Saturday, September 30, 2023

Let them eat cake


Sunniside Club hosted a Macmillan coffee morning yesterday so after feeding my livestock, having breakfast and doing some casework, I took the 5 minute walk to the Club for coffee and cake. Well done to all those who helped out, and to those who arrived to eat cake and part with their money!

A bird in the hand....


I visited the Material Recovery Facility at Teeside on Thursday. This is the plant where the the waste for recycling from Gateshead is sent for separation, processing and onward sale to companies for whom the material is a resource. The plant occasionally has a problem with sea gulls so the help of birds of prey is regularly sought. An old fashioned solution to a modern problem!

I filmed a short video when I was there but it is yet to be edited. I will post it once it is ready.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Anyone try the West Cliff Lift?


Did any of you who were in Bournemouth earlier this week had a ride on the West Cliff Lift? For £2, it was worth it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

MP and farmer

I went to the National Farmers Union meeting last night and bumped into fellow farmer Sarah Dyke, newly elected MP for Somerton and Frome. We had a useful conversation about which breeds of sheep we keep and which are the easiest to handle! (For me it's the Hebrideans as they have horns, just what you need to hold onto while shearing them!)

Good speech by my old university friend Tim Farron on why the farming community's tendency to vote Conservative is misplaced, especially following the trade agreements that have knifed farmers. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Kira Rudik

Lib Dem conference had a guest speaker today. Kira Rudik is a Ukrainian MP and leader of the Ukrainian Liberal party. She gave a moving speech about the horrors inflicted on her country and on the Ukrainian people. It is vital that Ukraine wins the war. A world in which Putin and fellow dictators and international bullies are free to do as they wish would bee a terrible place.

Look who I bumped into

The Lib Dem ALDC local government reception last night was a rather crowded affair. I'm not sure whether that was down to people not seeing each other for 4 years, hundreds more councillors being elected since we last met or the wine being free (but limited in supply!) Ed Davey was guest speaker and I had a chat with him. We've known each other for 20 years, since he was local government spokesman in the Commons and I was responsible for all things local government in the policy unit in HQ. Last night Ed quizzed me on our gains in Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland in May. He was particularly pleased about our ending Labour's 90 year hold on Saltwell. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

On the cliff top

Here's the pic of one of the goats. The cliff is quite steep so it makes sense that goats, which have evolved to climb vertical cliffs, rather than people take on the job of vegetation control. 

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd...

A number of people mentioned to me today that they had seen goats on the cliff in front of the Highcliff Hotel here in Bournemouth. So I had a look and there they were: three billy goats presumably there to clear the vegetation. If made me feel right at home! 

I've arrived!

 Well, here I am, in Bournemouth, enjoying the sunny weather and meeting people I haven't seen for ages. There are however lots of people here at Lib Dem conference I don't recognise. Assuming I can get the hotel WiFi to work (don't count on it) I will keep posting from Bournemouth throughout conference. In the meantime I need to head to the rally. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Heading to conference

It's that time of year when bags are packed, train tickets are booked and we head to a town or city with a large conference centre. Yes, it's Lib Dem autumn conference and this year it is back in Bournemouth. It is however the first in person autumn conference since 2019 with covid and the passing of the Queen having cancelled the recent annual gatherings . So it will feel a bit strange meeting up with people we haven't seen for 4 years. Meanwhile, I have a 6 hour train journey ahead of me so I am armed with lots of BBC History magazines and a book on medicines in the Roman Empire to keep me occupied. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

2 motions for debate

 Full council tomorrow in Gateshead and there are two motions from the Lib Dem group. 

The first is about flytipping and reads:

Gateshead Council congratulates Durham County Council on their tough stance on fly tipping by issuing nearly one thousand fines in 2021/22. Council notes that in the same period Gateshead Council issued one fine. Council calls on the Chief Executive to write to the Chief Executive of Durham County Council to invite him to send an appropriate officer to conduct a Gateshead members’ seminar to explain to members and officers how their success was achieved.

The second (which will be moved by me) reads:

This Council calls on the Chief Executive to draw up a proposed amendment to the Council constitution that would allow the submission of amendments and motions to full Council by email. This change should be ready to be incorporated into the next review of the Constitution.

Labour have submitted a wrecking amendment to the first motion but a not-unfriendly amendment to the second. Should mean an interesting debate.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Booked for regional conference

I've just signed up for the 2nd conference of the autumn. Northern Region Liberal Democrats will be meeting for the AGM on Saturday 4th November at the Little Theatre in Saltwell, Gateshead. It's four years since we last met in person, having switched to online conferences because of covid. No motions are on the agenda yet as the period for submitting them has just opened. The Little Theatre is in Saltwell, scene of one of our gains from Labour in the local elections in May. That on its own is worth attending conference to celebrate.

The other conference is the party's national conference in Bournemouth starting in 8 days. This time next week I shall be on a train heading south, hopefully in better weather than we have at the moment.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Rejoining by stealth?

I thought one of the main reasons for Brexit was to free ourselves from all those European institutions, whatever the cost. The announcement by the current Brexit government that the UK will rejoin the Horizon Europe programme must be a source of concern for those who thought withdrawing from the EU was a great idea. All those Brexiteers must be fuming that a fundamental plank of Leave has been tossed onto the fire. Being part of Horizon is strategically crucial for UK science and it is clearly in the national interest to be part of it. So, for once, let me congratulate Brexit-backing Prime Minister Sunak on his U-turn.

Other government decisions must also be upsetting Leavers. We were promised control of our borders but we have an internal border between the UK mainland and Northern Ireland. No matter how much the Windsor Agreement improves the flow of goods and people, Brexiteers must feel a sense of betrayal that control of our border with Ireland rests with the EU. And don't forget the government's failure to take control of all of our borders in relation to goods coming into the country from the EU. While Europe has implemented border checks, the UK still enjoys the free movement of goods into the country, very much against what was promised in the referendum.

We await, of course, the benefits of Brexit to arrive. In their current absence, Leavers must be worrying that Horizon, Windsor and movement of goods without checks show Britain is rejoining the EU by stealth.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Low Fell eFocus no. 128

 Team Low Fell are still hard at it with their latest eFocus. In edition 128, they cover the following issues:

  • Sunday's flooding
  • Bus shelter on Durham Road replaced
  • Ward boundary changes - have your say
  • Lorton Road trees

You can read eFocus on this link.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Dinner time

Gateshead Liberal Democrats have never before had an annual dinner. That is now changing. On Monday 16th October, we will be sitting down to dinner in Rosa Twelve in Low Fell. Guest speaker is Simon Hughes. I will be attending and I've just carried out the most significant job of today: choosing starter, main course and dessert!

In the olden days, when I worked for the Lib Dems, I once prepared a briefing for Simon for a meeting at conference. He got the briefing in the morning and attended the meeting in the evening, having completely memorised it. He missed nothing out and spoke without notes. Very impressive!

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Back up plan


Last week, someone managed to back their car into the frontage of Stewart Eyecare in Whickham. Fortunately no one was injured and the business continues to operate, despite the boarded up windows. I had my eyes tested there yesterday. New glasses should be with me shortly. In the meantime, hopefully the glass panels will be replacing the chipboard soon.