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eFocus from your local Lib Dem Focus Team. In this edition: your views of leisure services cuts, Swalwell Swifts win funding, Washingwell History Project, Marley Hill Community Pub opens and much more. Please feel free to forward to anyone who will find the information useful.
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Give us your views on leisure services cuts
Gateshead Council needs to save around £26 million in 2015/16 and expects to need to save another £20 million from its annual budget the following year. It has put forward a set of proposals to reduce costs and opening hours at its leisure and sports centres. The Council have carried out a consultation, but this has now closed and we don't know yet what the result will be.
 
“We all accept that we need to balance the books and sadly that means cuts need to be made,” said Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey. “However, cuts should be applied fairly – but that is not what Labour are proposing.
 
“Instead, a third of the cuts to leisure services are being imposed on facilities in Dunston. We feel our area has been unfairly targeted for cuts by Labour.”
 
Your Lib Dem Councillors want to hear direct from people in Gateshead, to get people's own views and additional information, to help us challenge and improve the Council's proposals.
 
We have set up an on-line survey. It just takes a few minutes to complete. Whether you are a user of the service or not, we’d like to know your views. 

Pictured above: Kevin McClurey and Cllr Peter Maughan outside Dunston Leisure Centre.
Your Focus Team in 2014
Your local Lib Dem Focus Team had a busy year in 2014. We’ve produced a 4 minute slide show on some of our activities which you can view on this link.
Swalwell Swifts win funding
Swalwell Swifts Under 15s were runners up in a Grass Roots Football Competition hosted by Newcastle United in December. Their reward for coming second was £1,000 of training equipment. They were nominated for the competition by Swalwell Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Ord.
 
The competition prize is part of a major turnaround in the fortunes of Swalwell Swifts and their manager, Joey Pinkerton, who started the season with no sponsorship, lacking in training equipment and short of cash. Since then, in addition to the Grass Roots prize, the Swifts have received £400 from Whickham Rotary Club as well as £600 from The Crown, Whickham.

If you run a local business and would like to help the team, why not join Inside Transformations, a local business that is sponsoring Swalwell Swifts. Business owner Paul Douglas sponsored the club last year and is doing so again this year. 
 
If you would like to sponsor the team, please contact Leanne Pinkerton
Cllr Chris Ord nominated the Swalwell Swifts for the Grass Roots Football Competition.
Washingwell History Project
A group of local historians has got together to set up a project to record the history of the Washingwell and Fugar area. Members from the Sunniside, Whickham and Swalwell History Societies are in the process of applying for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. If successful, the money will be used to identify 2000 years of history in the area including:
  • Roman fort at Washingwell
  • Medieval Fugar House and sunken carriageway near Marshall Lands
  • Tudor/Stuart culvert at Fugar Bar
  • Coal mining over the past few hundred years
  • Early modern railways
Cllr Jonathan Wallace, a member of the group, said, “The Washingwell area is a great untapped historical resource right on our doorstep. I used to play in the woods as a child and I walked through the woods each day to go to school. I’m looking forward to the project being a success.”
 
If all goes well, the project will produce a dvd about Washingwell and install information boards around the site.
 
If you are interested in becoming a member of the group, please contact Noel Adamson


Photo above: Cllr Jonathan Wallace at the Fugar Bar orchard which he hopes to restore as part of the Washingwell project.
Marley Hill community pub opens
Marley Hill Community Centre has completed a renewal of its alcohol license and is re-opening the bar in the building. The official re-opening was at the Christmas market on Sunday 7th December. Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Alex Geddes, cut the ribbon to declare the bar was back in business.
 
All profits from the bar go to the Community Centre to pay towards the cost of the building.
 
The bar will be open on the final Saturday evening of each month (except May) from 7pm to 11pm, starting on 28
th February. Everyone is welcome.
 
“The community pub will help generate income and keep the building going,” said Cllr Marilynn Ord, chairman of Marley Hill Communty Association. “We can also open it for private functions and meetings.”
 
Anyone wanting to book a room at the community centre can do so by calling 0191 4880322.

Photo above: Deputy Mayor Cllr Alex Geddes and Cllr Marilynn Ord cut the ribbon to open the community pub at Marley Hill Community Centre. Also pictured - the Deputy Mayoress and Stephen Marshall, a volunteer at the Community Centre who will help to run the bar.
Pancake day
Marley Hill Community Centre will be holding a pancake evening on Pancake Day, Tuesday 17th February, from 6pm to 9pm. The play equipment will be set up for the kids and for the parents, the community bar will be open. Pancakes will cost 50p each and will be made from eggs laid by Cllr Jonathan Wallace’s hens!
Elections in May
There is much talk at the moment about the general election in May. However, on the same day, you will be able to vote for your local councillors as well.
 
Lib Dem Chris Ord will be standing for re-election in Whickham North and Swalwell and Jonathan Wallace in Whickham South and Sunniside. He is also standing for the Blaydon Parliamentary seat which includes the Whickham area. In Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward, Kevin McClurey, who came within 78 votes of taking the seat from Labour last year, will be standing again.
 
As the graphs of last year’s results show, the battle in the 3 Whickham wards is a Lib Dem/Labour 2 horse race. In Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward, Labour scraped in by the skin of their teeth. We have spoken to people who voted Conservative, UKIP or Green last year in the ward. Many regret letting Labour win by dividing the opposition, when just a few more votes for Kevin would have seen Labour beaten. Labour will be defending the ward again in May but they have made no announcement as to whether they have will be nominating their current councillor.
 
Lib Dems deliver Focus newsletters all year round. No other party bothers to keep in touch here, except when an election is looming and they want your vote. As polling day approaches, expect to start receiving leaflets from the other parties. And once you’ve cast your vote, expect them to go back into hibernation until the next set of elections is on the horizon!
Mobile Library at Sunniside
Now that the new Sun Hill has been built, the mobile library has been moved back to beside the Sun Hill car park, opposite Sunniside Post Office. Please avoid parking there on Thursdays (11am to 3pm) and Saturdays (11am – 12.30pm) to allow the library to use the allocated space.
Self-Sufficient in Sunniside
When Cllr Jonathan Wallace was calling on residents of Whickham earlier this month, the most regular question asked of him was not about politics, his hopes of becoming your next MP or the latest news from Gateshead Council. Instead, it was about his attempts to grow his own food and be self-sufficient.
 
You can keep up to date with Jonathan’s “good life” in Sunniside by visiting his self-sufficiency blog

He also produces an email newsletter about his activities. The latest edition can be seen on this link. If you would like to be added to the email list, please email Jonathan with the message “Food Subscribe”.
On the House

By Jonathan Wallace, battling to be your next MP
The bear pit that is the House of Commons is hardly the best of Britain on show to the world. But sometimes it is the place where significant announcements are made (even if most of them have been trailed in the press beforehand!)
 
One of these recent announcements concerns the sometimes taboo subject of mental ill health. Recent estimates suggest that one of four people will, at some point in their life, suffer a mental illness. Yet for decades, mental health services have been the poor relation of physical health. In the NHS only one pound in every nine is spent on mental health services.
 
Norman Lamb MP, the health and care minister, has been fighting a battle to improve services that a quarter of us may at some point require. Earlier this month he announced that waiting standards will be introduced so that patients will have a right to treatment within a defined period of time. People with mental health conditions should have the same rights as someone waiting for an operation.
 
Next year we start with the first ever waiting standards for psychological therapies for people with conditions such as anxiety and depression and for ‘early intervention in psychosis’.
 
We announced £150 million over 5 years for treating young people who suffer from eating disorders - with the aim of introducing a waiting time standard in 2016. It will mean fewer young people end up in hospital because of a failure to get help early enough.
 
There is much we can do as individuals to spot the problems of mental health in our own communities. In 2013 I was pleased to help out at a project based on the Whinnies Charity Garden in Sunniside (near my own allotment). A “paint your shed” event was launched.
 
The aim was to encourage people with gardens and allotments to invite single, older people to join them for a chat, a cuppa and even a big of gardening and shed painting. With an aging population, there are now many elderly people living alone. Loneliness can severly affect someone’s mental health.
 
The beauty of this project was that it costs the public purse nothing. It is simply about people in the community doing their bit to help others in the same community. And having a good time doing it.
 
I interviewed one of the organisers of the project – you can see the interview on this link.
 
The Liberal Democrats are not necessarily responsible for the content of websites on links on this email. 

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Copyright © 2015 Councillor, All rights reserved.


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