Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gateshead annual council

The annual meeting of Gateshead Council on 18th May was a slightly strange affair as the retiring mayor, Pauline Dillion, was absent due to health problems, as was Martin Gannon, leader of the council. The meeting went ahead anyway. One of the points that irritates me about Gateshead Council is that the mayor is always Labour, but as Leader of the Opposition, I am asked to second the vote of thanks to the outgoing mayor. While I have no problem with seconding a vote of thanks when the mayor has done a good job, I do not like the fact this has become institutionalised into supporting a party political appointment when the appointment itself is denied to us. Labour like unity, as long as it is a united front supporting them. This is going to have to change.

In the meantime, here is the video of the annual meeting, so that everything is on record.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Video - council response to Regent Court fire

Earlier this month, Regent Court in Gateshead experienced a significant fire. Residents were evacuated. Most have now been able to return but 14 flats remain damaged. At Gateshead Council's annual meeting last week, deputy leader Catherine Donovan and I (as leader of the opposition) led the tributes to the services involved in tackling the fire and helping the displaced residents. I also raise the issue of the promised review of council housing which so far has not seen light of day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Whickham eFocus no. 108

Our next eFocus for the Whickham area was published tonight. It covers the local election results, the plans for the new buildings at Whickham School and the open day at the Whinnies Community Garden. You can view the newsletter on this link.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Taking the goats to school

Last Friday I was invited to take some of my goats to Whickham School as part of a project by sixth formers into addressing mental health issues. The aim was to see if petting animals would help improve people's mental health. I took Coal, Perky and Whinnie Too. Hundreds of children and lots of staff came along to visit them. The experiment was a success.

Above is the school's Twitter report on the visit.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Planning the Sunniside community fair

The plans for a community fair in Sunniside to raise funds for the village's Christmas tree are moving forward. We had a meeting on Monday evening at the Whinnies Community Garden where the fair will be held on Saturday 14th July. This will be the first community fair in Sunniside but hopefully it will be an annual event. There will be more information to follow as the details are sorted out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Video diary - Sunday 13th May: visiting the Hop Garden

The Hop Garden is a community allotment in High Spen. An annual seed and plant swap event is held there and the most recent one was on Sunday. I attended but took quail and duck eggs with me to swap.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night

Lighting Up Whickham race night May 18

Lighting Up Whickham are holding a race night on Saturday 26th May at Glebe Sports Club, from 7pm to raise funds for the Whickham Christmas tree. To order tickets go to the Lighting Up Whickham Facebook page.

Dunston Community Fair

On Saturday I visited the community fair at Dunston. A pleasant afternoon and a burger consumed as well.

Get well soon Martin

Last Thursday, members of Gateshead Council received an email informing us that Martin Gannon, Labour leader of the authority, had gone into hospital for urgent treatment. When I received the news I called Martin on his mobile. He was comfortable but very bored! So Martin, get well soon and get back to leading the council. It's a good cure for boredom!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Boozy winnings at the Bay Horse

On Friday evening, the Whickham and Swalwell Music Society had a pub quiz at the Bay Horse in Whickham to raise funds. My brother Andrew suggested we attend. Since our record in pub quiz music rounds is catastrophic, I had my doubts. We went anyway. We came 4th out of 10 but won vodka, gin and chocolates. So not so catastrophic after all!

Pub quiz winnings May 18

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Video diary - Wednesday 9th May 2018: Trump, hair and leadership

My video diary from Wednesday: my thoughts on Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal; the delayed haircut and being re-elected Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Re-elected as Leader

Last night was the AGM of the Lib Dem group on Gateshead Council. I was re-elected Leader of the group. This stunning victory came courtesy of an unopposed return! My contingency plans for what to do if I were defeated - cleaning the muck out of the henhouse, planting vegetables and making more jam - have had to be shelved yet again!

Thank you to my colleagues for putting their trust in me.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Well done Marilynn

Whickham South and Sunniside result May 18

I was not up for election this year but my ward colleague in Whickham South and Sunniside, Marilynn Ord, had a superb result. Marilynn scored 1970 votes, the highest for any candidate in Gateshead. She had a majority of 1314, which in itself was bigger than 12 of the 19 winning Labour candidates' actual votes. With two-thirds of the votes cast in the ward, Marilynn has a result of which she can be proud. I'm up for election next year. Assuming I am both willing to stand again and party members are willing to adopt me as candidate, I hope I can achieve a result as good as that of Marilynn.

Whickham Volunteer Library 2nd hand book sale

Whickham Library 2nd hand book sale May 18 (2)

Yesterday Whickham Volunteer Library held a 2nd hand book sale. The books had been donated by members of the public (I have a large number to pass on). Alas, there were already lots of helpers there when I arrived so I was given the job of getting people to fill in survey forms about the library.

Whickham Library 2nd hand book sale May 18 (3)

Whickham Library 2nd hand book sale May 18 (4)

Video diary - four counts and a funeral

My video diary from Friday - off to the count in the morning. Two wards were of particular interest to me - Ryton and Dunston Hill and Whickham East. On the way to the count I was concerned about Ryton but was confident we would gain Dunston Hill. Pelaw and Heworth was always going to be an outside chance but I was pleased that we were only 102 votes behind. Low Fell was a top target for Labour who threw everything including the proverbial kitchen sink (indeed a whole warehouse full of them) at the ward and there barely dented our majority.

Ryton went to a recount but I was not able to stay for it. I had the funeral of my late friend Peter Angus to attend in Blyth. I got the Ryton result later in the day. Labour had scraped in by 28 votes.

Video diary - polling day

Slightly late but this is my video diary for polling day. It started in Ryton, moved on to Ryton and finished in Sunniside where, at the last moment, I was reminded I needed to vote!

Whickham eFocus edition 107

Our most recent edition of eFocus for Whickham was published on Wednesday. Due to the election battle, I didn't have time to post it to the blog so here it is on this link.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Labour's letter cock-up in target seat

DHWE Labour letter April 2018

Labour's struggling campaign in Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward of Gateshead has had its eyebrow-raising moments. Firstly, Labour's candidate and defending councillor Allison Thompson issued a leaflet in the Whickham part of the ward which was all about what she was doing in Dunston. Whickham barely got a mention. Then, a Labour leaflet announced that a planning application for nearly 600 executive houses in the ward will be submitted this summer. The application was actually submitted last year and again, earlier this year, raising questions about whether or not Labour know what is happening in a ward they are defending.

Today, Labour's cock-up comes in the form of a letter that is being delivered to people who vote at polling stations, rather than by post. The problem is that what has been delivered is the same letter that went to postal voters two weeks ago. Indeed, the letter begins by advising people that their postal vote will arrive shortly!

This will no doubt cause some confusion but one possible outcome is that Labour voters will stay at home on Thursday waiting for non-existent postal votes to arrive. Everyone else hopefully will go to the polling station to vote!

Allison scraped in by 78 votes back in 2014. Hopefully the result this time will be a bit more clear cut, and not in Allison's favour! I never however count my chickens before they have hatched.

In the meantime, a quick request to Allison (who is a reader of this blog). Time is running out for more Labour cock-ups in your ward. Could you get any remaining ones done asap as I am busy and need a bit of time to write about them on my blog!