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Working for the wider good of Westerhope

November 17, 2010 8:02 AM

Newcastle is a city that is achieving much under its Liberal Democrat Council, even in these tough times, and the Westerhope, Chapel Park and Chapel House areas have benefited from extra funds made available locally, new investment and better neighbourhood services. Positive things are happening in the area, led by the community, and residents' surveys rate the Council and the quality of services it provides very highly.

It's disappointing therefore that part of the area now seems to have become divided. Ward, Committee and Partnership meetings have become hostile occasions and regular attendees are starting to stay away. Respected, non-political members of the community who have worked for the community for years are being challenged aggressively.

And in May, it's sad that Neil Hamilton, a decent and hardworking Liberal Democrat

Councillor, was the victim of a personal and vindictive election campaign - by a strange alliance of former colleagues, Conservatives desperate to win a seat and so called non-aligned campaigners who deliberately misrepresented the Council's position on several issues.

The result was one that few expected - a Labour Councillor squeezing through the gap. Well that's the wish of the electors, which we respect, and we hope he works hard for the area.

What are the Issues?

Council services are highly-rated. The issue that has caused such anxiety is the use of green open spaces. These are, quite understandably, valued by people who live locally.

There were never any decisions to commit all or even a part of the land at the Parkway for housing. Once it became clear that the Catholic Diocese was interested in the site for a possible expansion for the St John Vianney School then that became the priority for first consideration and it is safeguarded as such.

The former Chapel Park Middle School site is still education land and the current view is that the fence around it will remain until a decision for the long-term use of the land is made.

The Council has not been encouraging development on the Chadderton Drive field,

which is owned by Bellway, and has recently received an application to register the land as a Town and Village Green, a proposal which is being consulted upon formally.