In this edition of eFocus: Whickham has had its biggest Remembrance Sunday parade yet; hundreds joined in the Christmas lights switch on; cuts to Dunston leisure facilities are "our of proportion"; 20mph zone consultation and much more. Please forward eFocus to others who may find it useful.
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Biggest Remembrance Day yet in Whickham
44 wreaths were laid by individuals and organisations at the Whickham Remembrance Sunday parade on Sunday 9th November. This was the largest number ever, a fitting tribute to those who have fallen in war so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have now.

Cllr Chris Ord and Cllr Jonathan Wallace laid wreaths on behalf of the local residents. “The centenary of the start of the First World War was marked by Whickham residents and local organisations who turned out in force for the parade and remembrance service,” said Chris.

“People however were remembering all those who had lost their lives in all the conflicts of the past 100 years."

“Every family lost someone in the First World War. My great uncle Athol, a professional soldier, who had been born and raised in Ravensworth, lost his life on the Somme in 1916. His brother, my grandfather John, was one of Kitchener’s Volunteers and fought in the same battle. Thankfully he survived.”

"Whickham now has the biggest Remembrance Sunday parade in Gateshead," said Cllr Peter Craig, one of the organisers of the parade. "Turnout this year by local organisations and residents was great."

You can see a full set of photos of the event on this link. It includes photos taken at the Swalwell and Dunston services.
Cllr Jonathan Wallace lays the wreath at the Whickham War Memorial.
Remembrance Sunday in Swalwell, Dunston and Marley Hill
Remembrance Sunday services also took place in Swalwell, Dunston and Marley Hill. Cllr Sonya Hawkins laid the wreath in Swalwell on behalf of residents, Cllr Peter Maughan laid it in Dunston and Cllr Marilynn Ord in Marley Hill. Many local organisations also laid wreaths.

You can see a set of photos on the Whickham, Dunston and Swalwell services on this link.

You can see a short video of the Swalwell service on this link.
Cllr Peter Maughan lays the wreath at Dunston.
The service at Swalwell
Email meltdown!
Cllr Jonathan Wallace has been using the same email address for nearly 20 years. Sadly, his email account went into meltdown last month!

It happened immediately after he sent out the last eFocus. It was a problem caused by success! A record number of people now receive eFocus and this overloaded the system!

So please update your records. is no longer in use. Jonathan’s new address is

If you replied to the last eFocus, please resend your message to the new email address.
Big turnout for decorations switch on
Crowds gather on Church Green for the Christmas lights switch on.
There was a good turnout on Tuesday 25th November to celebrate turning on the Christmas lights on Whickham Church Green and Rose Villa on Church Chare.

The event was planned by Lighting Up Whickham who also raised the funds to pay for the tree and decorations on Church Green after Gateshead Council ended funding for Christmas decorations.

Rev Barry Abbott of St Mary's Church led the countdown to the switch on which was also well attended by children from local schools.

Cllr Peter Craig, chairman of Lighting Up Whickham, said, "The Christmas lights switch on has now become an annual event after we first held it in 2011. It was great to see so many people joining in."
Councillors Jonathan Wallace, Peter Craig and Chris Ord are all active members of Lighting Up Whickham and helped out at the lighting up event.
Cuts to Dunston facilities â€œout of proportion”
Kevin McClurey and Cllr Peter Maughan outside the Dunston Leisure Centre - a third of Labour's cuts to leisure services are proposed for Dunston.
There is growing anger about a plan by Labour to slash funding for Dunston swimming pool. Lib Dem Councillors say the way the cuts are being applied is “totally out of proportion”.

Labour want to slash £300,000 from the budget for the Dunston pool which will result in 9 fewer full time staff and a huge cut in opening hours. Weekday opening times could be put back from 7am to 1pm and earlier closing imposed on weekends.

But the changes could also mean a fall of £230,000 in income as far fewer people will be using the pool. That means the actual savings will only be £70,000.

“Labour’s proposals just don’t make sense,” said Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey. “The Council should first look to make more proportionate savings and to increase income from the facility, before taking the wrecking ball to the service.

“There has recently been significant investment in the building. But Labour are now proposing it stands idle and unused for long periods every day.

“Cuts have to be made but Labour are trying to impose them in a short-sighted way. Labour need to think again.”

Labour are also proposing to end the subsidy of £100,000 to the Whickham Thorns Outdoor Activity Centre and the £140,000 subsidy to the Dunston Activity Centre.

"Labour are aiming to cut £1 million from leisure services across Gateshead. Nearly a third of those cuts are being targeted at Dunston," said Cllr Peter Maughan. "Our area has been singled out for disproportionately large cuts by Labour."
New taxi rank for Whickham?
You may know that we have a taxi rank in Whickham. It is located in front of the Gibside Hotel and dates from the time when a taxi office stood on this site.

There is no active presence of taxis currently but now there is a proposal from the Gateshead Hackney Carriage Drivers to make this into a working rank for Whickham.

This would mean that instead of having to ring for a taxi, you could go along to the taxi rank and pick one up there. The taxi drivers say that this would eliminate  private Hire vehicles sitting outside local pubs causing traffic problems especially on Friday and Saturday, nights. But they wish to know if the residents of Whickham and the surrounding area support the idea of a working taxi rank.

To achieve this, they would like to remove the bushes in front of the rank (opposite the Butterfly Beds) so that the rank could eaily be seen from the main road; i.e. Front Street.

If you have any views, for or against the taxi rank or the removal of the bushes, please reply to this email.
From the good life in Sunniside to Parliament
Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency - which includes Whickham, Sunniside, Swalwell, Dunston, Streetgate and Byermoon - have chosen Jonathan Wallace to be their candidate in the general election in May 2015.

Jonathan, who has been a Councillor in the Whickham area for nearly 28 years, has a long record of standing up for local residents.

Unlike Labour, he keeps in touch with local residents. He first started writing and delivering Focus newsletters nearly 30 years ago!

Jonathan has run campaigns to stop  our area being torn apart by opencast mining. He was one of the leaders of the campaign against Labour’s plans for building on local greenbelt.

Jonathan lives the “good life” in Sunniside. He gave up his job 5 years ago to grow his own food. He keeps bees, goats and poultry and grows fruit and vegetables. He is also a webcaster, with a worldwide audience of over 3.5 million viewers for his videos on self-sufficiency.

Jonathan keeps a blog on his self-sufficiency activities which can be viewed on this link.

You can also read Jonathan's blog about being a local councillor on this link.
20mph coming to Whickham?
Cllr Chris Ord on Whickham Front Street where an additional pedestrian crossing is proposed.
A 20 mph zone has been proposed for Whickham as part of the West Gateshead Links to Schools scheme. The proposed zone, would cover the whole of Whickham including the major thoroughfares of Whaggs Lane / Sunniside Road (B6316), Front Street (B3617) and Broom Lane.
Informal consultation has already been carried out by the Council but the formal legal consultation will start on 5th January and go on for three weeks.
The scheme is looking to reduce congestion and promote sustainable travel to school by providing genuine alternatives to the car. This is proposed to be achieved by improving walking and cycling facilities and reducing the dangers of speeding vehicles and indiscriminate parking around school entrances.
The project proposals consist of a number of elements including:
  • Extending the 20 mph zones in Whickham to create a larger inclusive safe traffic area.
  • Pedestrian and cycle crossing improvements along routes around schools.
  • Areas of footway re-surfacing and conversion to shared used footways (pedestrians & cycles).
  • Providing an additional zebra crossing on Front Street.
  • Prohibition of parking and loading along Back Row.
  • Raised carriageway at locations on Broadway and Duckpool Lane.
Full details of the plan can be viewed via the Gateshead Council
website on this link

And if you have any comments on this please send them by replying to this email. Alternatively you can contact Ken Shotton at Gateshead Civic Centre on 0191 4333098 or via email.
Christmas markets this weekend
George Craig, Lorena Dayson, Cllr Peter Craig and Cllr Jonathan Wallace from Lighting Up Whickham at last year's Whickham Christmas Market.
There will be two Christmas markets this weekend. The first, held by Lighting Up Whickham, is on Saturday 6th December from 10am to 2pm on St Mary's Green in Whickham. There will also be a Santa's grotto as well as stalls selling Christmas gifts. Whickham Wind will also be playing. Funds raised will go to Christmas decorations in Whickham in future years.

The second is on Sunday 7th December, 12pm to 3.30pm at Marley Hill Community Centre. The Centre has a new license so the Deputy Mayor will be officially re-opening the bar at 1pm. Whickham Wind will be playing at 2pm. There will be a cafe and stalls selling Christmas gifts. Funds raised will go to the Community Centre.

Both events were first held last year and were a great success. We're hoping to repeat the success this year. Everyone is welcome to come along.
The Good Food Guide to Medieval Sunniside!
Historian and local councillor Jonathan Wallace was guest speaker at the October meeting of Sunniside History Society. And he chose as the title of his talk, "The Good Food Guide to Medieval Sunniside."

He talked about the foods people would have eaten in the 1340s and also about the landscape of Medieval Sunniside and Whickham. He revealed that a stream ran along what is now Whickham Front Street and joined up with the Blackburn in Washingwell Woods.

He also showed that Medieval Newcastle had a "western by-pass" which ran from the Roman Road (Old Durham Road) on Gatehsead Fell, across the Team Valley, through Ravensworth, across what is now Pennyfine Road, along the Whinnies, down what is now Hole Lane and onto the Sandy Lonnen between Sunniside and Whickham. The road then continued down the Clockburn Lonnen, crossing the River Derwent where the Butterfly Bridge now is, and then through Winlaton and Blaydon, crossing the Tyne at Newburn.

Sunniside History Society meets on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm at Sunniside Social Club.
Copyright © 2014 Councillor, All rights reserved.

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