Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Where are the hordes of Corbynistas?

It is always a challenge to deliver literature. My shoe leather and legs know the cost of so many deliveries. The challenge face all parties. It's hard work and a hard slog to get everything through people's letterboxes.

We are constantly being told by Labour that their ranks have been swollen by youthful Corbynistas. In my ward, I have to ask, where are they? Labour started to deliver an A3 leaflet in the last week of March. Two weeks later the same leaflet was still being delivered. A week ago, Labour started to deliver another A3 leaflet. Last night I discovered that in Fellside Park, both leaflets were still being delivered and they were arriving through letterboxes together.

There is a similar picture in the neighbouring ward of Whickham North which is Lib Dem held. Labour are struggling to get out their literature. As recently as 2014, this ward was Labour's top target in the whole region. Now they have melted away. While I have no reason to doubt Labour's claims of a greatly increased membership, it seems that most of the new members seem content to join, pay the inflated membership fees (easy for most of them as they tend to come from well off backgrounds) and spend their time sniping at Tony Blair on Facebook. Helping in an election campaign is for others to do. And they certainly don't want to dirty their hands with a bit of manual effort to get leaflets through doors.

Ryton and Blaydon eFocus

We recently published our next edition of our Ryton/Blaydon eFocus. It's mainly about the local elections but you can read it on this link.

Video - Whickham canvass

Canvassing in Whickham on Saturday was relatively positive, towards the higher end of expectations. But in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward, the battle is still on for first place.

Gutting Labour's leaflet

In Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward of Gateshead, Labour have circulated a leaflet which contains a few statements that don't quite fit with what's actually happening. In this video I gut the leaflet.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tackling the motorcycle menace in Marley Hill

motorcycle sign Apr 18

One of the meetings I had this week was with highways officers and I took the opportunity to raise the on-going battle over the use of the area to the south of Marley Hill and Byermoor villages for illegal, off-road motorcycling. We are working with police and the council to tackle this and I'm pleased to report that the next action is to place signs (see above) around the site, the content of which speaks for itself.

I was recently in Byermoor on a Sunday morning to look at flytipping and while I was there, the police arrived to do one of their spot checks to look out for illegal motorcycling activity. The owner of the site has also been told by Gateshead Council to take action to stop the use of his land for this activity.

We hope this will lead to a successful conclusion of this issue.

Door knocking in Watergate

Watergate canvass Apr 18

Much of our canvassing in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward in recent weeks has been in parts of the ward where Labour are normally relatively strong. So yesterday we headed into the Watergate Estate. I was pleased with the responses we received. Generally, our support is holding up and the biggest moves were from hard to soft Labour. The Lib Dem vote was towards the higher end of expectations, Labour's towards the lower end. Though this is helpful, it does not mean a certain victory, though a repeat of the result last time in 2016 will give is a gain this time (hence the good news about our vote holding up.) I think there is all to play for but the result will be close, whoever wins.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Video diary - Sunday 15th April: delivering in Gateshead

Postal votes were about to arrive so I delivered lots of letters in Ryton and Dunston Hill and Whickham East wards.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

In the Daily Star

Daily Star Apr 18

It appears I am in the Daily Star today, quoted about the £5000 food bill for Labour Council Leader Martin Gannon. Martin successfully managed to turn Gateshead Council into a personal version of his very own food bank by claiming for lunches from 2014-17. It turns out that over those three years, over half the subsistence claims were made by Martin. He ate just over half the budget.

The last time I was in the Daily Star was on Friday 13th March 1992. My Conservative opponent in Hexham constituency, Alan Amos MP, had just been arrested with another man on Hampstead Heath. Two days later, he was replaced by another candidate and my being gay was suddenly an issue right at the start of the general election campaign. So I came out and got enormous coverage for a story that nowadays no one in the media would bother with.

Peter Angus RIP

I discovered on Saturday morning that Peter Angus, former Lib Dem Councillor in Castle Morpeth, had died. Peter was a friend of mine who provided me and David with our first home, 32 years ago. We lived in his house while we bought our first home in Swalwell.

Sadly, Peter was an alcoholic and his illness eventually caught up with him. He passed away last month. The funeral is at 1.45pm on Friday 4th May at Cowpen Crematorium in Blyth.

Labour Councillor missing her "goal"

Labour Councillor in Dunston Hill and Whickham East, Allison Thompson, has announced in her election leaflet that her "goal is to give the people of our community a voice on Gateshead Council." After 14 years on Gateshead Council, I'm not yet sure she has managed to score that goal. I've only heard her speak twice at full council meetings, an average rate of once every seven years.

In January she had put in objections to a planning application for a chippie to open for longer hours. Allison the Chip Snatcher asked to speak at the planning committee, no doubt "to give the people of our community a voice" and persuade members to bin the longer opening hours. Alas, there was no sign of Allison at the meeting and no apology for absence. The application was approved.

Meanwhile, the Council's website now gives details of councillors' attendance at meetings. Since October, Allison's attendance was expected at 13 meetings. She attended 3. That's one every two months, an attendance rate of 23%.

Not exactly a strong voice for the community.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Are Labour asleep in Dunston Hill and Whickham East

It is very nice of the Labour Party in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward to set aside a fair chunk of their main leaflet in the local elections in Gateshead to respond to the Lib Dems in the ward. It has been clear from the start of this campaign that we, rather than Labour, have set the agenda in the ward and Labour have been forced to respond.

One of the key issues is the plan for nearly 600 executive houses to be built at the top of Dunston Hill. Despite the Lib Dems having led the battle against these plans, and the Labour run council coming up with the plans in the first place, the Labour leaflet circulated this morning tried to make out that Labour were opposed to the house-building plans and that they were the fault of the Lib Dems! Perhaps Labour's campaign slogan should be "Vote Labour because we are opposed to Labour policies"!

Alas for Labour, they have included a monumental error in their leaflet that well and truly shows that they are completely out of touch with what's actually happening. Their leaflet claims, "A planning application is expected to be submitted this summer for the development of homes on land south of Whickham Highway close to Lobley Hill." The reality of the situation is that the planning application was submitted last year and resubmitted earlier this year. This is a live planning application and I am staggered that the Labour Party in the ward are completely unaware of this as this is the biggest planning issue to hit the area in decades.

Dunston deserves better.

eFocus Whickham edition 106

Our latest eFocus for the Whickham area, edition 106, was published tonight. It leads on the work being done at the top of Dunston Hill where Labour are pressing for nearly 600 executive houses on former greenbelt. There is also a number of stories about the local elections. You can view it on this link.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Video Diary Sunday 8th April 2018 - flytipping

On Sunday I was invited by residents of Byermoor, the smallest village in my ward, to have a look at the flytipping taking place next to the school. The amount of dumped waste is staggering. I have since taken the issue up with officers.

Video diary - Saturday 7th April 2018 - delivering and printing

There are bits of my life that feel like groundhog day, especially when it comes to printing and delivering Focuses.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Who is standing where in Gateshead

A short video I put together about which parties are standing where in Gateshead, what happened in the last elections and which seats could change hands. Only 1 min 38 seconds long.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Who ate half the pies?

Labour leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. It looks like he has bitten off more than he can chew but I hope he isn't going to make a meal of it. It has come to light that subsistence allowance claims by Martin from 2014-2017 amount to £5003.64. In those years, the Council spent a total of £9623.06 on subsistence for all councillors. So, in a budget for 66 councillors, over half was spent on pies and sandwiches for one member. Most councillors (regardless of party) claim nothing.

The allowance is meant to cover the cost of food while on normal council duties. Half the budget being spent on food for one member is a bit hard to swallow. We could chew this over for a bit and no doubt residents who pay for Martin's meals may want to pick a bone with him. As Leader, Martin already has a lot on his plate. He should feel a great pudding over this issue.

It seems Martin has turned the council into his own food bank, I told the local media. If you want to sink your teeth into the story, follow this link.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Letters delivered

DHWE letters April 18

Another trip down to Whickham and Dunston this morning, this time to deliver about 100 letters. Job done by midday. Tomorrow I shall return - to deliver our next Focus.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Whickham East annual report

delivering Whickham East annual report Apr 18 (1)

We are currently delivering our annual reports to constituents in the wards we represent in Gateshead. I was out recently delivering in Whickham East. The issues covered include Labour's attempts to sell part of Chase Park, battling against housing plans on local countryside, litter, council tax and Gateshead's budget.

delivering Whickham East annual report Apr 18 (2)