Monday, July 15, 2019

My PCC by-election leaflet

PCC byelection leaflet July 2019-page-0

It is polling day on Thursday for the Northumbria Police Commissioner by-election. So here is my election leaflet, featuring mainly the cost of this totally unnecessary election (£2.5 million), the fact that the PCC system is a failure and the need to boost community policing.

PCC byelection leaflet July 2019-page-1

Unexpected support

Journal PCC letter 11 July 19

My attention has been drawn to the Newcastle Journal's letters' column from 11th July 2019. C Jackson (CJ) of Kenton, Newcastle, wrote about the PCC by-election candidates. CJ had lots of praise for Vera Baird whose resignation has sparked this contest and suggested the four candidates do not have the level of experience of Ms Baird. But, he did write:

  • "it's patently obvious only one of them [the candidates] possesses anything close to some knowledge, experience and the maturity to undertake the role. I believe that person is 55-year-old Dr Jonathan Wallace.
I have no idea who CJ of Kenton is but thank you for your backing!

Parking the kids

Whickham Chase Park Fair July 19 (2)

On Saturday, Chase Park hosted a "Love Parks" event. I was there with a couple of our goat kids and 4 ducklings to promote the cause of self-sufficiency and sustainable living. Alas, the weather was against us. When it turned midday, it tipped down.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Chowdene Action Day

Chowdene Focus July 19

Another weekend and another action day in Gateshead, this time in Chowdene ward. Our aim was to get a Focus out across the ward. We achieved most of this. A small number of patches were left at the end of the day but these were taken by a couple of members to do later this week.

Only one person refused to take a copy. At first I thought she was going to give me a pro-Labour tongue lashing. I should not have assumed that areas traditionally Labour automatically means residents are pro-Labour now. The person declining to take the leaflet was a Brexit Party supporter. I hope she gets the Brexit deal she deserves!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Another Focus delivery

Whickham North July 19

Last night was my last opportunity to deliver the latest Focus in a Whickham North patch before it expired. The newsletter carried an advert for the Chase Park fair today so it was either a case of putting them through people' doors, or putting them in the recycling bin. The former won out! The Focus also included information about the PCC by-election, so I had an added incentive to get them delivered.

Meeting the Police Federation

Northumbria Police Federation July 19

Yesterday I had a very useful meeting with the Northumbria Police Federation. This was held at my request as I wanted to speak to representatives of officers about how they felt about the state of the force, staff morale and issues of concern to them. The meeting lasted an hour and a half and was a very useful insight into the state of affairs and how officers are coping.

Video diary 11th July 2019

On Wednesday I was at the BBC for a Radio Newcastle interview, the the three other Northumbria PCC candidates, and in the afternoon I was at Tyne Tees TV. Evening saw Lib Dem group meeting, followed by Gateshead Local Party exec. To round off the day, I headed up to the Lib Dem office at Consett to help shift 20 boxes of A4 paper. All in a day's work!

Straddling the fence on Brexit

I'm trying to get my mind around Labour's new policy on Brexit. Having gone from sitting on the fence about a confirmatory referendum, now they claim to support a further vote on the "Tory Brexit Deal" or on a no deal Brexit if the Conservatives push for Brexit before the general election. This is after Labour have said for months that there will be no further referendum. But what is on offer at a general election held before Brexit will be the opposite - Labour will "renegotiate" the deal to leave and there will be no referendum on their deal. So they continue to straddle the fence.

Friday, July 12, 2019

BBC Politics Programme

BBC Politics Programme interview July 19 (2)

Yesterday morning I journeyed into Gateshead for the last of our media interviews for the PCC by-election. It was with the BBC for the North East Politics Programme, with a bit being used on Look North. All 4 candidates were present and were interviewed together by Richard Moss. I think this was the toughest interview yet, focused on our personal characters, drugs and what each of us would do if we won.

A week today we will be in the middle of the count. And then it's all over. Hooray!

BBC Politics Programme interview July 19 (4)

Video diary 9th July 2019

My morning was taken up with a visit to Birkheads Wild outdoor education centre. For the rest of the day, other than a council advisory group meeting, I was working on shifting the large quantity of PCC by-election leaflets.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

All those Focuses

paper July 19

After the Gateshead Lib Dem exec meeting last night a number of us headed to Consett for the much sought after job of carrying quarter of a tonne of paper up a flight of 21 stairs to the Lib Dem office and print shop. Excellent exercise! Think of the thousands of Focuses we will be producing with all that paper!

Blaydon selection underway

Gateshead Lib Dem exec July 19

I attended the Gateshead Lib Dems Local Party executive meeting last night. One of the items on the agenda was the selection of a Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon. The executive agree to start the process of selecting a candidate. We will be looking for a hardworking candidate who will take the battle to Labour in the constituency Labour have taken for granted for decades.

Video diary 8th July 2019

Monday 8th July 2019 - after delivering a pile of leaflets for the police commissioner election, I headed to the Baltic Art Gallery for a councillors' briefing. It turned into a useful opportunity to bend the ear of Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, about his cabinet reports to full council.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tyne Tees TV interview

TTTV PPC interview July 19 (1)

I'm just back from my second PCC by-election interview of the day, this time with Tyne Tees TV. It was done in the style of a police interview! I kept my answers brief and to the point, covering only one issue - the need to scrap the PCC and replace the system with something similar to what was scrapped when the former police authorities (made up of local councillors and magistrates) were abolished.

The interview will go out on Monday evening.

TTTV PPC interview July 19 (2)

A "carrot picker"

PCC interview BBC Radio Newcastle July 19 (1)

This morning, Radio Newcastle hosted a debate between the four PCC by-election candidates. It was a relatively friendly encounter though the Independent candidate, Georgina Hills, attacked me a "carrot picker" (I grow my own food but have never successfully grown carrots!). The key points I made were:

  • I am the most experienced candidate with 32 years in local government and a history of working in the private, public and voluntary sector.
  • A vote for me is a vote to end the wasteful, failed experiment of PCCs.
  • The cost of £2.5 million for the by-election is a scandalous waste.
  • As PCC I will reach out to communities.
  • We need to be more joined up with local government and health, rather than being in a silo.
PCC interview BBC Radio Newcastle July 19 (3)

Delivering in Marley Hill

Delivering PCC leaflet in Marley Hill July 19

Yet more PCC by-election leaflets delivered yesterday, this time in Marley Hill and Sunniside. I shifted 230. Plenty more still to do.

Visiting Birkheads Wild

Birkheads Wild July 19 (2)

Yesterday I paid a visit to Birkheads Wild, an outdoor education centre between Sunniside and Kibblesworth. I first met the people who run the facility at the recent Clover Hill School fair and they were keen for me to call in. It is an interesting site with plenty for children to do in an outdoor environment. I am hoping to link them into another project I am planning in Sunniside, but more about that on another day.

Birkheads Wild July 19 (1)

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Baltic and Sage presentation

Baltic Jonathan Wallace Jul 19

Last night I attended a presentation about the work of both the Sage and Baltic. Held at the Baltic Gallery, it brought councillors up to date on the work of both these major cultural organisations and buildings. Points of particular interest to me included:

  • setting up cultural links with cities on the coast of Scandinavia and the Baltic, regardless of Brexit. I jokingly dubbed it the 21st Century Hanseatic League.
  • raising the levels of people's cookery skills to avoid waste and get the most out of food resources. Whenever I raise this, Labour councillors spit venom at me, so it was great to see a major cultural organisation in Gateshead addressing this issue as well.
  • making Baltic and Sage relevant to residents - I have consistently argued that these cultural institutions are more about jobs, the visitor economy and building up the wealth of the economy. However, there is a need to make them more directly relevant to residents in their every day lives. How do we get more of the people of Gateshead to come through the doors of the Baltic and Sage. We had a useful discussion on this.
I then took the opportunity to have a look at the exhibition by Ifeoma U Anyaeji. The exhibits are made from discarded plastic waste, mainly plastic bags.

Baltic gallery Ifeoma U Anyaeji Jul 19 (2)

Baltic gallery Ifeoma U Anyaeji Jul 19 (1)

Baltic gallery Ifeoma U Anyaeji Jul 19 (3)

Monday, July 08, 2019

Delivering in Sunniside

Another day, another delivery of Focuses. Today I delivered 260 in my home village of Sunniside. The Focus was about the PCC by-election. Our normal Focus is delayed until the PCC election is out of the way. The by-election is on 18th July.

Gateshead Strategy Meeting

Gateshead Lib Dem strategy meeting July 19 (4)

Gateshead Lib Dems held another strategy meeting yesterday morning in our office in Consett. The aim is to reform our organisation to get it into shape to take forward our campaigning. The targets of our strategy are to win control of Gateshead Council and gain Parliamentary representation in the borough. We also looked at campaigning in our target wards, where are strengths and weaknesses are and who takes decisions on campaigning.

So, a very successful meeting, progress made and we will be out campaigning in various different places in Gateshead this week.

Gateshead Lib Dem strategy meeting July 19 (2)

Gateshead Lib Dem strategy meeting July 19 (1)

Taking the kids to the fayre

Whickham Community Fayre July 19 2

On Saturday I took two of our goat kids to the Whickham Community Fayre. Also accompanying us were four ducklings. We set up a pen for them opposite the library. They proved a great hit (as usual!) with residents and especially children. I suspect the animals appeared in more photos than anything else at the fayre.

Friday, July 05, 2019

July eFocus Whickham area no. 119

Just published - edition 119 of eFocus for the Whickham area. The main stories include marking D-Day, the PCC by-election, green-fingered volunteers plant out Church Green, resurfacing work to take place in Sunniside, opinion poll predicts Lib Dem win in Blaydon, new bus shelter for Streetgate and Whickham Comunity Fayre tomorrow.

You can read eFocus on this link.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Blaydon Lib Dem meeting

I am just back from the Blaydon Lib Dem constituency branch meeting. We had a good discussion about the PCC by-election, campaigning in our held and target wards and kick started the process of selecting a candidate for Blaydon for the general election. As usual, I came away with a long to-do list!

Spice Radio

Jonathan Wallace at Spice Radio July 19

I'm just back from doing a live interview with Spice Radio in Newcastle about why people should vote for me to be the new PCC in the by-election on 18th July. We talked about a wide range of issues from why the role should be abolished to the European Arrest Warrant. It seemed to go well.

PCC leaflet arrives

Lib Dem PCC leaflet July 19

A large tonnage of Lib Dem PCC leaflets arrived yesterday. I collected the ones for Gateshead, filling my Land Rover with them in the process. They have already started going through doors. I have received calls from people across the force area who have received them. The scrap-PCC message is being well received.

Labour 4th yet again

As usual, please consider the health warning that comes with any opinion poll. Don't read too much into an individual poll's result but look at the trends instead. And so, yet again, we have another poll in which 4 parties are competing from a position of similar vote shares with Labour under Corbyn are in 4th place. As reported in the Independent, the results are:

  • Conservative 24%
  • Brexit 23%
  • Lib Dems 20%
  • Labour 18%
In effect we are in a period of 4 party politics. How long this will last is the big unknown. Britain could go back to 3 or even 2 party politics. Were that to happen, there is no guarantee that Labour will be one of those surviving parties. After all, if they can't make hay when the sun shines (Tories tearing themselves apart and currently leaderless with sluggish growth in the economy), how do they expect to survive when the political going gets tough?

Labour have now lost over half the vote they received in 2017. Fence sitting has pleased very few, except for the bleary eyed Corbynistas who think he walks on water.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Poison throughout history

Sunniside History Society July 19 (2)

Yesterday saw the monthly meeting of the Sunniside History Society. The speaker this time was Freda Thompson who gave us a fascinating talk about famous cases of women over the past two hundred years who murdered others by poisoning.

The next meeting is on 6th August though we will be having a meeting of the society's executive later this month.

Sunniside History Society July 19 (1)

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Delivering in Dunston

DHWE Focus July 19 2

An hour and a half of wearing out shoe leather and getting burnt in the sun this morning - but all in a good cause. I delivered 208 Focuses in Dunston Hill. I'm back home now, writing our next eFocus. It should be out before the end of the week.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Top 3 for fish and chips

Woodmans Whickham June 19 (3)

In what is now a very unusual move for us, we decided to have lunch out yesterday. We opted to go to the Woodmans on Fellside Road, Whickham, walking there via the Sandy Lonnen. We chose this venue as the pub was in the final 3 for the National Fish and Chips award in November last year. We felt it was time to sample the prize winning food ourselves. It was well worth the walk to get there. It's great to see a local business beating the rest of the country!

Delivering in Watergate

Focuses July 19

I am just back from delivering 370 Focuses in the Watergate Estate in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward. The lead story is the local election result which saw Labour lose their last seat in the ward to the Lib Dems. Labour's loss means Whickham is now a Labour (and Tory) free zone. We hold all 9 of the Whickham seats. We are, of course, building up our resources to win more seats in Gateshead in coming years.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Poll puts Lib Dems in lead in Blaydon constituency

Another poll so please add a dose of scepticism but this one suggests the Lib Dems could win Blaydon. If this prediction comes true, Labour are toast in Blaydon:

  • Lib Dem 38.2%
  • Brexit 22.1%
  • Labour 21.3%
  • Conservatives 12.3%
There is of course no substitute for on-the-ground activity when it comes to winning elections. And we are doing plenty of that.

Video - action day in Birtley

Last week Gateshead Liberal Democrats had an action day in Birtley ward. This was the video I filmed on the day.

Especially for my Labour readers

As I have said on a number of occasions, in my view opinion polls are good for identifying trends, details are not their strong point however. The polls at the moment are tending to show a trend of Labour in 3rd or 4th place. The latest one for YouGov shows:

  • Lib Dems 30%
  • Conservatives 24%
  • Brexit 19%
  • Labour 17%

For Labour, this is dire. Surely, all those local Labour members in Gateshead who dribble and drool over Corbyn and how he will "sweep to victory" in a general election must be shaken out of their mesmerised state by this dreadful rating. Yet at the moment I have heard none of them say anything about the need to dump Corbyn. For Lib Dems, that's good news.

Kells Lane Fair

Kells Lane Fair June 19 1

Straight after the Parochial fair yesterday, I headed over the Kells Lane, Low Fell, for the community fair being held there. This event seems to get bigger each year. My thanks to colleagues Councillors Daniel Duggan and Vicky Anderson, for being temporary goat minders!

Kells Lane Fair June 19 2

Kells Lane Fair June 19 3

Parochial School Fair

Parochial School fair June 19 2

I was invited by the Parochial School in Whickham to bring a couple of goats to their fair yesterday. I was happy to oblige. Two of our youngest goats, Danny and Sandy, went with us. I think they became the most photographed animals on the planet!

I had to leave for half an hour part way through the fair as I was called out to deal with a bee swarm in Sunniside.

Parochial School fair June 19 1

As PCC candidate, I couldn't resist the temptation to get this photo.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Back in the office

I made another trip to the Lib Dem office in Consett. On the to-do list was to finish printing the Whickham North Focus and the Birtley survey. Job done. Folding still to be done. That's for another day.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Expulsion and return

The readmission of Corbynite socialist fellow traveller Chris Williamson MP to the ranks of the Labour Party is bad enough. Anti-Semitism needs to be tackled with more than just a light slap on the wrists. Meanwhile, Alistair Campbell has, in the eyes of Labour, carried out a more serious crime. He voted Lib Dem. There are no signs yet that he will be allowed to return to Labour's ranks. This says so much about the current Labour Party.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

More printing

WN and Birtley leaflets June 19

I agreed to do some printing for a couple of wards in Gateshead today. Whickham North's Focus and Birtley's survey churned off the riso - or at least the front pages of them. They will be completed shortly. And then we have to deliver them!

Tour of Britain coming to Gateshead

At cabinet yesterday a report on the agenda especially caught my attention. The Tour of Britain is coming to Gateshead and competing cyclists will be following a route which includes Sunniside and Whickham. Indeed, the route goes past the end of my street. It seems I will have a good vantage point. The only drawback, as I pointed out, is that live coverage will only be on ITV4, which I described as "having fewer viewers than my YouTube channel!" (though my videos have been viewed 6 million times.)

The Tour of Britain will be in Gateshead on 10th September.

Our next Focus

Dunston Hill and Whickham East Focus June 19

My colleagues kindly left me 600 Focuses yesterday to deliver once the rains had stopped. They are for Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward. Watch out for me over the next couple of days as I'm wearing out shoe leather during the heat wave!

Monday, June 24, 2019

No Brexit candidate

Nominations closed on Friday for the Northumbria PCC by-election. I am the Lib Dem candidate and, as expected, Labour  and Conservatives also have nominations in. There is an independent as well. She has something of a Conservative past and was also involved with some anti-Lib Dem activity. For a short time, she worked for Ann-Marie Trevelyan, Tory MP for Berwick. I am assuming she has £5000 to burn as her chances of taking at least 5% of the vote, necessary to save the deposit, are somewhat limited.

So that's four candidates. Missing from the running is the Brexit Party. The reason for the absence is unknown. How this will impact on the result is difficult to quantify. On a much smaller scale, in my ward in May, there was no Kipper/Brexit candidate. Old fashioned 3 party politics, now a bit of a distant memory, came into play. I got 73% of the vote!

Anyway, polling day for this completely unnecessary PCC by-election, is 18th July.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Labour vote collapse in Blaydon - YouGov

I blogged about my doubts over opinion polls during the European election. My caution however appeared misplaced when the Lib Dems outpolled both Labour and the Conservatives. Since then, a number of polls show there is something of a 4-way divide across the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Brexit parties in terms of share of the vote. Some of them continue to show Labour and Conservatives battling over 3rd and 4th place. But a YouGov poll on Friday particularly caught my attention, not because Labour and Conservatives were joint last, but because information was available at the constituency level.

In Blaydon constituency, Labour's vote has collapsed. The two beneficiaries are the Lib Dems and Brexit. The projection has us and the Farage party just about neck-and-neck. Labour are in 3rd place.

The figures are:

  • Brexit Party 27.2%
  • Lib Dems 26.8%
  • Labour 25.9%
  • Conservatives 10%
  • Greens 5.8%

Blaydon is developing into a two horse race, and for once, Labour are not one of the horses!

Birtley Action Day

Birtley Lib Dem street stall June 19 1

Yesterday, we had a successful action day in Birtley, one of our target wards for the Gateshead local elections next year. We started with a street stall on Durham Road and then headed off to deliver thank you focuses across the ward. Birtley Focus Team members Paul Elliott and Jo Davidson also delivered 500 focuses as well as doing some door knocking. Generally speaking, there was a positive response from residents.

Birtley Lib Dem action day lunch June 19 2

Lunch was at the Barley Mow.

Birtley Lib Dem action day lunch June 19 1

Meanwhile, Team Pelaw and Heworth were hard at work in the morning delivering their thank you focus. The aim was to get Pelaw done by the early afternoon, freeing Cllr Paul Diston to join us in the afternoon in Birtley.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Pelaw and Heworth eFocus no. 12

The latest edition of eFocus for Pelaw and Heworth ward was emailed out last night. In it, Councillors Paul Diston and Ian Patterson report on Pelaw bowling club, anti-social behaviour near Pelaw Library and Bill Quay Primary School's fundraising for a defibrillator. You can read the full newsletter on this link.

Clover Hill School Fair

Clover Hill School fair June 19 (4)

Yesterday I was invited by Clover Hill School to take some of our animals to their summer fair. So I took along two of the younger goats and 4 ducklings which hatched over the weekend. It was quite a successful event and was attended by quite a few constituents who passed on to me lots of congratulations for my re-election in May and lots of casework as well!

Clover Hill School fair June 19 (3)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Front page

Journal 20 June 19

I got front page of the Journal today! Our regional newspaper decided to make my call to abolish the PCC role their lead story. So, a good start to the campaign.

First PCC by-election interview done

Fergus Hewison BBC JW June 19

I have just returned home from my first media interview in my new guise as Lib Dem candidate in the Northumbria PCC by-election. I met up with Fergus Hewison from BBC Radio Newcastle outside the Baltic Gallery. The key issues I covered were my call to abolish the PCC role (an expensive experiment that has failed) and the need to rebuild community policing.

All candidates will eventually be interviewed. Broadcast is expected next week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My 3 key policies for the Northumbria PCC by-election

Now that my selection as Northumbria PCC candidate has been sorted, I can announce my three main policies:

  • Scrap the PCC role. It has been an expensive experiment that has failed (£3 million to pay for the by-election is just one example of the costs). The PCC role can be taken over by a joint body of local councils.
  • I will make neighbourhood policing and addressing anti social behaviour my major priority. I will refocus policing away from the failed war on drugs users, following the example set in Durham, and onto pursing the dealers. As PCC I will work with councils to declare drug abuse a public health crisis.
  • Press the government to keep the European Arrest Warrant which would be lost if there is a Hard Brexit. It has allowed the police to bring to justice murders, rapists and serious criminals who would otherwise evade justice by escaping to Europe.
The by-election will be held on 18th July. At the moment, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have announced candidates. There is no news about other candidates. Nominations close on Friday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Marley Hill Bowls Club rises from the ashes

Marley Hill bowling club house arson Oct 18 (6)

Last August, vandals broke into the Marley Hill Bowls Club pavilion and set fire to the building. Fortunately, the structure remained sound. Smoke damage was the biggest problem. Members of the club have now restored the pavilion. They have done an excellent job and members invited me today to see their work first hand. You can see the difference!

Marley Hill bowls club June 19 (1)

There will be an official re-opening in August.