Friday, August 31, 2018

My Wednesday meetings - library and history

On Wednesday, I had two meetings to attend, both in the evening. The first was the trustees of Whickham Voluntary Library where we discussed ambitions and aspirations for the building. The second was the executive of Sunniside History Society to put final preparations in place for the AGM next week. We also drew up some provisional plans for the year ahead.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Vince Cable in Newcastle

Vince Cable was in Newcastle on Saturday to speak at the People's Vote rally. I was part of the delegation to meet and greet him on his arrival.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Protect and Survive - government advice on how to survive the Brexit nuclear bomb

There is something awfully familiar about the government's Brexit No-Deal advice. Those of use who are old enough to remember the 1970s and 80s will recall the "Protect and Survive" advice in which we were told how to sit out a nuclear war by taking shelter under the dining room table. After a few days, it would be safe to go out into the fallout (provided you were over 30 years of age). Always remember to wear rubber gloves and clean wellies if you needed to pop outside to see whether any of your neighbours had survived the nuclear blast.

Somehow, the new Brexit advice looks horribly like a recycling of the 1970s. I hope they don't bring back flares.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Visiting the Tanfield Railway

The Tanfield Steam Railway is partly in my council ward in Gateshead and over the weekend they held a heritage event. I went along to enjoy some history and lend a hand at the Sunniside History Society stall.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Swalwell Community Fair

I was in Swalwell yesterday with two of my goats (Coal and Perky) to promote the community fair where I also was selling our preserves and eggs. The goats are always popular with the (human) kids! A good, steady flow of customers and lots of chats with residents about a whole range of local issues.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Visiting Marley Hill Bowling Club

Marley Hill Bowling Club are preparing for a community asset transfer of their bowling green. Members will take on the running of the facility from Gateshead Council in the near future. I visited the club last night at members' request to take some photos for our next Focus newsletter. I agreed some time ago to help the club promote their activities so the photos will be used for that purpose.

Monday, August 13, 2018

House-building survey

A planning application has been submitted to Gateshead Council for housing on land between Starling Walk and Sun Hill in Sunniside. I have no problem with housing going onto this site but as ward councillors we had always made it clear to officers that this site should be used for housing for older people. 4 years ago, the old Sun Hill residential accommodation was replaced by the new Sun Hill. Much of the unused land was part of the footprint of the old building. New accommodation for older people in Sunniside tends to free up existing family homes occupied by single older people and by older couples.

Unfortunately, the planning application for this site is for 8 houses and 2 bungalows. The bungalows fit the vision we have for the site. The houses don't.

Yesterday I delivered a survey about the application to the 50 households in the immediate vicinity of the site. I got about 25 replies. I will be sorting through them shortly and passing on the results to the planning officers in Gateshead.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Birtley Action Day

On Saturday we held our latest action day in Gateshead. This time it was in Birtley ward. It is Labour held with a comfortable share of the vote but where the turnout is only 31%. It is a ward Labour tends to take for granted.

The aim of the action day was to deliver the latest Birtley Focus across the ward. I'm pleased to report that, other than patches taken by some helpers to deliver through the week, we completed the delivery.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Scanning historic photos

I have been a local councillor in Gateshead for 31 years and in that time I have built up a substantial collection of photos which should major changes in the area. I am doing a talk on these changes to Sunniside History Society shortly, using the photos. Alas, most of them are from the pre-digital age, so I have had to spend quite some time scanning them.

Lighting Up Sunniside meeting

I attended a meeting of Lighting Up Sunniside last week. The group has been set up to raise the funds for the village's Christmas tree. We are now just over half way to our target. The meeting on Wednesday agreed to hold a race night on 22nd September at the Travellers pub. Preparations are now underway. I need to find a sponsor (£20), 8 jockeys and 8 owners (£5 each) for race one. Get in touch if you want to splash the cash for a good cause.

Having your cake and eating it

I put my thoughts on Brexit to camera recently while I had a few minutes spare. I am a remainer mainly because I believe it is in the national interest to be in the EU, arguing our case. I do not believe sovereignty can be restored simply by going "independent" as the EU, even without the UK, is an economic superpower. What happens there, affects us here, whether we are in or out. So we should be in, fighting for the UK's interest, as well as enjoying the benefit of membership.

I also believe that people have to accept the consequences of their own actions. The UK voted leave, and that means giving up on the benefits and costs of membership. There can be no half way house in which we have the benefit of membership without the costs. The analogy I use is that if you resign from membership of the local golf club, you can hardly demand the right to enjoy the benefits of still being a member.

However, in 2016 the UK was sold a pup. The people were told we could have the best of both worlds with continued access to the Single Market without any of the costs. Lots of people bought into that message. The reality of no-deal, of hard Brexit, is starting to become clear. The vision of the UK striding the world as an independent economic superpower with the EU "needing us more than we need them" has been revealed as a sham. Had the government produced a realistic plan to leave and passed the appropriate legislation with a Leave referendum result acting as the trigger to enact the legislation, there would be no need for a 2nd referendum. People would have known exactly what they were voting for. This was not what happened in 2016 so the people should have a further referendum to decide whether or not we as a nation should jump off the cliff.