Sign the Petition to the Secretary of State over the Sands HQ

Residents, furious at the HQ planning application have stated a petition to the Sectrary of State requesting he calls it in.

The more signatures, the more pressure it puts on him to act. I was one of the six councillors who voted against the application at committee last week. I have never in 10 years as a councillor seen a more ill thought out planning application. I was one of only a few councillors on the committee who spoke against the proposals, and at significant length.

There were so many reasons for objection to the application, it was almost too difficult to get across all of them. Cllr Elizabeth Scott the Lib Dem Chair of the City of Durham parish Council spoke against it, as did the two local Lib Dem county councillors Cllr Freeman and Ormerod.

No members of the Labour Party spoke out against the application on behalf of their Party and the MP has failed to provide any comments against the application. So its down to residents and Lib Dem councillors to continue to push for action. You can sign the petition here. I have sent this to all 126 councillors – might there be one Labour councillor out there who sees sense on this?:

https://www.change.org/p/get-durham-county-council-sands-hq-plans-called-in-by-the-secretary-of-state?cs_tk=Ah8vtOVK0pl2MqG9hlwAAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvJvWteLCJ2NJ9VTaw88XXXQ%3D&utm_campaign=7d0c18f63afa44c6b3dd39476bd19b6f&utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_signer_receipt&utm_term=cs

Walkabout of Terraces in Framwellgate Moor – And some harsh words about a few different businesses, property owners, individual residents and New College

I have been out on a walk about with the head of the Council’s clean and green department, the head warden and other officers today to look at a number of issues in Framwellgate Moor.

The main reason for the visit was the continued failure by some takeaways and shops to keep the rear and in some cases front of their properties clear of rubbish, and some anti-social behaviour issues.

Takeaways

One particular takeaway which has had various notices served was a disgraceful mess and I have raised with officers the fact that it does seem to take far too long to address some issues like rubbish piling up, fat being poured down drains etc.

Dangerous properties and unsightly properties and overflowing bins

We also discussed two old brick toilet netties down Durham Terrace which I have repeatedly told the council are dangerous and a child, or adult for that mattter could get hurt if one collapsed on them. Senior officers are going to revisit this – I think they should just bulldoze them and bill the owner of the empty properties which are also an eyesore and have also been complained about numerous times by me.

New College drug taking

There is also an ongoing issue with students from New College taking recreational drugs in the area and leaving plastic bottles lying around which they use when smoking these drugs. This is not just a problem of littering, these youths are congregating near houses which children live, in smoking drugs which stink and its just not acceptable.

The students then return to the college and continue their classes. As the college has no means of monitoring whether they are stoned or which students are taking drugs we can only hope that none of them are working with electrics or machinery, and given that the college have been told on more than one occasion that this is an issue, I hope their insurance isn’t going to be voided or worse that someone injures a fellow student.

The police and wardens are also having to waste their time attending the area to try and crack down on this anti-social behaviour at significant cost to them and ultimately to the taxpayer. They could be dealing with other issues.

Vodka bottles and rubbish

All too often it is students at the college who also get all the blame for littering on the front street and the streets off it, however whilst a lot of the litter is from new college students, not all of it is and there are a small number of very inconsiderate residents including one or two in particularly who need to stop dumping vodka bottles and other rubbish around the area.

It’s not funny, bottles get broken, look a mess, and can injure children or pets. The wardens are workimg on getting proof of who this is but they have their suspicions so the easiest thing is for the culprits to use their own bin or one of the dozen bins in the area otherwise at some point they are going to get at least one £80 fine!

Northern Relief Road – Challenging Cabinet

Yesterday I attended the Council’s Cabinet meeting which they decided to hold in Murton – with the County Plan on the agenda. Total number of pages for the meeting was 5718! Of which most were the County Plan.

As councillors we only got this last Wednesday, and I’m convinced there isn’t a person on the planet, including the Cabinet members who have read all the 5718 pages of paperwork over the last week.

Having searched through the paperwork I managed to get a question in over the weekend for the Portfolio Holder for Regneration.

My concern was around the route of the Northern Relief Road. This seems to be the biggest issue now about the plan. The impression we get as councillors is that the reduction in the number of houses as art of the scheme from over 6000 to 1700 is now less of a concern than previously, especially given that there will be parkland as part of the proposals – although I still need to get to the bottom of how much parkland and how the infrastructure around the whole area is supposed to cope.

Part of that coping is the Northern Relief Road from Pity Me to near Belmont. Whilst there is a vocal group who are against the proposed road, when you delve deeper it is clear that the route of the road is the biggest issue for most people, whilst a sizeable majority of people feel we should have an improvement in the infrastructure to the North of the CIty.

It is the route of the road which concerns me most. The council has failed in my view too get proper analysis of all the possible options.

I have copied my question to cabinet below:

One of the most important elements of the County Plan is the Northern Relief Road. Both prior to and during the consultation process I have raised concerns about the lack of independent analysis of all the possible alternatives to the route proposed.

This route, either with a new bridge or using the Belmont Viaduct goes through a nature reserve and an area with outstanding wildlife and stunning landscapes which is critical to the residential amenity, health and wellbeing of Durham City.

Opposition from local residents to this route is significant.

Whilst a majority of local residents and indeed myself support in principle improved infrastructure to the north of Durham City, at this stage I cannot accept that all possible routes and options have been satisfactorily analysed.

There is no consideration of a route around the back of Brasside, and in fact all the County Plan contains is a few paragraphs of officer views on each possible option.

In addition, the report states that Highways England will not allow a further A1 junction, yet on questioning officers I find that the Council has never even asked them and has simply relied on a national transport circular from 2013 which states such junctions can only be built unless if they are part of a wider strategic growth agenda – well if the County Durham Plan is not part of a wider grew than agenda I do not know what is.

For such an important proposal as the NRR there should have been a full independent report carried out of all the possible options. This is something I specifically asked officers for. The fact that there has not been a proper report means that at this moment this part of the plan is fundamentally flawed.

I would therefore urge Cabinet to commission a full and proper independent report into all possible routes and options for the Northern Relief Road to avoid this element failing at Public Inquiry and if they are not willing or able to do this, explain why, given the critical importance of this element of the plan, the Council has not and is not willing to do this and accept responsibility if this part of the plan does indeed fail.

The response to my question was pretty straightforward – that I was wrong. The Council believes this is the only viable route and any other route would not be close enough to the City to work. I strongly disagree.

There was no explanation as to why no independent report has been done, no explanation as to the discrepancy with highways England, no understanding of the impact of the route on our area.

What is good is that the council have recognised that having a bridge over the East Coast mainline is going to have a very negative impact and so they have included the option of going under the railway line at Brasside. The reduction in housing numbers as part of the plan is also welcome, however I am still not convinced that the infrastructure proposed will be put in place before housing is built, nor am I convinced that areas such as Durham Moor, Aykley Heads and North End will be able to cope even with the extra roads. Aykley Heads roundabout is already log-jammed at certain times of day.

I will, as no doubts others will, be ploughing through the 5700 pages looking at what else is still a problem. Please do let us know your views and please do attend the consultation events.

One final thing that has annoyed me is that we had to ask again for the necessary events in our area and had we not done everyone would have had to go to the Town Hall.

Thankfully all three of my requests for events have been accepted and the dates are as follows:

4th February – 3.30-6.30 Framwellgate Moor Community Centre

14th February – 4pm-7pm Abbey Leisure Centre

21st February – 4pm-7pm All Saint’s Church, Newton Hall

 

Rubbish and dog waste bins overflowing

We’ve reported and had reports of a number of  overflowing bins in the area following the festive period. If you spot any overflowing public dog waste or litter bins please let us know so we can keep the area clean. We are on our look out for local problem areas and have already asked for the area near the Arnison Centre/Abbey Leisure Centre to be litter picked.

Christmas Party a real community boost in Framwellgate Moor

A huge thank you to members of the Framwellgate Moor and Pity Me Women’s Institute for organising this years Christmas party for  senior residents.

This year I managed to secure funding for the cost of the event from County Durham Housing Group, topped up with local funding from Mamie, Amanda and my budgets.

We also managed to attract more older residents and many who live on their own, including in County Durham Housing group homes to the event, which had around 60 participants.

As well as an excellent dinner, Durham City Youth Project young people helped out at the event and school children came along and sang Christmas carols.

The bingo was great, although I didn’t win, and it seemed to take a long time for anyone to shout House!

Thanks to everyone who was involved it was a great afternoon!

Reporting issues across the area

Over the last few days whilst delivering our local leaflets we have reported dozens of local issues including:

Pavement trip hazards and road repair issues

Serious problems with some takeaways in the area with overflowing rubbish and un binned piles of rubbish, including some more serious issues regarding unsatisfactory website disposal. Such problems lead to vermin and we have a zero tolerance approach on these issues. The Council has been notified of all these issues and we are becoming concerned about the amount of time it takes to address the issues, and the repetitive nature of many of the problems with particular establishments, so issues have been elevated up to management levels.

We have asked for a lot of areas to be cleared of leaves and other detritus, both on pavements and roads including Rowan Drive, Dryburn Road, Sacriston Road, Folly Terrace and many more. The clean and green department are doing a speedy job to clear up these issues as we report them.

We have also spoken to numerous residents about specific local issues and have had several dozen residents contact us by email so far regarding issues raised in the leaflets or other local issues.

If you haven’t received our latest leaflet by the end of the week please let us know.

 

Aykley Heads developments

The development of Aykley Heads is progressing, with plans for new offices on what is an existing parking area, likely to come forward soon.

We have raised concerns on more than one occasion over congestion and parking issues across Aykley Heads and will continue to work to make sure that all re development of the area is properly managed and designed.

We are really concerned that whilst the County Council is listening to what we are saying they will not follow through and actually ensure that the development of the area is sustainable.

As soon as we hear anything new we will update on this blog.

Remembrance Sunday in Framwellgate Moor – 100 Year Anniversary of the end of World War 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please attend the parade and services this weekend. Starting at St Aidan’s Parish Hall at 10.30am with a service led by Rev Fiona Collin. We will then walk to the memorial garden at Durham Moor, which has had significant work carried out this year and looks splendid.

Local resident David Wheeler ( A Royal British Legion volunteer) has been working all day to cut back paths and plant up some wonderful commemorative benches as well as some extra displays of flowers.

Thank you to Pity Me Nursery for providing the plants – the heathers and pansies I picked up today which David has planted look fantastic.

A company called Loggerheads designed and built the benches, completely voluntarily and if you go and take a look you will be amazed at how great they look. A big thank you to them.

Thank you to the County Council for providing heavy duty flagstones at short notice and free of charge to fix the benches to.

The Parish Council commissioned Marble plaques for the memorial this year using s106 public art money we secured through the County Council.

Parish Councillor Peter Dawson worked hard to get together all the names of our fallen heroes from World War 1 and their names are now there for all to see for the first time on our memorial.

The Parish Council, residents and your county councillors will continue to work together to do all we can to improve the memorial area.

Thank you to David, Loggerheads, Peter, The Royal British Legion,The Parish and County Council’s and everyone else who was involved in improving the memorial this year, but most importantly, thank you to all those who died fighting so that we may live in a peaceful and tolerant society.

Lest We Forget

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.