Website hits pass 550,000!

I was checking the stats this week and suddenly realised that this site has now had more than half a million hits. I will update the hit counter page today. Thank you to everyone who reads the site and emails me comments off the back of it. We are currently delivering our quarterly leaflet (a bit late this year), to make sure that everyone including those not online get to know about what we are doing in the local area. If by next week you haven’t received a copy please do let us know in case we missed a few houses.

Clothing allowance – Official: Lib Dem success getting it scrapped

Interesting story about the Labour Clothing allowance in the Northern Echo today. Whilst we told residents that this was being scrapped a while ago. Official confirmation in the press.

Of course the chairman still gets a whopping great £6650 chairmans allowance pls £13300 for being a councillor, and can claim expenses instead of the clothing allowance, so they are not hard up by any means. Good old Labour socialists eh? Labour councillors claimed the £12000 clothing allowances for the chair and vice chair for 30 years without anyone knowing about it until we unearthed it by accident after looking at the cost of councillors.

Perhaps those chairmen still alive who claimed this behind closed doors should consider a donation to a local charity which helps struggling families with cheap or free clothing.


Your labour-run council is going ahead with taking a million pounds out of the local economy and charging households £20 to take away your garden waste.

Our press release of last week which was not published in the papers:

Durham County Council, with £165m in reserves is pressing ahead with a charge for garden waste collections. The Council will start sending out letters to residents this Friday.
The Council, which despite increasing its reserves, says it is cash strapped, wants to charge residents £20 for the service. The garden waste collection service currently provides 16 free fortnightly collections for more than 150,000 households between April and November. Introducing a charge means that the service would be substantially funded by those using the service and according to the council would save it £933,000. Residents in some areas not currently receiving the service will be able to apply, but a small number of households across the County will lose the right to get the service even if they want to pay for it.
Lib Dem Councillor Mark Wilkes (Framwellgate and Newton Hall) branded the charge a Garden Tax which will hit the lowest paid the hardest saying “Labour is simply not considering the repercussions of this proposal. In some poorer areas and on some Council housing estates this is going to cause real problems.”
“People are paying more in this county for council tax than in most parts of the country. Labour doubled council tax when in government. The Coalition has frozen council tax for five years, giving the Council the money to cover for inflation. Labour refused this money from the government this year and now intends to fleece Durham residents. This will hit low and middle income families and many will simply not pay it.
Councillor Wilkes believes the savings are an illusion as many residents will start to use their general rubbish bin for garden waste. This will massively increasdisposal charges. He says that Labour Head of Scrutiny Councillor Joe Armstrong said in a meeting last year that residents could do just this. Councillors are also concerned that there will be a significant increase in fly tipping adding further costs to the council budget.
Last year when the proposal was announced, Lib Dem councillors previously suggested scrapping the position of Chief Exec as a means of helping to fund the service.
Cllr Wilkes said of this “The council is paying out over a quarter of a million pounds to employ one person, why not cut this so people don’t have to stop cutting their hedges. At the very least, with so much money in reserves the Council could delay implementation of this policy for another year to look for alternatives.


Cracking reopening at Indoor Bowling centre

I attended the reopening of the Indoor Bowling Centre in Pity Me on Saturday.

Amanda (Councillor Hopgood)  bowled the first balls, and didn’t do to badly for a beginner. We have used local neighbourhood funding to help the centre lower the ceilings, to cut energy bills and improve lighting. The transformation will save thousands of pounds a year in energy bills and help make the centre more sustainable. In addition the centre has replaced the near 20 year old bowling carpet, making it one of the best facilities in the Country.

The club has over 700 members, has a room which can be hired out, has frequent social events and a bar. You don’t have to be a bowler to join, so why not pop down and see what is going on.

You might not think it but indoor bowling is actually very good exercise as Amanda can testify.

The club is round the back of Abbey Leisure Centre.


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.

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!