Dear David Clelland MP – a few questions on behalf of the folk in Lobley Hill

Dear David Clelland,

I thought I would just drop you a note to enquire whether you are planning at any stage to give your side of the story when it comes to your expenses for your duties as my local MP?  As an aside, it seems quite quaint to send a real letter in this modern era but you have no email address on your website and even the excellent http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ website doesn’t have one for you. Odd in this modern era of social networking and instant communication that you don’t want people to get in touch by the easiest methods.

As you’re no doubt well aware the Telepgraph has made some mischief by revealing your expenses in relation to your second home (David Clelland: Home buy-out costs taxpayer thousands on MP’s expenses). I would be interested to hear your side of the story as the evidence as presented seems a little a damning. A number of MPs have decided to publish their expenses themselves including the much respected Labour MP Frank Field (see the Guardian – Growing number of MPs putting their expenses online) but your name seems to be missing from the list of those volunteering the information (when I check on Tuesday 19th May).

Of course your voting record on Transparency of Parliament is not great – you were either absent or voted against every positive amendment to the Freedom of Information Act and as recently as April 30th 2009 you were voting against having to provide receipts for all your reimbersed expenditure as an MP. A little unfair given the lengths small businesses have to go to in this country to meet HMRC regulations. As a retailer I have to keep VAT records on every transaction – no matter how small – for seven years.

Anyway, the matter seems to be that you, at the tax-payers expense, bought out your partner from your London flat. Perhaps you were going your separate ways? It then is turns out that you went on to marry your partner a year later. Unless you have a pre-nuptial agreement of some description this surely means that your partner now effectively owns 50% of the flat again. But we the taxpayers in this country are now footing the whole bill. Now it may be that all of that is mischief from the Telegraph – I’d love to hear your side of the story so do feel free to reply and let me know.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours sincerely

Andy Redfern

PS In effort to be transparent I have posted a copy of this letter on my blogs.

Lobley Hill – a great place to live (forever!)

While searching for something else I came across this great article from the Daily Mail about the Hall family who live in Cotswold Gardens.

In streets across Britain many people don’t even know their neighbour’s names, but that certainly isn’t a problem on Cotswold Gardens in Gateshead. This small street is home to 69 members of the same family, ranging in age from four weeks to 76 years. The Hall family have come to dominate the road since 76-year-old matriach Catherine settled there in 1958.

Mrs Hall had eight children, who went on to give her 35 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Six of her children and their families now dwell in the street, along with three uncles and a mother-in-law. The Hall clan occupy more than 12 houses. But despite their dominance the unrelated neighbours don’t feel left out – as they think the street should be renamed Hall Gardens. When friends used to ask Mrs Hall why her brood was so big she would say telly hadn’t been invented back in her day. She held her dynasty together until she died last month, bringing the grand total from 70 to 69.

Good to see Lobley Hill and big families portrayed in a positive light from a newspaper that would usually be so negative about “big families” and “the North”. Read the rest of the article

Upcoming events in Lobley Hill – May to July 2009

Wonderful Watergate Wed 27th May 1-3pm
Countryside event organised by Gateshead council. Suitable for all ages. For more details call 01207 545212

Lobley Hill Community Festival Sat 13th June 11am – 3pm
Fun day out for all the family at Rutherford AFC in Beggarswood Park. More than 1000 people came last year to see loads of stalls and displays from local organisations.

Gateshead Summer Flower Show – 31 July to 2 August
Annual summer flower show at Gateshead Central Nursery on Whickham Highway. One of the largest horticultural events in the country, the show features displays plants, flowers and shrubs housed in 300,000 square feet of marquee space. There will also be plenty to see and do over the 3 days, including fantastic displays, floral art, a craft fair, demonstrations, a continental market, speciality foods, live entertainment, lots of children’s activities and much more!

Adults £7.00;
60 year + £5.00;
Children under 18yrs FREE (when accompanied by an adult);
On site parking £3.00 – free off site park and ride

School Newsletter

Just discovered that the weekly Lobley Hill Primary School newsletter has been available to download every week for the last two years. I hadn’t even realised that the school had a website. Perhaps the next step is to send an email alert out to parents when it’s available and we can then save school from photocopying 350 newsletters every week.

You can find the latest school newsletter on the school blog.

Was it worth it for just 18 inches?

So after 2 months of roadworks, the cutting down of 6 trees and a lot of scratching heads Lobley Hill Road is around 18 inches wider. Apprarently there are more traffic lights and news lane markings to come but after all that the road is still only 18inches wider. That’s not even wide enough for an extra bike lane never mind a new lane of traffic.

Now when the new lanes arrive in a couple of weeks time I suspect we can look forward to regular tailbacks on to the Lobley Hill Roundabout and beyond as slow moving trucks struggle up the hill. Currently there is an overtaking lane – but there won’t be in the future – just one long snake of slow moving traffic. Time will tell whether the Gateshead Council planners got it right or have scored a great own goal with these changes.