Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead
The Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead is a metropolitan borough in Tyne and Wear, in North East England. The borough forms the south west part of the county. It is named after its largest town, Gateshead, but also spans the towns of Rowlands Gill, Whickham, Blaydon and Ryton; suburban areas include Felling, Pelaw, Dunston and Low Fell.
Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead
Gateshead Civic Centre, the seat of the Borough Council
Location of Gateshead in England
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|County||Tyne and Wear|
|• Type||Gateshead Council|
|• Leadership||Leader & Cabinet|
|• MPs||Ian Mearns,|
|• Total||55.0 sq mi (142.4 km2)|
|• Rank||Ranked 91st|
|• Density||3,700/sq mi (1,400/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (British Summer Time)|
|ONS code||00CH (ONS)|
|Ethnicity||94.0% White British|
Source ONS June 2009 
The district has some 201,000 inhabitants and is located within the historic county boundaries of County Durham. It is south of the River Tyne, the historic county boundary between Northumberland and Durham. The metropolitan borough was formed in 1974 through the merger of the county borough of Gateshead with the urban districts of Felling, Blaydon, Ryton and part of Chester-le-Street Rural District, with the borough placed in the new metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. In 1986 Tyne and Wear county council was abolished, with the borough of Gateshead becoming a unitary authority.
In national government the borough contains two parliamentary constituencies, Gateshead and Blaydon. The Gateshead constituency covers the centre and east of the borough. The MP, elected in 2010, is Ian Mearns. The Blaydon constituency covers the west of the borough and Birtley to the south. It is represented by Liz Twist. Jarrow takes in the very eastern tip of the borough, including Pelaw.It is represented by Stephen Hepburn.
In total there are twenty two electoral wards in the borough, each ward elects three councillors. The twenty two wards are: -
- Bridges (Gateshead Town Centre)
- Chopwell and Rowlands Gill
- Crawcrook, Greenside and Clara Vale
- Dunston and Teams
- Dunston Hill and Whickham East
- High Fell (includes Sheriff Hill)
- Leam Lane Estate
- Lobley Hill and Bensham
- Low Fell
- Pelaw and Heworth
- Ryton, Crookhill and Stella Park
- Wardley and Leam Lane
- Whickham North
- Whickham South and Sunniside
- Windy Nook and Whitehills
- Winlaton and High Spen
Gateshead Council is Labour controlled. In total there are 54 Labour councillors and 12 Lib Dem councillors. In general, the Whickham area along with Low Fell tend to favour the Liberal Democrats. Pelaw, Ryton and Dunston Hill are more evenly matched between the two parties, and the rest of the borough is dominated by Labour, especially the East. UKIP were able to get 23% of the vote in Winlaton and High Spen in 2016, while the Liberal Party have one of their few strongholds in Birtley, where they once held. The Conservatives rarely get more than 10%, polling best in Bridges and Saltwell wards; both of these have large Jewish communities.
Gateshead has hosted two major political conferences. The first of these was Labour's spring conference, ahead of the 2005 general election. The Conservatives also held a conference at the Sage Gateshead in March 2008. The Conservatives do not have any councillors in Gateshead and at the time only had one MP in the whole of the north east region. That conference was seen as an attempt to connect to voters in the area.
Gateshead has a number of schools across the borough at both primary and secondary level. Results are well above average, with a number of outstanding schools. Indeed, Gateshead has amongst the best primary and secondary schools in the country overall. A range of schools are present in Gateshead, including Jewish, Roman Catholic, Church of England, Methodist and non-religious state schools. There is one independent school in the borough, Chase school in Whickham. Further independent schools can be found in Newcastle, Sunderland and Tynedale.
Gateshead has a variety of landscapes, urban and industrial areas include the town itself, Whickham and Blaydon in the east, with more semi-rural and rural locations in the west including Ryton and Rowlands Gill. Overall though, it is a fairly green area with over half of the borough being green belt or countryside. Most of this is located away from built up Tyneside to the south of the borough into Derwentside/Chester-le-Street and to the west into Tynedale.
In total, there are over twenty countryside sites in the borough, from ancient meadows and woodland to local nature reserves.
Notable features of Gateshead's countryside include Ryton Willows, found at Old Ryton Village on the banks of the Tyne at Ryton. Ryton Willows is 43 hectares of locally rare grassland and ponds located near to an affluent village with Georgian and Victorian houses. Because of this it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The Derwent Valley, in the south/south west of the borough, offers panoramic views and pleasant walks. It was in the Derwent Valley, near Rowlands Gill, that the Northern Kites Project re-introduced red kites. This was part of a national project to introduce the birds, that were once so commonplace across the country, back into the wild. This scheme has proven to be a big success, with birds being spotted across the west of the borough, from Crawcrook to Rowlands Gill itself.
Even in the more urban areas of the borough, in Gateshead itself and to the east, efforts have been made to maintain green spaces and wildlife sites. One such project is Bill Quay Community Farm in east if the borough. Offering a rural experience within an urban setting, it provides an important educational tool for local schools.
The 2011 census, stated that the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead was 67.0% Christian, 1% Muslim, 1.5% Jewish, 23.9% were not religious and 5.7% of the population refused to state their religion.
The area was once dependent on heavy industry such as steel making in the Derwent Valley and coal mining (across the borough). Shipbuilding on the Tyne was also a major source of employment. However, with the decline of these industries, Gateshead has attempted to re-invent itself. Although there are significant areas of deprivation in the borough, particularly in the centre and east, a number of towns and villages in the borough are popular with commuters and professionals who are employed in the service industry and well paid areas of secondary industry such as engineering (which remains a major source of employment). Such commuter areas include Ryton, Rowlands Gill, Whickham and Low Fell. The borough is host to Tyne Yard, a major rail freight yard serving the North East.
Gateshead Quayside, once dominated by industry, has benefited from significant investment and gentrification in the past decade. It is now home to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead.
The area is also an important retail hub, with the largest shopping centre in the European Union, and second largest in Europe as a whole, the MetroCentre, situated adjacent to the A1 trunk road. Further retail, and a significant number of engineering companies are located in the Team Valley Trading Estate, which at one time was the largest industrial estate in Europe.
Arts and CultureEdit
Gateshead is home to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead. The Anthony Gormley structure, the Angel of the North (the largest free standing sculpture in the United Kingdom) is within Gateshead. This puts Gateshead at the forefront of the arts both regionally and nationally.
The Shipley Art Gallery, housing outstanding collections of contemporary craft, studio ceramics, paintings and decorative art, is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Gateshead Council. Gateshead is a library authority and within its Central Library is a large venue facility called the Caedmon Hall.
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