eFocus is produced by your local Lib Dem councillors to keep you in touch with what's happening in your area. Please feel free to forward to others who may find the contents useful. In this edition: Remembrance Day Parade, Whickham Christmas lights switch on, Mayor coming to Marley Hill, residents' group in Swalwell and much more

Remembering the fallen

Local communities paused for a moment on Sunday 10th November, to remember those who have fallen in conflicts.

A parade of all local organisations started at School Street and ended at the War Memorial where a Service of Remembrance was led by Rev. Barry Abbott of St. Mary the Virgin Parish Church. During the service, message of support from local school children to those currently serving in the Armed Forces were read out. These have now been sent to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Cllr. Peter Craig, Remembrance Day Coordinator said “This is a very important day in the Whickham Calendar and is has recently become even more supported by the community every year.”

On the day, tributes of Remembrance were laid by:

  • The British Legion on behalf of all ex service men and women & all men and women currently serving in the armed forces.
  • Ward Councillors on behalf of the Mayor of Gateshead and residents of Whickham North, Whickham South & Sunniside and Dunston Hill & Whickham East
  • 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment
  • The Watson family on behalf of Sapper David Watson
  • The Police Force and Police Cadets
  • The Fire Brigade
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • Whickham Squadron Air Training Corp
  • Whickham Scouts on behalf of 12th Gateshead and
  • 1st Whickham Scout Groups
  • Girl Guiding Association on behalf of Whickham Division
  • The Rotary Club of Whickham
  • Blaydon, Ryton & Whickham Rotary Club
  • Armed Forces Humanist Association
  • The Manor House, Whickham
  • Whickham Fellside Women’s Institute
  • Whickham Fellside Youth Football Club
  • Whickham Football Club
  • Whickham 41 Club
  • Whickham Hermitage Garden
  • Whickham Social Club
  • Whickham Traders
  • Workers Education Association
  • Clover Hill Community Primary School
  • Fellside Community Primary School
  • Front Street Community Primary School
  • St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School
  • Washingwell Community Primary School
  • Whickham Parochial Community Primary School
  • Whickham School
  • St. Mary’s Parish Church • Whickham Churches Together

Photos of the day can be viewed at on this link.

Christmas Lights switch on in Whickham

Hundreds of residents and local school children came to the Christmas lights switch-on at Rose Villa and Church Green in Whickham Village on 26th November. The event was organised by the Lighting Up Whickham (LUW) Group.

LUW was formed two years ago to organise the Christmas Lights switch-on event. Rose Villa Nursery, our two Rotary Clubs, local residents and business joined with Ward councillors and St. Mary’s Church to form the group.

“Gateshead Council has decided not to fund any Christmas trees or lights across the Borough,” said Cllr Peter Craig, who chairs the Lighting Up Whickham group. “The group has refocused its efforts and now has an additional aim - to raise funding for our Christmas tree and lights by organising Community Events which also promote and boost the vitality of the village centre.

“So this year, thanks to this fundraising and a little help from the ward councillors’ Local Community Fund, Whickham has continued to have a tree with lights - the first year that this has been funded by the community of Whickham.”

Cllr Jonathan Wallace was the photographer for LUW on the day and photos of the event can be seen on this link.

Whickham Street Surgery

Whickham’s Lib Dem Councillors and campaigners will be holding a street surgery on Saturday 7th December at St Mary’s Green from 10am to 11am. This event is an opportunity for you to speak to them and raise any issues or concerns you may have.

Mayor to switch on Marley Hill Lights

Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Jack Graham, is to switch on the Christmas tree lights at Marley Hill Community Centre at 4pm on Sunday 8th December. And local brass and woodwind band Whickham Wind will be playing carols during the event.

Cllr Marilynn Ord, chair of Marley Hill Community Association, said, “This is the first time we have had a Christmas tree outside the front of the Community Centre and we are delighted the Mayor is coming to do the switch on. The tree has been paid for by our Local Community Fund but as it is a living tree, it will be there for decades of Christmases to come.

“And we are also delighted that Whickham Wind will be playing carols at the event. There will also be a Christmas craft market and a community cafe throughout the day. Everyone is welcome to call in and enjoy the switch on and music.”

Christmas Market in Whickham

Lighting Up Whickham are holding a Christmas Market on Saturday 14th December from 11am to 3pm in a marquee on St Mary’s Green, Whickham. Funds raised will help pay for future Christmas lights in the village. There will be stalls selling Christmas gifts and cards and it will be a great place to get stocking fillers for Christmas day.

It will cost 50p to enter but this will also pay for a ticket in the raffle for a Christmas hamper. If you have anything you can donate for the hamper, please drop them off at Rose Villa Nursery or at Cllr Jonathan Wallace’s home, 7 Laburnum Grove, Sunniside. 

Swalwell residents’ group

A new residents’ group has been formed recently with the aim of promoting and improving Swalwell village. It is a group of locals who are informing residents on how to report anti social behaviour.  They are also a fundraising group who will be raising money along with the rotary club for the Christmas tree for Swalwell for next year.  They will also be helping to raise money to finish improvements to Swalwell park.

Future meetings will include a visit from Gateshead Council officers who run the Private Landlord’s Scheme in Swalwell. They will explain how the scheme is progressing. The next venture of the group is a bag pack on Saturday, 22nd December to raise funds for next year’s Christmas Tree.

Dates of meetings are published on the Swalwell Residents Facebook site and everyone who supports the group aim is welcome. Please contact Cllr. Sonya Hawkins for further details on

Budget 2014-16 consultation

Gateshead Council has began formal consultation about the budget and spending plans of the authority for the next two years. Savings estimated at £45 million need to be found over the next two years to cover reductions in government grants and increases in spending on some services.

Over 1,400 people have already taken part in the public consultation but we are encouraging more residents to send in their views. A budget consultation survey can be completed on-line on this link.

The public consultation runs until 17 December 2013.

Jobless figures down

The latest jobless figures in Gateshead show a big fall in the number of people unemployed and claiming jobseekers’ allowance (JSA) in the borough, down by 1300 to 5400 between October 2012 and October 2013. The biggest drop in Gateshead was in Dunston and Teams ward down from 512 to 380 (10.3% to 7.6%). The number on JSA in Whickham South and Sunniside, Whickham North, Dunston Hill and Whickham East and Lobley Hill and Bensham wards also fell.

“This is good news for those getting back into work, especially in Dunston” said Kevin McClurey. “The number of people out of work in all our local wards is now lower than it was when the last Labour government left office in May 2010.

“There is still much to do to clear up the mess left by Labour but the Coalition has put in place the fundamentals, getting the deficit down, keeping interest rates low and giving each working person an income tax cut of £700.”

Self-Sufficient in Sunniside

Local Councillor Jonathan Wallace was recently featured on BBC’s Inside Out programme. Jonathan is a keen gardener and allotment-holder and he was followed for 6 months earlier this year by a BBC film crew as he set out to become self-sufficient.

“The BBC started filming in March and for the next month we thought the winter would never end,” said Jonathan. “We set 1st August as the day we wanted finally to switch to being self-sufficient. We achieved that though sometimes we need to go to the shops for an occasional ingredient that it is not possible to grow ourselves.

“We are also trying to set up a local food trading network through Marley Hill Community Centre. The idea is that people can bring in their own produce and swap it with us for our jam, eggs, Tamworth pork and honey. Some of this produce is used in our community cafe.

“So far people have traded vegetables, fruit, freshly caught trout, lamb, herbs, homemade soap and hay with us. In 2014, we want to expand this so that more people can swap their produce and goods with other local people.”

You can follow Jonathan’s “Good Life” activities on his Self-Sufficient in Suburbia blog.

Photo above: Jonathan with Georgina, one of his goats. Both starred in BBC's Inside Out programme.

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Flu Vaccination

Residents who are eligible for the free flu vaccination in 2013 include:

  • All health and social care staff

  • People aged 65 years or over

  • All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)

  • All healthy two and three year olds

  • People with a serious medical condition such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis, heart failure, kidney disease and liver disease, Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, diabetes, people with a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment), those in long stay residential care homes, people who are in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

  • All healthy primary school children in participating schools

Contact your GP for more information.

News snippets

Ravensworth Road, Dunston

The road has now reopened following work being carried out for Northumbrian Water to build a new sewer to tackle flooding problems.

Duckpool Lane

There will be a temporary road closure at Windermere Gardens/Duckpool Lane from 18th November to 14th February whilst work takes place to build a new sewer.

Older persons’ housing approved

Planning permission has been granted to build 47 apartments for older people on land next to the junction of Ravensworth Road and Ellison Road

Dunston Housing Development

Outline planning application for residential dwellings, medical centre and pharmacy to the east of Ravensworth Road and shops on the west side of Ravensworth Road has been granted by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee.

New food store

Planning permission has been granted for a new Aldi food store on Ellison Road in Dunston.

Blaydon Rugby Club

Blaydon Rugby Club in Swalwell are applying for planning permission to hold an additional midweek car boot sale from mid May to mid September.

Swalwell house building

Planning permission is being sought to demolish the existing structures and build 4 semi-detached houses at the former Fred Kain Builders Yard next to 3 Park View in Swalwell.

Teams house building

Planning permission is being sought to build 93 houses on the former Bridon Works site on Derwentwater Road in the Teams.

Scotswood Bridge

The bridge will be closed overnight from until 13th December whilst maintenance work takes place.

Lobley Hill

A planning application has been submitted to build a house on land next to 31 Meldon Gardens, Lobley Hill, formerly occupied by a garage.


Keelman Homes are applying for planning permission to build 2 affordable flats on the site formerly used for garages on Ede Avenue.


Tyne Valley Motor homes are applying for planning permission to demolish the existing buildings and construct new of administration building/showroom and workshop on Lobley Hill Road, Byermoor.

Swalwell Juniors Football Club

The Football Club on Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill, has been granted planning permission to refurbish the existing football courts to provide new 7v7 football court. Improvements include new fencing and new 10 m high floodlighting columns.

Marley Hill

Planning permission is being sought to build a detached house at Redlands, Marley Hill.

Sunniside house plan

Planning permission is being sought to build a house on plot 2 at the rear of Athol on Hollywell Lane, Sunniside.


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