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Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>

At last, we can see light at the end of the tunnel! A vaccine has been approved and others are expected to follow. It will however take many months before everyone can be vaccinated. That means we must continue to work hard to stay safe. Please maintain social distancing and wear a mask where you are less than 2 metres of someone from outside your household.

Meanwhile, your local Lib Dem Focus Team continues to bring you news about what is happening in our local communities. Please feel free to contact us. We are always pleased to hear from you.

In this edition we bring you the following news:
  • South Byermoor motorbike and 4X4 proposal rejected;
  • Whickham Voluntary Library opens again;
  • Call to reopen pools and gyms - sign the petition!
  • Sunniside Christmas tree switched on;
  • Help a child smile;
  • Work to remove diseased trees;
  • Singing on your doorsteps:
  • Poultry lockdown;
  • Transport survey.
Please feel free to forward eFocus to family and friends and others who may find the contents useful and post it to social media.

Don't forget you can keep up to date with local news on our Facebook pages:
Focus on NE11
Focus on NE16
Your local Lib Dem Focus Team: Marilynn Ord (cllr.mord@gateshead.gov.uk), Peter Craig (cllr.ptcraig@gateshead.gov.uk), Sonya Hawkins (cllr.shawkins@gateshead.gov.uk), Chris Ord (cllr.cord@gateshead.gov.uk), Peter Maughan (cllr.pmaughan@gateshead.gov.uk), Vicky Anderson (cllr.vanderson@gateshead.gov.uk), Jonathan Mohammed (jonathan.mohammed1@outlook.com) and Jonathan Wallace (jonathanwallace329@gmail.com).
South Byermoor motorbike and 4X4 proposal rejected
Byermoor south Sept 20
A proposal that could have approved the former pit area to the south of Byermoor for use for off road motorcycling and 4X4 driving has been rejected. The application for a "certificate of lawful use" would, if approved, have meant the site would be recognised as a location for off road driving without the need for planning permission.

The site is just over the border so the application was handled by Co Durham, not Gateshead. Ward Councillors Marilynn Ord and Jonathan Wallace had opposed the granting of the certificate.

"It is with a sense of relief that we learnt the application was rejected," said Marilynn. "We had had many concerned residents in touch with us worried about the impact if the certificate was granted."

"We were concerned that there could be a knock-on effect," said Jonathan. "If the application for south Byermoor were approved, we were concerned the activities could spill over to Marley Hill."
Whickham Voluntary Library opens again
Whickham Library Nov 20 (1)
Whickham Library is open for limited browsing and photocopying. They are not able however to offer a computer service at the moment. A maximum of twenty people can be in the library at any one time.

The opening hours remain the same:
  • Monday to Saturday - 10:00am til 12:00pm
  • Tuesday, Thursday and Friday - 1:00pm til 4:00pm
The Library will also be opening on Tuesday 29th December and Wednesday 30th December. The Ring and Read service will continue for those of our customers who prefer this.
Call to reopen pools and gyms in Gateshead
Dunston Leisure Centre Jul 20
Liberal Democrat Councillors in Gateshead have called on the Council to reverse its decision not to open leisure centres and swimming pools in the borough.
 
The ending of the lockdown lifted restrictions that had prevented gyms, pools and indoor sports facilities from opening. But Gateshead Council has decided to keep the venues closed, other than Gateshead Stadium.
 
Liberal Democrats argue that the facilities need to be opened so that people can start to repair their physical and mental health.
 
“This decision to keep swimming pools, council gyms and leisure centres closed is at odds with what is happening in neighbouring authorities,” said Cllr Peter Maughan. “And it does not make sense that Gateshead Stadium can reopen while other centres remain closed.
 
“As long as social distancing can continue and equipment is kept clean, facilities should be able to reopen.
 
“It is now clear that there will be a significant increase in physical and mental health problems because of the pandemic. Council run indoor sports and leisure facilities are crucial for thousands of Gateshead residents to help restore their health.
 
“If necessary, volunteers should be recruited to help operate leisure centres or be asked to help run covid community hubs to allow council staff to return to their posts at leisure centres.
 
“Private gyms are able to reopen but if council services remain closed, those most affected will be those least able to afford to go private.
 
“Gateshead needs to get a grip and get gyms, pools and leisure centres reopened. Otherwise the borough faces a health crisis in the months and years ahead.”
Sign the petition to reopen pools and gyms
Your local Lib Dem Focus Team has launched an online petition calling on Gateshead Council to reopen pools, gyms and other leisure facilities as soon as possible, while ensuring social distancing is maintained. You can sign the petition on the link below.
Sign the petition
Sunniside Christmas tree switched on
Sunniside Christmas tree Dec 20
Despite the lack of a switch-on ceremony, Sunniside now has a Christmas tree, courtesy of Sunniside Chapel. The brightly lit tree shines out on the Front Street/Sunniside Road junction.
Help a child smile
Work to remove diseased trees in Lotties Wood
The Woodland Trust are to begin work removing ash trees that are suffering from ash dieback disease at Lotties Wood, north of Streetgate.

The Trust has a 3 year programme to remove diseased trees and there will be occasional closures of some paths close to where work will take place.

Sadly the disease is sparing very few ash trees, one of the most common trees in this country at the moment. Unfortunately, we may see very few in the future. Dutch elm disease in the 1970s saw millions of trees killed and the tree is now a rare sight.
Singing on Your Doorstep
As with most of our community groups, Community Music Whickham & Swalwell (CMWS) activities have been very limited during the pandemic.
 
So, instead of their usual William Shield Festival, CMWS have been planning a different Festival this year called the William SheildING Festival.
 
As part of this Festival, together with Rocket Opera, they are aiming to reach isolated lonely people - and are going to send professional singers to do a short doorstep concert for them - all Covid safe of course.
 
So they need to know of anyone who would be interested in having a singer entertain them (and perhaps their neighbours too) for 10 minutes or so in the week beginning 14th December or week beginning 4th January.
 
Please get in touch with the group by e mail makemusic@communitymusicws.com or telephone. 0191 488 8126. They will just need your name, address and telephone number and then a date can be arranged.

There will be no charge for this as the group is a registered charity but donations via their web site are always welcome: www.communitymusicws.com.
Do you keep chickens and ducks?
Ducklings July 20 (1)
If you keep chickens, ducks or other poultry, you will need to keep them caged from 14th December. New government regulations will make it a legal requirement to keep them caged or confined to netted areas to prevent contact with wild birds that could be carrying avian flu.

The new requirement applies to everyone who keeps poultry, from someone with a couple of birds in their garden to largescale farming concerns. The country has seen a number of avian flu outbreaks and the poultry lockdown is aimed at stopping the spread of the disease. 

As well as caging birds, owners will be required to clean equipment regularly and to disinfect boots and shoes worn while in contact with their birds. And, of course, as with covid, handwashing after handling birds or equipment is a must.

It is expected that the restrictions will be lifted once the avian flu outbreaks have gone.
Transport survey - give your views
The North East Joint Transport Committee, a body that overseas transport across the North East, has launched a public consultation to get views on a 15-year plan for the region's transport network. The 8-week consultation aims to hear from as many people as possible, who live, work and learn in the region. You can find out more about the proposals and give your views on the link below.
Complete the transport survey
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