Special Full Council Meeting 16th May – TA Contracts and Another top Management reorganisation

The Council has slotted in a special council meeting this coming month to debate two issues:

Firstly their plans to cut pay of teaching assistants by up to a quarter. We are yet to see the final proposal and will be discussing it in the next few weeks.

The second issue to be debated – and it is only 7 years overdue, is the re-re-re-restructuring of the senior management system at County Hall. For years we have pushed for a more slimlined top level. Finally it appears Labour may have listened. Had the Labour Party agreed with us all those years ago, we would now have had over a millions of pounds more to spend every year on frontline services – that is assuming the proposals we have yet to see make the changes we have previously recommended. They have repeatedly tinkered round the edges on this issue.

We will be looking closely at the plans for what we hope are fewer directors and heads of service to make sure that it is a proper, final reorganisation. I personally would like to see some of the money saved ploughed back into frontline services rather than simply added to reserves once again.

Stalled Brasside flood works back on track

The works at Brasside to improve the storm drains is continuing this week after rain delays the previous week. The work, part funded by the home office and part by our local neighbourhood budgets is set to cut flood risk on Beech Close. We have had to fight hard for residents to get this sorted for many years and I am pleased to see action quite literally on the ground thanks to our intervention.

Tindale Avenue Flytipping and rubbish finally sorted after further Lib Dem intervention

I was pretty unimpressed a couple of days ago when revisting South Terrace and Tindale Avenue to discover this:

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I had previously asked months ago for some of this to be shifted, then asked again a a month or so later, then two weeks ago on site with council officers I was given a date it would be shifted and it wasn’t. And of course it was even worse this week when I checked.

I am pleased to say that after elevating the issue and kicking up a fuss, the whole lot has now been cleared and in future I will not be so tolerant of such delays by the Council.

If anyone knows of any areas with flytipping and rubbish please let us know immediately so it doesn’t get out of hand, and if it isn’t shifted within a few days let us know again. We need to keep on top of such issues to make sure our area is kept clean and tidy.

Also if anyone knows who might be dumping rubbish anywhere let us know. The council can impose hefty fines on the culprits.

 

Pity Me Walkabout with Durham City Homes & Police

Yesterday with Councillor Simmons we did a walkabout with Durham City Homes (DCH) and the police.  This was part of DCHs estate walkabout program. We identified a number of different issues from residents including some untidy gardens, littering and comments about certain local anti-social behaviour issues which are currently being dealt with.

We also spoke to quite a few residents including about housing and fencing concerns which are being looked into.

We expect to be able to report on some further improvements in Pity Me in the coming months.

Finally – Action on flooded path near Vets for Pets

As your local councillors, over the last nine months or so we have repeatedly asked for action to fix the waterlogging of the main footpath from Newton Hall to Framwellgate Moor near where the cut through to Vets 4 Pets is. Repeatedly I was told it was volume of water from heavy rain, and that it needed to be monitored. We knew it was more than that – a complete lack of proper drainage. Amanda also raised the issue. Finally today on viewing how deep the water was we contacted the Head of Service at the Council. We now have confirmation that they are looking at installing a pavement drain to sort this out once and for all. Which, from what I recall is what I suggested was needed in the first place. Now we just need to keep an eye on how long it is going to take to get the work done.

Arnison Centre Litter

I had to send another email today to the owners and managers of the site. For months now I have been asking for them to clear up the treeline. The response was “yes”, then “we are arranging a new contract”, however with each month that passes it looks even worse. Here’s a pic near Marks and Spencer. Hopefully my latest email will spur them into action.

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streetlight removal in Northern Echo

As reported in today’s Northern Echo we are still really concerned about the A167 streetlight removal:

 

COUNCILLORS say turning out the lights alongside one of a county’s busiest roads would make the area unsafe for pedestrians.

Durham County Council plans to remove 35 street lights from a stretch of the A167 between Pity Me roundabout and Sniperley, on the northern outskirts of Durham City, over the summer.

The move comes amid a wider overhaul of street lights across County Durham, which has seen many lights removed and others dimmed overnight.

Back in 2013, the council said the changes would save £24m over the following 25 years, a total rising to £55m when inflation was taken into account.

But Mark Wilkes and Amanda Hopgood, Liberal Democrat county councillors for Framwellgate Moor and Newton Hall, say removing lights at the section in question would not be safe.

They claim the stretch has a joint cycle-footpath which is no more than 1.5m wide, narrower in places, and rarely maintained and they want safety improvements introduced before the lights go out.

Cllr Wilkes said: “We simply do not believe it is safe to remove all the lighting on this stretch without widening the shared cycle and footpath and providing a central refuge to get to public footpaths.

“I’ve been asking for years for the path to be improved and the council have again and again done nothing. If there are accidents along this stretch they will have themselves to blame.”

John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said the lights were being removed as part of an ongoing programme to reduce energy costs.

He said the “standard running costs” of the lights was more than £4,000 a year, not including “potential replacement costs going forward”.

In a statement, Mr Reed added: “Removing street lights is only considered where it is safe to do so, following a thorough risk assessment undertaken by an independent road safety auditor.”

Cllr Hopgood said: “Any suggestion that the council can’t afford to widen the path or install a refuge simply does not stack up.

The council can afford six communications departments, spent millions on the stretch from Durham to Spennymoor and have over £200m in reserves.

“They should delay removal until they have found the money for this improvement.”

Removing street lights from the A167 further south between Durham and Rushyford was controversial when it was announced last year and there have also been calls for lights to be reinstalled on the A692 between Consett and The Grove, where a 27-year-old motorist died last November.

 

1000th Post! And still getting things done for our area

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. This is my 1000th post. A few things we have done in the last few weeks.

Over the last few days we have arranged for a litter pick at Mere Drive and Bishops Way to clear in front and behind the hedgerow on the Front Road.

Also got two concrete blocks removed from the grass near the entrance to The Avenue.

And reported a number of damaged kerbs, potholes and footpath defects in Pity Me.

We are also taking up the issue of overgrown trees in the Parish Council run Pity Me Park on The Avenue where the conifers are huge and causing problems for householders.

Up in Framwellgate Moor we are working to get the paths near the Fire Station development cleared of mud and dirt from the site, having spoken to Avant homes and council officers about the mess.

Down in Brasside, the work to repair the main floodwater drain through Beech Close is starting after our intervention finally secured funding from the Home Office along with matched funding we have provided.

And across the area we are still delivering our survey to find out what residents think is important in our area. Please click the link here to have your say:

http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9VNSSW8

At Abbey Leisure Centre we can report that all the extra investment we secured, and the hard work of staff has helped user numbers get back to the highest levels seen for years. Its a great time to join up. Call in to get shown around and to get details of the latest courses and activities.

On Newton Hall, two new bus shelters have been installed following our discussion with officers, meaning that on Bek Road three shelters are now replaced  and a new one has been installed following our intervention.

Eden Road is now on the maps after we got street signs for the road, and numerous other signs along Bek Road have been replaced or installed at our request. We continue to report broken paving and footpath defects across the estate and the wider area we represent.

400 new trees have been planted in the grassed area between Caterhouse Road and Bek Road running from Vets 4 Pets towards Aykley Heads after we were successful in getting them from the Woodland Trust. The Eddy project we helped set up at Framwellgate School arranged the planting with students from the school.

On Wednesday we will be supporting council plans to introduce restrictions on the spread of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Durham City after securing the extension of the plans to our area – this will start shortly in Durham City and in our area next year thanks to our intervention.

Also on Wednesday we will be putting a motion to Full Council illustrating the benefits to County Durham of European Union membership which brings huge amounts of additional funding to the County and the wider North East.

And we are also working on much more at the moment to improve the area.

Available Durham City Homes Properties

The following DCH properties are currently available as of 4th April 2016

Ready to Let

Croxdale Windsor Court                                               1 x 1 bed Bungalow

Brandon Vicarage Flats                                     1 x 1 bed Ground Floor Flat

Stack Garth                                         1 x 3 bed House

Acorn place                                        1 x 1 bed Bungalow

High Pittington Church Vale                                        1 x 1 bed Bungalow

Ushaw Moor Laburnum Court                                 1 x 1 bed Bungalow

Carrville Magdalene Avenue                            1 x 1 bed Bungalow

Kelloe School Avenue                                               1 x 1 bed Bungalow

Morley Crescent                                 2 bed House

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