Thursday, March 21, 2019

Woodmans approved

Last week, Gateshead's planning committee agreed to the plans to extend the Woodman's Pub in Fellside Road, Whickham (in my ward). An application like this would normally be approved, probably under delegated powers. However, the Woodmans is in greenbelt and therefore was recommended for rejection by officers. My view is that we need to build up the tourism infrastructure in the Derwent Valley and that means private businesses stepping up to the plate to improve visitor facilities and create reasons for people to visit the area. The Woodman's plans included the building of a function room, mainly for weddings. As far as I was concerned, the application in question was exactly the sort of small scale development we need to boost tourism in our area. I have therefore been guiding the application through the planning system.

I had to sit through 4 hours of other planning applications before the Woodmans was considered. I went into the meeting believing that the decision would be knife edge with a probability of rejection a touch ahead of the likelihood of approval. When it came to the vote, it was unanimously in favour of the application.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Moving forward with the campaign in Lobley Hilland Bensham

Last week I paid two visits to Lobley Hill and Bensham ward in Gateshead to help our local election candidate Nick Seaborn. Nick is new to the party but is very keen to lead the battle in the ward.  So far we have had one action day this year which saw the whole of Lobley Hill leafleted. Nick has recently been delivering letters in the Festival Park area and I will shortly be providing him with more to put through doors.

We've also been looking at the insufficient street sweeping and grounds maintenance. We'll be campaigning more on that during the election.

This ward campaign is very much about re-establishing our presence. Over a decade ago, we came within 50 votes of winning here and our plan is to build ourselves back up to a point where we are back in a position to take the ward from Labour.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Conference final report

conference hall York Mar 19 (6)

I'm back home from Lib Dem spring conference at York. Lots of photos taken and video shot. A good set of debates as well. The debate on setting up the registered supporters scheme did not entirely produce the fully desired result - members voted not to give a leadership vote to supporters, only to members - but the scheme will otherwise go ahead, which is great news. I was also in the conference hall for debates on internships and town centres.

Ed Davey Jonathan Wallace York Mar 19

One of the best points about conference is the chance to catch up with friends not seen face-to-face for six months (and sometimes longer). I bumped into Ed Davey MP this morning. I used to work closely with Ed when I worked for the party but that ended 10 years ago. So we had ten minutes to catch up on the past 10 years. Ed will be standing in the party's Lib Dem leadership election in May when Vince stands down. I'm tight lipped at the moment about who to support as no candidates have actually officially declared. And I want to see what each has to offer.

And finally, conference was closed in the traditional way - with the leader's speech. And as usual, Vince Cable demonstrated he was head and shoulders above Corbyn and May. Another good speech, peppered with examples of Vince's dry wit and poignant examples of the poor state of political affairs in the UK.

So, 6 months to go to party conference in Bournemouth. Quite what state the UK will be in by then is the great unknown. There is a great deal of water to pass under the bridge by then.

Back at York

I did not stay overnight last night in York. I simply weighed up the costs and found that it was far cheaper to go home and come back this morning. It meant last night I was in our goat house at 11pm bottle feeding two baby goats that were born ten days ago. An interesting distraction from politics! Anyway, I am now back in York having got the first train out of Newcastle (which was packed) this morning.

There are policy motions this morning on justice, knife crime, town centres and unpaid internships. The main attraction however will be Vince Cable's speech at 12.15pm, his last as leader.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Labour leader predicts "Total Oblivion" for Lib Dems

An interesting pronouncement by Gateshead Labour Leader Martin Gannon popped up on my facebook feed this morning. Hot off the plane from Cannes (the playground of the idle rich), Martin shared his prediction that the Lib Dems are going to be wiped out - "Total oblivion" he called it. Alas, Martin Sun Tan Gannon has made similar predictions before such as when he predicted we would lose in my ward (we won comfortably after Labour's vote collapsed). What his comments reveal are his greatest desires - no Lib Dems so therefore no opposition on the council. The People's Republic of Gateshead is what Labour wants. Perhaps, instead of travelling to Cannes at the taxpayers' expense, he should jet off to the Socialist Republic of North Korea.

After all, Martin is used to long journeys. Back in the 1980s he was militant Martin, in the 1990s he was Blairite Martin, then he became Momentum Martin. Three decades to go full circle. As for Lib Dems suffering "Total Oblivion", there is that small technicality called local elections getting in the way. We will see what results they bring but I predict he will be eating humble pie. In the meantime, we will continue to remind the people of Gateshead what Comrade Leader Jet Setting Gannon and his minions are up to.

New improved mugs!

Lib Dem Image Mar 19 (2)

It seems Lib Dem Image have improved some of their merchandise and introduced some new must-have (for Lib Dems) items which can be bought at their shop here in Spring Conference in York. New improved mugs can be added to my already extensive collection of assorted mugs collected over the years from SDP, Democrats and early Lib Dem days.

Lib Dem Image Mar 19 (3)

Lib Dem Image Mar 19 (4)

Supersized key rings (big pockets required) are also on sale.

Lib Dem Image Mar 19 (1)

And finally, Lib Dem aprons. I've not seen these on sale before. I'm tempted to get one. I could wear it while making mincemeat out of Labour in Gateshead!

York Spring Conference

Vince Cable at PCA reception York Mar 19 (6)

York is, yet again, the venue for the Lib Dem Spring Conference this weekend. I arrived yesterday, armed as usual with cameras. My photography jobs last night included taking the photos at the Parliamentary Candidates Association AGM and reception with Vince Cable. Vince has been through the Jonathan Wallace photography mill many times before so is used to my shouting at get people to stand in the right place and look in the right direction!

Photos from this weekend will be uploaded gradually to myFlickr account on this link.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I told you not to put up the bunting

Labour's recently announced policy that they will support a referendum on the Brexit deal did not last long. Labour MPs have just been whipped to sit on the fence on a vote to delay Brexit to allow for a referendum, thereby allowing the Conservatives easily to defeat the call. I wonder what those misty eyed Corbynistas who defend his every action (and inaction) are thinking about him now?

I did warn people a few weeks ago not to put up the bunting when Corbyn said Labour will back a People's Vote. If you did put any up, it may be time to remove it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Video diary 5th March 2019

Another catch up, this video was filmed on Tuesday last week. My main task of the day was to complete our eFocus newsletter (edition 114) and attend Sunniside History Society meeting.

Video diary 4th March 2019

A bit late as I've been busy over the past week so editing my video diary is a bit behind schedule. This video is from Monday 4th March. I was at corporate resources committee in the morning and spent the afternoon  delivering target letters.

Corbyn silent on referendum

One of the most interesting points about today's political events in Parliament was who said what. Note that Theresa May mentioned a number of options that MPs will have to consider over the next few days included the R word. In effect she said MPs may have to consider voting for a referendum on the Brexit deal. Yet, when Corbyn spoke as "Leader" of the Labour Party, he made no mention at all of the referendum, despite it allegedly being Labour policy. His usual response to any difficult question is to call for a general election (even though polls now show the party he leads is 9% behind the Conservatives despite the civil war the latter are fighting). Tonight was no different.

Those misty eyed Corbynistas, who think Jeremy can do no wrong, must surely now be getting a bit fed up with Corbyn. Or are they just too stubbornly stupid to realise the disaster he is to progressive politics?

Getting as far as Private Eye

Private Eye Gateshead Car Park Mar 19-page-0

When I wrote recently on my blog about Gateshead Council coming down on an errant publican about planning rules being ignored while building a gigantic car park themselves without planning permission, I was pleased to see it taken up by the Chronicle, our regional daily newspaper.

The ripple effect goes on however! Private Eye are now featuring the issue.

And it all started on this blog!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Council and Campaign Video Diary February 2019

My video diary for February 2019: lots of meetings attended, letters and leaflets printed and literature delivered.