Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Tales from the campaign trail no. 4 - the wanderer returns

Gateshead Labour Councillor Anne Wheeler is on a bit of a journey. She arrived on the council in 2010, winning back a seat from the Lib Dems in Pelaw and Heworth ward which we had held since taking it from Labour in 2000. Having served 2 terms Anne moved ward to Wardley and Leam Lane in 2018. Whether this was a voluntary switch of ward or imposed on her I do not know. Either way, it was for her a good move as Wardley and Leam Lane was one of the strongest Labour wards in the borough. Pelaw and Heworth on the other hand was moving back towards to Lib Dems. In 2016 we took one of the three seats by only 20 votes. Labour clung on by around 100 votes in the ward in 2018 but Anne was safe with a majority of 868 in the next door ward.

Alas, things don't look so comfortable for her now. She is no longer Labour candidate in the Labour fortress of Wardley and Leam Lane. Instead, she is back in Pelaw and Heworth facing a Lib Dem majority of 648 from 2021. The sitting Labour councillor has decided to retire and retirement for Anne is now looking likely as well. The ward is a top target for the Lib Dems and Labour's campaign has been rather minimal.

A ward to watch on Friday 6th May.

Tales from the campaign trail no. 3 - eat your Greens

For the last couple of local elections, the Greens in Gateshead have fancied their chances in Crawcrook and Greenside ward. Labour's majority over the Greens last year was 321, bringing the ward into the realm of the marginal. The Greens last year were disappointed by the result but it was their best chance of winning a seat on Gateshead Council. Since then a change of candidate has probably not helped their cause. Though it seems the Greens are continuing to do battle in the ward, I suspect they blew their chances last year. Expect a Labour hold next week though don't expect the majority to be comfortable.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Tales from the campaign trail no. 2: Labour forget they run the council


It's that time of year - Labour leaflets pop through local letterboxes. There must be an election! Labour's candidate for Whickham South and Sunniside (who lives in Blaydon) has been issued with a map of where to go and the success of this can be shown by the fact I walked past him last week in Sunniside. His election leaflet, which he was delivering at the time, seems almost to have come from a parallel universe. Anyone reading it would be forgiven for thinking Labour do not run the council! According to the Labour leaflet, Lib Dems are responsible for the cost of living crisis! 

The leaflet then claims that "There are no outdoor play areas for children in Sunniside." This may be a bit of a surprise to the Whinnies Community Garden where volunteers provide an outdoor play area! There is also Sunniside Park, Marley Hill Park, Frosterley Walk field and Kingsway community orchard. How about Kindred's Wood and Lotties Wood? All outdoor spaces and accessible. What Sunniside lacks (which the leaflet does not refer to) is play equipment, other than what is available at the Whinnies and at Marley Hill. But the Labour-run council withdrew the funding some years ago for play equipment for Sunniside.

The leaflet then claims that we should "not see other areas of the council benefit at the cost of families in Whickham and Sunniside." Are Labour admitting they are using my constituents as a cash cow for other areas of Gateshead.

I just want to remind Labour that they run the council, and have done so for nearly 50 years! Labour are ultimately responsible.

Anyway, good luck with your campaign Mr Hall. I will see you at the count.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Tales from the campaign trail: is the 30 year electoral famine to end?

It's something we haven't seen in Gateshead for 30 years: the Conservatives winning a seat on the council. Sadly, the chances of this happening this May are now higher than they have been for 30 years. You have to go back to 1992 to find the last Conservative win when they topped the poll in Low Fell. Since then Gateshead has been an electoral desert for the Conservatives. Are we about to see an end to this electoral famine?

We could well be for there is one ward where the Conservatives stand a modest chance of winning. Winlaton and High Spen was a Labour hold last year but their majority was slashed to 396 over the Conservatives. I am reliably informed that the Conservatives' young candidate and raising star Lewis Ormston is running a strong local campaign, with the help of his party colleagues from across the border in Co Durham. I hear on the grapevine that there were lots of Tories in High Spen yesterday knocking on doors.

Young Lewis has been helped by the retirement of the Labour Councillor and her replacement by a candidate from the other end of the Borough. And the Conservatives could be the beneficiary of Labour complacency. My friends in the Labour Party seem to think Winlaton and High Spen ward is safe for Labour and they've got it in the bag. They could be in for an uncomfortable surprise.