Sunday, February 26, 2023
Photo - me, Ron Beadle (new Lib Dem Leader in Gateshead) and Paul Gibson.
What neither of us realised was that the concert had been postponed. The first I knew of this was the arrival of the new tickets a couple of weeks ago. I decided to go to the concert, as much out of respect to Richard as anything else. A great time had by all. I just wish Richard had been there to enjoy it.
Saturday, February 25, 2023
I had been concerned recently that Gateshead Labour Councillor Angela Douglas had lost her voice. Angela is the Cabinet member whose portfolio covers leisure centres. She is therefore at the heart of the controversy about the proposed closures of Gateshead Leisure Centre and Birtley Swimming Centre. Strangely enough, she has been rather quiet about the proposals. Yes, she moved the original report at Cabinet back in October which kicked off the consultation on proposed closures. But when I turned up for an interview with BBC Look North about the proposed closures, she was nowhere to be seen. The BBC told me that they had made repeated attempts to contact her but had not been able to elicit a response. Council Leader Martin Gannon had to do the interview instead.
Labour then held a public meeting in the autumn about the proposed closures and yet again, Cllr Douglas was absent. Martin was there however to fill the void.
In January, when her report came to cabinet, she had nothing to say. This is quite remarkable given the controversy and the partial shredding of the recommendations which had not gone down well the night before at the Labour group meeting. Poor Martin Gannon yet again had to pick up the reins on this at Cabinet.
So it was such a pleasure to hear Angela's voice again on Thursday at the Council's budget meeting. She didn't give a speech (despite much of the debate being about her portfolio) but she did shout at the Lib Dem group when Opposition Leader Ron Beadle called for a named vote on our budget amendment. And then outside the chamber, while the Lib Dem group were getting photos taken, she raised her voice giving her view loudly on her interpretation on what the Lib Dems had not voted for in the Budget meeting.
It's great to hear her vocal chords back in action. And I look forward to hearing her say something, indeed anything, on the issue that is so central to her portfolio.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
David Goldwater will be the speaker at the next Sunniside History Society meeting on Wednesday 1st March at 7pm. He will be speaking about recent excavations at Roman Vindolanda in Northumberland but will also be talking about the nearby fort of Magna at Carvoran. The meeting is at Sunniside Club, £10 for society members, £2 for visitors. All welcome.
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Calvin Lawson was the great hope of Labour in their failed attempt to wrest control of Low Fell ward, Gateshead, in last year's local elections from the Lib Dems. Alas, now he seems to have disappeared from the radar screen. Insiders informed us last year that Low Fell had not been his first choice when he tried and failed to get selected for Birtley ward. Other insiders told us that the Labour Low Fell branch selection meeting in January 2023 had to be abandoned as no candidates were forthcoming. We have since heard that a candidate from Bridges ward has been parachuted in.
So where is Mr Lawson? Has he thrown in the towel and decided to spend his time on other activities? Has he done what so many in Labour are doing - giving up while Keir Blair-Mark-2 Starmer opens the exit door for all those pining after Jeremy Corbyn? Or is he hoping for selection elsewhere?
Frankly, I doubt many will care.
Friday, February 17, 2023
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
I was invited by residents to attend a meeting tonight in the Traveller's Rest in Sunniside. They want to set up a group that aims to plant up the village and keep it tidy. I was there to speak about the experiences of setting up and being part of a similar group in Whickham. My advice was to walk before trying to run - start with a limited number of objectives and grow to take on more over time. All in all, a very useful meeting and hopefully another voluntary group in the making.
I was the guest speaker at the U3A meeting in Sunniside Club last week. I turned up with my laptop to give a talk on what history taught me about self-sufficiency. The problem was that I had actually been booked to give my talk about the Washingwell Roman fort. Fortunately, my error was rectified as I had the Roman fort presentation on my laptop. A quick switch of files and problem solved. The talk itself went down well. The self-sufficiency talk is not wasted. I have been booked to give it later this year by another group.
Monday, February 06, 2023
My next speaking engagement is on Wednesday at 1.30pm when I will be talking to the U3A at Sunniside Social Club. I will be talking about what history has taught me about self-sufficiency. So that means two of my passions in one go! I will be giving the same talk later this year to Sunniside History Society. The Powerpoint presentation is ready. I will give it one further rehearsal tonight.
Sunniside History Society met on Wednesday last week. We were expecting a talk on 17th century Newcastle but the speaker at the last moment was unable to get to the meeting. Plan B was put into operation. It was a video of the Tanfield railway from Pontop Pike to the Dunston Staiths. As people had turned up to hear about the history of Newcastle, I also gave an impromptu talk about the Lort Burn, one of the lost rivers of Newcastle. I will be producing a history video about it later this year so my research on the river was incomplete. Nevertheless, I was able to talk without notes for about 20 minutes and then had quite a wide-ranging discussion about the Lort Burn and how it affected the development of central Newcastle.
Time is running out for residents to have their say on Council plans to slash the budget for street cleaning and a host of other environmental services. The Labour run Council are proposing £970,000 in cuts to environmental services, including:
- less winter gritting
- cuts in street cleaning
- reductions in grass cutting
- fewer staff to look after our parks
- weed control will be cut in half
- getting rid of staff who remove graffiti and the Council’s dog warden
- ending the volunteer support service for parks.