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Welcome to the 3rd edition of the Birtley, Lamesley, Kibblesworth and Eighton Banks eFocus newsletter from your local Liberal Democrats. In this edition we look at plans for expensive car parking at Eighton Lodge, news about proposals to reduce bin collections, calls to cut the number of councillors and the selection of Jonathan Wallace as local Lib Dem police commissioner candidate. Feel free to forward to anyone who may find eFocus useful.
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£27,000 for a parking space
parking ticket Feb 16
Lib Dem campaigners Daniel Duggan and Paul Elliott with a parking ticket for £27,000 - the price Gateshead residents are paying for each parking space at the proposed car park at Eighton Lodge next to the A1.
Gateshead’s ruling Labour Councillors have agreed to spend £8 million on a car park at Eighton Lodge, next to the A1, even though, at best, it will only take 300 cars off local roads.
 
The cost works out at £27,000 per parking space. In addition, there will an annual running cost of £31,000 which is likely to be met by Gateshead council tax payers.
 
“While I am happy to see money spent wisely, in a way that will reduce congestion and pollution throughout Gateshead, this plan is giving us very few bangs for our bucks,” said Lib Dem campaigner Paul Elliott.
 
“Spending £27,000 to take one car off the road is a waste of public money. Spending £8 million to take, at best, 300 cars off the road will have virtually no effect on congestion.
 
“There won’t even be any extra buses so the car park will not be a park and ride. It will simply rely on existing bus services calling at the car park. This scheme gives a poor rate of return.
 
“We all know congestion and resulting air pollution are bad for our area. But if the problem was solved by spending such a huge sum of money on so few parking spaces, the country would be rapidly bankrupted!
 
“We do not object to £8 million of capital being invested in transport improvements. But we want this scheme to be reconsidered so that the money is more effectively spent.
 
“Labour’s old attitude in the last Labour government was to chuck heaps of money at a problem without realising super-expensive solutions don’t always work. That attitude is still alive and kicking here in Gateshead.”
Bin Battle Continues
Callum Price Mar 16 2
Lib Dem campaign in Lamesley ward, Callum Price
Residents need to be on guard against another attempt by Labour Councillors in Gateshead to change bin collections from fortnightly to once every three weeks, warn local Lib Dem campaigners.

The warning comes after Labour Councillors backed down over the plans but council papers suggested the change of heart may be just temporary. 

"The climb down was welcome," said Lib Dem camaigner for Birtley, Paul Elliott, "but council papers simply talk of abandoning the plan 'for now'. The door has been left open for Labour to return with their plans in the future."

Lib Dem campaigner in Lamesley ward, Callum Price, said, "Lib Dems led the battle against switching from fortnightly to once every three week bin collections. We've won the first battle but the campaign is not yet over. Only when Labour have publicly committed to sticking with the current system will we wind down this campaign."
wheelie bin Mar 16
Call to cut number of councillors
Gateshead Council Chamber Feb 16
Above: a recent meeting of Gateshead Council. Liberal Democrats want the number of councillors in Gateshead reduced from 66 to 44.
Local Liberal Democrats are calling for a cut in the number of councillors in Gateshead. The party is also calling for the local election cycle to be changed to save money and make the council more efficient.

There are currently 66 councillors in Gateshead, with three representing each of the 22 wards. One councillor is elected each year to serve for four years. Every fourth year there are no local elections.

Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “Gateshead Council has 2000 fewer people working for it since 2010. As an authority, it does far less than it used to. The total of 66 councillors can no longer be justified. Liberal Democrats are therefore pressing for each ward to have two rather than three councillors.

“The cost of each set of local elections is around £200,000. Annual elections by thirds don’t make sense. Most councils in Britain hold their electoral contests only once every four years when all councillors are up for election."

Birtley Lib Dem campaigner Paul Elliott said, “The functions of Gateshead Council have been reduced in recent years. The number of politicians needs to be reduced as well to reflect this. The savings from reduced councillor numbers and by switching from annual elections will save over £1 million over 4 years. This is money that can be spent on local services, rather than local councillors.”
Jonathan chosen for police role
Jonathan Wallace police sign Mar 16 (1) cropped
Local Liberal Democrats have chosen Dr Jonathan Wallace to be their candidate for police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the Northumbria force.

PCCs were created to oversee local police services. They are elected by people living in the police force area. The first elections took place in November 2012 but only one in six people cast a vote. The next election is in May 2016, the same day as the local elections.

Labour’s PCC has been invisible in many areas of the Northumbria force and Dr Wallace is promising to be a high profile commissioner in local communities if he wins in May.

“As a Lib Dem PCC, I will work within the system to ensure we get the best deal for Northumbria Police,” said Jonathan. “However, the PCC experiment has been a failure, especially under Labour. Not many people feel that they have a say over how the police force works for them. And community policing has been neglected by Labour.

“Ultimately, we could save a great deal of money by scrapping PCCs. If we could get rid of them, the money to pay them and run their offices could be used to employ more police in our local communities.

“If elected, I will lobby the government hard to scrap PCCs. Until they are abolished, I will battle to ensure community policing is at the centre of the Northumbrian Force’s activities. I will be high profile, in touch with residents and not hidden away in an office in Newcastle.”

Jonathan lives in Sunniside and is Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council. He was first elected in 1987 at the age of 23 while still a student at Newcastle University. He is a video maker, keeps goats, bees and poultry and runs a small business making preserves.

You can follow his campaign on his blog www.jonathanwallace.blogspot.com.

 
Printed by Mailchimp, 512 Means Street NW, Suite 404Atlanta, GA 30318 United States. Published and promoted by John McClurey on behalf of Jonathan Wallace, Callum Price and Paul Elliott (Liberal Democrats) all at 5 Burdon Park, Sunniside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 5HA
Copyright © 2016 Gateshead Liberal Democrats, All rights reserved.
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