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This is the 68th edition of e-Focus, bringing you the latest information from the Low Fell Focus Team. It includes:

  • Council u-turn after travel chaos in central Gateshead 
  • Removal of on-street parking on Durham Road extended by up to 18 months
  • Gateshead leisure centres and pools remain closed 
  • Kells Lane park re-opens
  • Council promise to lock gates of Dryden Centre to combat anti-social behaviour
  • Beamish Museum re-opens
  • Cornavirus survey - your views wanted
  • Join us
We hope you are finding these updates useful. Let us know if there's anything you would like to see included in our next edition.

Also, a big welcome if you are getting e-Focus for the first time having signed up to our website, or opted into receiving e-Focus via one of our petitions, a survey etc. 

We send these e-newsletters to almost 1,000 local people, but there are many more who are not on our mailing list. Please feel free to forward this email on to friends and neighbours, who can add themselves to the list at www.subscribe.lowfellfocus.org.uk  

Please remember that we are here to help you. Our details, including our home phone numbers, can be found here
 
Best wishes,
Ron Beadle, Susan Craig, and Daniel Duggan
Councillors, Low Fell Lib Dem Focus Team

P.S. If you are on Facebook, and would like to follow us, our page is here
Council u-turn after travel chaos in central Gateshead

At last common sense has prevailed and the Labour leadership of the Council has done a u-turn and backed down on their traffic changes in central Gateshead.

The Council had planned to do the following:

  • the closure of the northbound section of the Gateshead flyover to make it cycle only

  • the creation of new cycle routes in the Oakwellgate area and on the approaches to the Tyne Bridge

  • the removal of all traffic except for buses, cyclists and pedestrians from a section of Askew Road where it joins the Tyne Bridge

  • the elimination of buses and other traffic from the historic Bridges Quarter except for access and deliveries


However, after a public backlash - 5,000 people signed a petition against the works -  they have now backed down. The flyover is expected to reopen to vehicles in the week beginning Monday, 3rd August.

Speaking to the Chronicle newspaper, Low Fell Councillor Daniel Duggan said: “I am glad Labour bosses at the council have done a U-turn on this. They got this badly wrong. The thousands of residents who made clear their opposition are to be congratulated.

“While we need to reduce air pollution, these works caused more pollution and the way the council went about this was completely wrong.

“Outrageously, they didn’t even consult the public. We need a council that listens. I am also raising questions with the council as to how much taxpayers’ money has been wasted on this.”

You can read more about this story on the Chronicle site here

Removal of on-street parking extended by up to 18 months
Gateshead Council has now decided to extend the removal of on-street parking along the Durham Road from the initial 3 weeks of the original traffic order to now up to a maximum of 18 months.

While it is really important that we all maintain social distancing - covid has not gone away -  we have spoken to a number of businesses on the Fell who have told us they may have to close due to these measures. It's so important we support local shops and the Council must listen to local businesses.

We are encouraging people to shop local and we have contacted businesses on Durham Road and asked them to send us details of the financial impact on them since the Council introduced the measures so we can show the Council the consequences it is having.  

To give your comments on this contact the Strategic Director of Corporate Services and Governance at Gateshead Council Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead NE8 1HH or email trafficmanagement@gateshead.gov.uk
Gateshead leisure centres and pools remain closed
The government announced that pools and leisure centres could reopen on 25th July. However, Gateshead Council has decided to keep boroughs facilities closed during the pandemic.

In a statement, the Council stated: "Our primary concern remains the health and wellbeing of our residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"With that in mind, all GO Gateshead leisure centres have been closed since March to help control the further spread of the virus and this will continue to be the case for the time being.

"While we understand this will come as a disappointment to our valued customers, preventing and controlling the spread of the virus to protect lives must be the main consideration."

Any changes to this stance, including a date for reopening will be communicated directly to GO Gateshead members and residents. All Direct Debit payments will remain suspended until leisure centres reopen.

Cllr Susan Craig said, "The Council is taking a precautionary approach but possible reopening of pools and leisure centres is being kept under review''.
Kells Lane park re-opens
Kells Lane park has now reopened. All fixed play parks in Gateshead are now open.

The Council say ''The need to guarantee that social distancing can be maintained to reduce the risk of cross-infection has meant that each site has had to be carefully risk-assessed before it can be reopened to the public. 

''Certain types of play equipment have had to be taken out of use for safety reasons and a number of swings have been temporarily removed to ensure there is only one swing per bay.''  

Council promise to lock gates of Dryden Centre to help combat anti-social behaviour on fields 
We recently reported on complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour happening at night on the fields of the Dryden Centre. These disturbances have caused much upset to many residents living nearby. 

Council officers have told us that they will make sure the gates (photo below) to the fields are locked during the evenings and at weekends to make access more difficult from now on. 

The Police have also been made aware of the issue. 

We are asking residents to keep us informed should anti-social behaviour continue and we will continue to raise this with the Council and the Police.
 
Beamish Museum reopens
Award-winning Beamish Museum has now reopened. Additional safety and hygiene measures are in place across the 350-acre museum site, with exhibits opening based on COVID-19 safety guidance. Entry is by pre-booked time slot for all visitors (click on this link). 

The new Northern General Transport Bus Depot has also opened its doors at Beamish, helping to preserve transport heritage and engineering skills, along with the century-old Northern name.

Cllr Ron Beadle said, "Beamish is one of the top museums in the country and it is great having it on our doorstep. Many jobs rely on Beamish being a success so I encourage everyone to book a visit."
Still time to complete our survey about coronavirus

Thank you to all the residents who have completed our survey about cornavirus and what the response should be going forward. If you have not already done so, please complete the survey by visiting here

Councillor Susan Craig said "We have had a great response so far but still want to hear from more residents. It will only take a few minutes and will really help us focus on the things that matter to you so please do complete the survey". 

Join us
The new Liberal Democrat Leader will be chosen by members over the Summer. The Party now has over 100,000 members with record numbers in Gateshead and Low Fell.  If you are a party supporter there really is no better time to join than now and you can become a member form as little as £1 a month.  To join visit here

Alternatively you can register as a supporter for free here.

If you would like to know more please contact Daniel, Susan or Ron.
 
Copyright © 2020 Gateshead Liberal Democrats, All rights reserved.


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