In this edition: Marley Hill opencast is approved by Gateshead Council; your chance to take part in the Derwent Valley "Land of Oak and Iron" survey; what's on at Marley Hill Community Centre this weekend; improvements to A1 to start in August - and lots more local news. Feel free to forward to others who may find this newsletter useful.
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Opencast given go-ahead at Marley Hill
Cllr Jonathan Wallace at Gateshead Civic Centre to hand in the petition against opencast plans at Marley Hill. 1000 people signed the petition or filled it in on-line but this wasn’t enough to persuade Labour Councillors to say “No”.
Gateshead Council’s planning committee have backed plans to opencast a site to the south of Marley Hill, despite 1000 people calling for the proposals to be abandoned.
The decision was taken on Wednesday 16th July at Gateshead Civic Centre. Local Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Wallace, local residents and the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England all spoke at the meeting to urge members of the planning committee to reject the plans by UK Coal.
Cllr John McClurey, a member of the planning committee, also spoke against the application and voted against it. He was joined by Cllr Chris Ord from Whickham North. Labour Councillors voted in favour. As Labour have a majority on the committee, they were able to force through the plans.
UK Coal want to extract one million tonnes of coal from the site which will be worked over a four and a half year period, though this includes time for restoration work to be carried out.
61 lorries a day will be sent through Sunniside, Streetgate and Lobley Hill to the A1. Empty lorries heading to the site will travel through Stanley.
UK Coal made much of their commitment to reclaim contaminated land but Jonathan and other objectors pointed out that the contaminated area is only one and a half percent of the overall site and the contaminated ground would have to be removed anyway to get access to the coal.
Most of the land to be opencasted is countryside. Some of it is the site of the former colliery that closed in 1984 but much of that has now been reclaimed by nature.
“I am very disappointed with the outcome,” said Jonathan. “We argued strongly that opencasting this site will destroy countryside and add a large number of heavy lorries to the A692 which is already a dangerous road.
“Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and who sent in letters of objection. “We will now try to reduce the impact of the activities UK Coal will carry out. The company, as part of their planning permission, will need to set up a local liason panel of local residents.
“We will do our best to ensure this is effective and that any problems are brought to UK Coal’s attention and are dealt with swiftly and effectively. We hope to hear from UK Coal shortly about how they intend setting up the panel and how it will operate.”
Land of Oak and Iron Survey
The Land of Oak and Iron is a project to restore the heritage and raise the profile of the Derwent Valley area. It has received £2.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has granted funding to only 8 historical landscape projects in the UK.
The group organising the project are carrying out a survey of people about the Derwent Valley. Residents are being encouraged to fill in the survey which can be done on-line on this link.

There will also be a display by the Land of Oak and Iron at Marley Hill Community Centre on Sunday 27th July from 11am to 3pm.
Sunday at Marley Hill Community Centre
Honey from these Sunniside hives will be on sale at Marley Hill Community Centre on Sunday 27th July. A donation from each jar sold goes to the Community Centre funds.
Marley Hill Community Centre will be open on Sunday 27th July from 9am to 3pm for a number of activities for local residents including:
  • children’s play equipment;
  • a community cafe - using as many locally produced ingredients as possible - serving breakfast, lunch, cake and snacks;
  • a craft market (open from 11am to 2pm);
  • Sunday newspapers to read;
  • a second hand book shop and library;
  • a sweet shop;
  • snooker and darts;
  • local produce shop selling homemade jam, honey produced in Sunniside and Whickham, pork produced at Bill Quay Community Farm, hen, duck and quail eggs produced in Sunniside, beef produced at Blaydon Burn Farm.
Got any surplus produce from your garden or allotment? - bring it to the produce shop and swap it for jam and eggs.
A1 improvement work to start in August
Cllr Peter Maughan, Cllr Jonathan Wallace and Kevin McClurey at a recent exhibition on improvements to the A1 which are due to start in August.
Work to upgrade the A1 from the southern end of the Team Valley to the Metrocentre will start in August.
The Coalition Government are investing £100 million to ensure the road has three lanes along this section, one of the most congested roads in the country.
There will also be a separate slip road running either side of the A1 from the Lobley Hill roundabout to Askew Road to carry local traffic. Work should be completed in 2016.
“The Highways Agency have designed a programme of works that will keep disruption to a minimum,” said Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey. “Once the work is completed, the improvements will reduce congestion, travel times and pollution.”
Meanwhile, despite the huge investment in the A1, and the £150 million the Coalition has put into Metro improvements, Labour persist in their claims that the Government is putting next to nothing into public transport in the North East.
Perhaps Labour are hoping that no one will notice the work will be taking place soon on the A1. After all, they promised improvements to our local section of the A1 when in government themselves but presumably hoped that no one would notice they had failed to deliver.
Whickham Community Festival a success
Cllr Peter Craig joins in the zumba, complete with uniform and air guitar!
The third annual Whickham Festival was held on Saturday 5 July, and was a huge success!
We are delighted to report that the Whickham Festival, organised by the Lighting Up Whickham Group, has now raised enough money to pay for Whickham’s Christmas tree in 2014.
You can see photos of the Festival on this link. 
The Lighting Up Whickham Group was set up in 2012 after Gateshead Council took the decision not to fund Christmas lights in the village. Lib Dem councillors and campaigners across the Whickham area have consistently supported residents in this fantastic cause.
Whickham North Lib Dem Councillor Peter Craig – who Chairs the Lighting Up Whickham Group – said, “As well as raising funds for our Christmas lights, this important event brings people into our village centre and boosts the vitality of our
Local Lib Dem Councillor Chris Ord added, “This event is organised annually, and I was delighted to be able to lend a hand this year.
“The 2014 Whickham Festival also aimed to commemorate the start of the First World War, and we were pleased to see so many residents coming out to join in this
fantastic community event.”
If you, your group or organisation would like to be involved next year’s festival please email Cllr Peter Craig.
If you want to play a part in Whickham’s vibrant local community, please feel free to come along to Church Green on 31 July at 6pm where the Planting Up Whickham Group will be carrying out maintenance and would be delighted to welcome new volunteers!
Parents: recycle your child’s school uniform!
Now that the school year has ended, parents are being asked to recycle their children’s school uniforms and kit. Gateshead Council are looking to collect items such as trousers, skirts, shirts, blazers, school bags, P.E. kit, and school equipment.

You can drop-off at your nearest school, Civic Centre (CBS reception - upstairs on the first floor), or any Children's Centre. Donations will be recycled and re-distributed, in a fair way, across Gateshead to families who need them.
Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart School in Byermoor is seeking planning permission to build a kitchen extension.
Copyright © 2014 Councillor, All rights reserved.

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