Gateshead Greens remain opposed to local greenbelt destruction

Gateshead Council today voted to approve the Newcastle/Gateshead One Core Strategy – basically a 20-year land use plan that gives the green light to building on greenbelt land across the Borough. Despite widespread objections to the plan it was passed by 34 votes in favour, to 9 votes against.

The Green Party has been at forefront of the campaign to stop the plan and local activists are disappointed at the news. Local party organiser and lead local campaigner Andy Blanchflower commented:
Since November 2011 I have led the Save Dunston Hill Campaign to prevent unnecessary house building on our green belt.
We held a public meeting, leafleted thousands of local homes twice, had a stall at village summer fairs and in July 2013 presented a 4,102 signature Petition to the Council etc. etc.    At the Examination In Public last June I appeared for 14 days for up to 9 hours daily, sometimes speaking as well for other areas of Newcastle/Gateshead on behalf of Cities4People.  I have worked hundreds and hundreds of hours in defence of our countryside.
There is plenty of urban land on Tyneside for the projected population changes.  However the Planning Inspector who sat last June, has incomprehensively rejected urban Gateshead sites that the Council plan to leave empty!!  Instead he has approved 8 green belt sites all over the Borough for house building and one for industry.
The Labour Council have today sided with the rich mega property developers, rather than continue to give many Gateshead residents easy access to the open countryside.  Wild life will be destroyed, and land used for growing our food will be built upon.

Andy Redfern, prospective parliamentary candidate for Gateshead, added “It is very disappointing that only 34 of the 55 Labour members were able to attend – just a 62% attendance. I wonder how many of the missing members will claim they never supported the proposal in future years?”

Paul McNally, prospective parliamentary candidate for Blaydon, commented “This is a council decision that will directly affect the lives of thousands of Newcastle and Gateshead residents, especially those who live near the Green Belt sites. Electors are asking us about our policy on this, which is best summed up as “BROWNFIELD FIRST”. There is so much old industrial and underused land that could be used before we build on the Greenbelt.”
Please contact Andy Blanchflower for further information on this story.
Mobile: 07906173139                                      Email :

Gateshead Greens to Field Two Candidates at General Election

Monday February 16th 2015: For immediate release

The Green Party in Gateshead is pleased to announce it will be fielding candidates in the Blaydon and Gateshead constituencies in the upcoming General Election. The announcement comes at a time when Green Party membership in Gateshead, the North East and nationally, is at an all time. Characterised as a Green Surge, the Green Party at the national membership at a national level is now 48,476(1) ahead of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats.

The Gateshead Green Party announced that Andy Redfern would stand in Gateshead and Paul McNally would stand in Blaydon.

photo 4Paul McNally, the PPC for Blaydon, was born in Jarrow and has lived in the Derwent Valley area for 25 years and is a professional Architectural Technologist and Designer(2). Commenting on in candidature he said “My driving passion has always been the protection and conservation of our natural heritage, global environmental issues and animal welfare. I have campaigned over the years on many welfare and environmental issues, as the nation has been subjected to a Government with an apathetic, sinister and destructive attitude towards our environment. The Green Party, I believe, is the only ethically minded party which will uphold the essential values, compassion and genuine social responsibility required to form a moral foundation for honest Government.”

252842_10150274768119924_1915489_nAndy Redfern, the PPC for Gateshead, has lived in Gateshead for 19 years. He is former director of fair trade company Traidcraft and a co-founder of the Follingsby Park-based Ethical Superstore (3). “I am standing for the Green Party in Gateshead in 2015 because I believe that we can make a genuine difference to the lives of ordinary people. Austerity has hit people in Gateshead badly. Swingeing council cuts as central government has withheld funding mean that people pay more for less services. Access to the NHS has been made harder as waiting times and waiting lists have increased. The local transport system is now more monopolised than when it was run by local councils. Job losses have hit the area hard, and the new jobs being created are low paid with minimal job security, often on low or zero hour contacts. And for those in work, who has seen a pay rise recently?”

Andy Redfern stood as the Green Party candidate for Gateshead in 2010 and both candidates have stood in local elections for Gateshead Council in previous years.

The Gateshead Green Party co-ordinator Andy Blanchflower commented “We are delighted to be fielding candidates in both Gateshead constituencies this time. We know from our campaigning that local people want to vote green and now they can wherever in Gateshead they live”.

The recent Green Surge means that the Green Party nationally is likely to field candidates in more than 75% of the constituencies nationwide.

For further information and interviews:
Andy Blanchflower – 07906 173139

Editors notes
(1) Green Party membership at 4pm on 16th January 2015. This the combined membership of the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party and the Green Party of Northern Ireland.

(2) Background information on Paul McNally:
Born in Jarrow, he has lived in the Derwent Valley Area for over 25 years. He is a professional Architectural Technologist and Designer and have worked with many local Practices over the last two decades, and qualified as a teacher in the Life long learning Sector. His expertise in these areas, and the focus of his work is in sustainable construction and technologies. His career to date has been moulded with a philosophy – a belief in responsible, sustainable and environmentally conscious practice and I continue to adopt these principles within my work and teaching.

(3) Background information on Andy Redfern:
He has been involved in Green politics for 7 years in the North East of England. He stood as the Green Party candidate for Gateshead in the 2010 General Election. His passion is to fight for justice for the poor and the marginalised in the UK and around the world. He was International Director for Team Valley-based fair trade company Traidcraft plc for 8 years and a founder director of Ethical Superstore. He is an experienced online and offline campaigner, and supported the Green Party nationally in creating the website for the Euro Elections 2014. He is a keen supporter of sustainable transport and was a founder director of the innovative Valley Links Community Interest Company that has successfully campaigned for better transport links to and from Team Valley. He is married with five children and live in Lobley Hill, Gateshead.

(4) Contacting the Green Party in Gateshead via:

Phone: Andy Blanchflower 07906 173139


Twitter: @gatesheadgreens


Gateshead Green Party joins call for a £10 minimum wage for all


Gateshead Green Party believes:

  • Minimum wage should be raised to Living Wage levels immediately
  • Urgent action is needed to address persistent inequality and poverty

The Gateshead Green Party has joined the Green Party nationally in calling for the statutory minimum wage to be immediately lifted to Living Wage levels and for a £10 per hour minimum wage for all by 2020.
The Green Party, the only party committed to delivering real change for the common good, believes every worker over 16 should be paid at least the minimum wage and would abolish the age-based differential rates currently in place.

Raising the minimum wage to living wage levels would benefit an estimated 5.2million people – 17% of the working population – and usher in a fairer society where fewer workers are trapped in poverty pay conditions.

The new policy pledges will appear in the Green Party’s 2015 General Election Manifesto alongside other measures designed to address persistent inequality and poverty. The Green Party is calling for a Wealth Tax on the top 1%  and company-wide pay ratios.

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage for all.

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage for all.

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said:

“Under our plan no-one would be paid less than £10 an hour in 2020. It is a scandal that under the Coalition government the number of workers earning less than the Living Wage has risen by a staggering 50% from 3.4million in 2011 to 5.2million today. It makes a mockery of Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2010 statement that a Living Wage is ‘an idea whose time has come.’”

“The fact that the Green Party are consistently polling at some of our best numbers since 1989 goes to show that our message of the need to reshape our politics and economy to work for the common good is really hitting home.

“It is our policies such as making the minimum wage a Living Wage, a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, renationalising our railways and having a publicly owned and run NHS that are both encouraging people to join as members (5) and vote Green in growing numbers.”


Will you pledge to vote Green at the General Election?

pledge1With 12 weeks to go until the General Election, and the Greens continuing to perform better than ever in the polls, a new website has been launched to enable supporters to pledge their vote to the Green Party.

The site, which gives members details of their local candidates, as well as linking people to their nearest ‘target’ constituency, will allow thousands of new Green Party members to get involved for the first time.

The membership of the Green Party of England and Wales has increased by 214% since May 2014. Currently there are over 53,000 members.

Members and supporters can pledge their support at

The ongoing membership surge and latest polling further calls into question Ofcom’s initial view that the Green Party is not a ‘major party’.

pledge2Andy Redfern, the Green Party candidate for Gateshead said:

“This is fantastic new tool allows everyone in country and especially in Gateshead and Blaydon to get involved with the party for the first time.

We’re going to be standing more candidates than ever at this election but, as a party without financial support from big business or vested interests, we rely on our members to spread the word about our popular policies.”

Local Elections 2014

Three reasons to vote Green

  • Only the Green Party will fight austerity and welfare cuts at home and in Europe.
  • Only the Green Party will oppose privatisation and fight for public services to be in public hands.
  • Only the Green Party will drive the transition from fossil fuels to a sustainable world we can pass on to our children.

On 22nd May 2014, you’ll be able to vote for someone to represent you on the local Gateshead Council. The Green Party is fielding its biggest field ever in Gateshead with 8 candidates standing across the borough. There is a full list of the candidates below.

We believe that voting for the Green Party will provide a fresh start for Gateshead. Gateshead Council plans to rail road local opponents to its Green Belt land grab. A vote for the Greens is a vote against those in power who are happy to see hundreds of house built on the green belt while leaving hundreds of acres of “brown field” sites as derelict wasteland.

We stood candidates in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with 40% increase across the two years. A Green vote is far from wasted. A Green vote keeps green issues centre stage and will help call the current leadership to account.

Ward Candidate
Crawcrook and Greenside Ralf RUSSOW
Deckham Gary Rutherford BROOKS
Dunston and Teams Andy BLANCHFLOWER
Dunston Hill and Whickham East Mary BLANCHFLOWER
Lobley Hill and Bensham Andy REDFERN
Ryton, Crookhill and Stella Sarah MCKEOWN
Wardley and Leam Lane Stephen WATSON
Winlaton and High Spen Paul MCNALLY

Gateshead Green Party delivers planning petition to local planners

Gateshead – April 24th – Today Stephen Watson, Green Party candidate for the Wardley and Leam Lane council seat, delivered a petition with more than 300 signatures from concerned local residents to the Gateshead Council Planning Department. The petition opposes the development of greenbelt land in the Leam Lane area for housing. Stephen Watson commented “Local people have had little chance to feedback on the Council’s plans. By taking it to peoples’ doorsteps we have allowed residents to see the extent of the clearly unwanted plans. ”

The Gateshead Green Party believes that the Council under the guidance of its Labour leadership has avoided getting feedback from local residents because it fears a backlash against its “strategic” plans. Stephen Watson commented “I am amazed at what Labour has NOT done in Gateshead. In Newcastle 115,000 homes were contacted directly about the planned changes to which areas of the city were being proposed as available for new homes – Gateshead council handed out a few leaflets in the Metrocentre and the town centre. No wonder they only received seven complaints. We have taken the information of which bits of greenbelt are being torn up on to the doorsteps of those directly affected and have received more 300 complaints – each of which will now need to be dealt with by the planning department”.

The lack of transparency on the issue has been stark. The local Labour party has continued to say that the permission is for outline approval only with little likelihood of any building work taking place. Yet this contradicts the consultation documentation which states “Leam Lane has an estimated capacity of 1201 new dwellings.” and “The phasing of this site is set to begin at the earliest possible time, (around 2014/15), because there are no significant constraints to development.” Stephen Watson said “Diggers will be ploughing up the green fields of Leam Lane with two years despite these hollow reassurances. These changes are turning our local fields into a goldmine for developers and it is local people who are set to lose out”.

For more information about the Green Party’s region wide campaign to prevent green belt land being turned into a goldmine for local developers please contact David Byrne (0191 442 1542), Green Party co-ordinator in Gateshead or Nic Best (0787 889 6292 ), press officer for the Green Party in the North East of England.

Gateshead Green Party website
NE Regional Green party website

Promoted by David Byrne on behalf of the Green Party, both of 18 Coleridge Avenue, Gateshead NE9 6EL.

Gateshead Greens announce lineup and policies for 2012 Local Elections

Gateshead Green Party today announced it is fielding three candidates in the local elections in Gateshead on 3rd May. The local party has candidates standing in Dunston Hill & Whickham East, Lobley Hill & Bensham and Wardley & Leam Lane.

David Byrne, chairperson of the Greens in Gateshead commented “We are standing in the wards most badly affected by the current Labour administration’s plan to tear up the green fields around the fringe of Gateshead. With a plan to build thousands of new houses and warehouses on greenbelt land, we will fight them at every turn. This is a policy serving the interests of developers and landowners, not the people of Gateshead. The continuation of the failed Pathfinder programme under a new name in central Gateshead is a policy of confiscating working class people’s  houses to benefit developers and shows that Labour has abandoned the people who vote for it.”.

Andy Redfern, the candidate in Lobley Hill and Bensham added “With brown field sites unused and undeveloped around the borough why are Labour planning to tear up the fields around Watergate Country Park and Whickham Highway? It’s a senseless destruction inspired by a mistaken belief that Gateshead needs growth at any cost and at any price.”

The campaign is underpinned by substantive 48-page critique of the One Core Strategy proposed by Newcastle and Gateshead councils. David Byrne said “Newcastle and Gateshead need a radical alternative. The One Core Strategy does not deliver this. The development of a local plan is the one opportunity local government has to do something about the issues facing people. The Labour Party locally like the Labour Party nationally seems to have forgotten that it is meant to represent the interests of ordinary people, not big business. Any attempt to implement this flawed plan would inflict unsustainable damage, contrary to its rhetoric about sustainability, local needs, community well-being, and quality of life.”

Andy Redfern added “A vote for the Greens is a vote to send the One Core Strategy to the recycling bin. It needs a full rethink and a more believable analysis of the challenges ahead for the area. We don’t want jam tomorrow – we need action on jobs and the environment today.”

Gateshead Greens are also appalled at the lack of consultation and continuing policy vacuum around the transport provision in the Borough. The Lobley Hill Interchange is the busiest in the area with more than 105,000 vehicle movements a day. Yet despite spending hundreds of thousands on a new bus lane in Lobley Hill, the associated Park and Ride scheme to ease congestion was cancelled by the Con\Dem coalition. A lack vision from the local Labour administration means that building roads ends up being the only response.

The full list of wards and candidates is as follows:

  • Dunston Hill & Whickham East – Mary Blanchflower
  • Lobley Hill & Bensham – Andy Redfern
  • Wardley & Leam Lane – Stephen Watson

Gateshead Greens believe that no strategy can be worthwhile unless it is based on a sound analysis and articulates an appropriate way forward, both in term s of a long-term vision and steps towards it. We believe that Gateshead could be rejuvenated by action plan based on the following key policies:

  • Invest in renewable energy generation projects, including district heating and co-generation schemes;
  • Direct funding to best standard home insulation and ‘solar roofs’;
  • Encourage ‘green collar’ jobs in fields ‘eco-industries’, alongside full blooded recycling programmes;
  • Take the ‘green scissors’ to extravagant retail, hotel & other unsustainable development projects;
  • Curb excessive executive salaries and perks, helping the low paid instead;
  • Favour buses, rail and other public transport, with the aim of a big reduction in private car use;
  • Provide a much better deal for cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Develop ‘streets for people’ and play streets through 20 mph zones & much more extensive pedestrianisation;
  • More support for local shops and for local farmer’s market, sourcing, as much as possible, foodstuffs from the region;
  • Oppose more giant supermarkets and ‘retail parks’;
  • Create more allotments & ‘rooftop gardening’ schemes;
  • Manage parks and public gardens organically;
  • Encourage more wildlife protection schemes as well as protect local trees, plus far more tree planting programmes;
  • Make decision-making more local through the use of neighbourhood budgets;
  • Create more transparency in local council decision-making;
  • Use council procurement programmes to encourage the above objectives

Gateshead Green Party delighted at reprieve for Bill Quay Community Farm

North East Greens are delighted and relieved that Bill Quay Community Farm has had a reprieve. This precious urban farm in Gateshead was facing complete withdrawal of funding from Gateshead council from April 1st, which would have meant the farm having to close. As well as providing vital green space for the whole community in a heavily urbanised area (bordering Gateshead and South Tyneside), the farm has done excellent work over the last 25 years, highlighting environmental issues and encouraging people to grow their own food and cook it.

The voluntary farm association which helps run the farm called for people to sign a petition to demand the council to change their mind and give them more time to find a way to take over. Their plea for help resulted in a massive community campaign, supported by Greens in Gateshead, South Tyneside and right across the region. By the time of Council budget meeting at the end of last month, the campaign had delivered 3,232 signatures on the petition, both online and on paper, as well as lots of media coverage. This succeeded in putting enough pressure on the council that they have relented. They deferred the total withdrawal of funding till 2013 and will fund the farm on a ticking over basis till then.

The voluntary farm association say they now have time to establish a good partnership to take the farm on in one year’s time. Clare Satow from the farm association (and the wonderful Bill Quay Fabric Workshop) expressed their thanks to everyone who signed the petition and said

“We have been greatly strengthened in our resolve by the support you have given us. We have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people writing to them and coming to the farm and telling them how much they value the farm.”

Shirley Ford, Green Party regional coordinator, says she is keeping in touch with the farm association to see how their plans progress and if there is any further support they need. She found huge support for the farm at the school in South Tyneside where she works, where all the staff signed the petition and spread the word to their friends and families. They all said how much they love the farm, having taken both their own children and classes from the school to have a valuable taste of the countryside on our doorstep.

We also look forward to many more wonderful Green events at the farm, like our mini green festival last June.

The fleecing of British rail users

Figures show that British rail fares are drastically higher than the rest of Europe, with London and the South East suffering the most expensive prices. Statistics released by the Campaign for Better Transport show that the price of a 22 mile annual season ticket can cost up to £3,268 in London, while a similar journey in Italy will cost just £336.

Further analysis of season tickets across Europe show much lower rail fares in countries such as Spain, France and Germany. The next most expensive country in comparison to Britain is Holland, but still on average £1000 cheaper than prices here[1].  As for monthly and weekly season tickets Britain is again way ahead of fellow European countries in terms of price, although the cost is significantly reduced as season ticket length is shortened[2].

British commuters can expect further pain in 2012 with government officials planning on annual rises of RPI inflation plus 3% for January 2013 and January 2014.

Alan FrancisGreen Party National Transport Spokespersoncomments:

“The privatised railway costs more to operate and so fares are higher. The fare increases by the train companies are passed straight back to the government. The railways need to be brought back into public ownership so that we can have better services and lower fares”.

Low income commuters will be hit hardest by the government’s decision to cut the rail subsidy which forms part of a programme to cut across the board and attempt to reduce taxation. Some can even expect to pay up to 20% of their wages on daily travel.  However this will mean little to people across Britain who can pay over £10 a day for a return ticket to work and back

Green Party launches “Diversity Champions” network

27 FEBRUARY 2011

At its spring conference in Cardiff, the Green Party has launched an internal support network for “Diversity Champions” in each local branch of the Green Party.

The network will begin to address black, minority, and ethnic community representation, as well as bringing more working-class people into the Green Party.

Farid Bakht, the Green Party’s 2010 general election candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow in East London, said: “If our policies are good for small business people and the local economy, it makes sense to engage with ethnic minorities who own small businesses. However, at the local party level, we have an ingrained habit that says ‘Jean Lambert, our London MEP, is engaging with Tamil communities and Kurdish communities in London, so our local party don’t need to.’”

“In contrast, in Tower Hamlets, we were having Green Party street stalls in Columbia Road Flower Market. Apart from half the flower market attendees being tourists, it made more sense to have our stalls at Whitechapel Market, where a far more diverse community shops.

“And we’ve begun to engage the 4 TV stations, 2 radio stations and 12 newspapers that serve the Bangledeshi community in Tower Hamlets.”

Bakht continued: “Local parties, in their membership, need to reflect the ethnic diversity in their area. In Tower Hamlets, that may mean aiming for 40% members being Bangladeshi. In North Tyneside, that could mean outreach to Balkan and Chinese minorites.

“It’s about getting stuck in and forgetting language barriers and talking with people. For example, the 26th March is not only a TUC national march against cuts, but the anniversary of Bangledeshi Independence, and local parties need to be doing media and outreach work on both issues that fortnight.”