Gosforth eFocus No 45 - 6 December 2015 Of grants, plans and wreath making

December 6, 2015 5:28 PM

Ward Committees help community groups - for now

Labour's plans to cut Council spending include removing much if not all the small amounts of money which Ward Committees have available to help community groups. So if you have a scheme that needs help, get an application in as soon as possible while funds last and in good time before the end of March when the financial year ends. It is possible to ask up to 4 different Ward Committees for help on the same project.

An example is an application from Gosforth Central Bowling Club for a cutter to fix to their mower. They're asking the 3 Gosforth wards for a total of £1100 - Parklands' share of £300 was approved this week. Amongst the benefits the applicants highlight is the possibility of attracting new members, public participation and reviving the Ladies Section. The club works in conjunction with Friends of Gosforth Central Park - which has also been given investment funds by the Gosforth Ward Committees - to encourage the public to use the green and clubhouse.

More housing planned for North Gosforth - and more roadworks too

A planning application has been submitted for the development of 182 houses on land adjacent to the Jewish Cemetery on Coach Lane, Wideopen. The applicant is Barratt's Homes. A press notice was in the Journal newspaper on 25th November. All consultation conforms with the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015. Any residents who are not obliged to be formally consulted can of course also make representation.

Local residents have been informed within their neighbour notification letter that the plans for the application are available to view within the Wideopen Library.

The application can be viewed, and comments can be made, on this link:

https://publicaccessapplications.newcastle.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

Our first comment is that under the One Core Strategy, the limit on this site was supposed to be 100 homes. We're seeking explanations.

The second is that North Tyneside Council is planning widening of Sandy Lane, removal of the roundabout north of the racecourse, and cycle lanes, to substantially increase the capacity. This will facilitate house building and the Indigo Park commercial area. But there will be considerable disruption while the works are undertaken.

Banks Property has submitted an application for outline planning permission for approximately 462 homes directly opposite Havannah Nature Reserve in Hazlerigg.

Save Newcastle Wildlife is objecting to the proposals as the development constitutes a threat to Havannah Nature Reserve's diverse flora and fauna and could herald the end of the last urban population of the UK-endangered red squirrel.

The deadline for submitting your comments on the proposals for this development (2015/1665/01/OUT) is Tuesday 22nd December 2015.

Gosforth Sports Association expanding in scope

GSA is the umbrella organisation for Newcastle City Cricket Club and Gosforth Rugby Club, now co-located at Broadway West. It's recently received planning permission to improve facilities, including off street car parking. (You may have seen how badly this is needed after the November fireworks display, which attracted large numbers of people as usual). Now it's looking into the possibility of inviting Gosforth Harriers within its scope, and starting Rugby League for juniors in the summer. This is in line with the City's aspirations to attract games in the Rugby League World Cup, and a return of Magic Weekend.

The Parklands Ward Committee has just agreed a grant to help improve the security of the clubhouse. The building will also be available to other community groups. GSA's "sponsored brick" appeal is raising funds too.

All Saints - successful project reported back to councillors

The 3 Gosforth Wards plus Kenton have contributed to the cost of installing and renewing modern, efficient heating systems on the ground and first floor community facilities. Formal report backs are being made to the Committees to explain what was done.

Christmas Wreath making at Gosforth Central Park next Saturday

Materials will be provided and it is FREE! (although a donation is always welcome, to help with costs) Bring your children, grandchildren and yourselves to Central Park (Bulman Club) on Saturday 12th December, between 12noon and 3pm and make your own decorations.

There is also a Grown-Up's session in the evening, where you will be shown how to make a (tasteful?) Christmas Wreath whilst sipping mulled wine and eating festive nibbles. It's also in the Bulman Club in the Park and on Saturday 12th December between 6 & 8pm.

The cost is £10 per wreath and there is a limit of 20 places. So book now. To book and pay for your place, please call Janet Murdock on 0191 2812082. Places allocated on a 'first to pay' basis.

Hot Food Takeaway Planning Policy: Have Your Say

After a long campaign by Newcastle Lib Dem councillors to raise the issue of proliferation of hot food takeaways in local shopping areas, we are pleased to report that the council is now consulting on a new planning policy designed to limit the growth in numbers - we have been calling for this for a long time following concerns about takeaways displacing other local shops.

The council is consulting on proposals that would mean tougher rules on the "residential amenity " impact of new takeaways close to dwellings, and discouraging new takeaways within 400 metres of secondary schools or where there is already a "cluster". However, the new rules will not cover opening hours (a licensing matter), with late night opening a concern, and will not affect existing premises. We also feel the council could still do more to support the "retail mix" and character of local shopping areas.

We recognise takeaways are often locally-run businesses and serve local communities but we are concerned that too many in close proximity have a negative effect on local shopping areas, particularly in terms of litter and extractor fan noise and emissions.

We broadly welcome the new proposals and we encourage residents to have their say - you can email comments toplanningpolicy@newcastle.gov.uk or write to Planning Policy c/o the Civic Centre by 15th January 2016.

Public Transport: Labour "Combined Authority" needs to get its act together

Lib Dem councillors are very concerned that things are getting worse instead of better under the new NE Combined Authority system where Labour council leaders are responsible for public transport, rather than the former cross-party Tyne & Wear Transport Authority.

It is painfully obvious that the Metro system is experiencing serious problems at present. Refurbishment of stations and Metro units is welcome, but punctuality and reliability is bad and getting worse. A crisis is looming: the contract of the Metro operator (the German state rail operator DB-Regio) may not be renewed, and the Metro will need new trains after 2020.

Meanwhile, a major plank of Labour's public transport policy has collapsed with the failure of the controversial "Quality Contracts Scheme" for a council takeover of the Tyne & Wear bus network. An expert panel assessing the plan found that the flawed scheme failed several key tests on consultation, value for money, deliverability, and risk to taxpayers. More than £2.4m has been spent on the plan already, much of it on expensive lawyers in battles with the bus operators - but no one is willing to take responsibility for this disaster.

Lib Dem councillors believe that a better bus system can only be achieved by councils and bus operators working together. It would have been far better to agreed enhanced partnership working with bus companies on the setting of fares and routes, smart card travel, and real time bus info at stops - this could have been in place already if Labour leaders had listened. Instead they stubbornly insist that the decision was wrong, and are threatening to press ahead regardless at great risk to taxpayers if this ends up in court

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It is worrying that decisions are now being taken solely by Labour council leaders without any Opposition involvement or scrutiny - and they are refusing to take accountability for a very expensive mistake. The failure of the QCS means several years have been wasted, leaving a big black hole in public transport finances which doesn't bode well for the future in terms of concessionary fares and services.

Meanwhile, in the House of Lords….

Our previous Parklands Councillor John, now Lord, Shipley, has been busy speaking and asking questions in the House of Lords. Here's a few examples (full details can be found on the Hansard website or by signing up to the TheyWorkForYou website

· Business rates, which have risen some 20% under the Conservatives since 2010

  • A report on the HS2 inquiry
  • Government plans to sell off sheltered housing
  • The future of social housing to rent
  • The EU Referendum Bill
  • Devolution to England
  • Poor turnout for Police and Crime Commissioner elections

And on the subject of the future EU referendum…

The North East in Europe campaign and European Movement NE have both launched pages on Facebook which include daily updates on key moves and announcements

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Gosforth eFocus is brought to you by
​David Down, Pauline Allen and ​Robin Ashby ​.
Liberal Democrat Councillor​s​ for Parklands Ward
Reporting email ​:​ david.down@newcastle-libdems.org.uk
Henry Gallagher, Peter Leggott and David Slesenger ​.
Liberal Democrat Councillors for East Gosforth
Jackie Slesenger, Bill Shepherd and Nick Cott ​ ​
Liberal Democrat Councillors for West Gosforth ​
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