There's lots packed into this edition of eFocus. We have the results of the recent local elections; Gateshead is set to lose millions following a decision by Labour in Gateshead to walk away from devolution to the region; house builders are consulting on their plans to build at Dunston Hill; Sunniside's modernised post office opens and much more. Feel free to forward to others who will find the information useful.
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Thank you
Lib Dems Whickham May 16
Local Lib Dem campaigners gather in Whickham to celebrate the results of the recent local elections.
Thank you to everyone who voted in the recent local and police commissioner elections, and especially, thank you to everyone who voted Liberal Democrat. We held all 3 of the seats were were defending in the Whickham area.

The Dunston Hill and Whickham East result in particular showed a significant change from the local elections last year. Then, Labour held on to the ward by a mere 23 votes. This time, Peter Maughan was re-elected as the Lib Dem Councillor with a majority of 432.

In Whickham North and Swalwell, Sonya Hawkins doubled the Lib Dem majority in the ward to 763. In Whickham South and Sunniside, John McClurey was returned with a majority of 1206.
election results graphs DHWE May 16
"A big thank you to everyone who voted for us," said Cllr Peter Maughan. "And commiserations to our opponents."

Cllr Sonya Hawkins said, "It has been a great privilege to serve as the councillor for Whickham North and Swalwell. I am pleased that over half those voting in the ward backed me for another four years to be their councillor."

“I am delighted to be re-elected and wish to thank everybody who voted for me. We will continue to keep in touch and battle for residents all year round.” said Cllr John McClurey.
election results graphs WN May 16
Elsewhere in Gateshead a new Lib Dem councillor was elected in Low Fell. We also won Pelaw & Heworth back from Labour and came close to winning Ryton from Labour. The Liberal Democrats were 2nd in the total of votes cast, cementing our position as the main challengers to Labour in Gateshead. The Conservatives, UKIP and Greens won no seats.

Jonathan Wallace, Lib Dem candidate for Northumbria Police Commissioner, came second in the votes cast in Gateshead (and Newcastle) though he came 4th across the force area. Labour's Vera Baird topped the poll.
election results graphs WSS May 16
Gateshead hole in North East
Gateshead Council's ruling Labour cabinet has taken the decision to exclude the borough from plans for a devolved North East, even though the move is likely to cost Gateshead millions, possibly even tens of millions, of pounds is lost cash for transport, training and economic development.

The decision is all the more remarkable as the other 6 councils (all Labour run) in the North East have agreed to go ahead with the devolution deal offered by the government.

The plans for devolution will see a mayor elected by residents of the North East to control £3.4 billion of public spending currently decided by ministers in Whitehall. The elected mayor will lead the "North East Combined Authority" (NECA) which was set up in 2014 and consists of the leaders of the 7 North East Councils. It currently runs the Metro and has other limited powers over planning and economic development.

The plans, agreed by the other 6 councils, will see a big increase in the powers held by NECA and the mayor. The aim is to improve the economy and join up different governmental bodies to make them more effective.

But Gateshead's decision to exclude itself from the plans will mean the people of the borough will not be entitled to a single penny of devolved funding which could go to the rest of the region instead.

"I am struggling to find a more absurd decision by Labour in Gateshead," said Leader of the Opposition, Lib Dem Jonathan Wallace. "They want a fight with the Conservative government and are using Gateshead Council as a stick to beat ministers, regardless of the millions of pounds we will lose as a result.

"Labour in Gateshead are happy to kick the government, at whatever cost to residents, but their own colleagues on other North East Councils have seen the benefits of devolution. They have agreed to go ahead, leaving Gateshead behind.

"Gateshead Labour have until the autumn to change their mind. I strongly urge them to do so. If they can't swallow their pride and reverse their position, it will leave Gateshead as a hole in the middle of the region with reduced funding and no influence."

Vote to remain
Whickham IN street stall May 16
Councillors Peter Craig, John McClurey, Marilynn Ord, Susan Craig and Peter Maughan at a street stall in Whickham on Saturday 28th May promoting the IN Campaign for the Europe Referendum.
Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are urging residents to vote to remain in the European Union in the referendum on 23rd June. Thousands of local jobs at Nissan, Komatsu, Siemens and other companies are based in the North East. They are here because our region has easy access to the Single European Market.

"Being in the EU has boosted our economy and created jobs in exporting industries," said Cllr Peter Craig. "The EU is the world's biggest market. Leaving it would mean we could face trade barriers and tariffs. Our exports would therefore be more expensive. That could cost jobs here in the North East."

Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Jonathan Wallace, said, "Many people I have spoken to are torn between heart and head. They may not be fans of the EU but they know that we are better off in Europe. The EU accounts for 60% of our trade. People do not want to risk that, especially when we are still recovering from the great recession of 2008."
Lib Dem campaign video on why people should vote to remain in the EU.
Dunston Hill house-building consultation
Watergate Park Jan 15 3
Persimmon Homes are expected to submit a planning application shortly to build 530 houses on land to the south of Whickham Highway. The land was protected from development until Labour councillors voted to remove it last year from the greenbelt. The company are carrying out a consultation on their proposals. You can comment on them on this link.

"I am the only councillor in Dunston Hill and Whickham East to have constantly fought and voted against the plan to build on Whickham Highway," said Cllr Peter Maughan. "I will continue to fight the plans to build 530 houses on what should be retained as open green space."

Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey said, "We will keep residents informed about the application but if anyone would like to help in the campaign to oppose housing on Whickham Highway, please email me via this link."

Pictured above: Kevin McClurey, Cllr Jonathan Wallace and Cllr Peter Maughan near the site on Whickham Highway Labour have lined up for housing development.
Refurbished Sunniside Post Office now open
Sunniside Post Office May 16 (1)
The modernised Post Office branch on Dewhurst Terrace, Sunniside, has now opened. The new look branch opened on 29th April. The improved counter is also open for longer, though this is for a trial period of 3 months and will be reviewed after this period. On Monday to Friday, the branch opens from 6.30am to 7pm; Saturday from 6.30am to 5pm and Sunday from 6.30am to midday.
Sunniside Post Office May 16 (2)
Swalwell Pipebridge restoration completed
Swalwell Pipebridge Mar 16
Northumbrian Water has now completed restoration work on the Pipebridge over the River Derwent at Swalwell. The bridge is over 100 years old and has been painted in its original colours. Over 10 million litres of water a day are carried in the pipe.
All the fun of the fayre
Whickham May Fayre May 16 (3)
Congratulations to Friends of Chase Park who organised a great May Fayre on Saturday 21st May. The day was a great success and visitors came along in large numbers.
Whickham May Fayre May 16 (5)
Lighting Up Whickham, the group of volunteers who raise funds for the village's Christmas decorations, will be holding the Whickham Community Festival on Saturday 9th July, from 10am to 3pm. There will be live music and entertainment and lots of stalls. We will send out more details in forthcoming editions of efocus.
Copyright © 2016 Gateshead Liberal Democrats, All rights reserved.

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