County Plan update

Full Council 17th September 2014

Today, a report goes to full council to approve the addition of 86 comments into the County Plan submission which were “overlooked” previously. As most people know, most public comments have been ignored throughout this process, but the report makes for interesting reading as it is clear that if you are a developer, your comments are taken very seriously. So the Developers Charter that is the County Plan marches on.

Interesting reading for those who have been following the County Plan. The report says at one point that any requests for greenbelt land to be erased are being passed to the examiner. We can only hope that those views against destroying the countryside are also equally considered.

Website hits pass 550,000!

I was checking the stats this week and suddenly realised that this site has now had more than half a million hits. I will update the hit counter page today. Thank you to everyone who reads the site and emails me comments off the back of it. We are currently delivering our quarterly leaflet (a bit late this year), to make sure that everyone including those not online get to know about what we are doing in the local area. If by next week you haven’t received a copy please do let us know in case we missed a few houses.

Newton Hall Post office Update

We have discovered there have been significant responses to the consultation on proposals to downgrade the post office.

The consultation ended last week into plans to move Newton Hall Post Office into a neighbouring business. The branch would be downgraded from a Mains to Local which would see reduced staffing and services.
Yesterday I contacted Consumer Futures, which is part of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. They are responsible for independently assessing Post Office branch changes.
I was really concerned as to whether or not they were receiving all the relevant data. I also wanted to raise various concerns about the consultation process. What I was told was that they were looking very carefully at the comments put forward by ourselves and residents. They were aware of the publicity in the Northern Echo and the community and had received far more than the average number of responses to a consultation of this type.”
As local councillors we are committed to making sure that we retain a Mains branch for Newton Hall. I am reassured by the comments from the CAB that they are looking very closely at the proposals and their impact on the local area.”
Online and paper petitions with more than 1000 signatures have been added to the consultation process. Possible options which could come out of the consolation are the protection of the Mains status, the re-running of the consultation or for the proposals to stand.I have been told that because of the number of responses, the findings of the consultation may only be known in November, although it is hoped a response will come earlier.
The petition will remain online for residents to sign until the outcome of the consultation is known.

Council Houses currently available

The properties below are available for rent with Durham City Homes. Some may be bing renovated others will be available immediately. This is not the complete list of available properties as homes come available every week. It is a list of properties the Council is currently promoting where there hasn’t been as much interest. Contact the Council or visit

If you have any problems registering with the council so that you can bid for properties get in touch with one of us and we will try to help. Councillors cannot influence who receives a particular property, but we can check that you are in the correct banding and take up issues if you feel you are not being treated fairly.

Current available properties:

Brandon Read more »

Clothing allowance – Official: Lib Dem success getting it scrapped

Interesting story about the Labour Clothing allowance in the Northern Echo today. Whilst we told residents that this was being scrapped a while ago. Official confirmation in the press.

Of course the chairman still gets a whopping great £6650 chairmans allowance pls £13300 for being a councillor, and can claim expenses instead of the clothing allowance, so they are not hard up by any means. Good old Labour socialists eh? Labour councillors claimed the £12000 clothing allowances for the chair and vice chair for 30 years without anyone knowing about it until we unearthed it by accident after looking at the cost of councillors.

Perhaps those chairmen still alive who claimed this behind closed doors should consider a donation to a local charity which helps struggling families with cheap or free clothing.


I spent four hours this afternoon walking around Pity Me delivering leaflets and chatting to residents. Plenty of casework to deal with – mainly footpath issues.

Get in touch if you have any concerns.

Big campaign about to start against dog fouling in the village, led by your local councillors please contact us if you have details about a specific person causing problems with their dog, or about a particular location where there is a dog poo problem.


Your labour-run council is going ahead with taking a million pounds out of the local economy and charging households £20 to take away your garden waste.

Our press release of last week which was not published in the papers:

Durham County Council, with £165m in reserves is pressing ahead with a charge for garden waste collections. The Council will start sending out letters to residents this Friday.
The Council, which despite increasing its reserves, says it is cash strapped, wants to charge residents £20 for the service. The garden waste collection service currently provides 16 free fortnightly collections for more than 150,000 households between April and November. Introducing a charge means that the service would be substantially funded by those using the service and according to the council would save it £933,000. Residents in some areas not currently receiving the service will be able to apply, but a small number of households across the County will lose the right to get the service even if they want to pay for it.
Lib Dem Councillor Mark Wilkes (Framwellgate and Newton Hall) branded the charge a Garden Tax which will hit the lowest paid the hardest saying “Labour is simply not considering the repercussions of this proposal. In some poorer areas and on some Council housing estates this is going to cause real problems.”
“People are paying more in this county for council tax than in most parts of the country. Labour doubled council tax when in government. The Coalition has frozen council tax for five years, giving the Council the money to cover for inflation. Labour refused this money from the government this year and now intends to fleece Durham residents. This will hit low and middle income families and many will simply not pay it.
Councillor Wilkes believes the savings are an illusion as many residents will start to use their general rubbish bin for garden waste. This will massively increasdisposal charges. He says that Labour Head of Scrutiny Councillor Joe Armstrong said in a meeting last year that residents could do just this. Councillors are also concerned that there will be a significant increase in fly tipping adding further costs to the council budget.
Last year when the proposal was announced, Lib Dem councillors previously suggested scrapping the position of Chief Exec as a means of helping to fund the service.
Cllr Wilkes said of this “The council is paying out over a quarter of a million pounds to employ one person, why not cut this so people don’t have to stop cutting their hedges. At the very least, with so much money in reserves the Council could delay implementation of this policy for another year to look for alternatives.


Last day to send your comments on Newton Hall Post Office

Tomorrow is the last day to comment on the proposed downgrade and move of the Post Office. Email [email protected] with reference 23131399 to tell them we want to keep a main post office in Newton Hall.

Sign the petition at:

Cracking reopening at Indoor Bowling centre

I attended the reopening of the Indoor Bowling Centre in Pity Me on Saturday.

Amanda (Councillor Hopgood)  bowled the first balls, and didn’t do to badly for a beginner. We have used local neighbourhood funding to help the centre lower the ceilings, to cut energy bills and improve lighting. The transformation will save thousands of pounds a year in energy bills and help make the centre more sustainable. In addition the centre has replaced the near 20 year old bowling carpet, making it one of the best facilities in the Country.

The club has over 700 members, has a room which can be hired out, has frequent social events and a bar. You don’t have to be a bowler to join, so why not pop down and see what is going on.

You might not think it but indoor bowling is actually very good exercise as Amanda can testify.

The club is round the back of Abbey Leisure Centre.


Leisure Centre Boost

Your Lib Dem councillors continue to work to improve Abbey Leisure Centre. Just a few short years ago Labour tried to close the centre. The hard work of local councillors and users stopped this. Since then we have seen a massive improvement in the centre with great new facilities. We have now secured even more
funding for the main entrance area to be refurbished, and are working on plans to get sauna and shower facilities upgraded too. Pop along to the centre and find out about all the exciting things going including for under 16’s.