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Gateshead Council's greenbelt grab is looming; volunteers are planting up Whickham; poppies have been planted in Swalwell; views are sought on building houses on land to the north of the Metrocentre and the roads, ponds and streams of medieval Sunniside and Whickham have been plotted. Welcome to this month's edition of eFocus. Please feel free to forward to others who may find it useful.
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Greenbelt grab back before Planning Inspectors
Local Lib Dem councillors and campaigners protest outside Gateshead Civic Centre against plans by Labour to build executive homes on local greenbelt.
Labour’s plans to build hundreds of expensive, executive homes on greenbelt at Dunston Hill and Lobley Hill are back in front of Planning Inspectors. And the bad news is that the Inspector has suggested that the development plans for Gateshead and Newcastle are likely to go ahead, subject to a few changes.

If the Inspector is satisfied with the changes, Gateshead and Newcastle Councils will be able to adopt the plan in 2015.

The plan outlines how land should be developed across the whole of Gateshead and Newcastle over coming years. Councillor Peter Maughan said, “The work of creating the plan is approaching the end. Whilst there is much in it that we support, we remain opposed to the greenbelt building plans. Labour however have used their big majority in Gateshead to force through greenbelt building plans which will simply add more traffic to congested roads in Dunston, Lobley Hill, Sunniside and Whickham.”

Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey said, “Labour shout from the rooftops about the need to build affordable housing yet in Dunston Hill they are only interested in expensive, upmarket homes that few existing residents will be able to afford.

“And whilst Labour’s plans are great news for big house-building companies that make lots of money out of building on the greenbelt, they will do little to help residents of our area who need a home they can afford.”
Blooming awards
Well done to local villages in this year’s Northumbria in Bloom competition! You may remember that Gateshead Council decided not to enter the Whickham area into the competition, but the Whickham in Bloom group together with the help of Planting Up Whickham entered us as a volunteer group.

A great set of awards includes:
  • Large Town Category : Whickham - Silver Gilt Medal
  • The Harry Clasper, Whickham - Silver Gilt Medal
  • The Manor House, Whickham - Gold Medal
  • Rose Villa Day Nursery, Whickham - Silver Gilt Medal
  • The Travellers Rest, Sunniside - Gold Medal
  • Special Award for Outstanding Voluntary Contribution - Sheila and Don Renton
Whickham in Bloom held their summer show on 30th August. You can see the presentation of the awards on this link.
 
Metro Green consultation
One of the proposals in the Gateshead and Newcastle Plan local Lib Dems do support is the building of 2000 homes on Metro Green, on derelict land on the north side of the Metrocentre.

An Area Action Plan (AAP) will be produced for Metro Green which will provide detailed planning and design guidance for the area, setting out which parts of the site are best for specific land uses and what infrastructure is required.

Public consultation on the Plan began on Monday, 6 October and will run until Monday, 17 November. You can take part in the consultation on-line (responses need to be made by 17th November.) A drop in event has also been organised at Dunston Community Centre – 28 October, 3pm - 7pm.
Planting Up Whickham
Councillors Chris Ord and Peter Craig help plant up the butterfly beds on Whickham Front Street earlier in October.
Planting Up Whickham, a group of volunteers, have made great strides this year to ensure local flower beds are planted and public open spaces are maintained. The group raises the money for the flowers and plants them. They ensured a great display on the butterfly beds opposite the Gibside Arms (which this year have been sponsored by Toyota Hodgson) and on Church Green.

Cllr Peter Craig, who chairs the group, said, "On a small budget raised entirely from donations and sponsorship, and with the enthusiastic support of residents, we have been able to plant up areas which had been abandoned by Gateshead Council. We need more helpers and donations however."

You can get a donation form by emailing Cllr Peter Craig.
Members of Planting Up Whickham also agreed to start clearing up the verges around the car parks behind the Library. Last week, Cllr Jonathan Wallace made a start last week when he cut back shrubs and trees growing out of paths and walls. The photos above and below were taken just before and just after the work was carried out.

Little maintenance has been done by the Council there in recent years so tidying up the site will take time. Disposing of the cut down shrubs and branches cost the Council nothing. Instead of taking the waste to the Cowen Road waste site at Blaydon, Cllr Wallace fed it to his goats. They enjoyed the fresh leaves!
Planning and housing
  • Swalwell: planning permission is being sought to build 10 apartments on the car park opposite the Social Club on Brewery Bank.
  • Derwentside (Swalwell): The last remaining tenant in Derwentside has now been re-housed and the building is now to be closed and demolished. The land will be sold off for residential development. We will keep residents updated.
  • Sunniside: planning permission is being sought to convert the outbuilding at the rear of 7 Granby Terrace into a house;
  • Swalwell: refurbishment of the derelict house on Clavering Road has now started. The aim is to bring it back into residential use. The Council's Empty properties officer is monitoring progress.
  • Dunston: planning permission is being sought to convert the shop at 18 Wellington Road into a house.
Remembering WW1 in Swalwell
Cllr Sonya Hawkins with some of the poppies planted recently by local residents.
Swalwell Community Group have planted beds of poppies in the village to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First  World War. Events are also being planned to remember the sacrifices made by people during the conflict.

There are Commonwealth Graves in the Garden House Cemetery on Lambton Avenue. Local Lib Dem Councillors are inviting relatives of the war heroes buried in Garden House Cemetery to lay a wreath in respect of their family on Remembrance Sunday.

Cllr Chris Ord has also written to a number of businesses and organisations in the area inviting them to lay a wreath. In recent years, there has been a small turnout at Swalwell War Memorial with no more than half a dozen wreaths laid, but we are hoping for better support this year.

The service at Holy Trinity Church commences at 9am on Remembrance Sunday followed by the laying of the wreaths at around 9.45am. All residents are welcome to attend. Contact Chris for further details.


Relatives of those from throughout the Whickham area who died in the First World War are also being encouraged to lay a wreath at local Remembrance Day services.

Whickham Remembrance Day Parade

 
For groups and individuals wanting to take part in the Whickham Remembrance Day Parade, meet at 10:15 am beside Front Street School ready to move off at 10:30 am
 
A Service of Remembrance will be held at the Cenotaph followed by wreath laying. Cllr Peter Craig is the point of contact.
Christmas lights switch on
Following successful events over the last 4 years, the Lighting Up Whickham group are planning once again to hold a community event in Whickham to switch on our Christmas lights. We are hoping that all parts of the community will join the group, including schools, churches, community organisations, businesses and local residents.

The switch-on will be on Tuesday November 25th and the event will take place immediately after the end of the school day. The programme is:
  • 3:30pm onwards - assemble in Rose Villa Nursery grounds, Church Chare (behind Lang Jack's statue)
  • 3:45pm to 4pm Nursery children singing followed by the switch on of Rose Villa lights
  • 4pm to 4:10pm move to Church Green (marshalled by Rotary Clubs)
  • 4.10pm to 4:30pm Primary children singing followed by switch on of the Christmas tree lights
On Tuesday 2nd December the Christmas tree lights in Swalwell will be switched on. Funds for this were raised by Swalwell Community Group.

Swalwell calendars are also being sold to raise funding for the village Christmas Tree. This has been organised by Holy Trinity Church. The calendars cost £5 and each month includes the winning entry from a photographic competition which has been running all year. Please contact the Church Warden, Brian Stoneman on 0191 488 4578 to order your copy.

 
Whickham wedding bells
We are pleased to report that local Lib Dem Councillor, Chris Ord, got married to Amelia on 20th September. We wish them all the best for the future.
A look at Medieval Sunniside and Whickham
One of the two surviving medieval corner towers at Ravensworth Castle which featured in Cllr Jonathan Wallace's talk about Sunniside and Whickham in the 1340s.
Historian and local Councillor, Jonathan Wallace, was the guest speaker at the Sunniside History Society on 7th October. His talk was about the landscape of medieval Sunniside and Whickham and about the food people ate in the 1340s.

Jonathan, who lives the "good life" in Sunniside, used his experience of growing most of his own food to explain why local streams, ponds and woodland were so important to food production in the medieval period. He plotted where local streams flowed and revealed that a major medieval road ran through Ravensworth and between Sunniside and Whickham along what is now Sandy Lonnen and Clockburn Lonnen.

Sunniside History Society meets every first Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in Sunniside Social Club.

 
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