Labour, aided by a couple of Tories today refused to agree to pay the living wage. The Northern Echo explains it in pretty accurate details.

Fortunately from September, residents can record council meetings, so the true depths of Labour incompetence will be visible to all!


Northumbrian Water is to carry out major works lasting up to 6 moths in Newton Hall, to improve capacity and reduce flood risk. As part of these works your Lib Dem councillors have been in discussions, and new play facilities are to be provided after the works have been completed, at Salisbury Road where a large holding tank is to be installed underground.

More details on Northern Echo site:

Dryburn Road Set for resurfacing

We have been successful as our local county councillors in securing work to get Blackie Boy Roundabout and Dryburn Road fully resurfaced. The money has come from additional funding provided by the Coalition Government. Work is due to start on 30th August.

Major Road Patching Works in Pity Me

For quite some time we have been working to get improvements to roads in certain areas. We have now managed to get some major patching works done in Pity Me, after extensive requests. Bishops Way and The Orchard were done a few months back. In the last week Hudspeth Crescent, The Avenue and parts of Woodbine Road have been repaired after I intervened when it became apparent the work was not down to be done any time soon.

Living Wage Vote for Council Staff – Press release

Durham County Council will vote on a proposal by Lib Dem councillors to pay the living wage at July’s Full Council meeting.

Lib Dem councillors will call for a named vote on the proposals so that residents across the County will be able to “hold their councillor to account for their actions”.

Durham’s unitary authority is spending over £440 million each year, and the cost to introduce the living wage of £7.65 an hour would be just £500,000, a tiny fraction of the overall budget of the council.

The Council currently has over £100m in reserves.

Framwellgate Moor and Newton Hall Councillor Mark Wilkes, who will propose the change. says:

“We have waited a year since supporting a study into the introduction of the living wage. It’s long enough to wait. This council has over £100 million pounds in reserves, and for the next couple of years it can use less than one percent of these to pay staff a proper salary. This will give the Council time to find the efficiencies needed to cover the cost.”

Last Thursday, staff held a one day strike over pay at local authorities up and down the country including in Durham. At many authorities staff are already paid the living wage, but some local authority staff, according to unions, are still being paid as little as £6.75 an hour. The living wage is set each year by an independent body and for areas outside London it is currently £7.65 an hour. Unions have long demanded the living wage should be paid as an absolute minimum. Many private companies now also pay the living wage, with international company Nestle one of the most recent to announce its support.  But whilst the Labour Party appears to have decided that the living wage should be part of its policy, locally Durham’s Labour-run council has so far failed to act to increase the pay of its lowest paid workers.

Lib Dem Councillor Richard Ormerod (Elvet and Gilesgate) says of this:

“The Labour Party talks about being for the low paid, but when it comes to acouncil they run, they have not stepped up to the mark. Low paid staff can’t wait any longer.”

Cllr Wilkes added:

“As one of the biggest employers in the North East, Durham County Council can send out a message to all employers that they should be paying the living wage. But to do that it must show that it is doing so itself.”

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, Lib Dem group leader says the Lib Dems will call for a named vote at full council on Wednesday 23rd July saying:

“We can’t continue to pay people less than the cost to live. When some senior officers are earning £140,000 a year and the Chief Exec is paid over £200,000 it is morally unacceptable to refuse to pay hard working staff the living wage. “Every councillor will have their vote recorded so residents know exactly what they stand for.”

The Liberal Democrats nationally have secured income tax cuts of £800 forthe lowest paid in the Coalition Government. They want to go further with a target of no one on the minimum wage paying income tax. The planned council vote also includes a call on government to increase the minimum wage (currently £6.31) to the level of the living wage as soon as possible. Full Council meetings are open to the public and start at 10am.


Durham County Council resolves

a) to become a Living Wage Employer at the earliest possible opportunity and no later than the start of the next financial year,

b) to use these positive steps to promote the introduction of the Living Wage for all County Durham employees in both the public and private sector,and

c) to urge the government to increase the minimum wage to the level of the living wage as soon as is practicable.

Watering Flower Tubs

Around Pity Me, Brassside and Framwellgate Moor we have 20 flower tubs, which I arranged to be put in place some years ago. Over the years I have had to find funding to keep these going, but this year, given the financial conditions and following chats to the council and local residents I have taken a different approach.

Some residents have planted out tubs themselves – Thank you! The rest I have personally been out and planted after getting a great deal from Finchale Training College for flowers.

Many residents have agreed and have already been helping with watering the tubs, but there are a few we still need help with along Finchale Road in Framwellgate Moor, so if you live nearby and see any of the plants wilting in the heat and live nearby , please help by giving them a drink – water of course.

In the meantime I am popping round with a big tub of water and keeping those not currently watered by residents in good health.


Several years ago I found out that the council planned to carry out modernisations to housing on Caterhouse Road – but only in 2016. This was simply unacceptable, so we requested as local Lib Dem councillors that work be carried out earlier. The great news is that work has been brought forward, and that Durham City Homes is doing a great job to modernise housing on Caterhouse Road and Lilac Avenue too.

Work is progressing quickly and we are confident that work to modernise on Hudspeth Crescent in Pity Me may well be done earlier after further discussions by your Lib Dem councillors. Well done to all the staff at Durham City Homes.

Labour Council’s broken promise on Bowling Clubs

When I was the councillor for Witton Gilbert, up until the boundary changes last year, I spent a great deal of time helping the bowling club.

Just two years ago the council announced that it would invest £350,000 in bowling club infrastructure and that this would be spent in 2012 and 2013. They didn’t spend ONE PENNY of this and facilities have continued to deteriorate across the county as a result. Last week the Echo ran an article on it:

The moral – don’t trust Labour run councils.

Community Centre transfer – Hurrah!

For the past few weeks I have been working on numerous council issues and can now get back to updating on the blog.

After four years of hard work it is great that the community centre at Fram now has a long term future.

Back when Labour threatened to close the centre I was livid and started work on making sure that closure would not happen.

First of all I managed to get the car park fully resurfaced, with some drainage work thrown in for good measure. Then we put in funding to get new windows in the centre.

Since then your Lib Dem councillors have supported groups using the Centre and the announcement yesterday of the transfer of the Centre to the Committee frees up £37,000 towards improvements which has come from your three local Lib Dem councillors local councillors Nieghbourhood Budgets (Mamie, Amanda and I) and the AAP. This money will help to improve the inside of the building including finishing off windows.

The Council after a lot of discussions will now spend £200,000 on major repairs to the roof, brickwork and heating system so that the centre has a long term future and the building, an iconic structure on the Front Street is protected.

I am proud of having helped save the facility for the future and really impressed with all the members of the community association past and present who have done a sterling job too including Colin Hillary the Chairman.

In addition, after the initial attempts by the Labour-run Council to close the centre, the work of council staff cannot be underestimated, many of them going far beyond that expected to help get us to this point.

It was all this effort which proved to Labour that we were not going to lie down and see our community infrastructure destroyed by Labour politicians, and I believe this made the powers that be recognise that they had to help, not dismantle local community facilities in our area.

A bright future for Framwellgate Moor Community Centre starts now. Please call in to the centre to see what’s going on, join one of the various groups or get in touch to join the committee – all are welcome and going forward it will be the place to be seen in Framwellgate Moor as the next phase – Expansion, begins in the coming months and years. Hurrah!

Cabinet to decide on plans for Durham City

This link will take you to what the Cabinet will decide next week.

It includes the Durham City Masterplan which apparently all residents have been consulted on. In addition plans to regenerate North Road, plans to start charging you for collecting your garden waste – yes on top of the £1000-£3000 council tax you pay them.

Cabinet is at Crook next week – premumably not because Cabinet doesn’t want any Durham City residents turning up?