Saturday, December 17, 2011

Residents reject building plans by massive majority

Residents of Dunston Hill and eastern Whickham in Gateshead have overwhelmingly rejected proposals to allow building on the local greenbelt.

Gateshead Council’s Strategic Land Review is considering proposals to allow around 800 houses to be built on land to the south of Whickham Highway, between Dunston and Whickham.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan, who is leading the battle against the house building plans, carried out a survey of residents of Dunston Hill. He has received replies from 303 households in the area.

The results of the survey are:

oppose greenbelt building plans: 253 (83%)
support building if roads improved: 14 (4%)
support building a smaller number: 21 (7%)
support the proposals: 5 (2%)
don’t know: 10 (4%)

“If anyone wants evidence of the public opposition to this proposal to grab the local greenbelt, they need look no further than the results of this survey,” said Peter. “My survey shows overwhelming opposition to the proposals. Only one in fifty residents back the proposals to use this area for house building.

“I have been sent hundreds of comments by residents about the house-building plans which I will be passing on to the planners at Gateshead Council.

“I will also be telling them it’s time to pull the plug on this greenbelt smash and grab “

Changes planned at Gibside Estate

Gibside Estate has submitted plans to Gateshead Council to remove the over-flow car park within the walled garden and to restore it to garden use. The replacement parking will be provided within the West Wood (main car park) and at the Warren Haugh (over-flow car park).

Both these areas are located on the left of the main drive up to the estate from Busty Bank. The West Wood area is currently planted up by the Forestry Commission and the Warren Haugh is agricultural/grazing land.

Over both car parks, 365 new spaces will be provide. This is less than the 380 spaces within the walled garden at present.

A new admissions hut is also proposed at the Warren Haigh car park.

Parking charges to start in January

As expected, Labour-led Gateshead Council have pushed through their plans for car park charges in Whickham, despite strong resistance from local residents, businesses and councillors.

However, a last minute objection by your local Lib Dem councillors has meant a delay in implementing the scheme and also some success in gaining some concessions.

To support the Safe Routes to School scheme at Front Street School, the starting time for car park charging in both car parks has been pushed back from 8:30 am to 9:00 am.

Drivers using the West (Gibside Arms) car park solely for the purposes of using the recycling facilities will not be charged.

No charges will apply to electric vehicles utilising the electric charging points.

In the East (Library) car park, parking charges will be 20p per hour up to a maximum of 4 hours. The West (Gibside Arms) car park will cost £1 all day. Charging is now due to commence on Monday 9th January 2012.

Lib Dem campaigner Sonya Hawkins said, “The charges risk damaging businesses in Whickham and will push parking into residential streets.

“The £30,000 spent on installing ticket machines will take years to get back. That money would have been much better spent on improving the car parks.

“We have also asked if any future profit from the charges will be used in Whickham village - but the answer is that it might be used to improve car parks in other parts of Gateshead - including ones that don’t have charges. This simply isn’t fair or reasonable.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Residents views sought on house building

A LIBERAL Democrat Councillor in Gateshead is carrying out a survey of residents of Dunston to find out their views about Gateshead Council’s proposals to build houses on local greenbelt.

Gateshead’s Labour Council are carrying out a “Strategic Land Review” under which local landowners have been invited to put forward bids to have their land used for house building.

One of the sites is to the south of Whickham Highway on Dunston Hill where the Labour-run Council are proposing 800 homes could be built.

Councillor Peter Maughan, who represents the area on Gateshead Council, delivered survey forms on Sunday 13th November and collected 140 replies in the evening.

“I am very concerned about these proposals,” said Cllr Maughan. “I have represented local people on Gateshead Council for many years and I have always fought to protect the greenbelt here.

“I decided to carry out the survey to find out the strength of opinion about Labour’s plans to build on the greenbelt here.

“We got a very good response over the weekend. However, I have already started to produce a report on the results so if residents want their views to be included, they should get their completed survey forms back to me as soon as possible.”

Alcohol Awareness hits the road

Gateshead residents will be able to get information, advice and support for alcohol related issues as a road show marks Alcohol Awareness Week (14 – 18 November).

Advice will be provided to residents on their doorsteps as the Safer Gateshead Partnership - consisting of Gateshead Council, Gateshead PCT, Northumbria Police, The Gateshead Housing Company and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service - and Victim Support take to the streets throughout the week.

Starting on Monday 14 November, the Alcohol Awareness bus will visit sites across the borough including Gateshead High Street, Blaydon Leisure & Primary Care Centre, Springwell Community Centre, Tyne View Children’s Centre, Fewster Square and many more. A full list of locations is available at

This year’s Alcohol Awareness campaign focuses on the effects alcohol has on those around you. The road show will include information on a campaign led by Balance It, the North East’s Alcohol Office, highlighting the damage that alcohol advertising is having on children. Visitors to the bus will have the opportunity to sign the campaign petition to introduce a 9pm watershed in an attempt to stop alcohol advertising reaching children.

Gateshead Council cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Peter Mole, said: “Minimising the impact of alcohol-related harm has been one of the four strategic priorities that were identified for 2011/12 for the Safer Gateshead Partnership.”

“Alcohol Awareness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of all alcohol misuse issues, as well as to promote the work of alcohol treatment service providers across England and Wales. We’re all exposed to the second hand harms of other people’s drinking and the road show will offer people advice and support in how to deal with this.”

According to Gateshead PCT, there are around 4,000 hospital admissions each year caused by alcohol in Gateshead, with two thirds among men. In 2010, 55 deaths in Gateshead were also caused by alcohol.

As well as advice and support, the week long road show will also offer free NHS health checks for those aged 40 – 74 years, information on other support services available in the borough and more.

The Safer Gateshead Partnership is a collaboration of Gateshead Council, Gateshead PCT, Northumbria Police, The Gateshead Housing Company and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, with the purpose of addressing community safety issues across Gateshead.

The Alcohol Awareness Week road show is supported by NECA, NERAF, SMART and Turning Point.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Redheugh Bridge closure

The Redheugh Bridge will be closed for maintenance works on Sunday 30th October 2011 between 06:00 and 18:00.

Go North East Service 10/10A/11 inbound services will divert via Team Street, Centrelink, Swing Bridge and Forth Banks (as per Mon-Fri am journeys), omitting Clockmill Road and Derwentwater Road and rejoining the normal route on Clayton Street West.

Other Go North East services affected by the closure will divert as follows:

Buses will divert inbound via Askew Road, Hills Street, Tyne Bridge, Tyne Bridge slip road, Mosley Street, St Nicholas Street one-way system to Neville Street then normal route from Clayton Street.

Outbound services to operate from Eldon Square via Percy Street, Newgate Street, Grainger St, Neville Street, then Clayton Street, Westgate Road to St Nicholas Street, then High Level Bridge, Askew Road then normal route.

Services operating from Redheugh Bridge to Central Newcastle towards Tyne Bridge 97/98 53/54 etc., these will operate similar route from Redheugh Bridge roundabout via Askew Road, Hills Street, Tyne Bridge, Mosley Street, Church Chare one-way system to Neville Street then normal route via Bewick Street etc towards Gateshead.

Opposite direction will be normal route from Gateshead to Neville Street/Central Station, then Clayton Street, Westgate Road, St Nicholas Street, Collingwood Street, Swan House roundabout, Tyne Bridge then normal route.

Stagecoach Service 100 will divert (non-stop) via Scotswood Road and Scotswood Bridge to the Metro Centre.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whickham building plans dropped

Marilynn John Fellside Park Oct 11 2

A PROPOSAL to allow house-building to the south of Fellside Park in Whickham has been abandoned by Gateshead Council following strong opposition from local Liberal Democrat Councillors.

The proposals were considered as part of Gateshead Council’s “Strategic Land Review” which is looking at building thousands of houses in Gateshead over the next two decades. The vast majority of the areas being considered for new housing are greenfield sites in the west of the borough.

Councillors John McClurey, Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace met planning officers during the summer to discuss the house-building plans.

“We said very clearly that there was no way we could support the proposal to extend Fellside Park by building on the land up to the Clockburn Lonnen,” said John.

“Fellside Road is already very busy and during the rush hour it becomes congested. Adding more houses to Fellside Park would have made a bad traffic situation worse.

“In addition, the area proposed for development is open countryside which adds to the quality of life for Fellside residents.

“We are pleased that following our objections, the Council has removed the Fellside Park proposals from the house building proposals.”

Photo - Councillors Marilynn Ord and John McClurey on the site to the south of Fellside Park, Whickham, which Gateshead Council had considered for house-building. The proposals have now been dropped.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Swalwell Park developments

The Swalwell Park Development Group has been successful in obtaining £50,000 funding from SITA to start the second phase in the Park’s redevelopment.

The Group, made up of local residents, works in partnership with local councillors, Gateshead Council and Tyne & Wear Play Association to improve the park facilities.

This funding, together with money from Swalwell councillors’ Local Community Fund will help the Group to improve play provision. The new equipment will be used for teenage play and active outdoor gym equipment.

Terraces consultation under way

In March Gateshead Council approved the introduction of a licensing scheme for private landlords in the Swalwell Terraces subject to necessary consultation. This followed discussions between local councillors, the Council Leader and the Chief Executive of the Council when they visited Swalwell at the end of last year.

A full ten week consultation exercise is now under way, with the current plan to introduce the scheme in 2012. This commenced with a consultation event which was held on 27th September 2011 at Swalwell Community Centre.

All residents in the Terraces area should by now have received a postal questionnaire, advising of the proposals and asking for views.

In addition, a questionnaire has been posted to all known private landlords and agents in the area. A further consultation event was held on 4th October 2011 in the Civic Centre.

A representative of the Private sector Housing Team attended the Swalwell residents meeting on 6th October 2011 to advise and discuss proposals.

There is still an opportunity for you to have you say. Any individual or organisation may complete a questionnaire via the Council website. Go to

The last date for these forms to be completed is Friday 28th October.

Feedback from the consultation will be used to inform the Council Cabinet who will make the final decision in November, whether or not to go ahead with the scheme.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

£360,000 for Whickham and Dunston schools

Schools in Whickham and Dunston in Gateshead are set to receive an additional £360,000 this year thanks to the Pupil Premium which is being introduced by the Government.

The Pupil Premium is an additional payment to schools for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The policy was one of the top four general election manifesto commitments by the Liberal Democrats last year.

Dunston and Whickham Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan said, “This extra cash for local schools is a great boost for children’s education in the area.

“The aim of the Pupil Premium is to ensure all children have the best start in life. The last Labour government left a shocking legacy where the richest 16-year olds are three times as likely to get five good GCSEs as the poorest.

“The Government has already protected schools from the cuts needed to reduce the Deficit. The extra Pupil Premium money will go straight to local schools and can’t be siphoned off by the Labour Council to be spent on their pet projects elsewhere. The schools will be free to spend the money on what is best for their pupils.”

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister Sarah Teather recently announced that the total Pupil Premium funding for next year will rise to £1.25bn, double the amount in 2011-12. Lib Dem ministers have successfully negotiated a further rise again each year until 2014-15 when it will be worth £2.5bn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Swalwell street surgery

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Swalwell will be holding a street surgery for local residents this weekend.

It will be held on Saturday 15th October at The Oaklands estate, (next to the postbox on Beverley Drive), between 10:00 and 11:00 am. We hope to see you there.

All residents are welcoem to come along if they have issues to raise with their local councillors.

Mayor in Marley Hill to celebrate coal heritage

Mayor of Gateshead, Joe Mitchinson, was in Marley Hill on Thursday 6th October to celebrate the unvieling of restored coal tubs that form part of a floral display.

The coal tubs were formerly outside Marley Hill Primary School. When the school was closed in December, there was general consensus that the coal tubs should be retained as part of the heritage of the village whose mine closed in 1983.

The tubs had been used as part of a floral display at the school and it was felt that they should be used again in the same way.

The three local councillors - Jonathan Wallace, John McClurey and Marilynn Ord - arranged for the restoration of the tubs to be part financed by the Local Community Fund. Durham Aged Miners' Housing Association also covered some of the costs and gave permission for the tubs to be placed on their land, in front of the Marley Hill Aged Miners' Homes.

Restoration work was carried out during 2011 by the Tanfield Railway.

You can see the ceremony in the above video.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Delight as Emmaus pulls out of Dunston

Homeless charity Emmaus have decided not to go ahead with their plans to convert Dunston Hill School into a centre for homeless people. And the decision not to proceed has been welcomed by the local Lib Dem Councillor, Peter Maughan, who helped residents fight the scheme.

Councillor Maughan, who organised the public meeting for residents about the plan to change the school to a centre to house and train homeless people, said the decision to end the plans was the right one for Dunston.

“Whilst the aims of Emmaus were laudable, the location was completely wrong,” said Peter. “Residents expressed considerable concern about the impact on Dunston village.

“I am pleased that Emmaus have recognised that a proposal of this sort needs strong community backing which in this instance, was not there.

“Those who supported the plan, such as Labour MP for the area, David Anderson, were in a small minority. At the public meeting I arrange, the community made its position abundantly clear that this was a scheme they did not want to go ahead.

“I will be contacting council officers soon to raise concerns about the future of the Dunston Hill School site. An alternative use needs to be found for it but it must be one that is acceptable to the community of Dunston.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Opencast campaign goes on-line

A campaign fighting to stop plans for an opencast mine has gone on-line to reach more people.

Gateshead Council will decide in October whether or not to accept an application by Halls Construction to opencast 225,000 tonnes of coal from Birklands, near Kibblesworth.

A group has been set up to fight the plans and Liberal Democrat Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, has been helping the campaign to have the application rejected.

Cllr Wallace led the campaign against the plans by Halls Construction six years ago to opencast over 400,000 tonnes of coal at Skons Park, near Whickham.

“We have gone on-line to be able to reach more people,” said Cllr Wallace. “The site has already been visited by hundreds of people and many have signed the petition against the plans on-line.

“If this application goes ahead, we are very concerned about the impact on villages such as Kibblesworth, Lamesley, Marley Hill and Sunniside. We are also concerned that this application could create a precedent for more applications in our local countryside if it is allowed to go ahead.
“Many local people have signed the petition but there has been interest from across the country as well.

“Gateshead’s countryside is a great resource for our area. There is a growing tourist industry as well. Tourism and opencast mining do not mix. People understand that which is why many people have backed the petition.”

The campaign website is

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whickham phone masts rejected

Fellside Rd mast site Aug 11

Two phone masts planned for Whickham in Gateshead have been rejected by the Council’s planning committee after campaigns by local Lib Dem councillors and residents.

Vodaphone and 02 wanted to put the masts at the junction of Broom Lane and Whaggs Lane and at the top of Leasyde Walk in Fellside Park. Both locations were close to people’s homes.

Councillors on the planning committee rejected both applications on Wednesday 17th August. Two petitions opposing each application had been handed in to the Council.

Councillor Peter Maughan, who helped residents campaign against the planning applications, said, “Residents asked us to help run the petitions as they were concerned about these masts being too close to people’s homes.

“These big phone companies cannot expect to ride roughshod over people. I was angry they had submitted these applications as the same companies put in almost exactly the same plans earlier this year which were rejected by the planning committee in April.

“These phone companies don’t seem to want to take ‘No!’ as an answer. Hopefully they will now let residents live in peace.”

Photo above: site on Fellside Road, Whickham, where councillors have rejected plans for a phone mast.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sun Hill residents call for home to be kept open

Residents of Sun Hill, Sunniside, rallied outside their home on Saturday 13th August, calling for the aged persons' home to be kept open.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Residents battle to keep open aged persons’ home

Residents of Sun Hill in Sunniside, Gateshead are to rally together and launch a petition opposing proposals that could see their aged persons’ home close without a replacement.

Sun Hill is a popular location and has been home to Sunniside’s senior citizens for the last forty years. But the Council is considering closing the home as it does not come up to modern standards.

There are fears that without Sun Hill in place, Sunniside will be without a home for older residents.

“The knock on effect of closing and not replacing Sun Hill would be enormous in Sunniside,” said Cllr John McClurey, Liberal Democrat councillor for the village, who is helping residents campaign to keep a home for older people in the village.

“Without Sun Hill, many older people in Sunniside will opt to stay in their existing homes. That will mean fewer family homes available for people with young children in the village.

“Sun Hill has been a great success and the residents love living there. There is a very strong community spirit in the home and many activities take place in the community lounge. When you move into Sun Hill it’s like joining a family. I am worried this will be lost if Sun Hill is closed.”

Residents will be rallying outside Sun Hill to launch a petition calling for Sun Hill to be retained at 11am on Saturday 13th August.