Overgrown paths in Pity Me and Framwellgate Moor

I have now had to complain at Director level about two paths in our area which every single year get ignored by the Council and become so overgrown that it is practically impossible to walk or cycle along them.

The first is from the Vauxhall Garage on Abbey Road to Rotary Way and is supposed to be a cycle path. Its a complete mess with rose bushes almost touching the ground in the middle. It once was 1.8m wide, now the path is barely visible in places.

Different council departments blame others for who is responsible and it seems to fall on Public Rights of Way who it appears do not have any money.

The other path is very well used and is the Old Wagon Way/Black Trod. About 7 years ago Miller Homes paid a substantial amount as part of the Meadows development of the old council depot to upgrade the path from Pity Me Oxley terrace, right across to Old Pit Lane, connecting Newton Hall with Fram and Pity Me. Every year I have to ask for it to be strimmed, and right now it is less than 50cm wide in places. Many residents like to push prams or cycle along here, or simply walk along it. The Council has never yet put it on a strimming program despite even the new Chief Exec being asked for action and the surface has now almost disappeared. Hopefully now that these are on this blog and have been elevated to the top of the Council we will see some action. If the council wants people to walk more and cycle, the least it can do is keep some of the most well used paths in our area passable.

Canterbury Road shops car park a complete mess

Littering mess in carpark and overgrown areas:


canterbury road undergrowth







On a check around the area this week we have noticed that once again the car park is a disgrace.

We arranged with the Council to have the whole area strimmed some months back, after finally managing to convince them that it was Council owned. A good job was done of clearing the undergrowth by our clean and green team.

Unfortunately the next stage of getting all the grass cleared off, reseeded and maintained hasn’t happened and now the whole area is a mess again. It is also full of litter and a real eyesore.

Carpark Surface

We have spoken with managers in the clean and green dept and they are going to redouble efforts to get the littering cleared and the clearance of the undergrowth sorted once and for all.

We will be checking this again in the next few weeks and will be back on to the Council if there isn’t an improvement. We are also contacting the highways department as the surface of the car park is rapidly deteriorating with all the weeds and many years of use. It really needs major patching or resurfacing work before it gets dangerous.

Two of many potholes in the car park:

canterbury road car park surface

Helmsley Road Footpath rebuilding starts

Work on Helmsley Road cul-de-sac has started this week to remove flag stone paths and drive entrances and replace with tarmac/bitmac footpaths and entrance drives. The area has some of the worst paths in Newton Hall and we have repeatedly asked for action from the Council. Thankfully they have agreed with us and the area should look much better when it is completed in the next week or so.


Pity Me estate resurfacing success

Residents on The Avenue, Hudspeth Crescent and Hartside have a fully resurfaced road thanks to our constant pressure for action. The drain gullies will shortly be raised to complete the works.

The roads have been in a bad state of repair for some time. We had to elevate previous complaints to the Director for Neighbourhoods who ensured some urgent patching work was carried out a year or two ago, but thankfully our repeated requests for action have been successful and the whole estate has now got a much better road surface.

Another Lib Dem success for our area.

County Plan issues and options report to Cabient next week along with Sustainable transport plan (including Northern Relief Road) and Air Quality Action Plan

The first leg of the consultation on the County Plan starts next week.

Previously the Council simply published what it wanted and called it a consultation. This time they are providing options for consideration. The cynical will say they have already made up their minds and this time they are simply making sure the consultation appears to be above board.

The only way we can be sure that we get a better Plan for County Durham and for the Durham City area is for everyone to get involved and put across their views.

What I am absolutely certain of is that developers and land owners will inundate the consultation process with calls for huge housing developments around Durham City.

Collectively all residents must respond to this consultation making it known that we need a sustainable plan for the future which doesn’t flood the area with over-development of the greenbelt.

In addition to the plan there are two really important  reports also going to Cabinet – Sustainable Transport Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan.

I have been campaigning for the Council to get its act together on Air Quality for many years – they have failed catastrophically thus far, with an Air Quality Management Order being in place on the City for many years. Indeed were it not for the continued pressure from Lib Dem councillors I don’t think any plan would exist.

The second additional report is the Sustainable Transport Strategy. which includes recommendations for a Northern Relief Road. This very much links in with the pollution issues and the wider County Plan.

You can find the various documents going to Cabinet at this link:


We will be commenting in due course on all of this in more detail. With links to the Consultation pages.

Abbey Leisure Centre – Extended hours in July and Free thrive membership

Next week – Monday 13th June to Sunday 19th June, all visitors who are not currently members can sign up for a Thrive Card ( usually £5 ) for free.

This entitles you to  20% discount on a range of activities, including group exercise classes, swimming sessions at Freemans Quay, squash court hire, sauna/steam room use.

More info at: www.durham.gov.uk/thrivecard

Also, in July, the leisure centre will have extended opening hours between 4th July and 17th July. This is due to work being done at Chester le Street leisure centre. The opening hours will be:

Monday 7.30am-10pm

Tuesday 8.30am-10pm

Wed 7.30am-10pm

Thurs 7.30am-10pm

Fri 7.30am-9.30pm

Sat/Sun 8am-6.30pm

Lib Dem Councillors intervene over Durham Accident and Emergency expansion

Following the release of plans for a new expanded Accident and Emergency Department at Durham’s University Hospital, as local councillors we have been forced to intervene.

We did not get notification of the plans, this despite the fact the hospital borders our area and it is residents in our area who will be most affected. I also discovered not a single local residents was to be notified of the proposals either. In addition, the application from Durham and Darlington NHS Trust did not include a travel plan.

The council wasn’t  consulting with a single local resident in the surrounding area, despite this having a massive impact on residents.

We felt this was wholly unacceptable misjudgement by Labour-run Durham County Council.

For many years parking problems have plagued the area due to lack of space at the hospital and excessive charges for staff and visitors.

Following our intervention, the Head of Planning at Durham County Council has confirmed that residents across a wide area will now receive letters about the application.

We raised further concerns about the fact the Travel plan for the new A and E was not submitted with the application and would not have been seen until after the end of the consultation period. The plan will now be submitted in the next two weeks so that we can comment on it within the consultation period.

We also contacted the press about our concerns – some comments made below:

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Lib Dem group leader said that submitting the travel plan after the end of the consultation period was “completely unacceptable” and would leave residents thinking there was “a rabbit away” believing the impact on the surrounding area must be addressed. Also commenting to the press she said “We fully support having an excellent A&E facility but we must see a robust plan to deal with the horrendous lack of parking at the hospital.”

The use of the A and E has doubled and is set to rise by over 30% over the coming decade according to the hospitals’ plans for a new Accident and Emergency building.

Amanda further commented “I am not convinced that this application offers anywhere near enough parking provision.”

“We were told previously that a multi story carpark was being considered. That is not in the plans. We will be analysing the travel plan when it appears and may have to challenge it at committee.”

Again Durham Council has accepted failings in the process and confirmed that a travel plan will now be submitted within the consultation period.

Cllr Mamie Simmons commented “We felt that the public in Durham were being ignored by the Council and the Hospital Trust in respect of this application. This doesn’t bode well for the future.

“Hospital parking is causing issues up to half a mile from the site. It causes serious disruption for residents and businesses.”

I believe hospital staff have never had their parking concerns adequately addressed by the Trust. Parking charges are considered excessive for visitors and staff and the nearby park and ride is near capacity.

Many streets around the hospital have had residents only parking installed, and the concern is that this will have to be extended even further out from the hospital at additional cost to residents.

We are also commenting that there has been large increase in complaints about the over-use of ambulance sirens in the area and that this could be further exacerbated by the expansion if proper procedures are not put in place – to clarify sirens do not need to be on at all times, only where there is a safety concern. Some residents believe that sirens are being used when there are no other road users or pedestrians around and are therefore unnecessary.

You can comment on the application by writing to the Council at County Hall, quoting reference:  DM/16/01417/FPA

To view the application click here. Note that the travel plan has not yet been uploaded.

Dozens of potholes, pavement defects, blocked drains and damaged kerbs reported by your Lib Dem councillors

Over the last few months we have been out and about noting problems across the area. In addition, our surveys have been coming back in and we have been reporting the problems you have identified. Many of these have already been fixed following our intervention, more are still to be done. We also know there will be other local issues not reported yet. Please let us know about any potholes, pavement defects, streetlights not working, blocked drains or broken kerbstones or anything else you feel is affecting the look of the area.

Streets where we have recently reported problems include: Newton Drive, Gray Av, Winchester Rd, Hylton Rd, Aykley Vale, St Cuthberts Av, Front Street in Pity Me and Framwellgate Moor and Old Pit Lane to name a few.

Big tree update – Sadly its too badly rotten to save

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 12.45.09


The tree near Pullmans Volkswagen we thought could be saved last week is rotten right through and is being taken down today by the Council’s tree surgeons. It had been hoped it could be saved last week when it was inspected, but the inside is just too rotten and there is a risk it could be blown over in heavy wind.

The council has agreed to plant a number of trees to replace it, but obviously losing an 80 year old Ash tree is a terrible shame.