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.