Category: Events / Actions

Scotswood community garden celebrates its 20th anniversary

A community garden which has provided a gateway to the natural world in an inner city area is celebrating its 20th birthday.

Scotswood Natural Community Garden in Whickham View in Newcastle’s West End covers two-and-a-half acres and has served as a vital green lung in the built-up area.

On Saturday (4th July 2015), the garden behind the John Marley Centre will hold a public day of celebration to mark the anniversary

The event from 11am – 2pm includes a performance from the orchestra of Hawthorn Primary School in Newcastle, cooking goodies in the garden’s bread oven, crafts activities and a talk by Ed Tyler, who designed the garden 20 years ago.

The garden charity is run by co-directors Harriet Menter and Karen Dobson.

It features wildflower meadows, ponds with great crested newts, birch woodland, sculpture trail and a heritage orchard of 60 trees.

It has just launched a food-growing project with grant backing from the Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF), which is run by the Community Foundation of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

Demonstration plots encourage local people to grow their own produce and the garden hopes to sell some of its crops to restaurants to generate income.

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McDonald’s plans prompts video protest from Newcastle pupils

Health conscious pupils have told McDonald’s exactly why it shouldn’t open a restaurant next to Newcastle’s biggest school.

Youngsters have made an online video urging the fast food giant to pull plans to open next to Kenton School.

In the three-minute clip posted on video sharing site YouTube, the children say opening up a drive-thru there would increase traffic and cause more risk of injury to pupils, as well as having negative health effects.

They also urge campaigners to stop McDonald’s “wrecking the skyline” with its iconic giant ‘M’ signs.

The idea was the brainchild of pupils at St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle.

Teacher Michelle Summerside said:

“I live in the area so that’s where the link comes from. Also a couple of the pupils live in the Blakelaw and Kenton areas so aren’t too far away from where the McDonald’s would be.

“They have put some good opinions across. I asked them to research some facts and they have picked out some good stuff with a good message. I helped a little bit but it was their idea.”

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NE solicitors to join nationwide boycott over legal aid cuts

Solicitors in the North East will join a nationwide boycott that could see criminal courts grind to a halt.

Lawyers in the region have backed an unprecedented protest over the government’s cut to legal aid, which comes into force today.

They said a planned 8.75% cut to the publicly funded criminal legal aid budget was “uneconomic” and “unsustainable”.

Mass meetings of solicitors and barristers who specialise in criminal work were originally held in Liverpool but later also in Newcastle, London, Manchester, Leeds, and other cities.

All agreed not to take on any legal aid cases as of today, but will continue to do duty work to avoid breaching their contract.

Legal aid is the help given to people that may not otherwise afford their own lawyers and is a big source of income for many firms.

Solicitors in the Northumbria area, which includes, Newcastle, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead, have backed the nationwide action after they held a meeting at Northumbria University on Monday night.

Lewis Pearson, deputy vice-president of the Newcastle Law Society and partner at Pearson Caulfield solicitors, in Newcastle, said the boycott was a last-ditch effort to save legal aid.

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Durham Brass Festival 16 – 19 July 2015

The world  premiere of a new show by poet Ian McMillan will be among the highlights of a four-day music festival later this month (July 16-19).

Last Train to Elvet, which tells the apocryphal story of a circus train visiting Durham Elvet Station in 1953, will be part of this year’s Durham Brass Festival, which runs from July 16 to 19.

The show features brass music, circus themes, drama and live cartooning and also involves Tredegar Town Band, Olympic composer Luke Carver Goss and Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband.

McMillan, known as the Bard of Barnsley, said:

“Music, words and live cartooning tell the amazing (partly) true story of the circus train that was the last train to Durham Elvet Station in 1953, packed with animals and clowns and acrobats.

“Capriciously, the train breaks down. Now what will the circus do? Come along and find out.”

The festival, inspired by Durham Miners’ Gala and the county’s brass heritage, will also feature brass and classical concerts, workshops, the Fun Lovin Criminals and much more.

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Northumberland Anti-fracking lobby on alert

A Hexham man is leading a campaign to prevent Tynedale‘s rich mineral deposits from being exploited by high-tech mining interests.

Rather than digging for coal and lead though, the modern day miners want to use the controversial techniques of fracking and underground coal gasification to win natural gas from shale and coal deposits.

Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing of rock by injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals so that energy sources such as gas, petroleum and brine can be extracted.

And while there are currently no sites designated for such activities on the books of Northumberland County Council, campaigners want to be prepared should any applications come along.

Dr Jonathan Boniface, from Fellside, has become one of the leading lights in the newly-formed Keep Northumberland Frack Free group, which is to hold its first public meeting to discuss the threat of fracking and UCG in Hexham Community Centre on 27 June at 2pm.

Tynedale has been known over the centuries for its rich deposits of valuable minerals, from the lead, silver and zinc of the Allen Valleys, to the vast coalfields which underlie much of the district, from Haltwhistle and Halton Lea Gate to Prudhoe and Mickley.

Only a decade ago, Australian company Roc Oil found “gas saturated tight sands” in a £1m drilling exercise at Errington Red House, close to the Roman Wall near Bingfield.

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Anti-Austerity Protests: Tens Of Thousands Rally Across UK

Forty-four days after David Cameron gained an unexpected majority on a dramatic general election night, opposition parties are still picking themselves up from the floor. But on the streets of Britain, tens of thousands of people took up their placards and filled the streets of London, Glasgow and elsewhere for the first major protest against the government’s plans for five more years of austerity.

Estimates of the size of the rally in central London on Saturday varied between 70,000 and more than 150,000; in Glasgow’s George Square several thousand gathered and there were smaller demonstrations reported in other cities, including Liverpool and Bristol.

“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, to great applause from the crowds in Parliament Square at the end of the march. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on Jobseekers’ Allowance that brought down the banks.

“It wasn’t nurses and teachers and firefighters who were recklessly gambling on international markets. And so we should stop the policies that are making them pay for a crisis that wasn’t there making.”

Marching under the banner End Austerity Now, protesters denounced public sector cuts, the treatment of the disabled and the vulnerable through welfare cuts, the privatisation of the NHS.

Teachers, nurses, lawyers and union groups marched under their own banners. Chants and songs demanded an end to Tory government, equality and more help for the poor. A sprinkling of celebrity faces – Russell Brand, Charlotte Church and actor Richard Coyle – were among the crowd.

The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, told the rally:

“It is David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires – they are the people who are the real spongers. They are the people who are given free rein to live out their Thatcherite fantasies at the expense of ordinary, decent communities throughout these islands.”

Protesters set off from outside the Bank of England, and by the time the march reached Westminster – its final destination – a sea of banners, placards and flags stretched for more than a mile down Whitehall and past Trafalgar Square.

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North Shields refugee and asylum protest

Protestors gathered outside of a Tyneside immigration centre to demonstrate about the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

A group of around 40 people gathered with banners, loud hailers, and music outside UK Visa and Immigrations Nortfolk Street Office in North Shields on Monday afternoon.

The reporting centre is soon to close amid a Home Office shake up of how it provides immigration services in the North East.

The demonstrators were campaigning not to bomb Libya and “let migrants pass safely,” to “shut down all immigration prisons in Britain” and to “end destitution” and provide “decent housing for all.”

The event, organised by Beyond Borders Tyneside, was part of Refugee Week – a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the country, and aims to promote better understanding of why people seek sanctuary.

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Save Druridge Bay

Two groups of protesters vying to preserve a coastal Northumberland beauty spot have united after more than 30 years.

Members of Save Druridge and the original Druridge Bay Campaign came together in a bid to combine efforts in the fight against open cast mining.

The original protest group, which formed in the 1980s to help stop the building of a nuclear power station, has given £350 to current campaigners to help future efforts to block the bay turning into a coal mine.

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RE-f-USE pop-up cafe, Durham City

A pioneering cafe opening in Durham City is bringing a whole new meaning to “junk food”.

From Friday night (June 12), anti-food waste campaigners Nikki Dravers and Mim Skinner will serve up RE-f-USE, a pop-up cafe using only food which would otherwise be thrown away.

Opening night will be at Durham’s Indoor Market and several hundred people are expected between 6pm and 8.30pm.

“We started collecting food a couple of weeks ago and it’s escalated incredibly quickly,” said Miss Dravers.

“Judging from the interest online, we could get 2-300 people.”

The aim of the not-for-profit venture is to show how much viable food is thrown away.

“In a world where around 870 million people, one in nine, are hungry, it’s an outrage that one third of food produced worldwide is thrown away when it’s perfectly fit for human consumption,” Miss Dravers said.

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People’s Assembly’s mass protest in Newcastle

Three generations of a North East family joined more than 1,000 demonstrators in the North East to protest against Government cuts.

John and Isabelle Baker, their daughter Abby Schoneboom, her husband John and their children Oscar aged eight and four-year-old Maisie were part of the North East People’s Assembly event in Newcastle on Saturday.

Abby, 44, said: “We’re here because we’re appalled by the cuts.

“I grew up in Fenham which had excellent libraries and there was a welfare state when you needed it. I was able to go from a council estate to study at Oxford University. I think that’s not possible now because the support systems are being ripped away from under our feet.

“Communities are being shut down in an almost vengeful manner.”

Abby returned to Newcastle five years ago after living for 15 years in the US where she met husband John, 55, from New York.

He commented: “I come from a country where the health system is broken and you don’t want that.

“I think it’s a great shame about what’s happening to the NHS – it’s one of the things that makes Britain great.”

Isabelle, 69, added: “I worked in the public sector all my working life in libraries. It’s not just about libraries, everything is being taken away from us. It’s time to stand up and be heard. That’s why we’re all here.”

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