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CONSERVATIVES quashed speculation that one of their leading North East candidates tried to switch horses in mid-stream after the safe Hexham seat came up for grabs. One theory is someone is trying to make mischief after an intriguing item appeared on a Conservative website suggesting that an unnamed Tory selected to fight a North East seat tried to bail out and go for Hexham after sitting MP Peter Atkinson announced he was standing down at the next general election.

Hexham is a safe billet which has attracted more than 100 hopefuls and, according to the website, another North East candidate was refused permission to apply by party chiefs. It's certainly not Wendy Morton who will be fighting Tynemouth, won by Labour's Alan Campbell in the 1997 landslide. Tynemouth is second on the Tory list of North East targets after Hexham and Ms Morton told me: "It's absolutely not me. I can't understand where this has come from unless it's somebody trying to make mischief." Allan Dean, the party's regional director, said: "None of the candidates in our target seats have indicated to me that they wish to be considered for Hexham."

NEWCASTLE Lib Dem chief whip Phil Lower was roped in to help cook cakes for children at his local community centre in Blakelaw.

The only trouble was he didn't have a clue what to do and had to rush home and ask wife Anita, also a councillor, what ingredients go into a cake. "It's the first time he's cooked in his life,'' she confided.

NORTH Tyneside Lib Dem group leader Nigel Huscroft and wife Veronica celebrated their wedding anniversary with a sponsored midnight walk in aid of St Oswald's Hospice.

They walked 10 miles from Gosforth to St Oswald's and back and raised more than pounds 400. Coun Huscroft said: "I always like to take my wife somewhere different for our wedding anniversary."

THE good news for the region is that Minister for the North East, Nick Brown, left, is drawing up a priority list of major public sector projects which could be brought forward as the Government looks to spend its way out of the looming recession. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning to compensate for the expected loss of jobs in the private sector following the economic downturn by bringing forward schemes.

If it saves jobs, it's commendable. But following the bail-out of the banks, taxpayers must be wondering just where all this money is coming from. After all, wasn't it borrowing which got us in this mess in the first place?

MAYBE bosses at Newcastle City Council who are so keen on traffic controls to reduce congestion in sensitive areas of the city centre should have a word with their own staff.

A wagon from the council's highways maintenance department was spotted blatantly breaking the regulations by taking a short cut through the pedestrian zone in front of the Theatre Royal in Grey Street.

GATESHEAD councillor John McClurey who helped rescue a mother and child from a burning house near his newsagent's shop in Blakelaw, Newcastle, is to receive a police commendation for his bravery.

Coun McClurey, who lives in Sunniside, held the Whickham South & Sunniside seat for the Liberal Democrats in a by-election following the sad death of Alan Ord, the party's deputy g leader.

I'M told Civic Centre officers and Lib Dem councillors were at odds over plans for a new bus lane along Newcastle's West Road following concern that car drivers would simply take a short cut through surrounding streets. Officers fear millions of Government money will be lost. The scheme is also a potential vote loser and has been dropped.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 29, 2008
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