Friday, November 27, 2015

Marley Hill Community Christmas Market

Marley Hill Community Centre Apr 14

Marley Hill Community Centre are holding a Christmas Fair from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 29th November. All residents are welcome to join in the fun.

  • Lots of stalls selling crafts and food
  • Raffles and tombolas
  • Mince pies
  • Mayor visiting at 1pm
  • Live music including Whickham Wind at 2pm
  • 20p entry, children free
  • Great day out for everyone

Please support your local community centre by visiting the fair.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gateshead Council increase garden waste collection charge

Gateshead Council have decided to increase the charge for the green bin garden waste collection service from £20 to £25 next year - with more increases planned. Even at £25 per year however the Council is subsidising the service, which was first introduced in 2006 as a free service.

Low Fell Councillor Ron Beadle has asked the Council to reconsider the decision not to continue garden waste collection in November, and to make faster progress on providing alternative ways for people to recycle their garden waste.

Ron said, “Services should improve when the cost of the service is going up.”

Council officials have said that the staff who collect the green bins are currently re-allocated to winter duties (e.g. preparing gritters) in November but that they will look at this issue again.

Marley Hill School site for sale

Marley Hill School John McClurey Nov 15

Gateshead Council have now received permission from the Government to sell Marley Hill School. As a result, the site has been put on the market and it is expected to be sold for housing.

Bids, along with outline proposals for the site, have to be received by the Council by early December. The school has been closed for 4 years with local primary age children now going mainly to Clover Hill and Washingwell Schools.

Cllr John McClurey, whose sons Kevin and Stuart, went to Marley Hill School, said, “The collapse in pupil numbers meant it was not possible to keep the school open.

“Since the school closed, we have pressed the Council to sort out the future of the site. We were concerned that the building was becoming derelict and an eyesore. But the law required permission from the Government before the sale could go ahead and that was only forthcoming recently.

“Our hope is that any developer will retain the original school building, built in the 1890s, and convert it to housing. Sadly, though the Council will look on this favourably, they have not made it a condition, despite our requests.

“We are expecting any bid to include new homes on the playing field. We have asked officers to look into access to the site. There are concerns at the speed of vehicles entering Marley Hill, despite there being a 30mph limit. We would like developers taking on the site to make changes to the road layout outside the school to improve safety.”

Pictured above: Cllr John McClurey outside Marley Hill School

Landslip fears over major road link

Metal Bank embankment Nov 15

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Sunniside, Gateshead - John McClurey, Jonathan Wallace and Marilynn Ord - have raised concerns about the state of the embankment at the bottom of Metal Bank which carries one of the main roads between Sunniside and Whickham

They brought highway engineers to look at the road surface which is starting to subside. “The road is on a steep embankment and we are concerned that it is starting to give way,” said Jonathan.

“Engineers have now carried out an initial investigation of the road and embankment. They tell us that there are a number of possible causes. Under the embankment is a large culvert, there are old mine workings in the area, there are sewers under the road and animals burrowing into the bankside.

“The engineers will carry out further investigations to identify the cause but they say there is no immediate risk to the safety of road users.

"However, in recent weeks, the fractures in the road surface have got bigger, the curbstones are now out of alignment and the fence is sagging. We are worried that a landslip could could close what is a very busy road and cause traffic to be congested on other already busy roads in Sunniside and Whickham."

Pictured above: Cllr Jonathan Wallace on the embankment where the road is beginning to give way between Whickham and Sunniside.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Back our bobbies, says Gateshead Opposition Leader

Northumbria Police force faces a £57 million loss over the next four years as part of potential Conservative cuts to police budgets as part of Wednesday's Autumn Statement. 

These cuts are likely to hit Neighbourhood Policing teams hardest and put 211 PCSOs at risk across the force area.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that Neighbourhood Policing teams are vital to community safety and cohesion and are campaigning against the looming cuts.

Speaking ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Lord Paddick – the Liberal Democrats Home Affairs lead in the Lords and former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner said:

“Neighbourhood policing has been a great success in providing reassurance to communities.

"By building trust and confidence between the police and the people they serve, neighbourhood policing teams are the front line in preventing radicalisation and trusted routes through which community intelligence can be passed, information on issues from drug dealing to terrorism.

“The government must ensure police forces are given the resources they need to maintain this vital part of policing.

Lib Dem leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council Cllr Jonathan Wallace added:

“I know how hard our local policemen and women work to keep us all safe, day in and day out. It is shocking to see that the Conservative Government are failing to do right by them.  I am calling on the Government to rethink these damaging cuts and back our bobbies to protect frontline neighbourhood teams in the Northumbria force area.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Animal welfare champion calls for end to puppy farming

Puppy farming needs to become a thing of the past, a leading Liberal Democrat and animal welfare campaigner has claimed.

Gateshead Councillor Peter Maughan, who is also chairman of Newcastle and North Northumberland RSPCA, made the call following a challenge by Lib Dem peer Kate Parminter in the House of Lords to the government to end puppy farming. Lady Parminter made the call on Monday 9th November.

“In Gateshead there are two registered puppy farms,” said Peter. “Overall the system of licensing is weak and fails to give adequate welfare protection to dogs used to breed the puppies or to puppies themselves.

“My own preference is to see an end to puppy farms but if they are to continue, they need much tougher control and regulation. We have to put an end to squalid, unhealthy and often cruel circumstances in which puppies are farmed. We need to ban the sale of puppies below the age of 8 weeks.

“If farms are not registered and conforming to higher welfare standards, they should be closed down. People who buy puppies from them do not know how well their dog has been treated and do not have consumer protection.

“There is more protection in buying a fridge from an electrical store than a puppy from an unregistered puppy farm.

“I urge all those wanting to buy a puppy to go to a reputable breeder rather than a puppy farm where dogs are treated as puppy producing machines.”

Monday, November 09, 2015

Remembrance Day Parade - Whickham

Whickham Remembrance Day Nov 15

Whickham hosted the largest of Gateshead's Remembrance Day parades yesterday which saw over 40 wreaths laid by organisations and individuals at the war memorial on Front Street.

You can see a full set of photos of the day in the above album.

New "snoopers charter" is a threat to ordinary people - but not to serious criminals - Frank Hindle

The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill will put law abiding citizen's personal data at risk - while the seriously bad guys will simply use servers that are based overseas. It seems that Ministers need to find out more about how internet services work before they try to legislate about them.

Low Fell Lib Dem Councillor Frank Hindle, a former Head of Computing at Northumbria University, has pointed out that the proposed requirement for Internet Providers to keep people's browsing history for a year is a threat to the privacy of ordinary people.

 "Our browsing habits say a lot about us. Whether it is looking up information about places before going away on holiday, or researching our own or our relatives’ illnesses, or simply the absence of any browsing when our homes are empty and unguarded, a perfectly innocent web browsing history will reveal things that we are entitled to keep private. Whatever safeguards the law might have (and at the moment they are inadequate) about how government agencies could use this data, the recent problems at TalkTalk demonstrate the risk that criminals will hack into and steal this data, and be able to use it to target their activities, or simply sell or publish it.

"But for any serious - or even semi-serious - criminal such as a terrorist, child pornographer, or drug trafficker it isn't hard to set up encrypted systems using a server or servers located outside of the UK that will let them do all the browsing they want out of reach of this proposed law. Expecting the internet service provider of someone doing this to be able to provide a meaningful browsing history is impossible.

"Similarly, the proposals don't make sense when it comes to services such as WhatsApp and iMessenger - internet companies are expected to be able to decrypt any messages, even though the companies have no way of knowing the key that is needed to do the decryption.

"Many of the proposals seem technologically illiterate and their absurdity is summed up by a quote by a researcher at University of Kent in New Scientist 'I don’t know what the legal position is on a government requiring a company to do something that is logically impossible.'"

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Gateshead Labour pours £45,000 into plush revamp of offices for Leader and Cabinet

Despite having to find £22 million of cuts to services this year, Labour in Gateshead have poured £45,000 into a plush revamp of the offices for the Labour Leader of the Council and the all-Labour Cabinet.

And Liberal Democrats, who discovered the spending following a Freedom of Information request, are demanding to know why Labour have put their own comfort ahead of vital services to residents.

The total amount spent by the Labour Council on office improvements for the Labour leader, cabinet and Labour group secretary is £45,264.89.

“I think this is a staggering waste of money at a time of severe cutbacks to services on which many people in Gateshead rely,” said Cllr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead.

“Labour have clearly demonstrated where their priorities lie. Their own leadership now has a comfortable office paid for by taxpayers from where they can decide how to slash services to pay for their own plush comfort.

“At a time when cuts have to be made to balance the books, Liberal Democrat Councillors in Gateshead are committed to helping identify, wherever possible, ways of finding savings without harming front line services.”

The same Freedom of Information request also revealed that the Council plans to spend nothing on the Opposition Office which has not been redecorated since 1986 when the Civic Centre was built.

“Cash is in short supply,” said Jonathan. “There are more important things on which to spend than an office revamp. So I’m happy that the wallpaper and furniture (other than one seat) in the Opposition Office hasn’t changed in 29 years!”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Sands Allotment Show

Another garden show taking place recently was the New Sands Allotments' in Swalwell. The show was held in the Sun Inn and funds raised went to the Swalwell Community Group.

Whickham Flower Show

Whickham in Bloom's Flower Show was held in September. Well done to everyone who helped organise the event in St Mary's Church Hall and congratulations to everyone who won prizes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Repairs taking place to Swalwell Pipebridge

Northumbrian Water are carrying out renovation work on the Victorian Pipebridge over the Derwent River in Swalwell, which still carries 25 million litres of water a day. Cllr Jonathan Wallace was given access to the bridge recently to film and photograph it.

Work is on-going to replace some of the pipe supports and brackets and some reinforcement work is taking place before the painting of the bridge is carried out.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Chase Park a Lotto winner as £1 million Lottery bid approved

Chase Park May 09 no 11

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund have awarded just under £1 million (£922,900) to local community group Friends of Chase Park (FoCP) and Gateshead Council on plans that will see them work together on the restoration and improvement of Whickham’s historic Chase Park.

This is fantastic news for the group which was established by Cllr. Peter Craig in 2009 and has worked tirelessly towards this objective since then. The award will mean that residents will be able enjoy many more facilities. The existing toddler play area will be improved, tennis courts resurfaced and teenage play and skateboard areas built.

Plans over a three year period also include a restoration project for the windmill, entrance gates, paths and ornamental gardens, installation of an outdoor gym and trim trail, development of community garden and orchard and installation of new street furniture, signs and interpretations/artworks of heritage points of interest.

A Lottery award of £66,000 was made in Spring 2014 so that the Friends of Chase Park, working with Gateshead Council, could work up the bid from the HLF. A master plan for the park was drawn up in consultation with local award-winning landscape architects Southern Green.

Chair of Friends of Chase Park, Alan Scott said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this HLF and Big Lottery Fund grant and look forward to working with Gateshead Council and Southern Green to see the plans for the renaissance of our beloved Chase Park come to fruition.

“Returning the park to its former glory will be something the whole community can be proud of for many years to come.

“So many people have worked hard to get us where we are today and I give huge thanks to everyone involved for the effort and contributions made. Who would have dreamed we would be in this position as we set out on our journey all those years ago.”

Cllr. Peter Craig, Founder of the Friends group said “I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible, with a special thank you to the individuals who have stuck with this.

“It has taken us 6 years to reach this point and we are delighted that our bid has been successful, so that a rejuvenated Chase Park can continue to play an important part at the heart of our community.”

Pictured above: the historic windmill in Chase Park, Whickham, which will undergo restoration.

Gateshead set to lose £1 million due to Labour inaction

In 2012, Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government ensured local councils took control of public health from the NHS - and had a budget to go with the new powers.

They argued that councils are far better placed to address public health issues than the centralised, top down targets created by the previous Labour government.

After 2012, when the powers and the budgets were handed over, the only complaints came from Labour who attacked the Lib Dems for “not spending enough” on public health.

Sadly for Labour - and the residents of Gateshead - Labour’s agenda of all talk and no action has now put at risk £1 million of Gateshead’s public health money.

The Coalition Government gave Gateshead £12 million in 2014-15 for public health. The money can be spent only on public health. Labour inaction on the health issues facing Gateshead meant £1 million was left unspent.

And with the Conservatives now in government without the restraining hand of the Lib Dems to guide them along a liberal direction, George Osborne is planning a raid on unspent public health cash. And that could mean Gateshead handing back £1 million to the Treasury.

“Our area has significant public health issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and tobacco related diseases,” said Cllr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council. “I find it quite shocking that Labour cried foul when the money was awarded to Gateshead. I find it even more shocking that, having claimed they had insufficient money, they then left £1 million unspent which we may now have to return to the Government.”

Friday, September 04, 2015

A1 closures

Work to upgrade the A1 will mean a number of temporary closures in coming weeks:

7th –  11th  September 2015: from junction 70 (Dunston) southbound entry slip closed, diversion via junction 71 (Metro Centre junction);

14th – 19th September 2015: A1 main carriageway closed junction 69 exit (Gateshead Quays) to junction 69 entry (Gateshead Quays) southbound;

15th – 19th September 2015: A1 main carriageway closed junction 69 exit (Gateshead Quays) to junction 69 entry (Gateshead Quays) northbound;

21st – 25th September 2015 & 28th – 2nd October 2015: A1 mainline closed from junction 73 (Derwenhaugh) to junction 68 (Lobley Hill);

3rd – 10th October 2015: A1 manline junction closed from junction 67 (Coal House) to 68 (Lobley Hill) north and southbound.

Sunniside Post Office Consultation

The Post Office have been modernising branches throughout the country and they are now planning to do the same with the branch in Sunniside.

There will be improvements to the service point and longer opening hours. However, the branch will no longer provide on-demand travel insurance or take payment by cheque. Most other services will remain unchanged.

Residents are being consulted on their views about the proposed changes. You can give feedback online at Click on the link about making comments on specific branch changes and then enter the unique code for the Sunniside branch 35732999.

The closing date for feedback is quite soon – 9th September.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Concerns raised over damage to Marley Hill path

Marley Hill land damage Aug 15 (4)

Liberal Democrat Councillor John McClurey has raised concerns about damage to the embankment between a popular footpath and the football pitch at Marley Hill. Damage has been caused by a heavy vehicle. The damage ground has now flooded.

"Residents first raised concerns with me earlier this week and we visited the site with officers from Gateshead Council to look at the damage," said Cllr McClurey.

"Whoever caused the damage left behind deep gullies which are now full of rainwater and mud. The smell from the stagnant water is not pleasant.

"We have asked officers to investigate the problem and see if there are ways to restore the damaged ground."

Marley Hill land damage Aug 15 (3)

Marley Hill land damage Aug 15 (2)

Marley Hill land damage Aug 15 (1)