Monday, July 15, 2019
It is polling day on Thursday for the Northumbria Police Commissioner by-election. So here is my election leaflet, featuring mainly the cost of this totally unnecessary election (£2.5 million), the fact that the PCC system is a failure and the need to boost community policing.
My attention has been drawn to the Newcastle Journal's letters' column from 11th July 2019. C Jackson (CJ) of Kenton, Newcastle, wrote about the PCC by-election candidates. CJ had lots of praise for Vera Baird whose resignation has sparked this contest and suggested the four candidates do not have the level of experience of Ms Baird. But, he did write:
- "it's patently obvious only one of them [the candidates] possesses anything close to some knowledge, experience and the maturity to undertake the role. I believe that person is 55-year-old Dr Jonathan Wallace.
I have no idea who CJ of Kenton is but thank you for your backing!
On Saturday, Chase Park hosted a "Love Parks" event. I was there with a couple of our goat kids and 4 ducklings to promote the cause of self-sufficiency and sustainable living. Alas, the weather was against us. When it turned midday, it tipped down.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Another weekend and another action day in Gateshead, this time in Chowdene ward. Our aim was to get a Focus out across the ward. We achieved most of this. A small number of patches were left at the end of the day but these were taken by a couple of members to do later this week.
Only one person refused to take a copy. At first I thought she was going to give me a pro-Labour tongue lashing. I should not have assumed that areas traditionally Labour automatically means residents are pro-Labour now. The person declining to take the leaflet was a Brexit Party supporter. I hope she gets the Brexit deal she deserves!
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Last night was my last opportunity to deliver the latest Focus in a Whickham North patch before it expired. The newsletter carried an advert for the Chase Park fair today so it was either a case of putting them through people' doors, or putting them in the recycling bin. The former won out! The Focus also included information about the PCC by-election, so I had an added incentive to get them delivered.
Yesterday I had a very useful meeting with the Northumbria Police Federation. This was held at my request as I wanted to speak to representatives of officers about how they felt about the state of the force, staff morale and issues of concern to them. The meeting lasted an hour and a half and was a very useful insight into the state of affairs and how officers are coping.
On Wednesday I was at the BBC for a Radio Newcastle interview, the the three other Northumbria PCC candidates, and in the afternoon I was at Tyne Tees TV. Evening saw Lib Dem group meeting, followed by Gateshead Local Party exec. To round off the day, I headed up to the Lib Dem office at Consett to help shift 20 boxes of A4 paper. All in a day's work!
I'm trying to get my mind around Labour's new policy on Brexit. Having gone from sitting on the fence about a confirmatory referendum, now they claim to support a further vote on the "Tory Brexit Deal" or on a no deal Brexit if the Conservatives push for Brexit before the general election. This is after Labour have said for months that there will be no further referendum. But what is on offer at a general election held before Brexit will be the opposite - Labour will "renegotiate" the deal to leave and there will be no referendum on their deal. So they continue to straddle the fence.
Friday, July 12, 2019
Yesterday morning I journeyed into Gateshead for the last of our media interviews for the PCC by-election. It was with the BBC for the North East Politics Programme, with a bit being used on Look North. All 4 candidates were present and were interviewed together by Richard Moss. I think this was the toughest interview yet, focused on our personal characters, drugs and what each of us would do if we won.
A week today we will be in the middle of the count. And then it's all over. Hooray!
Thursday, July 11, 2019
After the Gateshead Lib Dem exec meeting last night a number of us headed to Consett for the much sought after job of carrying quarter of a tonne of paper up a flight of 21 stairs to the Lib Dem office and print shop. Excellent exercise! Think of the thousands of Focuses we will be producing with all that paper!
I attended the Gateshead Lib Dems Local Party executive meeting last night. One of the items on the agenda was the selection of a Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon. The executive agree to start the process of selecting a candidate. We will be looking for a hardworking candidate who will take the battle to Labour in the constituency Labour have taken for granted for decades.
Monday 8th July 2019 - after delivering a pile of leaflets for the police commissioner election, I headed to the Baltic Art Gallery for a councillors' briefing. It turned into a useful opportunity to bend the ear of Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, about his cabinet reports to full council.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
I'm just back from my second PCC by-election interview of the day, this time with Tyne Tees TV. It was done in the style of a police interview! I kept my answers brief and to the point, covering only one issue - the need to scrap the PCC and replace the system with something similar to what was scrapped when the former police authorities (made up of local councillors and magistrates) were abolished.
The interview will go out on Monday evening.
This morning, Radio Newcastle hosted a debate between the four PCC by-election candidates. It was a relatively friendly encounter though the Independent candidate, Georgina Hills, attacked me a "carrot picker" (I grow my own food but have never successfully grown carrots!). The key points I made were:
- I am the most experienced candidate with 32 years in local government and a history of working in the private, public and voluntary sector.
- A vote for me is a vote to end the wasteful, failed experiment of PCCs.
- The cost of £2.5 million for the by-election is a scandalous waste.
- As PCC I will reach out to communities.
- We need to be more joined up with local government and health, rather than being in a silo.
Yesterday I paid a visit to Birkheads Wild, an outdoor education centre between Sunniside and Kibblesworth. I first met the people who run the facility at the recent Clover Hill School fair and they were keen for me to call in. It is an interesting site with plenty for children to do in an outdoor environment. I am hoping to link them into another project I am planning in Sunniside, but more about that on another day.
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Last night I attended a presentation about the work of both the Sage and Baltic. Held at the Baltic Gallery, it brought councillors up to date on the work of both these major cultural organisations and buildings. Points of particular interest to me included:
- setting up cultural links with cities on the coast of Scandinavia and the Baltic, regardless of Brexit. I jokingly dubbed it the 21st Century Hanseatic League.
- raising the levels of people's cookery skills to avoid waste and get the most out of food resources. Whenever I raise this, Labour councillors spit venom at me, so it was great to see a major cultural organisation in Gateshead addressing this issue as well.
- making Baltic and Sage relevant to residents - I have consistently argued that these cultural institutions are more about jobs, the visitor economy and building up the wealth of the economy. However, there is a need to make them more directly relevant to residents in their every day lives. How do we get more of the people of Gateshead to come through the doors of the Baltic and Sage. We had a useful discussion on this.
I then took the opportunity to have a look at the exhibition by Ifeoma U Anyaeji. The exhibits are made from discarded plastic waste, mainly plastic bags.