Category: Local


John Marshall: a man of principle

Yvonne Wancke

John Marshall, my dad, was born in 1935 in the east end of Newcastle. He was evacuated for some of World War 11 to a big house on the outskirts of Carlisle. I remember my granny (his mam) telling me that she told his older brother, George (my uncle) to keep hold of his hand […]

“Hostile environment brought to our doorsteps”: no to Hassockfield event today

Yvonne Wancke

Vulnerable women who are seeking sanctuary should be helped and supported, not locked up. In Consett today there is a demonstration against the opening of Derwentside (Hassockfield) Immigration Removal Centre (IRC). This demonstration is being organised by Durham People’s Assembly, No to Hassockfield and Abolish Detention. They also have support from many individuals and organisations […]

Community wealth-building: a North East revolution

Julia Mazza

Imagine a local council policy that aims to reverse the North East’s economic malaise, that directs money and jobs to the people most in need. It’s already here, the town hall revolution is happening in Labour councils across the North East, from Newcastle to Stockton.  Community wealth-building is a toolkit of measures to help councils make the […]


Interview with Ray Laidlaw from Lindisfarne

Graham Clark

Ray Laidlaw was the drummer in Lindisfarne up until 2003. With the BBC4 documentary on Alan Hull , interest in the north east band has been ignited again.  I spoke to Ray about the band, Alan Hull and of course those famous Top of the Pops appearances. Do you think Alan got the recognition he […]

Power cuts in Weardale: elected members inaccessible and unaccountable

Owain Gardner

On the night of Friday 26 November, only last Friday, everything seemed normal. That was until everyone in Weardale (from Witton-le-Wear to Killhope and Cowshill) lost their access to electricity due to Storm Arwen. Electricity lines up and down dale had trees falling onto them, with some, as was suggested on BBC Look North and […]

No-one should have to rely on foodbanks

Stephen Lambert

The independent economics think tank, the Resolution Foundation, points out the cost of living both in the North-East and elsewhere in the country continues to rise. In Newcastle 41% of children are growing up in poverty. This is up by 13% since 2014/15 with thousands of residents, many in work on poverty pay, relying on […]

Newcastle City Council: doing its bit to tackle climate change

Stephen Lambert

Climate change is the largest crisis facing the planet. What the global north and much of the south do in the next decade to limit emissions will be critical to the world’s future. Newcastle City Council is doing its bit to tackle climate change. As lead experts tells us – we need to act now. […]

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service: a great career choice

Robina Jacobson

One quick look at their website gives an insight into life in the workplaces which make up Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS). Listed on the ‘about us’ page are gold awards from the ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’, ‘Investors in People’, and ‘Better Health at Work’, alongside awards for diversity […]

Houchen waves goodbye to PD Ports

Scott Hunter

PD Ports is no longer up for sale. The Financial Times is reporting this afternoon that Brookfield Asset Management Inc has taken the company, whose core business is at Teesport, off the market. The paper also reports this as a blow to Ben Houchen’s ambitions. Which it is. Little information about the dispute between Brookfield […]

Lumiere in Durham: “In Our Hearts Blind Hope”

Aoifke Madeleine

Lumiere, the bi-annual event in Durham City Centre, returned this November. Europe’s largest light festival (in one of the UK’s smallest cities) attracts thousands of tourists, with tickets being free and local businesses taking part. Two years on from its last feature in 2019, there’s been an election, a pandemic that left the world in […]

Who runs Teesworks? Houchen’s blunder

Scott Hunter

It’s 28 July 2020, and Ben Houchen is making a presentation at a Tees Valley Business Club event. The South Tees Development Corporation (the Corporation), the first of its kind outside of London and responsible for 4,500 acres of ex-industrial development land, is being rebranded as Teesworks, he tells his audience. He also uses the […]

Is levelling up a slogan or a policy?

Sally Young

In the last few months we have kept hearing about this government’s promise of levelling up. Is this a slogan or a policy? Let’s look at what is really happening. In all honesty, I’ve never been particularly impressed by the idea of HS2. £100 billion would have been better spent by giving the UK’s top […]

Poetry Corner

Northern Poorhouse

Harry Gallagher

Jackie Milburn picks up dog ends on the high level bridge, beneath the all seeing stare of Stephenson. Joseph Swan drinks Carlsberg Export, huddled on a pavement mattress outside the Holy Jesus Hospital. Bobby Charlton smokes his last in bed, red all over his face; no consolation goal, no-one to see. While darling Grace saves […]

Hexham named happiest place in the UK

Yvonne Wancke

Hexham has been named as the happiest place to live in the UK. This is from the Happy at Home index by Rightmove. Hexham really is a very beautiful market town in Northumberland. It’s well known for Hexham Abbey,  its pretty shopping streets and its Saturday farmers’ markets. Local resident, Kim Sanderson said: “The town […]

Don’t forget the birds: a new film about leaving prison in Durham

Carol Westall

A new film, Don’t forget the birds will be released online as part of a collection of Open Clasp’s work to mark the UN’s 16 days of activism to eliminate violence. against women and girls. It will be available  25 November – 10 December. Don’t forget the birds tells the story of what happened after […]

“Brexit isn’t working” says Newcastle

Yvonne Wancke

Brexit isn’t working is the message of North East residents, who took to the streets of Newcastle this weekend to protest against the local impact of the recent HGV and supply chain crisis. Campaigners from North East for Europe spoke to members of the public at Grey’s Monument on Saturday about shortages of goods and […]

Ben Houchen’s Teesport pickle

David Walsh

Oh dear. Why does history carry on repeating itself? It seems this is particularly true when it comes to Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen. Only last week I wrote of him stepping into dangerous waters of which he apparently knows little, with an ambition to become the promoter of a scheme for the Tees Valley […]

“Brexit isn’t working” event in Newcastle today

North East Bylines

North East residents will be on the streets of Newcastle today to protest against the local impact of the recent HGV and supply chain crisis. Campaigners from North East for Europe will be speaking to members of the public at Grey’s Monument on Saturday 20 November about shortages of goods and the difficulties faced by […]

Another ‘levelling up’ letdown: Leamside Line snubbed in rail plan

North East Bylines

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have today unveiled plans to modernise rail connections in the Integrated Rail Plan.  However, the mothballed Leamside Rail Line which runs from Gateshead, through Washington, Penshaw, Fencehouses, West Rainton, Belmont and Shincliffe before merging with the East Coast Main Line at Ferryhill, was not included.  The campaign to re-open the line has […]

Meet your MP: Dehenna Davison (Conservative), Bishop Auckland

Scott Hunter

Much has been written over the past few days about MPs income, in particular issues around how certain MPs obtain income from sources other than their MP’s salary. Bishop Auckland MP, Dehenna Davison (Con), is one of those whose secondary sources of income are of interest, but examination of her declaration of interests also raises […]

Teesside Stagecoach strikes suspended as members ballot on new pay offer

North East Bylines

Strikes by bus workers employed by Stagecoach on Teesside have been suspended following an improved pay offer. The strikes scheduled for Thursday 18 November, Saturday 20 November and Monday 22 November have all been called off to allow members to ballot on the improved pay offer. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a potential breakthrough in the dispute. […]

Happy 20th birthday to British Theatre Guide

North East Bylines

  British Theatre Guide, one of the first sites dedicated to theatre in Britain on the new World Wide Web at the turn of the millennium, celebrates its 20th birthday on 17 November 2021, although its online roots go back even further. 20 years, 20,000 reviews, 1,000 newsletters, 200 podcast episodes, 20 (+5) Edinburgh Fringes […]

Meet your MP: Guy Opperman (Conservative), Hexham

Kim Sanderson

Some background on Guy Opperman Guy Opperman was elected as MP for Hexham in 2010, having previously stood unsuccessfully in North Swindon and Caernarfon. He went to Harrow boarding school then attended the University of Buckingham. An amateur jockey, he lost his spleen in a fall. Also a brain tumour survivor, Opperman likes to voice […]

Meet your MP: Richard Holden (Conservative), North West Durham

Yvonne Wancke

Some background on Richard Holden Richard Holden is the first Conservative member of parliament for North West Durham. He was elected in 2019 as one of the ‘red wall’ MPs. His work background includes both the public and private sectors. Before he was elected MP he worked in the Department for Education as a Special […]


A letter to the local Conservatives…

Anne Greaves

I received a questionnaire from my local Tory Party basically looking for ammunition against our Labour run council. So I sent them this letter… Dear Tories Personally I am more concerned about a Tory government that is debasing our democracy and stealing our rights so it can stay in power permanently. 1. Handing over millions […]

Ben Houchen: “Let someone else deal with the waste”

David Walsh

Amongst the great and the good at the Government’s Global Investment Summit 2021 in late October, one of the preparatory sessions to COP26, was a man in a dark flannel suit seemingly looking round for people to impress. Who was this man? The CEO of a vast multinational firm? A President or PM of a […]

Meet your MP: Peter Gibson (Conservative), Darlington

Scott Hunter

Some background on Peter Gibson Peter Gibson was first elected to parliament in 2019.  He is a solicitor, and continues to practise on a part-time basis for Darlington-based firm Clarke Willis LLP.  (This is entirely proper. He has earned around £800 in two years from this, and it is a practice commonly followed by lawyers […]

A successful bonfire night in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear

Carol Westall

Fireworks in Allendale Many of us enjoyed the fireworks, the great fire, food trucks, the presence of fire fighters and shortage of incidents requiring them. The Lions event was much appreciated. Firefighters across the rest of Northumberland had a busy Bonfire night and handled 343 calls. Northumberland County Council said: “Crews attended 60 bonfires across […]