Friday, July 29, 2016

Getting rid of the waste in Whickham

Church Green Whickham July 16

Planting Up Whickham is a group of volunteers who took on the task of maintaining flower beds and public open spaces in Whickham Village after the decision by Gateshead Council to stop paying for the service. The group recently had a maintenance day on Church Green though I was not able to attend. I was however phoned after the event and asked if I was interested in the dumpy bag of grass cuttings for my animals. I agreed to collect the bag but found 3 of them (one of which was full of weeds) when I got there. It was something of a struggle to get them into the land rover but I managed it. The aim is to dispose of the waste in as sustainable a way as possible. I put all the grass cuttings in one of our goat sheds as bedding. The dumpy bag full of weeds was emptied for the ducks and hens to sort through and eat.

Following the recent request to me to clear the thistles from the side entrance to Whickham's Chase Park, it seems I have accidentally picked up the role of the person responsible for the sustainable disposal of garden waste.

grass cuttings in sacks July 16

duck in goat house July 16

grass cuttings in goat house July 16

ducks and grass cuttings July 16

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lib Dem Pint in Gateshead

The Tilley Stone Gateshead July 16 (6)

In Gateshead we have seen other local parties hosting Lib Dem Pint events so we decided to hold one ourselves last night. The Tilley Stone on Jackson Street in the town centre was chosen as the venue and emails went out last week to invite members to come along. Good result! We are likely to hold more in the future. Good to see members who have joined recently coming along.

The Tilley Stone Gateshead July 16 (1)

The Tilley Stone Gateshead July 16 (4)

The Tilley Stone Gateshead July 16 (3)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Blaydon Vlog No. 1



My first vlog as candidate for Blaydon, filmed at the Chopwell and Rowlands Gill action day on Saturday 23rd July 2016.

Labour's dithering in Gateshead turned into a work of art

A special Gateshead Council cabinet meeting was held on Thursday morning. It had been called as Labour deferred a decision as to whether or not to join in the North East devolution proposals. That was a decision supposed to be taken at the cabinet on 12 July. And what happened at this special cabinet meeting? Labour voted to defer a decision yet again, citing uncertainty surrounding the position of new government ministers on devolution and funding. This is dithering made into a work of art by Labour. We continue to have the huge uncertainty hanging over Gateshead’s position in the North East region. Are we in or are we out? We just don’t know, because Labour cannot take a decision.

We are continuing to head towards isolation despite the best efforts of Martin Gannon, the new Leader of the Council, to bring the Labour group back to the world of reality. Martin’s position has not been helped by his own position in March when he led the battle against the devolution proposals that saw Gateshead isolated in the first place. That led to a coup that toppled his own Leader Mick Henry. (Coups against Labour Leaders do work – sometimes!). Maybe that’s what worries Martin in the febrile atmosphere of the Labour Party at the moment.

Chopwell and Rowlands Gill Action Day

Chopwell Rowlands Gill Action Day July 16 (2)

Yesterday we held an action day in Chopwell and Rowlands Gill ward. There is to be a by-election there in what has normally been a strong Labour ward. Our aim was to get our Focus leaflet delivered across most of the ward. Apart from a few small patches, job just about done.

I bumped into Labour cabinet member and ward Councillor Michael McNestry who, I am pleased to report, was not at that point working his ward but instead was sunbathing. He made a comment about needing to go to the toilet and that our leaflet would come in handy. I guess he could use all his Corbyn or Smith leaflets for the same exercise, depending on which wing of the Labour party to which he belongs (an unknown quantity as I can't recall any recent political comment that helps to identify his political leanings - assuming he has any.)

Thanks to all those who came from Sunderland and Co Durham to help. Job well done!

Chopwell Rowlands Gill Action Day July 16 (1)

Chopwell Rowlands Gill Action Day July 16 (4)

Chopwell has a history of leftwing politics. So it was with great interest that I found myself delivering Lenin Terrace and Marx Terrace!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Selected for Blaydon

goat milking July 16

I was in the middle of turning 20 litres of milk from my goat Pinkie into cheese this morning when I got an email from the regional candidates' chair saying that I am now officially the Lib Dem candidate for Blaydon constituency. If there is to be an election under the current boundaries, I will be going head to head with Labour's Dave Anderson (assuming he stands again), Shadow Secretary of State for Just About Everything. Dave is a Corbyn loyalist, a view not necessarily shared by all his staff. But he is a pleasant bloke who has found himself at the top of the greasy pole more by accident than by design.

So, to celebrate my selection, I am helping boost the UK's production levels on the day it is reported there is a big slump in economic activity. Sadly, the cheese I produce won't do much to boost the economy. It cannot be sold, or even swapped, until I have gone through registration and inspection with the Food Standards Agency. That onerous job is still on the to-do list. So, in addition to my self-sufficiency activities, I am writing another Focus and an eFocus.

So while Labour are kicking the proverbials out of each other, I'll get on with running an election campaign.

Photo: me last night milking Pinkie.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Photos from Northern Pride

North East Pride July 16 (8)

Northern Pride Parade in Newcastle on Saturday. Here are some of the photos I took.

North East Pride July 16 (7)

North East Pride July 16 (12)

North East Pride July 16 (13)

North East Pride July 16 (3)

North East Pride July 16 (17)

North East Pride July 16 (19)

Northern Pride



I have never before been on a parade (other than for Remembrance Day). But following the Brexit decision last month, I am concerned that some have taken this as a sign to return social attitudes to what they were over 40 years ago. Diversity is now mainstream and so I took the decision to celebrate diversity and show that it should remain mainstream. Therefore on Saturday I joined other Lib Dems on the Northern Pride Parade. I guess I will be on more parades in the future.

This is the video I filmed on the day.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Goodbye Jane

Jane Robinson presentation July 16

Gateshead Council's meeting on Thursday was the last for our current Chief Executive, Jane Robinson. Martin Gannon, Leader of the Council, and myself as Leader of the Oppostion, spoke to thank her for her work and her legacy to Gateshead. She is off to Durham University and both of us wished her all the best for the future. She was presented with a gift by Martin and the Mayor, Alison Thompson, at the end of the meeting.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Labour's cancelled meetings

Labour meetings cancelled July 16

Yesterday I spotted on the screen outside the council chamber in Gateshead Civic Centre the list of meetings for the rest of the day. Alas, all the Labour ones were listed as cancelled. It looked a bit like a train information board with all the trains cancelled! This is all part of Labour's civil war. I can however report that the Blaydon Labour constituency party meeting went ahead earlier this month at which support was overwhelmingly for Corbyn. Apparently the meeting called for action against the MPs who could not bring themselves to express confidence in Corbyn. Blaydon Labour MP and Corbyn fan Dave Anderson has been the beneficiary of the civil war. He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet with not just one job, but two! Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and ditto for Northern Ireland. All he needs now is Wales and he has a full set!