Saturday, July 07, 2018

Dachshunds at the BBC

Having spent a morning recently printing Focuses, I went to a BBC presentation and reception at the Sage, Gateshead, about the Great North Exhibition. There seemed to be a large number of dachshunds among the guests. The video explains why.

I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky

I have been attacked by Labour for having a life outside politics in the past. I make no apologies for that! I enjoy what other people enjoy. So when the opportunity for Kylie Minogue concert tickets comes along, I grabbed the opportunity, even if it meant missing the last day of party conference. The concert is in Newcastle on 18th September.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Back to printing Focuses

It may be June but the task of producing and printing Focuses and surveys goes on. I was in the office last week to print the Focus which is currently going out in Whickham as well as the survey that is being delivered in Lobley Hill. Delivery of both should be finished soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Great Exhibition of the North launch - photos

Great North Exhibition Summer 2018

The Great Exhibition of the North was launched on Friday evening. I attended the launch event. A brilliant summer evening with a lovely sunset over Tyneside, what a great backdrop to the concert, fireworks and drone display. My video of the event will be ready shortly but you can view a few of my photos on the above link.

Action Day in Dunston Hill and Whickham East and an incursion in Lobley Hill

Lib Dem action day DHWE June 18

Gateshead Lib Dems had an action day in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward yesterday. The aim was to deliver our local Focus. As a back up in case we completed that job was to make an incursion into Labour held Lobley Hill and Bensham ward to deliver a survey form. Job done on the Focus delivery though some members took patches for delivery over the next couple of days. So we managed to get a few hundred surveys delivered in Lobley Hill. We have about 700 left to do which will go out over the next few days.

It was good to see new members helping as well as established ones (such as our "delivery machine" of Paul Gibson, Robin Stanaway and Ian Patterson).

Lib Dem Lobley Hill survey June 18

Pictured above: Nick Smeaton from Bensham, Peter Maughan, Lib Dem candidate for Gateshead and Cllr Kevin McClurey who joined me for an incursion into Labour held Lobley Hill. Sadly I wasn't in the photo as I had to operate the camera!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Church Green looking fantastic

Church Green Whickham flower beds June 18 (3)

When I was in Whickham on Wednesday, I took the opportunity to look at the flowerbeds we planted up recently. They are looking great! An excellent job by the volunteers of Planting Up Whickham. I was pleased to play my part.

If you are in Whickham soon, take a look.

Church Green Whickham flower beds June 18 (4)

Church Green Whickham flower beds June 18 (5)

Flying high with Brexit (not)

Airbus is one of our most important high tech businesses and is a great example of how international cooperation leads to prosperity back home. As a medium size nation, we do not have the resources or capacity to have a UK-only Airbus. If we want to be in the industry, we need to be working with others.

And then along comes Brexit and the "will of the people" means cooperation and joint working has to end. So Airbus is considering pulling out of the UK. Given that the brave new world of Brexit Britain will mean a rerun of Victorian Splendid Isolation, we probably won't need many new planes anyway.

And congratulations to the leaders of the Brexit movement. Your campaigning looks set to be a great boost to jobs - but only those outside the UK. We are of course a great trading nation but we need to export more. So no doubt, the Brexiteers must be cheering the export of so many manufacturing jobs to the EU. And they must be pleased about the number of skilled workers who will soon be cured of their addiction to going out and earning a living.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Whickham School planning application

Whickham School June 18 (3)

As a former pupil, and a councillor whose teenage constituents largely attend Whickham School, I was interested to see that the planning application for the replacement buildings are now lodged with Gateshead Planning Department. A decision will come before the planning committee in the near future.

The proposals include a new, three to four storey ‘superblock’ to the north of the current site site on Burnthouse Lane. The new building will include a wide range of facilities zoned around a central main hall and activity studio, as well as a new sports hall and various specialist teaching spaces.

The building and site have been planned to ensure the existing school can remain fully operational throughout construction. There will be a clear separation between the building works and the operational school.  The site’s existing car parking arrangements will remain undisturbed both during and after construction.

The new school building would be situated at the entrance to the current school site alongside the existing main entrance block.

The application number is DC/18/00565/FUL. To view the plans online go to and enter the application number. Comments need to be submitted by 2nd July.

Whickham School June 18 (1)

Tanfield Railway Steam Gala Weekend

The Tanfield Railway is partly in my ward in Gateshead and on Sunday, they hosted a steam gala. Of particular interest to me was the Dunston No. 15, a steam locomotive that was built in Newcastle in 1942 and was used at the Dunston power station until 1972 when it was retired and moved out of the North East. This was its first return visit to the region.

There was also a vintage car rally at the Tanfield Railway which brought back memories of the 1970s!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Two fairs

Sunniside Methodist Hall and St Mary's Church Hall, Whickham, were hosting summer fairs on Saturday so I visited both. At the Methodist Hall I was asked if I would open their next fair in November and also had quite a long chat about the chapels plans for the hall and how the hall can be used in social care projects. One of the issues I am keen on is tackling loneliness in old age and this is something with which the organisers of the hall are keen to be involved.

Down the road at St Mary's I chatted to quite a few people including some who still remembered that I had helped them years ago on local issues. I calculated that one of these was 15 years ago. It's nice still to be remembered!

I came away from both fairs with lots of cakes - and casework!

There is no Brexit dividend

For cynical timing and political manoeuvring, Theresa May must get a gold medal. Her entire premiership has been based on half-baked promises to one group which directly contradict promises made to others, just so that she can live on to fight another day. So far she has been a dab hand at political survival. Today's announcement of zillions of pounds for the NHS at some point in the future, paid for by the alleged "Brexit dividend" is all part of this survival strategy. The reality is that there is no dividend. The sluggish growth in the economy caused by Brexit uncertainty has already cost the UK economy £400 million a week, according to the Bank of England. Then there are all the costs of going it alone - setting up our own drugs, chemicals and nuclear agencies for example or building our own Gallileo project. Then there are the costs of all those extra civil servants the government has taken on to carry out Brexit. Throw in the thousands of new customs officers and the cost of a completely new department - International Trade (which so far has produced nil points in terms of future trade agreements) and once all these new penpushers have been paid, there ain't going to be much left over for more doctors and nurses.

The government could, of course, be much more honest about this and openly admit that any increase in funding to the NHS will come from additional taxation. But don't hold your breath.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Dunston Station damage

Dunston rail station sign June 18

I was in Dunston yesterday with Councillors Kevin McClurey and Peter Maughan to look at the state of the ticket machine in Dunston station at the request of residents living near Ravensworth Road. Sadly the front of the machine has been badly damaged. We have reported the damage to Northern Rail and hope to see repairs done shortly.

Dunston rail station damaged ticket machine June 18

Well done Lucy and team

Well done Lucy Salek, Lib Dem candidate in the Lewisham East by-election yesterday. And well done to the team around her for delivering a very creditable 19% swing from Labour and a comfortable increase in actual and share of the vote. The result is as follows (and I've included all the candidates due to the novel situation in which there are nearly as many of them as there are electors!):

Janet Daby (Lab) 11,033 (50.20%, -17.75%) 
Lucy Salek (LD) 5,404 (24.59%, +20.17%) 
Ross Archer (C) 3,161 (14.38%, -8.62%) 
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah (Green) 788 (3.59%, +1.88%)
Mandu Reid (Women) 506 (2.30%)
David Kurten (UKIP) 380 (1.73%, +0.04%)
Anne Marie Waters (FBM) 266 (1.21%)
Maureen Martin (CPA) 168 (0.76%, +0.28%)
Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 93 (0.42%)
Massimo DiMambro (DVP) 67 (0.30%)
Sean Finch (Libertarian) 38 (0.17%)
Charles Carey (ND) 37 (0.17%)
Patrick Gray (Radical) 20 (0.09%)
Thomas Hall (YPP) 18 (0.08%)
Lab maj 5,629 (25.61%)
18.96% swing Lab to LD
Electorate 66,140; turnout 21,979 (33.23%, -36.05%)

It is usual for the main opposition to be the beneficiary of any swing in a midterm by-election. While it is hard for a party on 68% to improve on their share of the vote in a particular constituency, an 18% drop is noteworthy. With the Conservatives widely acknowledged as making a mess of Brexit, the economy suffering a withering dose of flu and Tory MPs revolting, Corbyn should be romping ahead. He is not even moving forward. Polls are giving the Tories a slight edge when typically the main opposition should be leading by a significant margin at this stage. Clearly something is going wrong for Labour.

No doubt the Corbynistas will blame a BBC conspiracy against the proletariat or a Murdoch campaign to brainwash the "working class" for Labour's lacklustre performance. At some point however, Labour are going to have to wake up to the fact they have a waste of space as leader.