£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.

 

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……..

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.

 

Success – Lib Dem pressure secures extra £700,000 for highways repairs

A couple of weeks ago I submitted a motion for full council calling on Cabinet to invest more funding to repair roads, in particular because of the additional damage caused by  this winters poor weather but also because of years of under funding. We also called on government to put in more funding.

The Council, suddenly has found – just a few minutes before my motion was due to be debated, an additional £700,000 – great news – Lib Dem pressure pays off.

However we still feel far more is needed. Not least because we have a massive backlog of rod and path repairs of around £200 million!

We will continue to pile on the pressure which has over the years resulted in significant extra investment.

Residents get incorrect Council Tax bills

Residents around Durham City are getting electronic council tax bills which are incorrect.

On Newton Hall and other parts of the City residents have received electronic bills and are being charged for the City of Durham Town Council precept by mistake.

We immediately raised this with officers and are hopeful that paper bills have not been sent out too.

Update: 4782 paper bills were printed and scrapped at a cost of £240. Thankfully they were not posted out. Over 1100 people got incorrect electronic bills. Needless to say we are asking that the proper checks are put in so it doesn’t happen again.

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!

 

Major flytipping, litter, rubbish, overflowing bins issues reported in a Framwellgate Moor

I have today during a drive and walk around reported dozens of issues around Framwellgate Moor front street and the Terraces.

Numerous overflowing bins, many of them recycling bins which are not due emptying until March 1st.

Numerous flytipping incidents including black bags, fridge and freezers, sofas and other rubbish.

A lot of wind blown litter.

I have raised concerns with the Head of Setvice and Clean and green managers about the clear failure of clean up in the area caused by removal of or lack of proper litter picking and street bin emptying on Friday afternoon now there is no weekend service.

Senior officers will be out on site this week to assess what needs doing.

Please help improve the area by: Reporting overflowing bins including wheelie bins, reporting any bin anywhere with no lid and letting us know of any flytipping or rubbish incidents anywhere across Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Newton Hall and Brasside.

I also arranged for the area behind Front St Pity Me to be litter picked and reported several more flytipping incidents there. We need to keep on top of this and need residents help to do it so please do report all issues.

Cotherstone, Lindisfarne, Featherstone still without gritting

Our complaint about the removal of the gritting route and the way in which it was done have been disregarded by the Council as has our formal complaint. We now have a meeting with the Director and Head of Service set up for tomorrow. We will update residents after this meeting.

If anyone knows of any accidents which have happened since the gritting route was scrapped please let us know. We are aware of two accidents one involving two car and the other three cars. We have also been told of a near miss.

We urge all residents on these streets to write to the Council and complain about their actions and demand the route be reinstated.