Borrow a bike for free for three months to commute to work

Cpuncil press release:

A free bike loan scheme supporting workers to save money and travel healthier is being rolled out across County Durham. 

Following the success of a pilot in Shildon last year, our Borrow a Bike scheme has now launched at Abbey Sports Centre in Pity Me, Durham, as part of Cycle September.

Travel actively and sustainably

Open to anyone who lives or works in Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Newton Hall and Brasside, it aims to support people returning to their workplace to travel actively and sustainably and improve their health and wellbeing.

The scheme offers residents a complimentary bike loan for three months alongside equipment, training and support for those wishing to improve their skills and confidence.

It is the first of four more sites set to open in the coming months, with the roll-out being funded as part of our action plan to tackle the Climate Emergency.

Borrow a Bike will also be further developed to include a wider range of bikes and more facilities at the collection and storage points.

‘A great way to improve physical health and mental wellbeing’

Physical activity officer, Stephen Clough, sustainable travel officer Victoria Lloyd-Gent and Cllr Mark Wilkes at the roll-out of the Borrow a Bike scheme

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “It is fantastic that more residents across County Durham are able to take part in the Borrow a Bike scheme. As part of our commitment to protecting the environment, we are determined to offer more sustainable travel options. Proven carbon savings were made in the pilot scheme in Shildon so I would strongly encourage residents to take up the offer and commute sustainably more widely across the county.”

Riverbanks and Weir Clean up

I have been working for several months since taking over the portfolio for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change to put in place improvements to our River banks. I’m delighted that works are now starting.

Here’s the Council pressed release detailing the work to be done:

Areas along Durham City’s riverbanks will be cleared of debris as works begin this week to improve the area for visitors.River Wear maintenance 2

Maintenance work begins around the River Wear

We will be working with Durham Cathedral to carry out a series of works to improve the safety and appearance of the public pathways along the River Wear.

Path maintenance

The work includes cutting back trees and vegetation that is overhanging areas of the footpaths, and clearing the paths of mud, leaves and debris. Fences along the river walk will also be scrubbed and repainted.

To prevent water pooling along the paths, our find and fix team will also be digging out channels to alleviate excess water and clearing out any holes in the brickwork for water to run into the river.

River debris

In addition to this, we will be working under the guidance of the Environment Agency to clear the River Wear of debris that has built-up across its weirs, particularly the lower weir at Milburn Gate.

This includes a small-scale hand clearance of debris and ensuring the fish pass is clear. However some areas of the river, such as the upper weir near Floss Mill, will be left intact as it is known to be home to otters.

Protecting species

Otters have been returning to the River Wear after the natural population declined in County Durham between the 1950s and 1980s, and it is hoped that the population of the species will continue to increase.

To protect the otters, we will be carrying out ecological assessments to ensure that any works carried out do not disturb the animals or the area where the otter’s holt resides.

Attractive city

Cllr Mark Wilkes, our Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We want to ensure that our city is a clean, tidy and attractive place for both residents and visitors.

“We have a beautiful walk along our river which so many enjoy, so we want to ensure it remains safe to use while preserving the iconic views of the river, the city, and historic landmarks which can be seen from these paths.

“We will be carrying out significant ecology reports to ensure that the population of otters in the River Wear will not be affected by the works to the weirs, and we are working with all partners such as Durham Cathedral and the Environment Agency to bring forward this plan to improve the area for visitors.”

Review of Labour’s Sands Palace underway plus Reopening of DLI and New Leisure Strategy to invest in Abbey Leisure Centre and other sites

Along with my Cabinet colleagues we will report back next week on a review of all options for the new building.

The report can be found along with other papers for Cabinet at

https://democracy.durham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=13152

If you wish to attend the meeting, contact democraticservices@durham.gov.uk immediately as there will be limited space. Alternatively using the link above on the day you should be able to watch the meeting live via Youtube.

The meeting starts at 9.30am and is being held in the Council Chamber at County Hall. Masks are expected to be worn when you are stood up but can be removed once seated and chairs are spread out to meet Covid safety guidelines.

At this meeting we will also approve the next steps towards reopening of the DLI building, as well as confirming a significant investment in to Abbey Leisure Centre to make it fit for the future.

Consultation is set to follow on the leisure strategy however we are also working hard to get work done on the ground quickly as residents have already waited many years under the previous administration for this work to start.

New footpath link proposed in Newton Hall

We are proposing to upgrade the current grass and mud path running from Old Pit Lane/Finchale Road to Litchfield Road.

This will be with a windstone grit surface the same as the path around the nature reserve in Pity Me. It will be three metres wide.

Please email us your support for this proposal.

We will be using funding from s106 money (development money), Area Action Partnership funding and some of our local neighbourhood budget.

Picture of the proposals below.

Weed removal and ground maintenance

Back in April/May under the previous administration there were problems with weed spraying on our roads and pavements and around obstacles. This meant that large areas were untreated.

Since the election it has become apparent that this is a problem in our area and a number of other areas.

We are now directing resources to address this issue which has seen many streets full of weeds, particularly at the kerbsides and between flag stones on paths.

If there is an issue on your street or a particular location please let us know, however we are working around the area and your local Lib Dem councillors are personally checking every street.

We are determined to make sure that our area is looked after to the highest standards and certainly to a better standard than under the previous Labour administration.

Sniperley Development Plans – CDL LLP jump the gun!

Many residents may have received a leaflet from Co. Durham Land LLP in the last few days about a consultation on proposals for the development plans on the “Sniperley” area which were approved in the County Plan.

This development is subject to a requirement for a full master plan to have been drawn up and approved before planning applications are submitted.

As with Bellway, who are developing the remaining part of this site, Co. Durham Land LLP has jumped the gun.

With no master plan in place, no transport evaluation, nothing in effect available yet to view, I find it unacceptable for the developer to have commenced consultation. Indeed on their consultation site they are presupposing a whole raft of things.

I would urge residents to visit their website at www.sniperleyparkcommunity.com and make it very clear that it is unacceptable to be jumping the gun like this. At the same time I feel it is worth making clear that this development must be a carbon neutral development with a full sustainable transport plan in place, something which they make no mention of in their leaflet.

Abbey Road Community Speedwatch

Following on from the speedwatches last week I have joined the police this morning on Abbey Road for another round of speedwatches.

Six drivers will be getting letters from police for exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 miles an hour.

Please follow the speed limit. The injuries caused to pedestrians by a vehicle at speeds over 30mph can be fatal.

Sniperley developers jump the gun

The two groups planning to build the new housing site at Sniperley have jumped the gun. One, Bellway has already started a consultation and the other is about to.

Neither has any right to start these consultations as a comprehensive master plan has not yet been agreed. Our view is therefore that if anyone receives a consultation letter they should write back telling the developers that what they are doing is unacceptable and they should wait until a formal master plan has been published for consultation by the Council.

Community Speedwatch and Speed surveys in Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me and Brasside

This morning I carried out speedwatches with the police in Framwellgate Moor and Pity Me. I had requested these after residents raised concerns.

In Pity Me, the formal speedwatch found 10 drivers out of 180 speeding who will receive warning letters from the police. This is at lower levels than previously recorded which is good, and suggests the cycle lanes and 20mph in Fram may have helped reduce speeds.

However our speed survey in the new 20mph zone on Framwellgate Moor Front Street was not as positive. A significant number of drivers were driving over 20mph. This will be fed in to our ongoing consultation on future regeneration of the Front Street as it is clear further measures are going to be required to get the speeds down to 20mph.

We urge everyone to cut their speeds and stay within the speed limits set. They are there for a reason.

Please also let us know what you would like to see improved on Framwellgate Moor Front St and at the other shopping areas at Beech Road, Priory Rd, Alnwick Road /Carr House Drive, and Canterbury Road,

Brasside Speedwatch

Yesterday the police carried out a speedwatch on Finchale Road into Brasside. Only two drivers in an hour period were recorded at 35mph or over, a significant reduction in speeding, almost certainly as a result of the new traffic lights we have had installed to improve pedestrian access. We will be feeding this information in to our Highways team as they consider the long term options for the lights.