Bins, zebras and squirrels

April 24, 2016 10:40 AM
By Robin Ashby

There's so much happening at the moment concerning Parklands Ward that this is another bumper edition of eFocus (number 54) - and there's more to come in paper Focus 42 number 6, which will start coming through doors next week.

On 5th May (if you don't have a postal vote to return in advance) you'll have the opportunity to vote for Pauline Allen to continue this level and standard of service and action - not just at election time but all the time.

BIN COLLECTIONS

Over the last week a large number of bin collections across Newcastle have been missed. We've had reports of late collections in Parklands

We've had this explanation from Labour's responsible Cabinet Minister : "Unfortunately, we have experienced difficulties this week in implementing new ways of working. We apologise for the problems that this has caused.

"Staff have been asked to adopt more flexible working practices, and to operate from different depots in a way that is more efficient. Despite cutbacks in many areas of the council there have been no compulsory redundancies in refuse collection.

"When the council consulted on new ways of working we had the cooperation and agreement of the Trade Unions, and we continue to work constructively with them." [Comment : So not such a good relationship between Labour and their paymaster Unions.]

"To deal with the backlog, council staff will make additional collections of household waste (green bin) on Saturday. Additional collections of recyclable waste (blue bin) will be made on Monday. It would be helpful if anyone who has missed a bin collection could leave their bins out on those days. During Monday we will check whether or not all uncollected areas have been completed and make further arrangements if necessary."

THE NEW ZEBRA CROSSINGS AT BROADWAY

Some of the signs aimed at cyclists are to be removed. This is the explanation we've been given: "The zebra crossings have been operating as conventional zebras i.e. cyclists are not permitted to ride over the crossings, and hence the dismount signs. This was an inconvenience caused by Department for Transport's delay (of approximately 12 months) in publishing the new Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, which amongst many other revisions, now permit a 'parallel zebra' for pedestrians and cyclists. [These are in fact the green strips]

"The new style parallel zebra works much like a conventional zebra, in that traffic should give way to both pedestrians and cyclists on the crossing. This means that along with the provision of some newly permitted road markings, the 'cyclists dismount' signs can be removed. The new regulations came into force on Friday 22nd April. However, to minimise disruption, the work to the crossings is planned to take place in conjunction with some other remedial works in the vicinity, after the completion of the current Salters Road junction project. Hopefully this will be at the end of June.

"The principle of how zebras function is familiar to all road users, and just as a pedestrian should not run straight out into the road, nor would a cyclists be expected to do the same. Proceed with caution, ensure drivers have seen you and are stopping, it's the same for pedestrians and cyclists."

MEETINGS WITH COUNCILLORS

Labour's cuts mean not only that the Ward budget for grants to good causes and voluntary bodies has been hugely reduced, but Councillors' regular meeting with officers to raise local issues are being scrapped. The four public meetings a year have been reduced to one, to discuss how the pittance we're being given from our massive amounts of Council Tax paid can be divided up. Crumbs is what springs to mind…

But if you have a problem or issue, you can still contact us onPauline.allen@newcastle-libdems.org.uk

THE POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER ELECTION IS ON MAY 5TH TOO

Dr Jonathan Wallace is the Liberal Democrat candidate for the role of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

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 on 5th May 2016 (with postal votes already having been sent out).

Jonathan says ; "Labour's PCC has been invisible in many areas of the Northumbria force and I am promising to be a high profile commissioner in local communities if I win in May.

"As a Liberal Democrat PCC, I will work within the system to ensure we get the best deal for Northumbria Police. 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.

"But 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.

"I live in Sunniside, Gateshead. I'm Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council. I was first elected in 1987 at the age of 23 while still a student at Newcastle University. After working in the private and public sector, I gave up the "rat race" to live the "good life". I grow my own food, keeps goats, bees and poultry and run a small business making preserves."

Jonathan Wallace Liberal Democrat PCC Candidate forNorthumbria

RED SQUIRRELS

Havannah Nature Reserve is the last known site of breeding red squirrels in Newcastle- the only city in England with an urban population of this legally protected species - but proposals for hundreds of houses directly opposite now threaten this essential breeding ground.

There's a petition about saving them herehttps://www.change.org/p/newcastle-city-council-save-havannah-nature-reserve-s-red-squirrels

SPEED LIMITS

Many local people want the 40 MPH speed limit on the Great North Road reduced to 30 MPH to improve road safety, e.g. at the new Broadway crossings. Despite the urgency (yet another "near miss" was reported to us only yesterday) the Council wants to reduce speed limits in the entire traffic corridor rather than individual streets. We've told them they're mistaken.

MENTAL HEALTH - AN UNDER-REGARDED PROBLEM

A survey by the charity MIND has found that 46% of people using mental health services have considered or attempted suicide as a result of social factors such as debt, housing and welfare problems.

Good community support services can help people to manage these types of problems, stay well, avoid crisis, and remain connected to their community. They keep people out of costly secondary mental health care - and in many cases they literally keep people alive. That's why MIND refers to these services as 'life support', and why Norman Lamb the Liberal Democrat MP has pressed the issues in Government and out.

If you have any concerns, look at the MIND websitehttp://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/

PLANNING APPLICATION FOR FAST FOOD

2016/0377/01/DET | Change of use of vacant land to drive-thru restaurant (Class A3) and 3 no. hot food takeaway units (Class A5) with associated parking and landscaping on land Adjacent To Travelodge HoteL Rotary Way Newcastle upon Tyne. Full details at

httpss://publicaccessapplications.newcastle.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=details&keyVal=O3IY4JBSGDC00


David, Pauline and Robin, the Parklands Ward councillors have objected to the application.

We've pointed out that the single carriageway leading to the site already takes traffic to and from 5 commercial sites - The Petrol Station and Shop, The Falcon's Nest public house, McDonalds, and Travelodge. The establishment of 4 more commercial activities to be accessed via the same roadway would create much, much more vehicular traffic. The road has no footway, so pedestrians, who already access the shop from Travelodge and The Falcon's Nest will be in greater danger.

The dropping of litter from McDonalds along the roads leading from the site is already a big problem. The recently retired rapid response operative, Peter (recently replaced by Marie), who worked in the ward for several years, reckoned that litter from this site was the biggest problem in the whole of the ward. Having 4 more food outlets operating on the same site, based on existing experience, is more than likely going to make things get out of hand.

All the roads which lead to the site are unable to carry the current volume of traffic. This can be seen on every working day and when there are events held at Gosforth Park - horse racing and other. Work on an extra, floodlit racecourse in Gosforth Park is nearing completion. This will increase the volume, and the frequency that the roads will be congested will increase too.

ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE

If you've experienced the benefits of this allowance for a relative, or indeed for yourself, you'll understand how important it is. People tell us they've really appreciated the difference it made to the cared-for and carers.

If you haven't done so please consider signing this petition, and telling your friends too

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/attendence-allowance-abolished

COMMENTS FROM NORTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL on SANDY LANE PLANS

The A1056 Sandy Lane is part of North Tyneside Council's (NTC) highway network, for which it is responsible, and is not a road under the control of Highways England (formally the Highway Agency). As such Highways England has no jurisdiction upon this road, and no input into its design, maintenance or operation. However, they were consulted as part of the development of the scheme to significantly increase the capacity of the road, particularly at peak times. NTC continues to liaise closely with them during discussions on future works with Newcastle's boundary linked to the A1.

NTC and its partner Capita adopt the Department for Transports Design Standards, the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) for the design of their new roads and improvements to existing roads. The junctions on Sandy Lane have been designed in accordance with the relevant design standards, within the confines of the available land and existing topography of the site.

The council's junction proposals are designed in accordance with the DMRB, principally TD50/04: The Geometric Layout of Signal Controlled Junctions and Signalised Roundabouts. The junction layout is checked using swept paths of vehicles to ensure it will accommodate all manoeuvres.

The layout introduces traffic signal control to this junction, which gives control over the movements of traffic but also provides safe priority access to and egress from the industrial estate. The traffic signal control also gives the opportunity to provide safe crossing facilities over Sandy Lane and the Industrial Estate for pedestrians and cyclists.

The proposed layout includes a dedicated left turn lane to stack eastbound traffic wishing to turn left into the industrial estate. It also has a right turn lane to stack westbound traffic wishing to turn into the Industrial estate. The length of these lanes is determined by the traffic model for the highway network, but is obviously limited by the available land. The current layout has a deceleration splay for left turners, but right turners have to wait in the main westbound lane until there is a gap in oncoming traffic. This also has an impact upon the westbound capacity of Sandy Lane as the through traffic has to wait.

HADDRICKS MILL APPROACHES - ADVANCE NOTICE

Nexus are planning a full replacement of the Metro bridge crossing Killingworth Road (near South Gosforth roundabouts) which is also linked to the road improvement schemes of the City Council. The work is planned to take place in 2017.

RED HOUSE FARM F.C. UPDATE

Officers of the council are meeting periodically with Club officials to make progress on outstanding issues; following the Planning Committee decision in the autumn that use of the Kingston Park Road pitches must be shared between the club and the community. Clear signage to this effect will be posted. A liaison group is under formation, with Cllr Robin Ashby facilitating on behalf of the Fawdon and Parklands Wards

There was a backlog of matches because of persistent rain a little while back, so the Council are going to get a technical view of the drainage. The Council expects that no more than four games to be played at any one time.

The Club suffered fire damage to a storage container and were quick to go the press about it, as if there were still some kind of war of words on. Your councillors have expressed concerns to them about this damage, although several residents pointed out that the storage container was unlocked for long periods.

BUILDING INSPECTORS AND THEIR DUTIES

Under current regulations,the local authority is not the only provider of building regulation services - it has to operate in competition with private companies known as 'Approved Inspectors'.

If a builder or property owner decides to use an Approved Inspector to carry out the building regulations function for their project, the Approved Inspector will submit what is known as an Initial Notice to the council for the project.

The local authority has a general duty to enforce building regulations under Section 91(2) of The Building Act 1984 within its own district. However, the function of the local authority to enforce building regulations in its area is limited by Section 48(1) of the Act, which states that 'so long as an initial notice continues in force, the function of enforcing building regulations that is conferred on a local authority by Section 91(2) is not exercisable in relation to the work specified in the notice.' In other words, Newcastle City Council cannot intervene nor contradict the professional judgement of an Approved Inspector who happens to be looking after a project.

Once the building work has been completed satisfactorily, the Approved Inspector will issue a final certificate confirming building regulations compliance. Section 48(1) of the Act continues to apply as stated in Section 51 of The Act. Again, this means the local authority can't come along after the event and overrule or pass alternative judgement.

The council can only enforce building regulations where the council itself has been chosen to provide the building regulations service or the work is unauthorised (ie has been or is being undertaken without either an application to the council or an approved inspector).

MEANWHILE, IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS…

John, Lord Shipley has been extremely busy recently in the Lords.

On 14 Apr 2016 he asked the Government what plans they have to make Regional Schools Commissioners democratically accountable (that's the regime which accompanies proposals to turn all schools into self controlling Academies) He asked the Minister explain why the Government plan to end local oversight of schools, abolish parent governors and hand power to a small number of unelected officials accountable only to Whitehall? And how all this relates to the Government's localism agenda?http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-04-14a.351.7&s=speaker%3A25000#g351.8

John has been instrumental in leading the opposition to parts of the Housing and Planning Bill, which has resulted in a number of Government defeats. There's an example at
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-04-13a.263.0&s=speaker%3A25000#g275.0 Often he's had to speak in detail sveral times a day, and the Government seems to be sending only partly-drafted Bills to the House of LOrds,relying on them to scrutinise in detail where the Commons can't or won't.

Despite this, John has been actively supporting the campaign to re-elect Pauline Allen on 5th May. As well as urging the early return of postal votes, he's also been telling voters on the doorstep how Pauline has been carrying on his legacy of service and action in Parklands Ward.

Gosforth eFocus No 54 is brought to you by

David Down, Pauline Allen and Robin Ashby .

Liberal Democrat Councillors for Parklands Ward

Reporting email : pauline.allen@newcastle-libdems.org.uk

All in the great city of Newcastle upon Tyne

Write to any of them c/o 5 Rudby Close

Whitebridge Park

Gosforth

Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 5JF

Leave a message on: 07947114820

Follow us on Facebook : Parklands Ward Liberal Democrats and on Twitter @parklands_ward

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