£343,000 being spent on Northern Relief Road survey

As part of the proposals in the County Plan, the Northern Relief Road (NRR) has split opinions in our area.

A Durham resident asked a question at full Council this week about the cost of the survey works. The response is below.

My biggest concern with this is there has been no evaluation of other routes prior to carrying out this survey. Any sane organisation would have looked at all possible routes, drawn up a report on them and THEN and only then considered survey work on the preferred route – ideally after consultation with the public.

This is where this element of the County Plan is seriously flawed. It may well be that the NRR route they propose is the best option but to not even go through the due diligence stinks of arrogance.

I asked for a report to be compiled on all the possible route options and we await for that report to come forward, however I expect there will be comments raised when the final County Plan is announced and when it is discussed at the inquiry – could be egg on the Council’s face again if they don’t get it right second time around.

Council response:

 

Question:

Since early this year, extensive ground investigations have been underway along the route of a proposed northern relief road for Durham City. What is the cost or projected cost of this work and, secondly, what was the cost of such work a few years ago for a projected western relief road?

RESPONSE
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Clark for the question.
We are currently completing a significant exercise to test the ground conditions along the length of the proposed Durham Northern Relief Road. This work is essential if we want to bid for national funding to deliver this critical element of infrastructure. The works will see the sinking of over 70 trial holes and boreholes, some up to 90 meters deep, as well as monitoring over a 3 month period. Although the works are not fully complete it is expected that the final cost of the work will be £343,000.
A similar exercise undertaken previously along the length of the Western Relief Road previously cost £273,000.
The Draft Durham City Sustainable Transport Plan is clear that the long term transport strategy for the city centre is dependent on the ability to provide more space for people travelling on foot, by bike and bus. This is impossible to achieve without a new crossing of the River Wear which provides an alternative to Milburngate Bridge. It is this additional crossing that is provided by the Northern Relief Road.
Providing the Relief Road not only allows extra space in the City for pedestrians, cyclists, bus users it will also create significant air quality benefits by removing unnecessary slow moving and standing traffic and allow the City to function as the economy grows.
Displacing non-essential car trips away from the city centre will also encourage residents and visitors to use active travel and public transport when travelling into the city at peak hours, rather than taking the car into the city.
The Northern Relief Road is a longstanding proposal to improve the road network around Durham City. The principle was established by the Inspector of the 1979 County Durham Structure Plan which stated that a Northern link road ‘will improve the link between Consett and the A1 (M) at Carrville and together with a Western Relief Road, reduce traffic congestion through the city centre. The road was also safeguarded in the City of Durham Local Plan 2004 and had been incorporated in the latest consultation on the Durham Plan.
The improvements resulting from the provision of a Norther Relief Road will have major benefits for the cultural and historic environment of the city, making it a much more pleasant place to work, shop and visit and having direct benefits to the built fabric and public realm of the city including the World Heritage Site and safeguarding the City as a premier economic asset.

 

Well done! Council Clean and Green Team in rapid response to dangerous trees

Yesterday afternoon I contacted our Clean and Green Manager about a dangerous tree at the entrance to the Arnison Centre. There could have been a serious accident as it was leaning at 45 degrees towards the road and was only held up by a sign.

The team was out and had the whole tree down and removed and the access fully open again astonishingly quickly. All credit to them. They also made safe another tree in Newton Hall and were called out to countless other problems across the area.

Hopefully we won’t have to deal with this again but if you do spot a dangerous tree contact the Council immediately and let us know.

Arnison Centre update

Various issues have been raised with the company managing the retail centre, some going back over a year. We have chased an update from them regarding these issues: My comments followed by their answers below.

1. The area to the rear of Costa has had a skip there for months, being used for general waste. It has no cover and when it’s windy it blows out. There is a rat problem in this area.
This skip has been removed and I have received the waste transfer note to confirm this.
2. In the same area the road wasn’t designed right and a big stretch of verge which was planted up very nicely when first done has been mud since just after the pods/work was done.
We are aware of this and unfortunately this is due to the occupiers service lorries reversing over this area and damaging the planted shrubs. We have obtained a quote to move the kerb back but due to the large cost of these works we have to increase the budget to allow us to proceed with this. We need to see if we have the funds to proceed with this in the new year once the service charge has been reconciled.
3. Other parts of the site have areas where planting has disappeared or is dead.
We are aware of these and it is unfortunate that people decide to walk over the new planting and as a result it dies off. We have spent £3,500 replanting the shrubs along the Greggs and Costa pod at the end of June. We tendered our landscaping contract in June this year and the new contractor is meeting myself and our facilities manager on site next week to review what others areas we need to concentrate on.
4. The kerb near Marks and Spencer which I reported over a year ago as dangerous has now had cones on it for over six months.
If you are referring to the attached photo I had asked the original contractor to review this and move the kerb back. I will follow this up.
5. The zebra crossing point next to KFC has no crossing markings (worn off) and has now been like this for a year.
We are relining all of the Mercia car park and placed the order with our contractor on 7th September to complete over £3k of works.
6. Still no bins.
We are reviewing whether these are required.
7. Still no seating.
We have decided on the seating and obtained quotes. We need to review all the leases on the park as some of the retailers have exclusion and visibility zones that need to be considered and could alter the preferred location for the seating.

// We are following up on some of these answers but it is good to see some movement on these issues. If you have any other issues with the retail park or any other shopping areas please do let us know.

Abbey Road parking

We are currently working to address some problems in the Pity Me area around Smithfield and Abbey Road. The success of some of the businesses has increased the number of vehicles in the area. This has resulted in some pretty dangerous and inconsiderate parking, but we are on the case and are working with the businesses and the Council to get as quick a resolution as possible.

Cones, warnings and tickets at Newton Drive

Our push to improve safety and behaviour took a new direction this morning. I requested traffic cones from the Council and they dropped some off. I personally coned off the pavements around the school entrance near the doctors this morning after being  pretty unimpressed with the behaviour of those picking up children from the school.

We will continue to monitor the situation, with the Council’s parkingwardens going out as well as the police to enforce proper behaviour – I counted 24 cars fully or partly blocking the pavement at the start of the week and had to witness a disabled person walking in the road to try and get to the doctors surgery.

 

Framwellgate Moor Litter Fines

Following our request for action on Front Street at lunchtimes, we have had neighbourhood wardens and the police in the area. At least one student has now received a fixed penalty notice for littering and if things don’t improve further, its likely more will follow. Our approach is zero tolerance to anti-social behaviour in this area and we will continue to challenge in all ways possible to keep the area clean and free of problems. If you see anything which concerns you please do let us know.

Cracking down on antisocial behaviour in Framwellgate Moor

Following discussions with Durham Constabulary, they are doing extra patrols in the Framwellgate Moor area Around Front Street and near New College to help stop anti-social behaviour issues at the start of the new college term, as well as general anti-social behaviour in the area. If you spot anything you do not feel is appropriate behaviour please contact the police 101 number or let us know and we will do our best to tackle it.

Inconsiderate parking and driving behaviour on Newton Drive

Could all parents of children and students attending Framwellgate Moor Primary School and Framwellgate School Durham please bear in mind that Newton Drive and the roads around it are residential areas and that there are a lot of young people around. You’d think this was obvious but the behaviour of some people at the start of the new school year is less than acceptable. Blocking pavements and drives, parking on school zigzags, driving without due care and attention are all being clamped down on. This is now a 20mph zone for a reason.

I have spoken with the police and the council parking warden service and there will be a presence in the coming days and weeks in this area to make sure that it is safer for everyone.

Summer break that wasn’t a summer break

Whilst the weather was certainly summer like this year. The supposed August break failed to materialise for us as councillors. We have had to deal with a whole raft of issues across the area during this time including:

– ARRIVA BUS SERVICES – Problems with local bus services culminating in articles in the local press. We have had to challenge the Council and Arriva regarding the 64 service and indeed other services across the area. It seems Arriva have had a whole raft of problems. Although for many long term sufferers of the services on Newton Hall, this will come as no surprise, just that this year it seems to have been worse than ever. We continue to look for ways to improve services in our area.

– HIGHWAYS ISSUES At various locations including Mere Drive and Carr House Drive we have had to intervene over council work to footpaths where not all the work was completed. In ere Drive this was not the Council’s fault and was down to parked cars. On Carr House Drive, areas where were due to be rebuilt were completely missed due to council error. And ear the hospital we have had to repeatedly push with our colleagues form Neveille’s Cross for the footpath which was really dangerous to be resurfaced. This was done over the last weekend and a very good job has been done, so thank you to our highways teams for finally recognising the need for this work.

– PAVILLION AND KING GEORGE V WORKS – On a the Parish Council we have all been working hard to make sure that the work to the Pavillion could start this week, the £100,000 project includes replacement of the roof of the Pavillion including other structural works, new heating system, new lighting for the MUGA,Tennis court and pavillion access road. Parish Councillor Colin Hillary has been invaluable in making sure that this project reached this stage. I was put in charge of the fundraising and we managed to bring in significant funding from Sport England, S106 planning funds and AAP funding so that the parish council has only had to fund a small proportion of the works. The Parsih car park will be closed for 3 months and we have had to liaise with the Primary school, county council and police to ensure that problems in the local area are kept to a minimum particularly on Newton Drive.

– FRAMWELLGATE MOOR PRIMARY SCHOOL has opened with its wonderful extension, new windows, heating and car park works well on the way to completion. It is expected the works will take until April to completely finish. This has ensured that the area will have enough places for local children this year and that the primary school will now have far better facilities than before to support its outstanding status! We had to work hard with the school and County Council to ensure that the heating, parking and windows plans were improved.

– COUNTY HALL AND AKYLEY HEADS. We have had to intervene over the summer over the plans for the new county hall and next week Amanda will be raising concerns about the Aykley Heads masterplan at Cabinet. We do not believe that the County Council can be trusted to ensure that this area has the infrastructure in place to deal with the proposals for new jobs in this area and given the problems over the years which we have had to deal with since the redevelopment of Trinity School, we have sincere concerns about how traffic management, parking and other issues will be managed. The new county hall plans for the Sands car park have raised significant concerns in the community, and I have raised with Directors at County Hall my concerns that there is no sustainability assessment included with the proposals Many residents have contacted us about the plans for the new HQ. As I am on the planning committee I cannot give an opinion either way on the building but do feel that residents should have an extended period of consultation on this as all the information needed to consider the proposals is not yet available and the consultation period closed last week – this is clearly not acceptable.

BRASSIDE PARKING LAY-BYS – We have numerous issues which we have had to deal with in Brasside including discussions about the plans to rebuild the parking areas though the village. We are now hopeful of a start on site soon after making several amendments to the works to make them safer and more appropriate.

START OF NEW COLLEGE TERM – The state of Front Street last week with students from New College back for the new term was completely unacceptable and we intervened contacting the College, the Police and teh County Council. Wardens are patrolling, as are the police and the College has written to all students reminding them of their responsibility to treat the local area with respect. The amount of litter at the top of Newcastle Terrace last week was disgraceful We are going to me monitoring this going forward and I will be asking the County council to reconsider whether or not 16-18 year olds can / should be given penalty notices for littering as at the moment the Council does not do this.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES – Across the area we have had requests for a variety of works including weed spraying, tree and bush cutting, clearing of flytipping and litter. We have also had to intervene because of the unacceptable behaviour of some of the shops on Framwellgate Moor Front street, the owners of which seem to think they can profit from the local community at the same time has leaving the outside of the shops looking a complete tip. Warning and enforcement letters have been sent and are being looked at further.

CLOSURE OF POTTERHOUSE LANE

We had to intervene and challenge the Council over this and their suggestion that this will be closed for months and months. For many years I have expressed concerns about the culvert running under the road near the chicken farm. It collapsed and when the Council said it was going to take so long to repair we have been putting pressure on and hope that the work will get finished more quickly to avoid unnecessary disruption.

Just a few of the things going on. Blog fully back up and running……..