December 2015 edition of efocus - containing news about landslip fears between Sunniside and Whickham, Whickham Chritmas lights switch on, objections to 20mph blanket zone, Remembrance Day parades and much more. Please feel free to forward efocus to others who will find the contents useful.
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Seasonal Greetings from your
local Lib Dem FocusTeam
Church Green in snow Dec 15
Your local Lib Dem Focus Team - Peter Maughan, Sonya Hawkins, John McClurey, Chris Ord, Jonathan Wallace, Marilynn Ord, Peter Craig and Kevin McClurey - wish all readers of eFocus seasonal greetings and all the best for the new year. In 2016, you will be able to continue relying on us to keep in touch through our Focus and on-line newsletters. If you have any issues to raise with us, please feel free to get in touch.
Great turnout for lights switch on
Whickham Christmas Lights switch on
There was a great turnout on 24th November for the lighting up of the Christmas tree on Church Green in Whickham. Events kicked off at Rose Villa Nursery and the crowds then headed along Front Street.

Funds for the Christmas tree and lights were raised by Lighting Up Whickham, a group of volunteers chaired by Cllr Peter Craig who took on the task of ensuring Christmas cheer continues to come to the area after Gateshead Council pulled the plug on funding.

"This was a great event," said Peter. "Lots of parents and children came along to the event. Our thanks to all the volunteers who helped make it possible."

You can see a full set of photos of the event by clicking on the photo above.
Metal Bank landslip fears
Metal Bank embankment Nov 15
Local Lib Dem Councillors have raised concerns about the state of the embankment at the bottom of Metal Bank, between Sunniside and Whickham. They brought highway engineers to look at the road surface which is starting to subside.

“The road is on a steep embankment and we are concerned that it is starting to give way,” said Cllr John McClurey. “Engineers have now carried out an initial investigation of the road and embankment. They tell us that there are a number of possible causes. Under the embankment is a large culvert, there are old mine workings in the area, there are sewers under the road and animals burrowing into the bankside."

“The engineers will carry out further investigations to identify the cause but they say there is no immediate risk to the safety of road users. We will keep residents in touch with progress," said Cllr Jonathan Wallace (pictured above at the bottom of Metal Bank where the road is starting to give way.)
Residents object to blanket 20mph scheme
Whickham 20mph zone Dec 15
Councillors John McClurey, Sonya Hawkins and Peter Maughan at the start of the 20mph zone on Whickham Highway.
Many residents are aware that a blanket 20 mph zone was put  in place in Whickham on 9th November. But several residents are asking us why the scheme has been introduced - and the answer is that this blanket zone is an initiative of highways officers at Gateshead Council.

Your local councillors have in the past, in response to residents concerns, requested 20 mph zones around schools, for example Fellside Primary, but we have never requested a Whickham wide scheme.

And in fact, there is some evidence that the introduction of the blanket zone has meant that the positive effect of slowing vehicles near schools has been lost as some drivers are ignoring the scheme completely.

A group of residents, coordinated by your ward councillors, has been formed to make formal complaints about the blanket scheme to the Council.

Cllr John McClurey said, “We all want roads that are safe, but there are concerns that where 20mph speed limits are most needed, such as outside schools, their effectiveness is reduced. This is because the effect of the scheme is diluted as it covers such a huge area, with many people therefore ignoring the requirement to keep speed below 20mph.”

Cllr Sonya Hawkins added, “Most people who have contacted us want 20mph zones where they are most needed but feel the blanket zone is excessive and will be ignored by some and could lead to frustration among others. The group of interested residents are taking up these issues and if you would like to be included in the coordination meetings, please contact me.”
Remembrance Day Parades draw record crowds
Swalwell Remembrance Day Nov 15 (3)
There was a record turnout for Remembrance Day parades in Whickham, Sunniside, Dunston and Marley Hill in November. The Whickham parade is now the biggest in Gateshead and over 40 wreaths were laid.

Pictured above: Councillors Chris Ord and Sonya Hawkins wait to lay wreaths in Swalwell.
Swalwell Remembrance Day Nov 15 (4)
Above: residents and community groups gather at the Swalwell war memorial.
Whickham Remembrance Day Nov 15 (49)
Above: crowds gather at the Whickham war memorial.
Call for Sunniside Junction improvement
Sunniside Road Junction Sept 15
Turning right onto Sunniside Road at the Chapel junction can be quite a challenge especially when the roads are busy. Following concerns raised by residents with us, we have asked highway engineers to look at retiming the traffic lights.
“Vehicles heading from Streetgate wishing to turn right onto Sunniside Road at the junction often back up because there is a great deal of on-coming traffic,” said Cllr John McClurey, pictured above at the junction with Cllr Marilynn Ord.
“It is often the case that only one or two vehicles can turn right. We have suggested that the timing of the lights should be changed so that there are a few more seconds for traffic from Streetgate to get through the junction.
“Officers have told us they will look into the suggestion and report back to us after they have considered it. We will keep residents informed of progress."
Successful fair at Marley Hill
Marley Hill Christmas Fair Nov 15 (1)
Congratulations to the volunteers who organised the Christmas fair at Marley Hill Community Centre on 29th November. The event, which was attended by the Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Alex Geddes, raised over £1,000 for the Community Association.
Marley Hill Christmas Fair Nov 15 (3)
Music was provided by Whickham Wind.
Swalwell Pipebridge Repairs
See inside the covering over Swalwell Pipebridge where restoration work is taking place.
Northumbrian Water have been carrying out renovation work on the Victorian Pipebridge over the River Derwent at Swalwell. The pipe carries 25 million litres of water every day and is generally in good shape. Some of the brackets holding the pipe in place have had to be replaced, causing the work to take a bit longer than expected. The final work is expected to be completed in December following which the scaffolding and covering will be removed.

Cllr Jonathan Wallace was recently given access to the bridge to film the work which can be seen on the above video.
Dunston Activity Centre Update
Following this year’s council budget, Dunston Activity Centre was sadly under threat of closure. However, we are pleased to report that a local Church has taken over the running of the centre. Responsibility for running of the centre, which includes a library and housing office, as well as a range of sports facilities, has transferred from Gateshead Council to the Dunston Family Church.

The new operators have pledged to retain as many of the present services as possible. “This is the best possible outcome for the Activity Centre,” said Cllr Peter Maughan. “I am pleased that this important community asset has a future despite the recent Labour cuts to council services.” 
Planting up Dunston
Kevin McClurey Peter Maughan Dunstn Oct 15
Above - local Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey and Cllr Peter Maughan at the planters on the Crescent, Dunston.
The group of volunteers, ‘Planting up Whickham’, have taken over planting flowerbeds in Whickham following council cuts to services. Now Cllr Peter Maughan is is keen to set up a similar group in Dunston.

“Dunston has a large number of flower beds which are currently neglected, such as those on the Crescent at the bottom of Dunston Bank,”said Peter.

"We are looking for people who could help plant, or people who would like to be involved with administration of the group and coordinating activities. We hope to set up an organising committee to be able to plant these flowerbeds before Spring, and to then be able to maintain them in the future. They are becoming an untidy eyesore, but could be a real asset to Dunston.

"We  look  forward  to  hearing  from  you. If you are interested in being involved in setting up a group like this, please get in touch with me."
Bin collections over Christmas and New Year
Copyright © 2015 Councillor, All rights reserved.

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