Friday, November 30, 2018

Whickham Lights Switch On - video

Christmas lights switch on in Whickham on Tuesday - the movie!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Whickham Christmas lights switch on - photos

Whickham Christmas lights switch on Nov 18

On Tuesday, the Christmas lights in Whickham were switched on. The funds were raised by Lighting Up Whickham and they organised the event which started at Rose Villa Nursery and then along to St Mary's Green. The photos I took are on the above link.

Whickham School turf-cutting ceremony

On Thursday last week, I attended the turf-cutting ceremony at Whickham School where work is now beginning on replacing the old buildings. I was a pupil at the school some years (decades) ago. It's a small world however - one of the 6th formers told me that his grandfather was a Whickham policeman in the 1970s and remembers dealing with a road accident in which I was seriously injured and ended up in hospital for 50 days. That was over 40 years ago, proving some people have good memories!

Meanwhile, the turf-cutting ceremony was performed by Sir John Hall, who built the nearby Metrocentre.

Dunston Hill - the final battle

On Wednesday last week, the final battle to stop Labour's plans for 582 executive homes on former greenbelt land at Dunston Hill took place when the planning application for the development came before Gateshead Council's planning committee. Labour have battled hard to have the houses built though at election time they try to claim they were against them (and therefore against the own plans which they voted through).

Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward has 2 Lib Dem councillors (Kevin McClurey and Peter Maughan) and one Labour. On the planning committee, Labour have 18 members to our 4. Defeating the house-building plans was a long shot and we would need to change the minds of some Labour members. The final voting figures were 10 in favour of the plans, 9 against. It was closer than we expected and one more Labour member switching sides would have given us victory. It was noticeable that Eileen McMaster, Labour Councillor for Lobley Hill, which will be heavily impacted by the new housing, voted in favour. The next Lobley Hill Focus will write itself!

After the decision, the team headed to Dunston Hill and delivered a Focus Special to the 2400 houses there to inform people of the news.

Interestingly, after they voted for the executive homes to be built, Labour announced they were launching a campaign for the houses to be affordable! Too late for that.

Above: Lib Dem Cllr Kevin McClurey speaking to the planning committee asking for the Dunston Hill plans for 582 executive homes to be defeated. Below, Cllr Peter Maughan's speech to the meeting, also calling for the plans to be thrown out.

Pelaw and Heworth Action Day

On Saturday 17th November, Gateshead Lib Dems had another action day, this time in Pelaw and Heworth ward, where Labour are defending a majority of about 100 over us. Lots of activities took place including a street stall, litter pick, survey and Focus delivery. We were spotted by a Labour councillor!

Pelaw Heworth action day Nov 18 (9)

Pelaw Heworth action day Nov 18 (7)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Low Fell eFocus

Gateshead Lib Dems have now published their next eFocus. Low Fell edition 23 was published a few days ago and leads on the Gateshead Council budget proposals. You can read eFocus on this link.

Edition 110 for the Whickham area is currently being written.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Gateshead Lib Dem members' newsletter

Our latest email newsletter for Lib Dem members in Gateshead was published recently. Issues covered included the action day in Pelaw and Heworth, the recent regional conference in Darlington and the Gateshead AGM. You can view the newsletter on this link.

eFocus Whickham 109

Our latest eFocus for the Whickham area, no. 109, has just been published. Issues covered include:
  • D-Day decision on greenbelt executive house-building plans
  • Lest we forget - residents turn out in force for Remembrance Day parade and services
  • Post office provision in Whickham under threat
  • Arson at Marley Hill bowling club
  • Christmas market at the Whinnies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Remembrance Day Parade

On Sunday I took part in the Remembrance Day parade and service in Whickham. For some years, the Whickham event has been the biggest in Gateshead and this year 50 wreaths were laid and over 1000 attended. I laid a wreath on behalf of my constituents.

Opening Sunniside Fair

I was invited to open the Sunniside Methodist Hall fair on Saturday. The chapel are keen to carry out renovation work of the hall and to make it more accessible as a community asset and venue for meetings for local groups and organisations. I was quite chuffed to be asked to perform the opening.

Printing the next Focus

I was in the office last week to print our latest Focus. This is the edition for the four villages of Sunniside, Streetgate, Marley Hill and Byermoor. Issues covered include housing plans being granted in Sunniside and Streetgate, arson attack at Marley Hill bowling club, Whinnies garden bird of prey day, repairs to Ravensworth Castle, improvements to Sunniside Methodist hall , Sunniside Christmas tree switch on and flytipping at Byermoor.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Gateshead's Millennium Study

I filmed this video just before and just after a seminar for Gateshead councillors about the Gateshead Millennium Study, a research project that followed 1000 people born in 1999/2000 until they turned 18. There was quite a concentration during the presentation on the issue of obesity, which affected children from all income groups, though it was higher among children from the lowest income households. There are no single solution to tackling obesity and, as I pointed at at the meeting, ready-made meals and takeaways taste great and are packed full of things the body craves and which, naturally, are in short supply - salt, fats and sugars for example. However we don't live naturally. Anyway, my views on this are all in the above video.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Blaydon branch meeting

Last Thursday the Blaydon Lib Dem constituency meeting was held. I was there to give my report as group leader for the year as a whole as this was the AGM. I talked about our "6 to fix" which we used in the local elections but also raised Gateshead Council's late housing strategy

Officers were elected for the year ahead and we concluded with a report on preparations for the local elections, especially as they relate to the five wards in the constituency in which we have an active interest and the one ward in Gateshead constituency in which Blaydon constituency assists the campaigning to build up to a gain from Labour in the future.

Why I don't think there will be an election

I recorded my thoughts on why I don't think there will be an election last week when I arrived at Gateshead Civic Centre for a meeting. It could be my famous last words but talk of a snap election is, I feel, misplaced. The Conservatives are ahead in the polls but their fingers were badly burnt last year when May lost her majority in an unnecessary snap election. Their poll leads are modest but not enough to risk a run to the country. Furthermore, the Conservatives will want the boundary changes approved before a general election.

I could, of course, be completely wrong! We could end up, if not a snap election, with one in May next year, coinciding with the local elections. Time will tell.