Vote Jesmond 2016: Liberal Democrat candidates


Ahead of local elections on May 5th, and our Vote Jesmond 2016 elections hustings event on May 3rd, JesmondLocal is profiling each of the 10 candidates for councillor in North and South Jesmond. Completing our five days of profiles, the Liberal Democrats.


Gerry Keating has served as a councillor for nearly 32 years in various stints. Before reaching 23, he had graduated from Cambridge University and spent two years working on opencast coal sites. A politics and Latin teacher at Newcastle Royal Grammar School for 33 years from the age of 25, Keating also took an interest in athletics and particularly cross-country running. His first stint as a councillor lasted 26 years, “during which time I developed particular interest and expertise in transport, education and planning, as well as dealing with thousands of items of casework,” he explains.

Why the Liberal Democrats?

The “community politics” ideal appealed to me, but so did liberal concepts, both moral and constitutional.

What’s the biggest issue facing North Jesmond?

You would have to conduct an opinion poll to find this out as different people have different priorities. The virtual disappearance of young families from the terraces during the last 30 years continues to concern me a great deal. 

How would you get more people in Jesmond active?

You cannot and should not force people to be “active”. The ward has plenty of activities from Parkrun to fairly erudite discussion groups in which people can engage.

How would you support local independent businesses?

Editor’s note:  Gerry Keating did not provide an answer to this question.

How do you maintain a purpose in the community in light of council cuts?

A paradoxical response would be that cuts have an energising effect. The Pool and Library were shut by the Council, but they thrive through the help of volunteers.

How important are students to the local community, and how do you engage them with other residents?

Students come to study, to engage in student activities, and, indirectly, to grow up. They are preoccupied with themselves and their own generation. It was always thus and we should not worry about it.

How can we make Jesmond a more environmentally friendly place to live?

I am worried that some traffic schemes, especially the removal of the Blue House roundabout will force extra traffic on to some of our streets, especially Osborne Road.

How would you improve transport in Jesmond?

This has been a disastrous year for local Public Transport. Metro is well below its targets for reliability and punctuality and the current operator has decided not to try to renew its contract. A failed attempt to impose a “Quality Contract” on Bus operators has wasted £2.6 million and this is bound to hit “supported” bus services.

What other plans do you have for Jesmond?

Editor’s note:  Gerry Keating did not provide an answer to this question.

(introduction and interview by Megan Thrall)


Despite repeated requests for interview, Tom Woodwark has not yet made himself available to JesmondLocal.

(introduction and interview by Alice Gardiner)