Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Blame the Liberal Democrats!

It's Labour's favourite tradition in Gateshead - blame the Liberal Democrats for everything. War, famine, plague, climate change. Just blame the Liberal Democrats! At full council last week, Angela Douglas, cabinet member for leisure, took the opportunity to blame everything that has happened since 2015 on the Lib Dems. We don't often hear from Angela. In January, cabinet debated the future of leisure services in Gateshead. The debate took about 2 hours. Angela, whose portfolio was being debated, said nothing. She sat silently through the meeting. Quite what Gateshead gets for the £16K paid to her for being the cabinet member for leisure services is not clear. But it was a pleasant change to hear from Angela at the council meeting last week.

Labour nationally have committed to continuing the current regime of tax and spending. That means onging cuts to local government. Indeed, Labour Gateshead are preparing not for a government that will splash the cash as they have demanded over the past 13 years. Instead, they are planning on the basis of the next government continuing the cuts. Quite how Angela and her "socialist" chums will explain their party's support for Conservative cuts would be interesting to hear. What is the probability of her blaming the Liberal Democrats!?

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

One million viewings but here comes the competition!

A milestone in my blogging world - my blog has now had one million viewings! It only took me 17 years to get to that figure, aided kindly by lots of Labour members who are drawn to its contents and then criticise me in council meetings! But the crown of Gateshead's blogger of the year may be about to slip from my grasp. None other than Labour Leader Martin Gannon has launched a blog, via Gateshead Council website.

So what essay length posts can we hope to read as we all sit huddled around our ipads waiting for the next thrilling episode of "The Leader's thoughts"? To make his blog even more interesting, Martin has filmed a 5 minute video in which he talks about the big issues of the day. Three days after uploading the video, viewing figures have already reached a whopping total of 5 (and one of them was me!) If you don't want to view the video, a transcript is on the blog with all the "errs" and "ummms" carefully edited out!

So everyone, give Martin's blog a fighting chance and visit it now. Get those viewing figures up! After all, Martin only needs a million more visits to catch up with me!

Sandwiches in Saltwell


I was in Saltwell on Sunday, helping to deliver the latest edition of Focus. Saltwell is a very compact ward with a significant number of terraces, often with up to 300 homes in a street. Delivery rounds often consist of one street. Delivery times however are short. It took me only 25 minutes to deliver one street, which was about 8% of the total ward! Over in my ward, the delivery patches contain fewer delivery points but take much longer to do because of the gardens around which we have to walk.

I did however cross paths with Saltwell Labour Councillor John Adams. He arrived in his car and hung around the end of the street I was delivering. I assume he had not driven from his home which was only about a 5 minute walk away, if that. Surely, anyone wanting to save the planet would have walked such a short journey? So, wherever he had been previously, I hope he was having a productive day.

Meanwhile, back at Cllr Leanne Brand's flat, which was HQ for the day, sandwiches left over from my birthday party at Sunniside Social Club on Saturday were being consumed by a small army of Lib Dem helpers. Then it was time again to deliver another patch before heading home.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Let them eat cake


I turned 60 recently. Meanwhile David turned 66 a few weeks ago. Both milestone life events so we decided to have a joint 126th birthday party at Sunniside Club. My sister Esther made the cakes. There were only crumbs left by the end. We did however manage to use up the 8 bottles of Prosecco left over from our wedding. 

So thank you to the 50 people who joined the celebration.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Whickham Christmas tree lights switch-on


Father Barry Abbott switched on the Whickham Christmas tree lights yesterday. I was inevitably there with my video camera - see video about.

Me, Cllr Sonya Hawkins, Cllr Peter Craig and Father Barry Abbott join local police next to the tree on Church Green.

One of me next to the tree.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Low Fell eFocus no. 129

 The Lib Dem team in Low Fell today published their latest edition of eFocus. Issues covered include:

  • Christmas lights switch on;
  • Armistice day;
  • Dryden Road tree pruning;
  • Looking for a child's Christmas present?;
  • Recycling in Gateshead.

A parallel universe!

Back from feeding my livestock this morning and I struggled to believe what I heard when I put the tv on to watch the news. Braverman gone (less of a surprise) but Cameron back in government with a life peerage as well! I felt like I was living in a strange parallel universe. Is this for real? From memory, this is the first time in 50 years a former prime minister has returned to government to serve another PM. This may need checking but I think Alec Douglas-Home, PM 1963-64, returned to government as Foreign Secretary in the Heath government of the early 70s.

The question now is what will the right of the Conservative party do now that their standard bearer (Braverman) got herself booted out of the cabinet? And how long will it take the Conservative right to realise that elections are won in the centre ground. It took Labour a number of election defeats, especially 2019, before the "comrades" abandoned all their crackpot rubbish of the Corbyn period of lunacy to return to the middle ground. Will the Conservative right try to drag their party further away from the centre ground now that Braverman is free to cause even more chaos.

Remembrance Sunday Day in Whickham


Yesterday I attended the Remembrance Sunday parade and wreath-laying service in Whickham. Over 40 organisations took part, making it the biggest parade and service in Gateshead. Cllr Jonathan Mohammed laid the wreath on behalf of residents of Whickham South and Sunniside. The video above covers the service and the wreath-laying.

Councillors Sonya Hawkins, Peter Maughan and Jonathan Mohammed at the Whickham war memorial after the wreaths were laid.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Local Remembrance parades and services

It is Remembrance Sunday on 12th November. I will be attending the parade and service in Whickham though Cllr Jonathan Mohammed will be laying the wreath on behalf of our Whickham South and Sunniside residents. Below are some details about the various local events.


Whickham now hosts the biggest Remembrance Parade and wreath-laying service in Gateshead. For those wishing to see the parade, this will move off from the eastern point of Back Row at 10:30 am, arriving at Whickham cenotaph at approximately 10:40 am.

A Remembrance service and wreath-laying ceremony will commence at the cenotaph at 10:45 am. Cllrs Peter Maughan, Sonya Hawkins and Jonathan Mohammed will lay wreaths on behalf of Whickham residents.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant will be in attendance and the ceremony will be followed by a march past and then a short service in St. Mary’s Church.

Road Closures
To accommodate the parade, School Street and Back Row will be closed from 10:00am until approximately 10:45 am - and Front Street from Rectory Lane to Fellside Road will be closed from around 10:30 am until approximately 10:45 am.

Road closures will be also in place for the Remembrance service and wreath-laying ceremony - Front Street between Rectory Lane and Broom Lane will be closed from approximately 10:30 am until 11:30 am.

If there are any queries or any wreath layers who have previously not been in touch, could they please contact; Cllr. Peter Craig before Sunday.


Assemble at St Nicholas Church at 10am for a service followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial, Dunston at 11am. 

Marley Hill

Assemble at St Cuthbert's Church, Marley Hill, a Remembrance Service combined with Methodists, at 10.15am for an Act of Remembrance and wreath-laying.


Service at the Holy Trinity Church, Hexham Old Road at 9am. This will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at 10am.

eFocus edition 184

 We recently published our latest edition of eFocus for the Whickham area (no. 184). Issues covered include:

  • Gateshead Council not to be cut in size;
  • King Arthur Garden at Whinnies Community Garden opened;
  • Tyne Bridge repairs taking place;
  • Central Nursery arson and demolition;
  • Leven House plan withdrawn;
  • Planning applications;
  • Sunniside leek show;
  • Musical Comedy comes to Swalwell;
  • What happens to your waste for recycling;
  • Rained off - but Whickham flowerbeds will be replanted.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Delivering in Swalwell


Last week I was in the unusual situation of having no Focuses to delivery. It was a situation that changed rapidly thanks to the Lib Dem team in Whickham North. They discovered I had no leaflets and decided to help me out of my urgent need to put newsletters through people's doors by giving me 200 to deliver. Two streets in Swalwell enjoyed my company - Park Terrace and Napier Road, the latter being where I lived for 15 years. Though I am a great fan of gardens, I rather liked the fact that three quarters of the houses to which I delivered had no garden space at all. I delivered all 200 in 25 minutes.

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Regional conference in Gateshead


North East Lib Dem regional conference took place today and Gateshead were the hosts. The gathering took place in the Little Theatre in Saltwell.

The main session in the morning was a Q&A with Ed Davey online. He also talked about the forthcoming general election campaign and the success of the Lib Dems in the region in the local elections this year.

In the afternoon, there was an awards ceremony. Gateshead won the Alistair Wardlaw trophy for our progress in the local elections and developing the local party over the past year.

The biggest challenge of the day was the raffle! With 28 prizes and too many Lib Dems being far too nice by refusing to claim more than one prize, the end of conference had to be delayed!