Labour MP for Blaydon, David Anderson, seems to have decided that it is time to make a foray into the Lib Dem Whickham heartland of his constituency. He announced that on Saturday 18th January, he would be holding a surgery in the Village. Spotting the Labour party in Whickham is like trying to see the Loch Ness monster - sightings are rare and most can be explained as something else. So a genuine siting of Labour in Whickham is something for the history books. Alas, no such sightings were made of any Labour activity in my ward, but with the local elections now on the horizon, the Labour party have made an appearance in Whickham North and Dunston Hill and Whickham East wards, both of which used to be represented by Labour - though the latter ward still has two Labour councillors but enjoys the benefit of having a Lib Dem councillor as well. A letter from Mr Anderson to residents about his surgery (which is the first in the Village from some time) was delivered last week.
As this is a letter that carries the Labour logo, I was a bit surprised that the address used is that of his taxpayer funded office. Anyway, moving on from that, I was also a bit surprised that me Anderson's letter also claimed that our local park "has been awarded almost £1 million of lottery funding." As this decision has not yet been taken, Mr Anderson's announcement is, at best, rather premature. The park, thanks to the Friends of Chase Park Group, have successfully applied for £66,000 which will be used to put a case for a grant of nearly £1 million to restore the park. So there is a long way to go before anyone can claim the grant has been awarded. Let's just hope that Mr Anderson's statement does not prejudice the application. Meanwhile, the local residents' Facebook pages have not exactly been complimentary about Mr Anderson's premature exclamation!
But if Mr Anderson's approach last week was one of "better early than on time", his mantra for this week is "better late than never". He is calling on Labour councillors to reject the fire authority budget and the cuts that will result if it is to be passed. We are right on the eve of the decision and I am told that only 2 MPs responded to the official consultation - Alan Campbell and Catherine McKinnell. Even had Mr Anderson responded to the official consultation, a call at the last moment for the proposals to be rejected seems a bit late in the day.