In this edition: Whickham remembers, Chase Park sale before Council Cabinet, Gateshead spending cuts, local events and much more. Please feel free to forward eFocus to others who will find it useful.
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Whickham Remembers
Over 40 local organisations and individuals laid wreaths at the War Memorial on Sunday with hundreds of residents from across the area in attendance to mark Remembrance Day. Children from local schools took part in the service when they read messages they had written to those who have given their lives in past conflicts. You can watch the parade and service on the video above.
Chase Park sale at Council Cabinet
Chase Park and councillors Dec 15 1
Proposals to declare the buildings in Whickham's Chase Park as "surplus to requirement" - enabling them to be sold off - go before the Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 29th November.

The Council have been selling off buildings it no longer uses or terminating leases on rented properties (such as the former Whickham Council Offices - now the Harry Clasper). And while the sale of buildings no longer needed to deliver services is sensible, many believe the proposals for Chase Park are a sale too far.

Lib Dem Cllr Peter Maughan, who is leading the legal battle against the sale, said, "The buildings in question - the stable block and the old library which was later used by Social Services - have been unused for some time and are in a poor state.

"There is a need to find a use for the buildings but by selling them, almost certainly for housing development, there is a danger that more of the park will be needed for road access to the site.

"I am challenging the plans on legal grounds. I've been researching the original transfer of Chase Park to the former Whickham Urban District Council in the 1930s and my belief is that Gateshead doesn't not have the right to do this.

"I will be challenging the plans later this month when the all-Labour Cabinet takes a decision."

Pictured above: Councillors John McClurey, Peter Maughan and Sonya Hawkins outside the Chase Park buildings Labour want to sell.
Lighting Up Whickham coffee morning
Lighting Up Whickham will be holding a coffee morning at Whickham Library on Saturday 19th November, 10am-12pm. Funds raised by the event will go towards the Village's Christmas tree.
Your views sought on Council spending
Our massive budget challenge
Gateshead Council have produced a video about the financial challenges ahead.
The Government has announced that it is ending cash grants to all local councils by 2020. Gateshead was previously getting a higher level of support from the Government due to the greater proportion of households on low incomes living here. This means that the end of Government grants will have a greater effect on Gateshead than most areas.

In addition, as we have an aging population, more and more people will rely on the Council for social care, therefore pushing up the bill that will fall on local residents. By 2021/22, the Council, regardless of which party is in control, will need to find £92 million of cuts to balance the books.

Next year's budget is now being put together by the Council. £22 million of savings will need to be found and residents are being invited to give their views.

"The decision to end Government grants for local councils means Gateshead will have to take some difficult decisions," said Lib Dem Councillor, Jonathan Wallace. "As Leader of the Opposition, I know there will be differences with the ruling Labour group over details of spending.

"But we need to be realistic about the situation we are in. And I am keen to encourage residents to give their views on the budget for next year."

Councillor Marilynn Ord said, "Residents' views are important. Please take part in the consultation to ensure your views are heard."

You can take part in the consultation on-line on this link. Paper copies are available in libraries as well.
Sunniside Christmas market
There will be a Christmas market at Sunniside Club on Sunday 20th November, from 11am to 4pm. There will be craft stalls, Christmas trees and festive food and drink.
Dunston and Blaydon pools re-open
The swimming pools at Dunston and Blaydon Leisure Centres were temporarily closed in late October after Public Health England alerted Gateshead Council to a possible link with the pools to a number of local cases of cryptosporidiosis. The council carried out a deep-clean of the pool water and filtration system.
Following this, independent water quality testing showed the water to be clear, allowing the two pools to reopen.
It is likely the contamination, which can cause sickness and diarrhea, was introduced to the two pool facilities by a pool user; the pools themselves were not considered a likely source of the infection.

Lib Dem Dunston Hill campaigner Kevin McClurey said, "Gateshead was right to close the pools to allow for a thorough clean of water and equipment. I'm pleased Dunston and Blaydon have been given the all-clear and have reopened."
Swalwell Fayre
Swalwell Community Centre will be holding a Christmas fayre on Saturday 26th November, from 11am to 1pm.
Swalwell's Derwentside set to become flats
Derwentside, Swalwell Nov 16 (4)
Derwentside, on Whickham Bank, Swalwell has been empty for nearly two years following the Council’s decision to close the building in December 2014. Now the building is to be sold to a developer who will convert it into 22 private flats.

Lib Dem Councillors Peter Craig, Chris Ord and Sonya Hawkins have again raised the issue of providing housing for older people in Swalwell with the Council's Housing Growth team.

They have highlighted that it is important that older people in Swalwell can remain close to their relatives and friends - and they have asked the team to think about how this can be provided.
Quiz teams wanted
There will be a fundraising quiz and pie and pea supper in the Poacher's Pocket pub in Swalwell on Monday 28th November from 7pm. Funds raised will be used towards a memorial bench in Swalwell Park for Kaitlin Tremlett, Jennifer Fradgley and Andrew Clark who tragically died in a road accident on Fellside Road in August.

If you would like to enter a team, please call Cllr Peter Craig on 4880787.
Christmas lights switch-on
The Whickham Christmas tree switch-on will take place on Tuesday 28th November. The event will start at 3.30pm at Rose Villa on Church Chare and then move on to Church Green. Special guests this year are the Metro Gnomes. Everyone welcome.
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