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North Heaton e-Focus 11 May 2016

May 30, 2016 10:59 AM
By Greg Stone

North Heaton e-Focus 11


May 2016 edition
Hello to regular e-Focus readers and welcome to new subscribers - more than 500 North Heaton residents now receive our e-Focus newsletter! We have added some residents who have been in touch with us by email on local issues to the circulation - if you would prefer not to receive this, please feel free to use the unsubscribe link.

Don't forget that it is the EU Referendum on Thursday 23rd June: postal votes will be being sent out this week, and polling stations will be open 7am-10pm on the day at the usual locations - High Heaton Library, the Lochside in Cochrane Park, Heaton Methodist Church (Simonside Terrace), and Ravenswood Primary School.

As ever, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if we can help you with any local issues or concerns.

Best wishes,
Doreen and Greg - your local Lib Dem councillors
Working for North Heaton all year round!

A Big Thank You From Doreen!



May 5th Election Result

DOREEN 1686 - 46% (+10%)
Labour 1356 - 36% (no change)
Greens 230 - 6% (-3%)
UKIP 218 - 6% (-1.5%)
Cons 182 - 5% (-4.5%)

DOREEN wants to say a very big THANK YOU to the voters of Heaton, High Heaton, and Cochrane Park
for once again placing their trust in her to represent their interests on the City Council. It has been
humbling to have received so much support on the day and so many positive messages and
congratulations from our lovely local residents! It's good to know the work we do has been
appreciated - DOREEN will try her hardest to live up to everyone's expectations! We're also pleased
that North Heaton's turnout was the highest in the city at 53.5% - this is very good for a local election.

GREG and DOREEN have continued to spend as much time as possible out and about in the ward,
meeting with residents, and talking about local issues and priorities. Residents have raised lots of
problems with us, and invariably these relate to the council's lack of investment in the fabric of our
area and basic services such as bin collections, road and pavement repairs, litter and dog fouling, and
ongoing issues such as parking and traffic management.

We are grateful to everyone who has talked to us, emailed, or sent letters, and we are currently
working up a series of priorities and pledges for the campaigning work we intend to undertake over
the next couple of years. This should clarify for residents what we are doing on your behalf and ways
in which you can chip in with information, ideas, and advice. We will of course be keeping on
campaigning and lobbying to ensure our area gets a fair share of resources, and speaking out against
any attempts to remove, reduce, or diminish the local facilities our residents rely on and cherish.

Bin Crisis: What a Load of Rubbish


DOREEN and GREG share the concern of local residents about the ongoing bins chaos across the city. As residents will have noticed, the council's bin collection service has been in complete disarray in recent weeks following a controversial reorganisation of the service. Upwards of 20,000 bins per week are not being collected on time, with some streets having to wait several days or even weeks for a "catch-up" collection - we are aware of particular problems on Stephenson Road, as well as on the streets in the Heaton part of the ward south of the Coast Road, and have been doing our best to sort out difficulties for affected residents.

We have no criticism of the binmen, who do a very good job - but we are critical of the council's management and political leadership for a badly bungled reorganisation and changes to the crews' working practices, including relocating crews to Condercum Rd in the West End from the local Rothbury Terrace depot. Worryingly, repeated requests to the council for answers to our detailed questions have not been responded to, and the cost to taxpayers of extra "relief" vehicles and shifts is spiraling - we are now several weeks into this crisis with no sign yet that the council has got matters under control.

We're also aware of increasing dissatisfaction with the council's poor performance on emptying of litter bins on our streets and in our parks - the recent warm weather has led to overflowing bins and uncollected piles of rubbish which look awful and risk attracting vermin. The council claims that the number of bins and service levels for emptying them is "adequate" - but it is increasingly obvious that the council is failing to perform adequately when it comes to delivering the basic services council taxpayers expect to be provided. This has much more to do with the competence of the council than Government cuts - this is a crisis created by the Civic Centre, not Downing Street! It's time the Labour-run council got a grip on this chaos and prioritised better basic services.

Please Mr Postman

GREG and DOREEN are very pleased with the recent refurbishment of Newton Road Post Office which has expanded the range of services available to residents. However, we're seeking further information from the Post Office nationally about any plans for the Chillingham Road branch (Cartington Terrace). GREG wrote to them recently asking about suggestions that the branch may be relocated - but their reply didn't really shed any further light on the situation.

We understand that they may be considering providing the service from other premises nearby - we know that this branch is well used and well regarded by local residents and we would be strongly opposed to any changes which removed the facility from the Chillingham Road area. We have asked for more information and full consultation with local people before any changes are made - we'll keep you "posted"!

GREG has also asked for the Denewell Avenue post box to be repainted - it's looking a bit tatty! (The one at the south end of Newton Road could use some attention too!)

EU Referendum - June 23rd - We're Stronger IN


GREG and DOREEN are backing the REMAIN campaign to stay part of the EU in the referendum on June 23rd. This decision is crucial to the future prosperity of our city, region, and country. We recognise that the EU isn't perfect - far from it - but we believe that we are Stronger In and we are far stronger, safer, and better off by continuing to co-operate with our European neighbours.

Many thousands of jobs in the North East (and millions across the UK) depend on exporting to our European partners. We simply cannot afford to lose these jobs and this income -there is a massive risk that we will be poorer and our economy will suffer if we leave. We cannot afford to jeopardise our relationship with our biggest trading partners, and there is no guarantee that the UK would be able to secure better trade deals with North America and Asia - the UK will be more isolated internationally and will struggle to compete on its own with rising economic superpowers like China. Most independent experts agree that the economic uncertainty created will have a major impact in terms of jobs, economic growth, interest rates, the cost of living, and house prices. Leaving the EU to join the European free trade area (like Switzerland or Norway) would mean paying financial contributions without having any say over how the EU operates.

In addition to manufacturing, sectors like farming, science, higher education, tourism, and hospitality would also be adversely affected and the North East would lose access to hundreds of millions of pounds of EU funding for regional development. The success of our universities relies heavily on EU research funding, businesses rely on free movement of skilled workers (both to and from the UK) and the NHS will be affected by lack of access to EU doctors and nurses. Our environment is better protected by co-operation with our European neighbours. So is our country's security. We recognise some people have concerns about immigration but it is a two-way street - there are millions of Brits living and working in Europe - and leaving the EU will not stop the refugee crisis or the threat from terrorism.

We are very worried that the international economic future of our country will be more difficult if we leave - and we will be poorer as a country. We can't afford the risk. We strongly believe the best option for ensuring prosperity and opportunity for our children and grandchildren is to Vote Remain on the 23rd.

Who wants us to remain?

North East Chamber of Commerce - The Confederation of British Industry - The Treasury - The International Monetary Fund - Major NE employers like Nissan & Hitachi - President Obama Australia - All 27 other EU member states - The security services - The OECD - Pope Francis - All UK Universities - The Times - The Financial Times - The scientific community - The City of London - The Prime Minister - All living ex Prime Ministers - David Miliband - The Bank of England The trade unions - Labour - Lib Dems - SNP & Plaid Cymru - The Green Party

Who wants us to leave?

Nigel Farage & UKIP - Boris Johnson - Michael Gove - The Socialist Party (Militant) - TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition) - The BNP - The Communist Party - Donald Trump - Vladimir Putin - ISIS

Brown Bins: Garden Waste Collections


We've been tackling problems experienced by residents in paying for this year's brown bin garden waste collection service - many older residents have contacted us to express their frustration with the difficulties involved! The council is encouraging residents to pay by direct debit or online and stopping cash payments but this has caused issues for some residents who are uncomfortable with the new alternatives. Following our representations, the council has now agreed to accept payments by cheque by post - you will need to write a cheque to Newcastle City Council for £20 with a note attached stating your full name, address, and reference number, and send it to
Garden Waste Payments, Newcastle City Council, Allendale Road Depot, Byker, NE6 2SZ.
NB If you are a new customer you will also need to ring Envirocall on 278 7878 to order a brown bin!

News In Brief

Newton Place - Good News / Bad News


Good news - our request to the council to smarten up a scruffy wall at High Heaton shops was swiftly sorted! We are also grateful to two local residents who've volunteered to do some "housekeeping" by painting over graffiti and smartening up a nearby bench - we look forward to this being done soon & thank them for helping the local community.


Bad news - the litter problem is persisting despite efforts of the school to tackle this and the area looks very scruffy at weekends with bins overflowing and litter all over the place. We have expressed our concern to the council at the ongoing failure to ensure effective street cleaning here.


High Heaton Estate Fibre Optics

Work is being carried out on the High Heaton estate during May to upgrade the local telecom network to fibre-optic standard. This has meant a short period of disruption as pavements are dug up but should lead to faster broadband speeds on the estate, which is a welcome improvement.

Cochrane Park Potholes & Pavements

DOREEN & GREG have reported a number of potholes & pavement faults for repair including dangerous kerbs on Dimbula Gardens - let us know if any need action taking and we'll get them sorted. Work to extend the Dimbula / Red Hall Drive "yellow box" is due in the next few weeks. We've also asked engineers to investigate the cause of the subsidence on Longridge Avenue (south end near Benton Hall Walk).

Allotments

We have several thriving allotment groups in the ward including Armstrong Allotments, Thropton Terrace, and Duxfield Road - as well as Manor Park and "Wor Lotty" at Henderson Hall - we never fail to be impressed by your efforts. GREG was particularly pleased to visit the recent Plant Sale at Thropton Terrace - including a visit to the city's winning wildlife-friendly plot (well done Kevin of Bretton Gardens!) - and we know other groups have recently also held sales. We are happy to do what we can to offer support for improvements and are looking to work with groups to support their work


Crime Watch


We're pleased to report that local police have made an arrest after a number of reports of a "flasher" in Heaton Park. We're also pleased to learn that two people have been arrested after the recent "anarchist" graffiti attacks in Heaton Road & Jesmond Park West.

Ready Steady Cook


GREG recently took part in judging a "Ready Steady Cook" competition at Heaton Manor school as part of the Jesmond Community Festival. The teams had to prepare nutritious meals (chicken ragu & pasta and salmon fishcakes & oriental stir fry) in 20 minutes - it was good fun and helped to promote healthy eating & cooking skills.

Planting


DOREEN and GREG have tidied up the Cragside / Newton Road roundabout by removing some of the overgrown weeds and putting in some new plants. We're pleased to see that the wildflower planting near the Corner House - which didn't seem to "take" last year - has had an unexpected effect: the planter on the Coast Road has been taken over by wild poppies this year!

Royal Appointment


GREG was very honoured to be invited as a long serving local councillor to a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace (with 8000 other people!) earlier this month. He took his 88 year old Nana as his guest and enjoyed a very special day despite some rain - the cucumber sandwiches more than lived up to expectations!