Friday, February 12, 2016

450 Focuses delivered in Whickham

Whickham Focuses Jan 16 3

I headed down to the Whickham part of my ward yesterday. 450 Focuses were delivered. My feet were sore when I got back home! Other wards are now lining me up for more deliveries!

eFocus 99

The 99th edition of our Whickham eFocus has just been published. It leads on the proposals by Labour in Gateshead to change bin collections to once every three weeks. Other issues include house building in Dunston Hill and the Fugar history project. You can read the newsletter on this link.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More Focus deliveries

Whickham South Focuses Feb 16

My colleague Cllr John McClurey kindly dropped off a box of Focuses for me a couple of days ago. I've done a couple of delivery sessions since then in Sunniside and Marley Hill. I have a couple of patches left to do in the Whickham part of my ward. I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow. Once I've delivered my patches, the spares will go back to John who will take the bundles of leaflets to our deliverers.

The lead story is about Labour's proposals in Gateshead to move to collecting general waste and recycling waste bins to once every three weeks. We've also included articles about Labour's proposals to reduced most grass cutting, the Fugar history project and the A1 improvements. I've already had people emailing me about the issues we've raised. And people were asking me about them when I was in the queue for the till in the Sunniside Coop this evening. It seems this is going to be quite a lively edition of Focus.

Selected as PCC candidate for Northumbria

I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen by local Liberal Democrats to be the party's candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria. Below is the news release the regional party has just issued.

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

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.”

Sunday, February 07, 2016

On the doorsteps in Chowdene

Ravensworth from Chowdene Feb 16 (1)

It was a rather breezy day to be out in Chowdene in Gateshead. With a gale blowing, I still managed to get round by leaflet patch. The Focus being delivered is joint with Low Fell, the neighbouring ward which we are also defending. Yesterday. Low Fell was delivered. Today was the turn of Chowdene.

I had a superb view from one street across the Team Valley to Ravensworth, the country estate which is partly in my council ward.

Anyway, the next ward to be delivered will be my very own Whickham South and Sunniside. I printed the back page of the Focus last night. Front page awaits more ink from the print suppliers.

Friday, February 05, 2016

On the doorsteps in Whickham South and Sunniside

A useful afternoon on Sunday: I was door-knocking in my ward of Whickham South and Sunniside. We got a positive response on the doorsteps. Issues raised included the traffic lights at Sunniside, the recent rain, my goats and how my aunt in Canada is doing. Clearly we were calling at a patch where, not only was I well known, some people had known my family for decades!

We will be doing another door-knocking session shortly but in the meantime we are ploughing our way through the pile of survey returns that was the result of Sunday's activities. There are quite a few email addresses to add to our email newsletter. And one of my forthcoming jobs is to complete and publish the next edition.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tim revisits Newcastle University

Tim Farron Newcastle University Jan 16 (15)

Tim Farron was a visitor to Newcastle University tonight. I was invited to do the photos. I was a postgraduate student there at the same time Tim was an undergraduate and then Union President. I guess for both of us, it was the first time in the Students' Union building in over 20 years. It's changed quite a bit.

Tim Farron Newcastle University Jan 16 (3)

The meeting itself was packed, as you can see from the photo above. The daftest question came from a student who was clearly a Conservative who asked that, with economic recovery underway for the past few years, wouldn't voting Lib Dem put that at risk. Tim politely pointed out that the economic recovery was taking place when the Lib Dems were in government. How short the memory of Conservatives can be.

Tim Farron Newcastle University Jan 16 (14)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Helping in Hexham

Hexham delivery Jan 16 2

I had to be in Hexham yesterday to go to the animal feed supplier to stock up with poultry and goat food. And knowing in advance that I was going to be in the town and that Hexham Lib Dems are fighting a town council by-election, I offered help to deliver some leaflets.

Hexham delivery Jan 16 1

Alas, the patch I was sent to consisted largely of large detached houses on a hillside, each with long flights of stairs to front doors. Thanks guys! Leaflets were delivered and I was able to return home. It brought back memories of campaigning there as parliamentary candidate 24 years ago. How time flies!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fugar and Washingwell History Project

Washingwell Woods Jan 16 (1)

Last year the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £10,000 to the Sunniside History Society to support a project to draw out the history of the Fugar and Washingwell area of Gateshead, much of which is in my ward. The project grew out of a proposal by me that the historic orchard that once belonged to the medieval Fugar House (demolished in 1950) should be renovated and restored. When I took the proposal to the History Society, of which I am deputy chairman, it was decided that the project should be about the whole area as it is packed with 2000 years of history.

So, we split the project into 3 phases. The first is to draw out the history of the area from the 13th century, when it is believed Fugar House was established, to 1950 when it was demolished. The second phase will cover the Roman period (there was a Roman fort at Washingwell) and the 3rd will deal with the orchard restoration.

So, we are into the 1st phase now and part of the requirements we need to fulfill is to involve Washingwell School. So last week, 3 of us from the society met up with one of the teachers from the school to walk around the site and discuss the historic issues that will feature in the resulting booklet and dvd.

Washingwell Wood is very familiar to me. I used to walk through it to get to school back in the 1970s. And when I was first elected to the Council in the late 1980s, I persuaded Gateshead to tackle the fire in the nearby Watergate pit heaps. After a number of years, the fire was extinguished, the heaps were removed, the land restored and Watergate Park was created.

Washingwell Woods Jan 16 (3)

One of my roles in the project is to study the landscape to see if there are any historical features. And I think I've found some. In the photo above is a mound. It is totally unnatural. It is typical of the mounds built in the medieval period on which were constructed forts, better known as motte and bailey castles. And applying my knowledge of historical features, I think I've also found the medieval road into Whickham, possible early fortifications for Fugar House and 2 fords across the Black Burn.

Those taking part in the project will be meeting tomorrow evening to discuss our findings. It could be an interesting meeting!