It's not every day that I get an email from a Labour councillor containing fulsome praise of me. Well, recently I did. It followed a planning committee meeting in Gateshead that rejected an application to opencast a site at Birklands in Lamesley ward, which neighbours my own ward of Whickham South and Sunniside. I had fought the application since it was first submitted in 2011. I had delivered leaflets about it in villages such as Lamesley and Kibblesworth, as well as in my own ward. At the planning committee meeting last month, I represented residents opposed to the plans.
Some time afterwards, Christine Bradley, Labour councillor for Lamesley, emailed me to say, "Congratulations on the fact that your efforts and objection speech won the day and the application was refused.”
I have now included this quote in Focuses and letters now being delivered in various wards in Gateshead as part of the current election campaigns. I did email Cllr Bradley to ask if she had any more nice quotes I could use but alas, she is yet to reply.
In her original email, she took issue with me about the level of interest in the campaign shown by Labour councillors. She cited the fact she had met objectors a whole week before the planning committee as evidence of her commitment to the cause. I, on the other hand, first met the residents (her constituents) to campaign against the application, nearly 3 years ago. I have no reason to doubt her commitment to the defeat of the opencast plans but what I was never able to see was active Labour involvement in the campaign itself.
She finished her email, sadly in my view, with what could be regarded as a bit of an insulting remark. Given that she sent her email to me using her council email address, I am left wondering if this is an appropriate use of council facilities. Indeed, this is a question I put to her in an email. I am awaiting a reply!
There is another opencast application, this time at Marley Hill, in my ward. I am leading the campaign against this. One area that would be affected by the lorries from the site if given the go ahead is Lobley Hill/Dunston Hill. Our campaign is being well received there. Lots of people have signed our petition opposing the application. A decision on it is expected soon.