Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Lib Dem response to Gateshead Library Review

Speaking about the review of libraries in Gateshead which is due to be considered by the Council’s cabinet on 12th July, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, Dr Jonathan Wallace, said:

“It is vital that residents take part in the consultation next month and make their views heard. It is also important that people with new ideas on how to make savings and run a volunteer service should come forward and pass on their thoughts to Gateshead Council.

“Meanwhile Gateshead must leave no stone unturned in looking for ideas on how to maintain access and funding for libraries.

“I have been pressing for the Council to open talks with coffee shop chains to rent out space in our libraries. Many are in front street locations which would be ideal as retail outlets which could provide Gateshead with the income needed to keep libraries open.

“We should not close any library until this option is fully explored.”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Call to vote Remain today

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead had sent an email message to over 2000 homes in the borough calling on residents to vote Remain today.

Leader of the Opposition on the Council, Jonathan Wallace, argues that Britain is better off in Europe and leaving the EU would be damaging for the economy, jobs, British influence abroad and attempts to tackle pollution.

He wrote:

Dear Fellow Residents,

Today, we each have a vote in the European Referendum. I’m voting to REMAIN and I hope you will do the same as well.

I am voting to stay in the EU because I believe we are stronger in Europe. We have full access to the world’s biggest Single Market. This is vital for our economy as 60% of our trade is done with the EU.

We are safer because of the European Arrest Warrant. This allows police forces to have criminals returned to the UK to face justice.

Our air and seas are cleaner because of the EU. Pollution ignores international boundaries so tackling it needs to be done at an international level. The EU has led on this.

On jobs and prosperity, tackling crime and cutting pollution, the EU has brought us great improvements.

But what is the future of Britain if we vote to leave the EU? Those who are leading the campaign to abandon the EU have not answered that - because they can’t. They are unable to tell us how Britain would be better off alone.

They cannot tell us how the economy will recover from the damage a vote to leave will cause (nearly all experts agree that leaving would deal a big blow to the economy).

Voting to leave is an enormous risk with too many unknowns. On Friday morning we could wake up to find our economy in a state of shock and the country marching into the unknown.

Or we could vote to REMAIN and wake up tomorrow to a Britain that is prosperous and has influence abroad. That’s what I want and I hope you join me in voting to REMAIN.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Jonathan Wallace
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Gateshead Council

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wallace Calls on Residents to Back Remain

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Jonathan Wallace is calling on Gateshead residents to vote Remain in the Referendum on Thursday.

Residents of Gateshead are being urged to vote Remain in the Referendum on Thursday 23rd June by local Liberal Democrats.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council, said, “60% of our trade is with the EU, the world’s biggest market. 3 million jobs rely on that trade. Quitting will be a self-inflicted wound that will risk our economy.

“The recovery from the crisis under Labour in 2008-9 is still weak but the sacrifices we have had to make to restore the economy could be nothing compared to the impact of leaving the EU.

“Thousands of local residents work in firms such as Nissan in Sunderland or Komatsu, in Birtley, or in the supply chain businesses. These businesses prosper because they can export easily to Europe. Leaving the EU will mean barriers to trade will be raised. That will risk jobs of Gateshead residents.

“So far no one from the Brexit side has been able to outline a realistic vision for Britain outside the EU. The vast majority of economic experts believe quitting would be bad for Britain. Most of the biggest employers believe it will be bad for Britain. And I believe it will be bad for Britain and communities here in Gateshead.

“Being in Europe means we can export our goods free of tariffs. Pollution takes no notice of international boundaries. That’s why the EU has had such an important role to play in cutting pollution.

“Working with our European partners, British police forces have been able to track down and have criminals returned to the UK under the European Arrest Warrant to face justice.

“Britain is better off in Europe. Leaving brings a huge number of risks. I’m not voting to gamble with our future. I’m voting to Remain and I’m urging residents of Gateshead to do the same.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anger as Gateshead Labour reject devolution

Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Cllr Jonathan Wallace, has described the Labour Council Cabinet’s decision to reject the proposed devolution package to the North East as “utterly mad.”

The Cabinet met today, 22nd March, for less than half an hour to discuss the package that had been negotiated by the 7 council leaders in the region with the government.

Despite months of negotiation by Gateshead Council Leader Mick Henry, his own Deputy, Martin Gannon, moved that the plans be rejected as he opposed the creation of elected mayors.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Cllr Wallace said, “This decision is completely the wrong one. We have on offer from the government control over skills training, economic development, transport and planning. There is even the possibility of taking on some health powers.

“This has all been sacrificed by those in the Labour party who view elected mayors as a threat to their own establishment and control of the region. Labour have now put party interests before the people’s interests.

“Labour have not even put Gateshead into the Slow Lane. Instead they have put us in the No Lane – no extra powers, no extra investment, no hope.

“There were many smug grins on the faces of Labour cabinet members this morning after the meeting. But smug grins won’t held fill the skills gap, develop the economy or sort out our transport. Labour have set back Gateshead and the North East. It is difficult to see how the region can recover from this wholly unnecessary, Labour-inflicted wound.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gateshead's Dr Jonathan Wallace selected as Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Northumbria

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Liberal Democrats in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear are putting forward a candidate for the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner who will campaign for the post to be axed and the savings ploughed back into putting police on the beat.

Dr Jonathan Wallace is Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council and has almost 30 years of experience in local government in the North East. He was born in Bensham, grew up in Lobley Hill, and was elected at the age of 23 to Gateshead Council in 1986 for Whickham South and Sunniside ward where he has been re-elected 8 times since.

Whilst Jonathan has extensive experience of local government, he does not come from a typical political background. 7 years ago he gave up paid employment to live the “good life” with his partner David in Sunniside, growing his own food and keeping bees, poultry and goats. His broadcasts about self-sufficiency on his YouTube channel have had over 4 million viewings. Jonathan graduated from Newcastle University in 1988 where he studied history, and was awarded a research doctorate in 1995.
“It is a great privilege to have been chosen by fellow Liberal Democrats,” said Jonathan, who is also Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council.
“My three priorities are to ensure front line policing is protected, bureaucracy is kept to a minimum through scrapping the post of police and crime commissioner, and seeking to reduce the increase in crime experienced under the current incumbent.
“Liberal Democrats want a more democratic system to ensure all communities in the area of the police force are taken into account when policing plans are drawn up, without the unnecessary overheads of the commissioner and her office.

“I am determined to challenge the Labour establishment in the North East. They have complacently controlled the region for decades without the North East seeing any significant gains. After years of crime falling locally, the incumbent Labour PCC has presided over an increase in crime rates and has been involved in controversy over the departure of the chief constable and her decision to axe funding for Victim Support in favour of funding an alternative organisation of which she is a director. I want to prioritise community policing principles which have taken a back seat under the current Labour PCC.”

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Lib Dems call for one in 3 councillors to be cut in Gateshead

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are to press the Council to back a cut in the number of councillors in the borough. The party is also calling for the local election cycle to be changed to save money and make the council more efficient.

There are currently 66 councillors in Gateshead, with three representing each of the 22 wards. One councillor is elected each year to serve for four years. Every fourth year there are no local elections.

Low Fell Councillor and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Ron Beadle, said, “Gateshead Council has 2000 fewer people working for it since 2010. As an authority, it does far less than it used to.

“The total of 66 councillors can no longer be justified. Liberal Democrats are therefore pressing for each ward to have two rather than three councillors.

“The cost of each set of local elections is around £200,000. Annual elections by thirds don’t make sense when most councils in Britain hold their electoral contests only once every four years when all councillors are up for election.

“The functions of Gateshead Council have been reduced in recent years. The number of politicians needs to be reduced as well to reflect this.

“The savings from reduced councillor numbers and by switching from annual elections will save over £1 million over 4 years. This is money that can be spent on local services, rather than local councillors.”

Liberal Democrat Councillors will be moving a motion at the meeting of Gateshead Council on Thursday 4th February calling on the Chief Executive to investigate how the council can be reduced in size and elections switched to a four year cycle.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Right to Buy could see homelessness return to 1980s levels

The government’s Right to Buy scheme could see homelessness return to the levels of the 1980s Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Olly Grender warned yesterday (Monday).

Former Director of Communications for Shelter, Baroness Olly Grender asked a question in the House of Lords to challenge the government over its abandonment of the homelessness strategy.

Liberal Democrats oppose the Housing and Planning Bill which threatens to end social housing in Britain as we know it. With 1.6 million people nationwide on housing waiting lists and homelessness steadily increasing year, on year, the government should start to tackle the housing shortage and stick to the plans to build 300,000 homes a year.

Baroness Olly Grender said, “Social housing with no legal guarantee of replacement can be anything other than abandonment of the homelessness strategy altogether and a return to the 1980s when kids out of care and troops returning home were left with no option but sleeping rough?”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said, “Today’s Housing Bill threatens to end social housing in Britain as we know it. 

“Selling off homes and pushing people out of the communities they have grown up in is tantamount to social cleansing, ripping the hearts from communities where people have lived and belonged to for many years.”

Lib Dem Councillor Peter Maughan said, "In Gateshead we already have far more demand for social housing than we have available homes. The government's plans will make a bad situation worse.

"Ministers should focus instead on building affordable homes on brownfield sites. Unfortunately, on Gateshead Council, we have a Labour party that are putting their effort into building executive homes on the greenbelt, not supplying affordable homes for Gateshead residents."