Bluehouse roundabout – the West Gosforth we want meeting at Trinity Church

Good Evening

Its great to see so many people here.

I love the Town Moor.

Blue House Roundabout - West Gosforth we want meeting at Trinity

I absolutely love seeing the cows grazing there. If I’ve had a stressful day in the constituency I’ll go back to the office by way of Grandstand Road just to see them and it brings a measure of peace and relaxation..

I was heartened and indeed inspired that the response of so many to the draft Bluehouse proposals was

“We love the town moor too, we don’t want this to be part of our future”

You could say there’s an argument we should be grateful to the Council for making us, however inadvertently, wake up and realise just how lucky we are to live in a city with such a healthy, green, lung. Bringing us all together on that.

As well as grateful to the Council they’ve decided to go back to the drawing board. And engage differently in future.

Well this meeting was always about the future of Gosforth.

And I know some of you may be cynical as I’m a politician if I say this but I am not going to lie to you. I’m not going to pretend nothing’s going to change. Some might say we should just go on as we have, live with the air pollution and the accidents and the traffic jams.

I’m not saying that. Things need to change.

Let’s also be clear. I want economic growth in Newcastle. I want more jobs for people in Newcastle. I want more people coming into Newcastle to see our great theatres and fantastic museums as well as enjoying our Night time economy.

I don’t want less of Newcastle I want more of it.

But I do not want a mega roundabout.

So what does that mean?

Well the reason I called the meeting is because I thought we should decide what that means together.

We need to enable the change we want.

For everyone.

This is a situation where what each of us do as individuals matters – every journey. And what we do collectively, as a community, as a city.

Now I cycled here. When I tweeted that I was cycling through the BlueHouse Roundabout the other day someone tweeted back to say they cycled twice a day and did I expect a medal.

Well no, but if that’s what it takes I’m happy to get one struck!

Bluehouse Roundabout Cycling Medal.

My point is that while many of you may do amazing things already to help build the West Gosforth We Want, it’s what everybody does that matters and it is shy cyclists like myself whose behaviours we need to change.

I started cycling again about 18 months ago after a break of twenty years. A friend gave me their second cycle so I could try it out without spending loads of money. Experts like Cllr Marion Talbot and NewCycling shared their secret cycle routes with me and encouraged me when I couldn’t find any! Newcastle City Council built some more. All those things enabled me to make healthier decisions.

Tonight I’m driving to Amble

On Thursday I will probably take a bus to Fenham

We all use transport in different ways so we need to look at enabling behaviour change across a wide range of options.

So this is how we’re going to do that tonight.

Tonight was billed as Building the West Gosforth We Want because that’s the area I’m the MP for but it soon became clear that attendees aren’t sticking to constituency boundaries and that’s why I’m so pleased Catherine is here to speak on behalf of East Gosforth.

Then Councillor Ged Bell will say a little about the Consultation process, the change of approach and the opportunity we now have.

Then Graham Grant head of Transport Investment will present – not on the proposals because I’m sure you’re familiar with that, and we’re not going to rehash those plans or any others, but around the context, some of the drivers, and the Steering Group.

Then we are all going to break out into six groups. I wanted everyone to be able to make a contribution and with 300 people that wasn’t possible.

So on your seat is a piece of paper with a number on it, one to six. That indicates the group you’re in. You’ll be told where to go by the group number.

The Digital Civics team will be facilitating and Ian Johnson will give a short talk on how we can use technology to build digital communities for change.

Then you were given a piece of paper when you came in. On the front was the agenda. On the back are three questions. In the groups I’d like you to fill in those questions.

What sort of West Gosforth do you want?

  • Healthy, green, perfect

What will you do to make it happen?

  • Cycle to work, work from home, pay more to subsides buses for others

What should the council do to make it happen?

  • Consult more?
  • Raise rates?
  • Talk to the LEP
  • Declare independence from Government (joke)
  • Give out prizes

There will be a discussion facilitated for half an hour or so and then report back

Then next steps. Maybe some of your feedback will be about next steps? I have some in mind.

  • What support people need
  • What reporting back
  • What funding

But mainly this is about you! Catherine and I, as Newcastle MPs, can listen to you, work for you and represent you but it is your action so far which have caused the Council to go back to the drawing board and it’s your actions which will decide whether or not we have the Newcastle we want in 20 years!

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