Thursday, July 17, 2014

Council meets at Gibside

Gateshead Council abandoned the Civic Centre today to meet instead at Gibside, the National Trust property in my ward which was once the home of the Bowes-Lyon family. Gibside is now a major visitor attraction in the North East. Though Gibside Hall is a shell, the early Georgian gardens are still there. The walled garden in particular is worth visiting. It had, until last year, been used as a visitor car park. Now it has been restored.

Whilst there I had a useful discussion with Mick Wilkes, manager of the estate, with both my local councillor and local food producer hats on. We talked about rural economic strategies, local food, honey production and farmers markets. I will be arranging to go back to continue the discussion soon.

As for the meeting itself, we had one incident in which there were general murmurings of content from Labour members about claims that somehow, a Labour victory at the general election next year will mean there won't be cuts. This was followed minutes later by an announcement by the Labour Council Leader Mick Henry that under Labour (according to Hilary Benn at the LGA conference) there would be cuts to local government, but that Labour's cuts would be "fairer". More murmurings of content from Labour broke out, even though this seemed to contradict the claim made moments earlier of no cuts. I don't know what Hilary Benn said, but it sounds like a statement that was designed to please everyone. And when a statement like that pleases everyone, it normally means it is too meaningless to please anyone once implemented.

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