local Liberal Democrat Councillors and campaigners.

The Glebe Sports Ground has been the location for a number of masts in recent years but local Liberal Democrats are saying, “Enough is enough.”

Local Lib Dem Councillor Peter Craig said, “I have objected to the application on the grounds it is visually obtrusive, is close to the Whickham Conservation Zone and other masts in the area could be shared.”

The phone mast, if given planning permission by Gateshead Council’s planning committee, would be built next to Rectory Lane, one of the main roads in Whickham.

The plans can be viewed on-line at Observations about the planning application can be made in writing to Iain Armstrong, Development Control, Gateshead Civic Centre, Gateshead, NE8 1HH. You will need to quote reference number DC/10/00242/TELFUL.

Photo: left to right Cllr Peter Maughan, Cllr Neil Bradbury, Cllr Peter Craig, Cllr Mary Wallace and Sonya Hawkins)

Residents unhappy with Lobley Hill Bank changes

LH Bank Michael Ruddy Frank HIndle Mar 10 2

Residents of Lobley Hill, Festival Park and the top of Dunston Hill in Gateshead are unhappy with traffic changes on Lobley Hill Bank, according to a survey carried out by local Liberal Democrats.

In 2009, Gateshead Council brought in a series of changes on Lobley Hill Bank including traffic lights at the bottom, changes to access from side roads and a longer bus lane.

But residents very quickly contacted local Lib Dem campaigners about growing problems they had, especially driving onto the road from Beechwood Gardens, Oakfield Rd and Whickham Highway.

“We carried out the survey to find out how people were coping with the changes,” said Michael Ruddy from the Liberal Democrats’ Lobley Hill Focus Team.

“We found the overwhelming view of respondents was that they had been inadequately informed of the changes, the changes had made traffic conditions worse, and they did not support the changes.

“Many people commented that they felt the changes had made travel more dangerous and increased the risk of accidents.

“Even amongst those travelling mainly by public transport two thirds of people were strongly opposed to the changes.”

Lib Dem Councillor Frank Hindle is asking the Council’s traffic engineers what analysis they made of the effect of the changes, and what actions they are proposing to take to reduce the congestion and inconvenience that has been created.

Photo: Michael Ruddy and Frank Hindle on Lobley Hill Bank

Saturday, March 27, 2010

recycling NR Mar 10

The system of recycling across Gateshead is about to be changed with the introduction of new wheelie bins.

The new blue bin will take all the material currently put out for recycling. In addition, it will take cardboard and plastic bottles.

A box that goes on the inside of the bin will be used to hold paper. The bins will be emptied fortnightly, on the same cycle as currently in place. The first bins will be provided in May.

Recently, Gateshead had one of the worst recycling rates in the region. Lib Dem run Newcastle has a recycling rate far ahead of the Labour run council on this side of the Tyne.

Photo: Councillor Noel Rippeth with one of the new wheelie bins and paper boxes.

We need a fair budget, not Labour's let-down: Bradbury

North East Lib Dem conference Oct 09 no 26

Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Blaydon, Neil Bradbury, has attacked the Budget as a "let-down that will do nothing to create a fair society."

In a message to local residents he said, "Like many other local residents I watched the Chancellor present his Budget wondering whether Labour would come clean on the chaos over which they have presided and the cuts they know they will have to bring in if the nation’s books are to be balanced.

"What we got was a Chancellor who is incapable of coming clean about where spending cuts will have to fall. And the Budget did nothing to make Britain a fairer society.

"People on low and middle incomes pay too much income tax. That’s why Liberal Democrats are campaigning for fair taxes, lifting millions of people out of income tax altogether. We will ensure no one pays tax on the first £10,000 of income.

"Labour however have gone in the opposite direction. In the Budget, the Chancellor froze personal allowances, meaning everyone will see a real increase in their income tax bill.

"The Chancellor didn’t mention this tax increase in his speech to Parliament. We had to read Labour’s small print to find out what they were doing.

"Meanwhile, the recent call by the Labour MP for Blaydon, who I hope to defeat in the general election, for a further increase in VAT will hit family budgets even more."

Photo: Neil Bradbury with Vince Cable on a recent visit to Gateshead. Neil said Labour's Budget would do nothing to create a fairer society.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Closure of Durham Road

Part of the main A167 Durham Road will be closed to traffic on Sunday 28 March to enable a pedestrian footbridge over the road to be dismantled.

A section of the road between Shipcote Lane and the start of the Gateshead flyover will be closed to all traffic in both directions from 6.00 am to enable engineers to dismantle and remove the footbridge at the junction of Durham Road and Whitehall Road.

The metal bridge dates from the 1970s and is being removed because it does not meet the legal requirements for disabled access. Its stepped construction makes it extremely difficult for cyclists and people with pushchairs to use, and almost impossible for wheelchair users. The bridge is being replaced with a light-controlled pedestrian and cycle crossing which will be activated as soon as the bridge has been removed.

A clearly-marked diversion route will be in operation throughout the day, with traffic being directed along Prince Consort Road, Arthur Street and High West Street.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

North East’s voice needs to be stronger for local business

A LEADING Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead has called for the North East to have a stronger voice in London to get a better deal for the region and for business.

Dr Jonathan Wallace made his comments to a meeting of the Confederation of British Industry which was holding a meeting for young business people from the North East in the Baltic Art Galley on the Gateshead Quays.

Dr Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside, said it was easy for the North East to be overlooked when major transport investment is decided.

“The problem with our region is that it has too many safe Labour seats,” said Jonathan. “Even in a bad year for Labour, they will win most seats here.

“At the last election in the region, Labour took 28 of the 30 seats in the North East. That effectively means that in Parliamentary representation, our region has been something of a one party state, even though Labour does not command an overwhelming majority of votes.

“Labour can therefore take the region for granted. The Conservatives have only very limited interest in the region because their chances of winning more than a small number of seats here is remote.

“The Labour one party state in the North East has therefore served us badly and both Labour and Conservative governments pay more attention to other regions with more marginal seats.

“We need to turn the safe seats into marginals. That’s why voting reform and fair votes will benefit our area of the country far more than any other. It will put us back on the political map.

“And we need reforms to the House of Lords so that members are elected under a fair votes system and can speak for the whole region.

“This package of change and reform will make politics more relevant to the people of our region and make governments of all colours take note of the North East.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

A1 in “slow lane” plan attacked by Lib Dems

A PLAN by the Government’s Department for Transport to cut traffic speeds on the A1 from Birtley to Blaydon have been slammed by Liberal Democrats as putting the area into “the slow lane”.

The plans to cut the speed limit from 70mph to 50 mph are being put forward by the Government as the alternative to investing in upgrading the road.

Neil Bradbury, the Liberal Democrats’ prospective MP for Blaydon, described the plans as little more than a joke that will do nothing to solve the serious congestion on the road.

Neil said, “The A1 from Birtley to the bridge over the Tyne at Blaydon is one of the most congested in the North East. It carries far more traffic than it was designed to take.

“In rush hour, the road slows to a snail’s pace, so the idea that congestion will be solved by lowering the speed limit to 50mph is laughable.

“This stretch of road has room for a third lane. Changes are also needed to create a better flow of traffic into and out of the Metrocentre.

“The plan by Labour to solve the problems of this road by cutting the speed limit is nothing more than a window-dressing exercise on the cheap. It will have very little practical benefit.

“The A1 in Gateshead is a strategic road and congestion there damages our local economy. It needs real investment, not daft and irrelevant plans that put us in the slow lane.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Council spending consultation “remote and inaccessible for many”

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency have slammed a consultation process by Gateshead Council into spending cuts as “remote and inaccessible.” And they have compared it to Northumberland’s consultation which they describe as “open and in touch.”

Gateshead Council are currently looking at cuts of up to £60 million over the next three years, caused by Government ministers slashing the amount of cash given to councils to support local services.

Gateshead held two consultation meetings for residents but Neil Bradbury, a leading Liberal Democrat campaigner in Blaydon has attacked the Council for holding both sessions in Gateshead town centre.

Neil, who is hoping to be elected as the MP for Blaydon in the general election in a few weeks’ time, said, “Gateshead is a large borough. Blaydon constituency covers the western half of the borough and is made up of small towns and villages.

“Gateshead’s decision to hold both consultation meetings in the town centre will make them inaccessible for many of the people I hope to represent after the general election.

“It seems to me that the views of people from the west of the borough are being ignored by Labour. This is not on. Labour must rethink its consultation and hold meetings in towns such as Birtley, Whickham, Blaydon, Ryton and Rowlands Gill.

“The contrast with Liberal Democrat run Northumberland County Council is remarkable. There we have held 12 meetings around the county. In Gateshead, people will only be let in to the meetings if they apply in advance. In Northumberland they are open to all residents.

“The difference in approach between Lib Dem Northumberland and Labour Gateshead is remarkable. All councils are having to face up to huge cuts as Labour are slashing the amount they are giving to councils to spend on services.

“But in Northumberland we have made it much easier for people to come along and give their views. Labour in Gateshead have a great deal to learn from us.”

Liberal Democrats choose Tom for Jarrow

Liberal Democrats in Jarrow Constituency have chosen Tom Appleby as their candidate for the general election.

The constituency includes parts of eastern Gateshead such as Pelaw and Heworth as well as Hebburn in South Tyneside.

At 25 years old, Tom will be one the youngest Parliamentary candidates in the North East. He currently works as a supervisor for a major retail chain but is also studying for a law degree at Northumbria University.

“I am looking forward to the campaign, even though it will be a big challenge!” said Tom.

“We already have councillors in Pelaw and Heworth in Gateshead and Hebburn in South Tyneside. I will be working with them to ensure the Liberal Democrat message of fairness is heard in the coming election.

“I will also be fighting hard to stop Labour taking the area for granted and to end their decades of complacency.”

Welcome for creamery takeover

A creamery in Blaydon that closed during the recession with the loss of 300 jobs is to get a new lease of life.

The closure last year of the plant in the town owned by Dairy Farmers of Great Britain was a shock to the local economy.

Now, Medina Dairies, Britain’s largest, independent dairy group, has bought the plant and will begin production again. 50 jobs will be created initially.

Liberal Democrat Neil Bradbury, who hopes to be elected the town’s MP in a few weeks’ time, said, “This is good news for the economy of Blaydon and hopefully lead to more jobs in the future.

“Losing the Dairy Farmers of Great Britain creamery was a blow for local people. Hopefully the plant will prosper under its new owners.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blaydon Liberal Democrats demand fairness for local people

The battle between Liberal Democrats and Labour for Blaydon constituency has hit the ground running with Liberal Democrat candidate Neil Bradbury declaring that fairness for local people is at the top of his election bid.

In a message to local residents, Neil said that Blaydon has suffered because Labour and the Conservatives have created an unfair Britain.

“Under both Labour and Conservative Governments, people on low and middle incomes pay a higher share of their income in tax that the most wealthy do,” said Neil. “That simply is not fair.

“Under Liberal Democrat tax plans, no resident of Blaydon will pay tax on their first £10,000 of income. That will go a long way to making the tax system fairer.

“We will make the tax system fairer. Tax cuts for people of low and middle incomes will be paid for by ending the unfair tax loopholes used by the richest people to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

“Labour and the Conservatives allowed the banks to get too powerful. They created an unfair economy which has been a poor deal for Blaydon.

“Liberal Democrats will make the economy fairer, helping hundreds of unemployed residents of Blaydon back into work who have unfairly had to pay to price for the Government’s mismanagement of the economy.

“We will do this by investing in public transport, more home insulation and new affordable housing for local families. Not only will this create jobs, it will lead to better transport, cheaper heating bills for local residents and more badly needed homes for residents. We will pay for this investment by using savings made elsewhere in Government spending.

“We will give every child in Blaydon a fair start in life by ensuring additional funding is given to those schools whose children come from the most deprived areas.

“And finally, we will scrap the unfair voting system that denies people a real choice in elections and has for decades given us Labour/Conservative Governments that are out of touch with the people.”

Blaydon Labour MP David Anderson is defending a majority of only 5,000. The Conservatives are out of the race, taking only 3,000 votes at the last election.

Opencast company pays up in Gateshead

A company that attempted to appeal against refusal to grant planning permission to set up an opencast mine near Whickham, Gateshead, has had to foot a £75,000 bill.

Hall Construction Services of Rushyford, County Durham, were all set to take the rejection of their plans by Gateshead Council to an appeal but withdrew it days before the planning inquiry was due to start in 2007.

But in the meantime, Gateshead Council had notched up a bill of tens of thousands of pounds to prepare the case in support of the decision to reject the application.

The plan to opencast the site at Skons Park, which overlooks the historic Gibside Estate, was rejected in October 2005 following a campaign led by local Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace.

He co-ordinated a petition which was signed by over 16,000 people – the largest ever handed in to Gateshead Council – which called on the plans to be rejected.

Residents feared the plan would lead to damage to the countryside and heavy lorries on local roads whilst damaging the growing tourism industry of the area.

Dr Wallace, who represents Whickham South and Sunniside on Gateshead Council, said, “There is no way the taxpayer should have to pick up the bill for the actions of this company.

“A great deal of officer time and council resources were put into preparing the case against the appeal. The decision by Halls to withdraw their appeal at the last minute should not lead to Gateshead residents being out of pocket.

“I am therefore pleased that the costs of £75,000 have been paid by Halls to Gateshead Council to recompense the authority and, more importantly, local taxpayers.”

The announcement that the cash had been paid by Halls was made at Gateshead Council’s planning committee on Wednesday 13th January.

Friday, January 08, 2010

MP accused of being “asleep on the job”

LABOUR MP for Blaydon, David Anderson, has been accused of being “asleep on the job” after he called on fellow MPs to turn up for a debate that was scheduled to take place nearly a year earlier.

Mr Anderson decided to sign an out-of-date Early Day Motion in Parliament on 11th November 2009 which called on MPs to back the Employers' Liability Insurance Bureau Bill on 13th March 2009, 8 months previously.

However, despite Mr Anderson’s call for action 8 months after the event, it turns out Mr Anderson himself was not present for any of the votes held on 13th March 2009.

And to add to Mr Anderson’s embarrassment, the bill itself was abandoned by its sponsor, Andrew Dismore MP, before it was even due to be debated on 13th March!

Now Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency are demanding that Mr Anderson explain himself.

“I wonder if Mr Anderson has been asleep in the job,” said Dr Jonathan Wallace, a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Blaydon constituency. “He seems to live by the saying ‘Better late than never’.

“It is bizarre that he demanded other MPs should attend a debate even though 8 months had passed since the debate was supposed to be held. It is even more bizarre that he demanded his colleagues be present even though he himself wasn’t present that day.

“But the most ludicrous point is that the bill was abandoned before the debate he asked other MPs to attend could take place! He is therefore asking MPs to attend in the past an event that did not happen to support a bill that did not see light of day.

“I think Blaydon deserves representation that is far more on the ball than Mr Anderson appears to be.”

Lib Dems in Blaydon launch appeal to Labour voters

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency are urging disillusioned Labour voters to switch to Nick Clegg’s party, following the latest failed attempted by Labour MPs to get rid of Gordon Brown.

Former Cabinet members Geoff Hoon MP and Patricia Hewitt MP launched a failed bid to topple Mr Brown on Wednesday 6th January, the latest in a series of attempts by Labour MPs to dump their leader.

Neil Bradbury, who hopes to be elected as the Lib Dem MP for Blaydon in the general election in just a few weeks’ time, said that people in the constituency who have normally voted Labour were now “fed up to the back teeth with Gordon Brown and his squabbling party.”

In a message to constituents on his blog, Neil writes, “I have lost count of the number of people who have voted Labour for years who now want nothing to do with their traditional party.

“In Blaydon, people are fed up with this failed Prime Minister. They are fed up with a Labour Party that is more interested in fighting itself rather than getting on with the task of sorting out the economic mess.

“People want a government that is putting the country back on the road to recovery and they are simply not getting that from Labour. They don’t believe David Cameron’s shallow, bland promises and they know he can’t deliver for Blaydon.

“My message to those people is to vote Liberal Democrat in Blaydon. The constituency is my priority and as MP for the area, I will fight hard for a fair deal.

“But staying at home rather than voting is a recipe for no change and the same old, failed business-as-usual under Labour.

“That’s why I am making a special appeal to former Labour voters to vote for a new MP and real change in Blaydon by voting Liberal Democrat.”

Neil’s hopes in Blaydon are high because the Labour majority is only 5,000, one of the lowest in the North East. The Conservative vote last time was only 3,000, making Blaydon one of the most unwinnable seats for David Cameron anywhere in the UK.