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This is the 114th edition of e-Focus, bringing you the latest news from the Low Fell Focus Team. It includes:

  • Gateshead Leisure Centre threatened with closure by Council
  • Meanwhile, Newcastle plans to open new Leisure Centre!
  • Petition calling for locking Kells Lane park at night submitted
  • Organised displays for bonfire night
  • Gateshead Lib Dems lead call for tax fairness
  • Shop refused alcohol licence
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 over 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 and do not hesitate to contact us. 
 

Best wishes,
Ron Beadle, Daniel Duggan, and Dawn Welsh
Low Fell Lib Dem Focus Team

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Gateshead Leisure Centre threatened with closure by Council

Gateshead Council's all-Labour Cabinet have agreed to consult residents about the impact of the closure of Gateshead Leisure Centre and Dunston Pool.

In 2015 the Council agreed to aim to make the leisure services across the whole of Gateshead self-financing rather than reliant partly on a subsidy funded by council tax payers. The aim was to reach this by 2020 but this was never achieved. If the Council were to retain the leisure services at their current level and under current trends, Gateshead Council will be left with a bill of £44 million over the next ten years.

Within that amount, £13.3 million is needed for essential maintenance and major repairs to buildings, especially the two being considered for closure.

Furthermore, the buildings and their boilers are old and inefficient. The recent rises in energy costs have made a bad situation worse.

The Council proposes to close Dunston Pool and Gateshead Leisure Centre to get more immediate savings though if these cannot be fully achieved, Birtley Sports Hall could close as well. The Council is planning to find a private sector operator to take over the management of the remaining leisure facilities.

"Liberal Democrat Councillors in Gateshead have been warning for a number of years that the Council needed to take some tough decisions to phase out the subsidy for leisure services," said Ron Beadle. 

"Labour failed to do this, and therefore failed to make the service sustainable with its own source of income to invest in the service. The result now, after years of Labour mismanagement, is that important local facilities are now threatened with closure."

Daniel Duggan said, "Many local residents learnt to swim at Gateshead Leisure Centre and it has been a familiar facility for many years. Labour have had years to sort out the problems with under-investment and income but they failed to do so, blaming everyone but themselves for the mess."

Dawn Welsh said "Gateshead Leisure Centre is an important part of the community. Many people benefit from it, whether that is from swimming to exercising to children using the softplay area. Please sign the petition below to save it".

Petition

If you would like to support the campaign to save Gateshead Leisure Centre, please sign the petition here 
 

Consultation

Gateshead Council are to carry out a consultation from 2nd November to 13th December on how closures could impact on residents. We will include the link in our next edition of eFocus.

Ron Beadle is asking residents to sign the petition to save Gateshead Leisure Centre
Meanwhile, Newcastle plans to open new Leisure Centre
While incompetent Labour are planning to close leisure facilities in Gateshead, Labour run Newcastle are planning to open a new, state-of-the-art leisure centre in West Denton, paid for by a £20 million "levelling up" grant from the government.

Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Cllr Jonathan Wallace, challenged Labour councillors at Cabinet over this. He was informed that each council can make only one application to the "Levelling Up Fund" and Gateshead had opted instead for funding for a new multi-story car park on Gateshead Quays.

"We were quite stunned when we were told this," said Jonathan. "We had previously argued that the Quays car park should be a private sector investment rather than something paid for by the taxpayer. People will be shocked to learn that investment that could have given Gateshead a new lease of life has been used to support a new car park."

The new Quays car park will be near to the infamous Quarryfield car park which cost £700,000 of council tax payers' cash to build (initially without planning permission!) The Council have agreed to rip up this car park in the near future.
The old West Denton Leisure Centre which will be demolished and replaced by a new building.
Petition calling for Kells Lane Park to be locked at night submitted
Ron Beadle has submitted the petition asking the Council to lock Kells Lane Park at night. We hope that locking the park at night will help address the anti-social behaviour that has been happening in the park at night. 

We want to thank everyone who signed the petition. 

Once we have a response from the Council, we will let residents know. 
Low Fell Councillor, Ron Beadle, has submitted the petition asking for Kells Lane Park to be locked at night
Organised displays for bonfire night

You can find a list of organised bonfire night displays in Gateshead here
 

Gateshead Lib Dems lead calls for tax fairness
At a recent meeting of Gateshead Council, the Lib Dem group proposed a motion calling for tax fairness. 

The motion stated: "As recipients of significant public funding, local authorities should take the lead in the promotion of exemplary tax conduct; be that by ensuring contractors are paying their proper share of tax, or by refusing to go along with offshore tax dodging when buying land and property."

The motion was passed by the Council. 

To read more about this visit the Chronicle newspaper story here
Shop refused alcohol licence
A shop on Sherriff's Highway has been refused the chance to sell alcohol by the Council's licensing sub-committee after its predecessor had its alcohol licence revoked for selling to underage children.

A shop at the same address, Sheriff Highway Stores, had its alcohol licence revoked by Gateshead Council in August after a police and council sting resulted in a 15-year-old volunteer purchasing alcohol from the premises.

To read more about this story visit here

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