Reporting issues around our area

Over the last week, whilst delivering our latest leaflet which provides details of the County Plan consultation, we have also ben reporting issues around our area. Some of these will be acted on quickly by the council, some will be booked in for future works program, and sadly some may not be actioned at all if Council doesn’t think they are severe enough or fails to properly investigate – this does happens sometimes and some of the reports we put in have to be it in more than once. Here’s a sample of some requests, if you spot anything like this anywhere else, please let us know.

Dryburn Hill – Road surface request for patching, leaves and detritus on footpaths and road.

Dryburn Road – Request for sweeping of road and paths

Sacriston Lane/Durham Moor – Various areas requiring sweeping

Durham Road/Durham Moor Crescent – Tree root trip hazards on pavement, detritus on pavement.

Holmlands Crescent – trip hazard on pavement

Durham Moor Crescent – Very poor state of pavement on part of the street

Path from Finchale Road to Newton Drive – overgrown/full of weeds

Various properties with rubbish in gardens or overflowing bins

25-31 Finchale Rd – road surface never resurfaced when rest of estate was done

Flytipping at various locations including Finchale Road, Beech Road, Newcastle Terrace, Garden Avenue, Front St Framwellgate Moor, Woodbine Road, Farnham Road, Durham Terrace

Dangerous structure (wall) on Finchale Road

Damaged footpaths on Finchale Road, The Forge,

High Carr Close – new estate – drainage gullies full of construction waste

Various issues with County Durham Housing Group properties

Overgrown paths/weeds on Caterhouse Road

Pavement issues on Lilac Avenue

Abandoned vehicles

Overgrown path at Bek Rd traffic lights

Various detritus issues on Old Pit Lane

Road defects Roman Drive, Carr House Drive, Aykley Vale

Overgrown path Newton Drive

Path from Potterhouse Terrace to the Forge overgrown

Blocked gullies – various locations

Farnham Road – tree root/trip hazards

Bede Way – bushes growing into road

 

 

 

Northern Relief Road thoughts

There will be a mixed reaction to proposals for the Northern Relief road. On the one hand Durham has a pollution and congestion problem and attempts to get people to change will simply not deal with it.

I imagine there will be a significant number of residents supporting a new road. However there will also be a significant percentage against a road at all. Then there will be residents who want a road but do not agree with the route.

One such resident sent me a video he has done which you may find interesting. See below.

Another interesting point is that when I asked officers for the analysis of all possible routes for a relief road, I found that there were only the two options running between Brasside and Newton Hall. No consideration of Cocken Road nor of going round the back of Brasside have been even analysed at a basic level – simply because decades ago this was the proposed route. I don’t think that is an acceptable answer.

Whilst I am inclined to support improved road links due to the congestion in Durham City, I am yet to be convinced that the route proposed is the only or best option.

Whatever your views on this and the other County Plan issues, please make sure you attend the consultation events.

 

County Plan – the basics

Greenbelt – A big success – building on the greenbelt has been dramatically reduced in the new plan. Originally anything up to 6000 houses were planned. This is now 1900.

A huge area stretching almost to Sacriston was originally proposed, this has been cut back significantly.

The greenbelt to the North of the Arnison Centre is removed from development.

The Western bypass

this is set to go ahead in the plan, paid for by a levy on the new housing.

Northern Bypass

This is in the plan with a route between Brasside and Newton Hall passing through Low Newton Junction nature reserve and coming out near Belmont. No funding is identified yet but the Council is actively working on this.

Country Park

Whilst we have reservations about building on the greenbelt, we explained to officers that we needed to ensure that any development was for the benefit of all. We proposed a park running through the Sniperley Housing development and this has been confirmed in the plan. There will be a ark running the whole length of the development area, with Caterhouse Pit nature area protected.

Aykley Heads

Redevelopment of the area once the COuncil has moved to the City Centre is likely to be contentious if traffic and parking issues are not addressed. Proposals for 5000 new jobs are admirable but if the infrastructure is not in place then there will be serious problems.

Infrastructure Changes

We have secured a commitment that the Salutation mini roundabout area will be made far safer for pedestrians, and indeed other roundabouts including PIty ME A167, Blackie Boy, Sniperley and Aykley Heads will all have upgrades as part of the plan.

On all these issues and more need you to comment at the consultation events.

County Plan – Important update – Consultation Dates

Durham County Council’s cabinet passed the County Plan for consultation on Wednesday. The plan looks at what the County needs in terms of housing, employment and infrastructure until 2035.

We have three consultation events arranged in our area – originally one until we complained.

They are on the following dates:

Framwellgate Moor Community Centre – 27th June from 3.30pm to 6.30pm

Abbey Leisure Centre – 5th July from 4pm to 7pm

All Saints Church Newton Hall – 19th July from 4pm to 7pm

There will also be an event at the Town Hall tbc.

 

Grass cutting issues

We have had some complaints about grass cutting in the area. As anyone with a lawn will know, we had some pretty fast growth in recent weeks and this caused problems for the Council, trying to keep on top of it.

That said, there have been areas missed which we have reported to the Council. If there is an area not currently being cut please let us know. We have reported the following areas: Canterbury Road shops, front of Bede Lodge Club, parts of Abbey Road, Rear of Finchale Road Brasside (Issue with parked cars).

We have also mentioned that some of the guys are working a bit too quickly, missing edges etc. Clearly the staff are working hard, but we also need to make sure we keep on top of the standard to.

Please do let us know about any local issues

Survey works for possible Northern Relief Road

More and more residents are contacting us about the work going on around Brasside. This is work on behalf of the Council to help draw up plans for a possible Noerthewrn Relief Road. Below is a pic from a local resident and a response from Strategic Highways at DCC explaining what is going on.

 

Further to your recent phone call I am pleased to confirm the following in relation to the Northern Relief Road.

As you may be aware the consultation on the previous Durham Plan suggested that the construction of the Western Relief Road was sought early in the plan period with the Northern route sometime late. It was for this reason that design work was progressed to a higher level of detail on the western route whilst the northern was more in outline.

Whilst not confirming any changes to the next plan it would be sensible and opportune to have the northern route designed to the same level of detail. It is for this reason that we are currently completing a more detailed topographical survey and will be soon undertaking ground investigation works with boreholes and trial pits. The current work will allow a greater level of detailed design and certainty in any future consultation.

It is also the case that any funding opportunities that may arise nationally in the short to medium term would expect a level of detail which will be delivered by the ongoing commissions and without which we would be unlikely to be able to proceed.

Framwellgate Moor Clinic set to shut

The clinic on Framwellgate Moor Front street is to close (not to be confused with Dunelm Medical Centre).

I have found out this just in the last few days, after the announcement over a year ago that it was under threat, which at the time was also uncovered by us, not through any official announcement.

Again we have found out by accident. The lease is not to be renewed and services will be shift out to other areas over the next three months.

This quite clearly goes against the NHS ethos of having services as close to patients as possible. It will also leave an empty property on the Front Street.

It also appears that there may not have been an attempt to renegotiate the lease on the property, so there is no chance that we will ever know if a better deal could have been obtained. Indeed we also do not know how much the repair clauses in the lease will hit the NHS to return the property to the state at the start of the lease.

All this suggests that there has not been full due diligence in considering whether or not  this is indeed a financially sound decision to make, to say nothing of the impact on service users.

I do wonder what attempts were made to look at adding services to the Clinic to help make it more sustainable. I am deeply concerned as to what is likely to come next with local health services as many are being tendered out and are likely to end up in the private sector with the many risks associated with such action.

Whilst what is going on cannot entirely be laid at the door of the government as this is local decision making  I am certain that the impact of under investment by the current government in the NHS and social care services will have contributed to the decisions being made.

I am waiting for a response from the NHS but expect we will see a response in the press from them before anything emailed back to me.

 

Gritting and snow update – Including Finchale Abbey Village

We have had a few residents get in touch about the state of the roads. The Council has been working round the clock to keep our main roads in a good condition and despite the horrendous conditions most main roads have been passable with care most of the time.

We have one outstanding issue. Finchale Abbey Village is still wanting for a grit delivery despite my original request on 12 December and repeat requests since. We have been given assurances that there will be some delivered tomorrow.

My attempt to get down there today was not fruitful and I turned back. This suggests to us that many residents will be struggling to get out of the village, and if the forecasts are right the village may well be cut off completely by morning. Not great considering its just a couple of miles from Durham City.

When the annual review of winter maintenance comes round there will be some earnest and frank discussions about this particular element of the winter maintenance program from us as your local councillors and these problems will definitely not happen again that’s for sure.

Other than this issue, the Council is doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

All staff are working round the clock and deserve praise for their efforts. It certainly isn’t easy driving a 40 ton truck of grit on ice with near snow blindness, so please bear with them if service levels are not quite to the standard you would normally expect.

We will also see significant disruption to bin collections for the next few days and into next week, so time to compact down those bins!

 

FIRST EVER OPPOSITION BUDGET MOTION PASSED AT DURHAM COUNCIL

Today for the first time since Durham’s new unitary authority was set up and perhaps the first time in Durham County Council’s 100 year history, Labour councillors backed an amendment to their budget.

This was put forward by me with the support of our Lib Dem group so I’m rather happy today. I proposed using extra funding the government gives for bringing empty homes back into use to employ extra staff to tackle the problem – a no brainier really – but in Durham, to get a motion passed at any time is nigh on impossible – at Budget setting its unheard of!

We will now have something like double the hours invested into tackling this issue. Although I will be checking and double checking that this actually happens.

At present there are over 6900 long term empty properties in County Durham. These leave areas run-down, causing problems for other homeowners and residents and are a waste of resources.

In my area alone there are many of these properties, including many in Framwellgate Moor. Whilst we have managed to get some back into use, many remain unaddressed.

Finally we will have the staff in place to deal with this.

97 councillors voted in favour of my motion, 4 voted against, including John Turnbull (Labour for Brandon, Langley Moor and Meadowfield) bizarre given how many empty properties there are in his area.

Three councillors abstained including Marion Wilson who covers Deerness (Bearpark, Esh Winning, Ushaw Moor, NEw Brancepeth). Another area with numerous empty properties.